Cambodia 

After our nice stressful bus journey from Vietnam we arrived pretty late to Phnom phen so went straight to sleep at the hostel. When you arrive in Cambodia make sure you have dollars, as unlike Vietnam, you have to pay for the hostel upfront. We stayed at Billabong hostel which had a great pool, and location was fine. Dorm was nice and big with a huge en suite and big singles. Great nights sleep!

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Next day we went to the killing fields about half an hour away, it was $6 entry and audio tour. I would definitely say to get the audio tour, it was so informative. We didn’t know much about the genocide so was good way to learn. So, so sad but worth the visit.

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In the afternoon we went to the Palace but didn’t actually go in as it was $10 but it’s a really nice area to walk around the outside and you still get some good views.

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That was about it for us in the capital city.  So the next day we booked the bus to go to Siem Reap; $10. We stayed in Siem Reap Pub Hostel which was a nice little hostel with a decent pool, really good location right next to pub street and the night markets. Also right next door was a good place for food, it was cheap and the owner was lovely.  The shop after was the cheapest in the area for laundry at $1 per kilo.

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The main thing to do in Siem Reap is obviously Angkor Wat temples. There are 1000 altogether! There’s a couple different options for tickets, we just got the day one which was $37 (they have recently just doubled the ticket price and no one could answer why…one lady told us it’s owned by the Vietnamese Government (not sure how true this is or how that works). Anyway it’s still worth this crazy western price, you’re probably only there once in your life! The day was absolutely plenty for us, but if you’re a temple fanatic look into the 3 day or 1 week tickets as they become a lot cheaper per day if you do this.

So we woke up at 4am to catch the sun rise over the main temple; Angkor wat. This was really stunning, just try and ignore the thousands of other people! Also when you are walking in, looking directly at the temple we went to the left as that’s what someone advised, however, we would recommend going to the right, we feel you get a slightly better view. We then spent the day exploring the hundreds of other temples and came back to the moat around Angkor wat to watch the sun set.

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Getting blessed by the monks 🙂

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Wondering around the temples…make sure your feeling fit!

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In the evening we had a walk around the night markets.  They are great and a fantastic place to buy cultural gifts.  Bartering is a challenge to get on with at times and being very British it makes you squirm a bit.  We’d recommend to start at just less than 1/2 of what they ask.  The ones that thrive off ripping off their customers will wave you off, however the realistic ones will slowly come down. It’s probably best to aim for just over 1/2 to 3/5 of their original price.

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The next day we flew to Bangkok 🙂

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Phnom Phen to Siem Reap

On the way we stopped a couple of times for rest breaks (no WC on the bus). There was a huge storm as we were driving with lighting strikes causing fires on our route.

There was this smell of burning plastic on the bus and then we stopped!

Broken down!!!!

A little panic swept over us….but about an hour later, and one very soggy driver we were back on our way. He had to get under the bus in the pouring rain…didn’t quite get that picture but this one is him at the back trying to fix it at first!

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We were exhausted when we arrived in Siem Reap and pissed off as usual as the driver refused to let us off where we asked (he let all the locals get off outside their doors) and drove us to a tuk-tuk station. Anyway in bitterness we decided to walk instead of paying someone which took us about an hour as we got soooo lost! we were staying in siem reap pub hostel which is really nice but hard to find, its down a little muddy dirt track, just about wide enough for the tuk-tuks.

Crossing the border – Vietnam to Cambodia via bus

We booked our bus ticket through a travel agent (Long Phuong) which is on backpackers road almost nextdoor to a great little cafe called the Luke’s cafe.  They were very professional here with excellent English and gave us a great price for the Cu Chi tunnels (check out our Cu Chi page) and a bus ticket to Cambodia (520,000 VND for two people both trips)

We left Thao Dien Pearl 10:30 am and got a taxi to Long Phuong, this took about 30 minutes as the roads were pretty clear.

We waited for transport to the bus station which drove us 10 meters down the road to the bus station… It was pretty hilarious!

Got on the bus which was half empty,  lots of boxes at the back as usual as they use it as a parcel service too.  Got in our allocated seats and off we went.

Everything was running smoothly until the bus driver wanted money for visas and our passports. We handed over our passports as we thought maybe we all stay on the bus and the the police need to check the passports from the driver…anyway we then realised we’d been had as he then started to ask for money for the visa…more than the price the boarder control actually ask for.We had a bit of an argument with him at this point and asked for our passports back as we realised at boarder control you have to get out of the bus anyway as you have to go through security etc. He then refused to give our passports back and said if we didn’t pay him he’d drive off without us. The queue at boarder control really started to build up now and we were panicking. Luckily a local spotted the situation and came over to help….he obviously wanted money too but much less than the driver. So we paid him and he managed to get our passports off the driver and take us to the front of the queue. So in the end it was us waiting for the driver and the rest of the group! He wasn’t happy about us getting back on the bus but eventually gave in.

Anyway a few lessons learned ;

  1. Do not give anyone your passport!
  2. Always carry american dollars when going in/out of Cambodia (we didn’t have any which meant we were close to not getting a visa, luckily a nice Canadian guy on the bus had some extra and swapped some dong for us!). In Cambodia they only accept american dollars.
  3. Have a budget for money that you just have to pay to avoid stress….the saving of a few dollars probably wasn’t worth the massive argument and hassle.