11 Things to Know Before You Go to Siem Reap, Cambodia

This year, my friends and I just deliberately booked one-way tickets to Siem Reap, Cambodia. My friend was so inspired to see a wonder of the world, and since Angkor Wat is the nearest to the Philippines amongst the others, we opted to go and check it out for ourselves.

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I got so fascinated with the country, that is why I have compiled some things that may come in handy to guide you as you embark on your much-anticipated Cambodian adventure!

  1. Cambodians accept US Dollars.

I had my Philippine peso money changed in NAIA, and was so surprised I need not exchange them for Cambodian real!

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It’s a bit difficult to convert reals to dollars as it will take thousands of reals for only one dollar. So better stash those 1 and 5 dollars with you!

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  1. WiFi is not present in most places.

I actually do not have some trouble with this. I like being immersed with the experience first, and maximize what these new places have to offer. You can always upload photos when you are back in your hotel anyway.

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  1. Tuktuk is the main mode of transportation.

Unlike ours, they don’t have trains, cabs and jeepneys in Siem Reap. All of these public vehicles are all equated to “tuktuk”. It’s more of like a tricycle. You can find them anywhere, and they are sturdy enough as you explore this side of Cambodia.

We found our Tuktuk driver, Toma, through our booked hotel.

  1. Most hotels have swimming pools.

I was so surprised to know that our hotel is only about P700 a night, but I didn’t expect that surprises were supposed to stop there! Turns out, we have a swimming pool!

So if you are planning to go to Siem Reap, please make sure you pack a bikini too! Or a monokini, perhaps! They are a little conservative.

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  1. Bring more conservative clothes.

Speaking of “conservative”, I was so worried, that all I packed were just either pants or long skirts, which led me a little while in packing, because I had to borrow my sister’s skirts. I didn’t bring any shorts.

But you can actually wear skimpy outfit during the tour, knowing that it is too hot in Cambodia around August.

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But switch them with your long flowy pants and peasant skirts once you go to Angkor Wat. People will advise you to wear longer / below-the-knee bottoms because you are visiting sacred temples.

Some tourists were wrapping their scarves around their waists as a make-shift to cover their legs. Opt to wear sleeved tops too!

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It’s really hot so, tiis-ganda na lang! We have to respect their culture, merfriends! 😉

I suggest you wear colorful clothes, to provide contrast for your photos! Your backgrounds will be detailed but their colors will only be brown and grey. So be sure to not wear these colors on your Angkor Wat visit!

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  1. Bring water all the time. It’s terribly hot! And oh, a hat too!

Since umbrellas are prohibited in your hand-carry, make sure you have one in your luggage, if you ever have to check in one. But a hat will also help you bear (not beat, it’s unbeatable!) the heat!

Water is expensive inside Angkor Wat, and you have to literally do the “temple run” if you want to visit as many temples as you want! You can even purchase a 7-day Angkor Wat tour tickets if you want to visit ALL the temples! 😀

Bring a lot of endurance as well! 😀

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  1. Vendors can be a little persistent.

We went to Siem Reap Old Market to buy some clothes and trinkets. What I noticed is that they can be a little persistent, but I have to commend that most of them have good salestalk skills.

You can haggle of course, but if they allow the price that you want, it would seem that you have to buy the product. It would be, as I take it, rude, if you proposed a price lesser than their market value, to which they agreed, and decided not to push through with the purchase.

So if you don’t have plans on buying a certain product, try not to ask and have them get it for you, especially if the product needs some extra effort to retrieve (like if they are hung on the walls or located somewhere else).

If you have to decline, just be firm and polite, and smile! 😀

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Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

  1. The Killing Field will crush your heart.

Toma, our Cambodian Tuktuk driver took us to a place called the “Killing Field”.  In this place you are to be enlightened about the history of the country, and how it rose from the ashes during their past government.

I felt a sudden shudder of compassion and sorrow just by thinking how many people had to die, even though it wasn’t their time yet. I guess apart from every person’s battle, there are also life situations in different places around the world that predispose you to a battle you never thought you had to endure and survive. Let alone, you had to prepare for.

In respect for this, I reserved the chance not to take photos.

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  1. There are less Filipino travellers.

I was a bit homesick when I was there. I didn’t hear any Tagalog-speaking tourists as much as I did when I was in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia.

I think I only heard 3 Pinoys in the entire trip in Cambodia.

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  1. Cambodians recognize easily if you are a Filipino.

We Pinoys actually look like either Cambodian, Vietnamese or Thai. But the locals tend to recognize us here through our accents, and our happy and smiling vibe.

I asked them how did they know we were Filipinos, and these were their feedback. I was very flattered! Hehe 😀

Manny Pacquiao sure is popular, but Vice Ganda is also a  favourite!

When they knew that I was a Filipina, I was often asked if I know Manny Pacquaio. But what was funny is that the questions were followed if I know Vice Ganda! They were chanting Pak Ganern as well! 😀

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  1. Kid vendors in Angkor Wat accept Philippine Peso!

Dibaaaa? Why? But I’m not complaining! Hehe 😀

It is a good option especially if you ran out of US dollars. The kids were very persistent too! They were willing to give more discounts, but I’m not sure if this is only selective for Pinoys.

There are so many things to experience in Siem Reap, you just have to stretch an open heart to accept their culture, and be relative in understanding what this country went through, and what they have to do to bring peace and achieve progress.

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PS.

If you are going through something, it would be nice to go here and find your inner peace. Promise, they are the calmest people I’ve ever met!

I hope you like this post! Share your thoughts in the comments! 😀

 

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