Apparently, there isn’t much more to do in Siem Reap rather than seeing the Angkor Wat temples. The city is just not interesting and doesn’t have much to do.
Anyway, I will spend 4 days here so I will need to figure out things to do.
On the first day of exploration, I rent a bicycle and go around on it. I have visited:
This is some memorial to the war with a temple filled with skulls. Creepy! There is a lot of history to learn here.
Khmer Ceramics & Fine Arts Centre
It is a place where locals are selling some handcraft things like ceramics or clothing. There is not much to see, but I had nothing else to do!
Royal Independence Gardens
What a huge disappointment. I was expecting some nice gardens so I can chill during the day, but this place isn’t the place for it. The grass was super dry. Everywhere full of garbage, not many shadows to sit or even benches. The few minutes I stopped there was to think ok this city doesn’t even have a nice park to chill. No interesting Parks in Siem Reap.
Miniature Replicas of Angkor’s Temples
You have to pay to go inside. This is the house of an old man that dedicated some of his time to create mini Angkor Wat temples. There is just a few of them. Not impressive, but at least something to see. No one else was there when I went and the man was sleeping.
There is this name on google maps that I found and decided to go there as it is nearby the miniatures. I couldn’t find it. I went to the place according to google maps but there was nothing there.
A nice temple to visit. Quiet and not touristic. In fact, I think nothing else is touristic in Siem Reap besides the Angkor Wat.
Wat Preah Prom Rath
This temple is really nice to visit. It is beautiful and the first one I was seeing with Cambodian architecture. I thought to have lost my phone here as I forgot it on a table inside the complex. Once I noted I don’t have my phone I go back in panic! It’s not there anymore. I check my belongings one hundred times before starting to realize it is gone forever. What will I do without it!! I was sitting in a bench thinking precisely about that when a monk heads to me with my phone in his hands. He saw me looking for it on the table that was in front of his dorm and came to give it back. It was so gentle of him. I thanked him a lot as I feel so relieved to see it. It wasn’t about the phone but my sim card. And GPS of course.
I decided to visit this temple as I had nothing else to see in the city. It is far, about 13 km away, but I have time, so I start heading there. Was already cycling for 20 minutes when I thought that maybe this is part of the Angkor Archeological area besides being in a totally opposite direction. Don’t even know how this thought went through my mind, but I’m glad it did cause without a ticket I wouldn’t be able to visit the temple and all the cycling would have been useless.
So, I get back to my Hostel and was organizing some things in my bed when I met another traveler. She is from Cape Verde, so she speaks Portuguese. I was so happy I could speak my language. Haven’t done it that often during the last months. We decided to try to go to the Angkor Area to watch the sunset at Angkor Wat. She also rented a bicycle and here we go. It is a big ride, but it’s totally ok to do it.
Once we reach the area where the security is checking the tickets, they tell us that the ticket counter isn’t there and explain to us where it is. They were closing very soon as the sunset time approaches. They don’t allow us to go until they make sure that cycling it won’t be able for us to get there in time to check the sunset. We were counting the minutes, and once they let us go, they tell us we can’t go inside and we nod our heads. We cycle as fast as we can. It is still possible that we can see a bit of the sunset at the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.
I don’t know how this happened, but we actually got inside. No one asked us for a ticket! Maybe because it was already too late, but we saw the sunset at Angkor Wat. We couldn’t believe we were inside. We’re so excited haha
The crowds here are huge, but we are part of it and that’s all that matters. The sunset is beautiful there. The sky was orange and seeing that magnificent temple for the first time was overwhelming! I was expecting this place to be one of the highlights of my trip, so my excitement was huge!
As the sun goes down and the closing time is near, the securities whistle to the crowds as they form some kind of a human string that makes the tourists advance towards the exit door step by step. Haha it’s so funny to watch as everyone wants to stay longer but they keep pushing us to the way out. It looks like a complicated task to take all those tourists outside.
We were super lucky to be able to watch the sunset for free! Next day we will be exploring Siem Reap temples together on a bicycle and with a ticket haha.