Throwback Thursday Treat: Temple Hopping In Siem Reap

For the past few months, I took you to my previous trips in Ho Chi Minh City, Taipei (flying there again tomorrow!), El Nido (twice) & Koh Lipe, Thailand. I’ve been to relatively a lot of places already but I am a bit struggling with the details so I am doing it one at a time.

This Thursday, I’ll take you to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Siem Reap is not the capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia (Phnom Penh is) but it is definitely the most famous tourist destination in the country. It is the gateway to Angkor, the seat of the Khmer Kingdom during the 9th-15th centuries. This place caters to all kinds of travelers all year-round – from the backpackers to the luxury vacation goers. The city is more than just ruins & temples, it also boasts super nice & accommodating locals & very rich history & culture.

With Majo, my Siem Reap buddy, in Bakong Temple (1 hr drive from the center)

Last 16-22 February 2015, Majo & I were fortunate to visit this beautiful place for 5 days & 5 nights. We got our round-trip tickets for ₱4,469.50 in one of Cebu Pacific Air‘s low fare sale. We’ve been to a lot (when I say a lot, I mean, that’s about 15 of them) of temples during the trip. I will give more details about the trip below.

Accommodation

Majo & I treated this trip as sort of a relaxing one so we chose a decent & well-reviewed accommodation. We stayed in The Siem Reap Hostel. It is located about 10 minutes walk from the Pub Street. It is located a few meters walk from Hard Rock Cafe Siem Reap. The hostel has both dormitory & private en suite rooms.

Our room for 5 nights in Siem Reap!

We got the private room for 2/3 people. It features 2 spacious beds, private balcony, shower & toilet & a cable television. We paid $30 per night. The rate also includes free airport pick-up, free Wi-Fi access & buffet breakfast for 2. Buffet choices include bread, jam, coffee, tea, milk & fresh fruits. Breakfast is not included for guests staying in dormitory rooms. The guest can pay only $2 to avail the buffet.

The hostel has an on-site restaurant with delicious & reasonably-priced food. They have one of the best chicken rice, pad thai & lok lak I’ve tasted in my whole trip. It also has a bar where they have the 50-cents draft beer during happy hour. It has a spacious common area & a swimming pool on the ground floor, billiards area & cinema room on the 2nd floor & the yoga area on the 3rd floor. Guests are also allowed to use the computers on the ground floor for research & booking tickets / accommodations for upcoming trips.

Hostel’s bar & restaurant beside the swimming pool

The hostel also has a tour desk where guests can inquire about day trips they can take. If you are looking for friends to share tuktuk for the temple tours, you can just write your name & room number on the board & meet them in the lobby the following day for your tour.

What I really like about this hostel is they give back part of the proceeds to the local Khmer community. They help a group of tuktuk drivers by offering fixed-rate temple tours with these drivers readily available outside the hostel. Note that they give the tour fee drivers & they don’t get anything from it. They also help a local Khmer village by giving them livelihood. One staff told me that the hostel pays for their school & their English classes.

With Quentin, a French solo traveler we met in the waterfall tour. He joined us the following day for the Angkor Wat Sunrise / Small Circuit Tour.

I would highly recommend everyone to stay in The Siem Reap Hostel. It’s not just a hostel, it’s a hostel that helps the local Khmers. For updated room rates, check out this link.

Currency

US Dollars ($) are widely accepted all over Siem Reap, or shall I say all over Cambodia. The conversion rate at the time of writing is $1 = KHR 4,075.64. Make sure your US Dollars are new & crispy; some locals do not accept dilapidated notes. Locals normally use their local currency for small changes like 50 cents.

Temple Pass

Each tourist is required to purchase a temple pass for your to gain access to each temple. During our visit, a day pass costs $20, a 3-day pass costs $40 & a 7-day access costs $60. As of 1 February 2017, the government decided to raise the rates of these temple passes. The new rates as are as follows: $37 for 1 day, $62 for 3 days & $72 for 7 days. Expensive, eh?

Our 3-day temple pass worth $40 that time~

Note that these temple passes are non-transferable because it has your photo in it. You don’t need to use the pass for 3 or 7 consecutive days. The pass is valid for 30 days after your first use. Since we were there for 5 full days, Majo & I decided to get the 3-day temple pass worth $40.

Temple Tours & Places To Visit

As mentioned earlier, The Siem Reap Hostel offered temple tours through the group of tuktuk drivers they help. The rates & temples included in every tour are posted on the board at the ground floor at the back of the restaurant / bar area. Majo & I decided to take the following day tours

Note: These temple tours do not include meals. You can either bring your own food or ask the driver to stop by a restaurant along the way. Make sure to bring a big bottle of water, a cap / umbrella & a towel because it can be really hot during the day.

Grand / Big Circuit ($15)

Preah Khan

Neak Pean

Ta Som

East Mebon

Pre Rup

Small Circuit / Angkor Wat Sunrise ($15)

Angkor Wat was the seat of the Khmer Empire. It is considered as the world’s largest religious complex & is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Bayon Temple is the central temple of Angkor Thom. It is also known as the temple with smiling Buddha.

Baphuon Temple

Ta Prohm is the famous location used in the movie Tomb Raider.

Banteay Srei, Banteay Samre & Rolous Group ($20)

Banteay Srei & Banteay Samre | Banteay Srei is a temple dedicated to Shiva; a temple made of red sandstone.

Bakong Temple

Lolei  was under renovation when visited the temple grounds.

Preah Ko

Phnom Kulen Waterfall Tour ($32)

Visited the reclining Buddha on top of a hill.

The place where the Buddha is located.

Phnom Kulen Waterfall with the tour group turned good friends. The waterfall is located 2 hours & a few minutes hike from the Siem Reap center.

Another photo of the waterfall – this time without the people 😂

We also went to The River of a Thousand Lingas (no photo). It is a series of sand stone carvings in river beds & banks. It is located in the slopes of Phnom Kulen.

Pub Street & Siem Reap Night Market

Pub Street with the gang! Crazy fun night 🍺

If you are into restaurants & bars, then Pub Street in Siem Reap downtown is the place to be. The place is characterized by affordable to a-bit expensive restaurants (for dinner) & bars (for drinks). This is also where you’ll find most of the backpackers & tourists who are up for some fun night life. Majo & I (plus our new-found friends) went here for a few nights to have dinner & drinks (plus some crazy partying). The parties in the bars extend up to the streets at late night. Good times!

On our last night, Majo & I went to Siem Reap’s night market to buy some goodies for our families & friends here. The night market is a few blocks from the Pub Street. The prices of items were somewhat expensive – touristy I guess.

Majo & I were unable to go to most of the places in downtown (museums, halls, etc) because we concentrated on exploring the temples in Angkor & the nearby towns. It believe it was alright, the temples were really beautiful. Siem Reap is a place one should not miss! 🇰🇭

Pre Rup sunset 😍


Have you been to Siem Reap in the past? What was your favorite temple? Anything or place I missed that you want to suggest to the other readers? Feel free to comment below or send me an email to contact@thewkndtravel.com. You can also send me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.

Thank you for reading & have a great day ahead. 😎

PS. All photos above were shot using my HTC One M8 & HTC Re.

 

 

Tuesday Tip: The PATTERN In Getting The Best Travel Accommodation Deals

Looking for the best accommodation normally comes after booking your plane ticket. There are a number of factors to consider (price, location, facilities, etc.) in booking these accommodations. These factors make it hard for you to choose which property to book. Well-reviewed & affordable accommodations usually sell up fast in every destination; so either you book super early or you look for an alternative.

In the my 5 years of travelling from one city / country to the other & from one weekend trip to another, I’ve noticed a pattern in booking my accommodations. I am happy to share that I haven’t been disappointed by the hotels, hostels & guesthouses I’ve stayed with so far. I just hope the trend continues for my upcoming trips.

In the past Tuesday Tip posts, I gave tips on how to book your next affordable plane ticket (with part 2), how to apply for your Japan tourist visa & how to easily pass through PH immigration. Today, I will share with you 7 pointers to check before you book your next travel accommodation. It’s easy, you just need to know the PATTERN.

P – Price & Location

The first & probably the most important factor in booking accommodations is the price. Rates vary from one property to the other so make sure to compare prices. It helps to have a budget solely for accommodation. You will know how to work things around & to choose wisely based on the amount you set & availability. Do not spend too much on accommodation. You’ll be perfectly fine as long as the beds are comfortable & the room is cozy. Take note that you will be out exploring most of the day so you won’t be able to maximize the facilities.

The second important factor to consider is location. Make sure to choose accommodations that are near in some (if not all) means of transportation. It has to be a few meters walk from the nearest train / subway station or bus stop / terminal. It is also helpful to choose a property with a nearby convenience store or supermarket – saves you a lot of time if you immediately need food or drinks in the middle of the night.

A – Advice

There will always be one person who has been to the place you’re going to visit. If that person is your friend, go ask him / her for possible accommodation suggestions. This person has first hand experience in some accommodation choices so he / she can give you more information about the property.

One of the Facebook groups where you can ask for advice. Make sure to head over to the group page & join!

Another way to ask for advice is to join Facebook groups like Philippines Backpacker / Traveler, Couchsurfers & Backpackers Philippines, Southeast Asia Backpacking, South East Asia Backpacking, Backpacking Southeast Asia Alone, Backpacking North & East Asia & the list goes on. These members of these groups have traveled, are currently traveling & will travel different places around the Philippines, Southeast & East Asia. A simple post asking for recommendations can give you numerous suggestions where to stay in a certain place.

T – Theme

It is also important to know the theme of the accommodation you are going to book. If you are into partying & meeting people, then you should book a party hostel. If you are on a shoestring budget & doesn’t mind sharing the room with other people but is not into partying, then you must get a bed in a normal hostel. If you think you need to relax in a luxurious way, then you should stay in a 4-star or 5-star hotel. If you are into relaxation but in a very low budget, then affordable hotels would do. Do you prefer to stay in a place where you have access to your own kitchen & dining area? An apartment / serviced apartment suits you. If you are on a budget but still want access to kitchen & dining facilities, I believe guesthouses are perfect for you. Knowing what to expect in your accommodation helps set the mood of the trip.

T – Travel Accommodation Booking Websites

Agoda’s website

Famous booking websites such as Agoda, Booking.com, Airbnb & Hostelworld help a lot in looking for the best accommodation choice in a certain place. These platforms provide the kind of room to expect, what facilities do the property have & reviews of guests who have previously stayed in the property. These booking portals are user friendly – you can sort the available properties based on review scores (made by people who traveled solo, as couples, with friends or families who previously stayed in the property), price (from most affordable to most expensive), number of stars (for hotels) & distance from city center.

Screenshot of Booking.com while I was searching for accommodation suggestions for my Indonesia trip 2 months from now – I arranged the available properties according to review scores.

Make sure to compare the prices of properties in these different platforms because they tend to vary from one to the other. You might find a hostel which is already affordable in Hostelworld but is ₱200 cheaper in Booking.com.

E – Emails & Facebook Pages

After comparing the prices of a certain property in the above-mentioned travel portals, head over to the property’s website or Facebook page & send an inquiry about your planned stay. Why? It’s because the property might have current promotions or offers which will make the nightly rate cheaper. There will also be times where it will be cheaper if you book directly with the property.

R – Reviews, blogs & vlogs

I mentioned above that booking websites provide reviews made by people who stayed in the specific properties. While those reviews can already help you decide, I believe it’s best to also check & read additional reviews from Tripadvisor. Reviews posted in this website include stays of people who booked directly to the property or through another different booking platform. You can also head to the property’s Facebook page to check on some reviews.

Tripadvisor page of Seahorse Guesthouse Coron – it’s the #1 specialty lodging in Coron based on the users’ reviews | Stayed in this property last May 2017

You can also look for blog reviews & Youtube vlogs made by travel enthusiasts. This will widen your perception of a certain property; you will also get more good & not-so-good information & experiences about these accommodations. It will help you decide where to & not to stay & also have an idea what place to avoid.

Another #1 hostel I’ve stayed with in the past – this time in Krabi, Thailand | Slumber Party Hostel is the best party hostel I’ve been to! Check out the rates!

N – Newsletters & mailing lists

Make sure to subscribe to newsletters & mailing lists of your favorite hotel chain or booking platform. These websites send out regular or weekly emails containing promotions & offers of certain properties in chosen cities or places. You can also check with your respective banks & credit card providers for possible promotions or discount codes. Who’s going to say no to discounted accommodation costs anyway?

Subscribed to Hostelworld’s mailing list so I get e-mails like this weekly.


Booking trip accommodations is not easy as easy as counting 1, 2 & 3. It’s a long, confusing & a mind-boggling process with a number of factors to consider. If you are travelling with friends, make sure to ask for their preferences, comments & suggestions to prevent unwanted rifts & misunderstandings (had one incident in the past 😂😂😂).

If you are not keen on spending on accommodation, you can try Couchsurfing. It is a hospitality & networking website where locals host travelers & visitors in their house & apartments. I haven’t personally tried it, but I have friends who said they had really good experiences with their hosts. I will definitely try this one day; I’ll let you guys know.

That’s it for today. I hope the tips mentioned above will help you decide where you’ll stay for your next trip. If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to leave a comment below. You can also reach me via email by sending it to contact@thewkndtravel.com. You can also send me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.

Thank you for reading. Sa uulitin! 😊

Tuesday Tip: 5 Steps To Easily Pass Through PH Immigration

Clearing Philippine immigration is probably the most nerve-racking part of an international trip, especially for first timers. You can’t consider your trip a go-go if you haven’t passed through immigration. Why? It’s because anything can happen in the immigration counter. Even though the ratio of people being offloaded compared to those allowed to pass is very small, it still happens. It can happen to anyone, even to frequent flyers.

These immigration officers only want to assure a few things. First, you can afford to travel to your destination of choice. Second, your documents are valid & are correct (also to save you from all the hassle in immigration of your destination). Last & probably the most important reason is that you will come back to the Philippines after your trip. There are a number of Filipinos who go to a certain places like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong & the likes to look for a job & apply their working visa there. This is primarily the reason why immigration officers are a bit strict in screening people going out of the country.

Here’s the thing – you can’t choose the immigration officer where you’ll line up. You also won’t have an idea on how lenient or how strict will he / she be during your turn. Worry not, I am here to help you. No matter how strict the immigration officer is, there will always be means on how to get away with it.

Let me give you 5 tips on how you can easily pass through Philippine immigration.

Disclaimer: These tips are only for solo travelers or those travelling with friends for leisure / tourism. There might be other requirements for people travelling under a sponsored scheme, those travelling with minors & those travelling abroad for work.

Have your passport, immigration form & boarding pass ready

Your passport, boarding pass & accomplished immigration form are the 3 main requirements for you to pass immigration. Your passport should not expire in the next 6 months (people from the check-in counters also check this) & should contain a valid visa if your destination requires one. Make sure all information written in the immigration form are all correct & valid.

Present additional travel documents

If the mentioned 3 things are not enough, the immigration officer will now ask for additional travel documents to ensure your return. These documents include round-trip air tickets & hotel accommodation bookings. You don’t need to know all the details of your flights & hotel / hostel but make sure to have an idea about your return flight date & at the very least the name of your hotel / hostel.

Bring IDs & additional documents

The immigration officer needs to know that you are financially capable of travelling. Normally they ask where you work, what your position is in your company & how long have you been working for the company. Do not forget your company ID. Immigration officers ask for this after your plane ticket & hotel bookings. Additional documents that can help are income tax return form, HMO ID, certificate of employment or student ID, credit cards & original / photocopy of bank passbook or bank certificate.

Answer questions politely & direct to the point

Rule: One question, one answer. Don’t elaborate. Immigration officers are trained to screen people. They also know when people are telling the truth or are lying. If the officer asks you where you’re going & for how long, just answer with your destination & number of days. They don’t need to know what you’ll do there, where you’ll go per day & what you’ll buy, unless they ask for those details. It will also help if you have an idea on the major tourist landmarks of your destination.

Relax, smile & be confident

As mentioned earlier, immigration officers are taught to profile travellers. Any sign of nervousness in your body language would lead them to asking more questions. The more you get nervous means the more it shows you are hiding something. Further questions are asked to let you slip up your true intention of travelling. If there is nothing to hide, just relax, sport your best smile & be confident.


The ultimate goal is to give an impression to the immigration officer that you will come back to the Philippines after your trip. Note that all immigration officers are different – sometimes you easily pass through because of pure luck, but most of the time, it’s how you project yourself in front of Mr. or Ms. Immigration officer.

Do you have any good or bad experiences with the immigration officers here in the Philippines or abroad? How did you handle these situations or perhaps how did you deal with all the questions & interrogations (sorry for the word) asked? Do you want to ask something before you jet off for your international trip?

Feel free to post the questions & stories in the comments below. You can also send me an email to contact@thewkndtravel.com. Drop me a message on Facebook, drop a comment on Instagram or send me a tweet on Twitter.

Don’t have your tickets yet? I’ve shared my practices on how I book tickets for as low as ₱1,800+ to & from Bangkok & ₱2,100+ to & from Japan. Head over to this post (and this post too) to know more.

Thank you for reading. Have a great day! 😊