Sunrise at Angkor Wat

If you book Bros as your Tuk Tuk driver, he can of course pick you up and take you to Angkor Wat to watch sun rise – I’d highly recommend this.  It does mean an early start, I was picked up by Bros on his Tuk Tuk at my hotel in Siem Reap at 5am.

I watched the sun rise (with a few hundred other tourists) from the water front in front of Angkor Wat.

Sunrise at Angkor Wat - November 2015
Sunrise at Angkor Wat – November 2015
Tourists at 5:30am outside Angkor Wat to watch the sun rise
Tourists at 5:30am outside Angkor Wat to watch the sun rise

Once the sun had almost fully risen I was inside looking around Angkor Wat enjoying it without the heat of the blazing sun.  Another great spot was once inside the complex in front of the water nearer the main temple entrance.

The sun almost fully risen inside the main complex before the temple entrance at Angkor Wat, Cambodia
The sun almost fully risen inside the main complex before the temple entrance at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

It was also a great opportunity to get to near the front of the queue for the opening of the steps (at 7:40am) to third level.  Opening hours run until 5pm and it’s closed on Holy Days.

Waiting until 7:40am for the stairs to the top level of Angkor Wat to open.
Waiting until 7:40am for the stairs to the top level of Angkor Wat to open.
For some the wait until 7:40am for the queue to the top level of Angkor Wat is just too much!  A tourist catches some much needed sleep before hand!
For some the wait until 7:40am for the queue to the top level of Angkor Wat is just too much! A tourist catches some much needed sleep before hand!

At around 7:15am it’s worth getting inside the ropes of the waiting area to be near the front.  I saw a guide recommend this to the couple he was showing around, I promptly joined them…..and then sure enough a few hundred others had soon formed a massive queue behind us.

Oh and once at the top, if you don’t like heights…don’t look down!  You’ll also probably want to clean your hands after holding onto the metal handrail, seems to turn your palms brown!

I was one of the first, in fact the third, up the stairs at just gone 7:40am.  You can see the length of the queue that had already built even at that time to view the top level of Angkor Wat.
I was one of the first, in fact the third, up the stairs at just gone 7:40am. You can see the length of the queue that had already built even at that time to view the top level of Angkor Wat.

Remember, if you need to arrange  a friendly, English speaking Tuk Tuk driver to get you to Ankor Wat for sun rise or any other time, contact Bros via this site.

 

A Tuk Tuk Ride to Kom Pong Pluk Floating Village

Kompong Phluk is a floating village on the banks of the Tonle-Sap-Great Lake.  Many families live here and base their livelihoods off of the local fishing.

Bros can off a trip on his Tuk Tuk to see the floating village of Kom Pong Pluk for $25 USD, see the booking page.

On a recent trip with some guests, these photos were taken, that give you a bit of a flavour of what to expect….

 

Have you visited the floating village or have questions?  Leave your comments below….

Getting from Siem Reap to Battambang by Bus or From Battambang to Siem Reap by Bus

If you’re headed from Battambang to Siem Reap, or vice versa, Siem Reap to Battambang, it may not be obvious that there’s a quicker alternative to the boat, albeit perhaps less scenic (but a big time saver).

For some reason the Mekong Express bus company’s website doesn’t list a route in Cambodia between Siem Reap and Battambang (as at November 2015)….

The Mekong Express website (http://catmekongexpress.com/) does not list a route from Siem Reap to Battambang.
The Mekong Express website (http://catmekongexpress.com/) does not list a route from Siem Reap to Battambang.

However, you can book a ticket with Mekong Express for this very route (Siem Reap to Battambang or in reverse Battambang to Siem Reap) using the generic Cambodian travel ticket booking site, CamboTicket.  Very random, but it works – exactly what I did.

Siem Reap to Battambang by bus with Mekong Express, but only available to book via CamboTicket
Siem Reap to Battambang by bus with Mekong Express, but only available to book via CamboTicket
Battambang to Siem Reap by bus with Mekong Express, but only available to book via CamboTicket
Battambang to Siem Reap by bus with Mekong Express, but only available to book via CamboTicket

Remember, if you are headed to Siem Reap, get in touch with Bros to book him in advance as your tuk tuk driver to cover pickup and your temple tours – details on the booking page here.

What to Pack for Visiting the Angkor Temples Near Siem Reap, Cambodia

The Tomb Raider Tree at Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor, Siem Reap. Certain scenes from the first Tomb Raider movie were shot at this temple spot - you'll see why when you visit!

After recently visiting a whole host of the Angkor temples near Siem Reap in Cambodia in November 2015, with Bros as my TukTuk driver, here’s my recommendation for what to pack:

What to Pack for a Stay in Siem Reap, Cambodia

  • Modest clothing.  For some temples including areas of Angkor Wat, gents will need to have their shoulders covered, so pack t-shirts or light shirts, and for your knees I’d recommend long shorts.  Ladies long skirts, shoulder covering top.
  • Sandals – let those feet breath, but support your ankles and have decent grip.  You’ll want it on some of the rocks and steps.
  • Swimming gear – hopefully your hotel or hostel has a pool to cool off in after long days visiting the Angkor temples!

 

What to Pack in your Day Bag for Cambodia’s Angkor Temples

  • Day Bag – take a sensible day bag or handbag that you feel happy and safe storing all the bits in below.  Something you can easily hold on to would not be easy for a thief to grab or walk off with.  For this reason I’m not that much of a fan of a massive ‘bum bag’ AKA ‘fanny pack’ that you see many tourists wearing (still).
  • Angkor Temple Ticket – It may sound obvious,  but don’t forget this.  On your first day if you book Bros as your Tuk Tuk driver he’ll drop you off at the point to buy your ticket (book him here).  It’s $40 USD for a three day pass, single day passes also available but will work out at a higher cost if you visit three days.  By Default they will set your pass to three consecutive days, I understand you can ask for separate set dates.  Keep your ticket somewhere safe to hand to show as you enter each temple.  A bonus if this isn’t your wallet, the less times you have to take it out the lower the chance of losing something or the potential for an impulsive pickpocket to see where you’re keeping it.
Angkor World Heritage ticket - you'll need this to get into the temples such as Angkor Wat.  A three day pass cost $40 USD in 2015.  Oh and dont forget to smile for the camera when buying your ticket?!
Angkor World Heritage ticket – you’ll need this to get into the temples such as Angkor Wat. A three day pass cost $40 USD in 2015. Oh and don’t forget to smile for the camera when buying your ticket?!
  • Camera and/or phone – Something to capture your snaps on.  For the pro’s you may wish to consider a tripod.  Selfie sticks seem to also be order of the day!
  • Hand sanitiser and/or wet wipes – Pretty much a must for the hygiene concious traveller.  After you’ve climbed to the top third level of Angkor Wat in particular, holding onto the metal rail, you’ll definitely want something to clean your hands with, your palms will be looking orange!
  • Food and (optional) water – If you’re starting early before your hotel’s breakfast time, ask them to prepare you a breakfast box of food you can pick-up and take with you.  If you’re hiring Bros as your Tuk Tuk driver he can keep this cool, if necessary, in the tuk tuk’s coolbox.  Chances are you’ll eat if before the sun is up.  If you hire Bros, no need to pack your own water, as he’ll supply cold water for you all day long as part of your tuk tuk hire.  Book him here.
  • Wallet and/or money – Take the little money you do need for the day to perhaps buy some food or extra drinks, or maybe souvenirs when out.  Don’t carry around your credit cards and all of your cash unnecessarily, best keep that in your hotel’s safe box.
  • Hat – To keep the sun off you during the day.
  • Sunglasses
  • Insect Repellent – Keep the bugs and mosquitoes at bay.
  • Sun cream – Sun protection is obviously a big theme here.
  • Guidebook – Personal choice, but if you have one and intend to take it, don’t forget it.  Please don’t get scammed into buying the $1 guidebook, the one they’ll show you is too good to be true, it’s not what the seller (scammer in my mind) will hand over for $1, instead you’ll get a thinner pamphlet and they’ll want you to pay more for the book.

I hope these lists help.  Think I’ve missed something?  Add your comments or questions below.

Vegetarian and Vegan Food in Siem Reap

If you’re looking for a decent vegetarian or vegan restaurant whilst in Siem Reap visiting the Angkor temples, look no further than Banllé.  Even if you’re not vegetarian, this is seriously worth a look.   I ate there twice and wish I’d had further opportunities.  The food is creative, interesting, presented beautifully and tastes amazing.  Service was also top notch, always with a smile, you can tell the staff and owners take pride in the restaurant.  The price is also extremely reasonable.  As a vegetarian (borderline vegan) I hadn’t found that many places to rave about in Cambodia, but Banllé certainly changed that.  Read their TripAdvisor reviews here and their own website here.

You can find Banllé at Street 26 Watbo Village | Phum Wat Bo, Siem Reap, Cambodia.  Of course, during my stay Bros dropped me off and picked me up from here in his tuk tuk and can be booked (see ‘Book‘ page) for an similar restaurant tuk tuk journeys around Siem Reap and Angkor.

The garden restaurant area of Banllé restaurant in Siem Reap. Fine vegetarian and vegan dining.
The garden restaurant area of Banllé restaurant in Siem Reap. Fine vegetarian and vegan dining.

Dinner with a Cambodian Family

Dinner with my tuk tuk driver and his family. Khymer vegetarian food.

During my stay in Siem Reap and tour of the Angkor temples, Bros my Tuk Tuk driver was kind enough to invite me to join him and his family (his wife and baby son) for dinner.  I first warned Bros that I was a vegetarian (no meat or fish), but this was no problem.  They cooked up a real feast of Khmer food, many vegetable and noodle dishes, accompanied by German beer!

Dinner with my tuk tuk driver and his family. Khymer vegetarian food.
Dinner with my tuk tuk driver and his family. Khmer vegetarian food.