Last week, I discussed my solo trip to Rome, which kicked off my 6-week solo adventure around Europe and SE Asia. One of the fascinating countries I visited in Asia was Cambodia, which is famous for the ruins of Angkor. This is where the Khmer kingdom flourished from the 9th - 15th centuries. I absolutely love ruins; it's just something about walking into a place where life actively occurred hundreds of years ago. I feel blessed to have access to so much history and am always amazed at the intricate architecture that was crafted during a time period that didn't have machines. Visiting these places offer insight into just how intelligent human life has been for centuries. Similar to Rome, I spent 3 days in Cambodia, and it was actually my last destination before flying back to Thailand and then home. Keep reading to find out where I stayed and what I did!
Throughout my whole 6-week journey, I stayed in hostels because I was fresh out of graduate school and broke like any typical student. I wanted to spend my money on excursions and sightseeing, so I appreciated hostels for providing affordable rooms. Since I was traveling solo, it was also a great way to meet other people and not feel so alone. Most people who stay in hostels are looking to meet other people, save money, and probably traveling solo. Even though I've personally outgrown hostels at this point and have transitioned into more luxury travel, I still think hostels in Cambodia can be a great choice for anyone on a budget and looking to meet other travelers. I stayed at The Siem Reap Hostel, but it seems to not exist anymore. However, in general, SE Asia is used to tourists and have so many infrastructures in place to make your trip smooth and easy. Most of the popular hostels in Cambodia have a pool, bar/restaurant, and organize tours to the ruins. Basically, you don't have to worry about anything. I was able to book all my tours through my hostel, including a traditional dinner with show, and for the other nights, I ate and hung out at the bar. The rooms aren't all that, of course, but the convenience of the hostel for only about $10/night (SE Asia is VERY affordable!) can't be beat. However, since everything is so affordable, this would also be a great place to splurge and stay in a fancy hotel; it just depends on your budget.
Everyone who visits Siem Reap has their eyes set on touring the ruins, specifically Angkor Wat, which is the most iconic. As I mentioned earlier, Angkor was the center of the Khmer kingdom from the 9th - 15th centuries. The temples are incredibly intricate and the complex spans 400 kilometers. It's best to visit early in the morning, so that you can catch the sunrise over the actual Angkor Wat temple, then explore the rest of the complex before the sun becomes unbearable. Although Angkor Wat is the most famous ruin, my personal favorite is Ta Prohm temple, which is where Tomb Raider was filmed. This one is so beautiful to me because huge trees have grown on top of the monuments; their roots intertwining with the stone. It's romantic and whimsical vibes hit you as you walk through it. I also loved the Bayon Temple because of the huge and intricate carvings of stone faces on some of the upper terraces. The good news is that there are numerous temples to explore and get your fill of ruins. The bad news is that there are numerous temples to explore and quite impossible to see them all unless you dedicate a week to the area.
I'm so glad I made the decision to hop over to Siem Reap and include it in my SE Asia trek. Air Asia was an affordable way to travel between countries ($20-60 flights!), and I used them to go from Thailand to Malaysia to Cambodia, then back to Thailand. Next week, I'll start my series on Thailand since I dedicated about 3 weeks to it.
Have you been to SE Asia? Which country was your favorite?
xoxo, Global Midwife