In April 2019, I visited Thailand and Cambodia in a ten day trip. Now wishing I stayed for longer; I was only in Cambodia for two days; and had to prioritise where I wanted to go and what I wanted to experience.
Spending my first day in Cambodia in Phnom Penh; where I visited the s21 Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields; I flew from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and headed to my hostel for an early night before heading to Angkor Wat for sunrise at 4:45am.
- The Killing Fields, (Choeung Ek Genocidal Center), Cambodia
- S21 – Genocide Museum, Cambodia
Angkor Wat was constructed in the 12th century; taking almost 30 years to build, it is now the largest religious monument in the world.
As the sun started to rise behind Angkor Wat; haze obstructed the spectacular sunrise I was expecting; however, I decided to beat the crowds and head into Phnom Bakheng while most of the tourists were gathered at that 'famous Angkor Wat spot'.
I spent the whole day exploring the temples with my driver Rethy; admiring the breath-taking architecture inside Angkor Thom City, including Byaon Temple and the North Gate of Angkor Thom City
In the afternoon, Rethy took me to some less popular temples; Banteay Kdei and my personal favourite, Ta Nei. Before heading to the Tomb Raider famous temple; Ta Prohm.
Ta Nei is known as the 'hidden temple'; surrounded by thick jungle and one off-road route for access. Having been constructed in the 12th century, it is believed that the temple was deserted along with the other temples in the area in the 16th century. Now, the temple is in a fairly ruined condition, surrounded by rubble and overgrown trees. Well worth the detour.
As I was only in Cambodia for two days; I booked my tour guide Rethy, through Angkor Private Tour Guide; who drove me around Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to save hassle and it was completely worth it. We formed a friendship and explored the temples together while he told me stories, jokes and teaching me everything he knew about Cambodia.
Rethy was completely flexible from start to finish, basically asked me what I wanted out of my time in Cambodia and made it happen without any issue. He also runs Rural Pure Water Project, which contiues to provide clean water to poor families through donations.
For as little as $230, you can provide a pumping well and water filter to one of the poorest families in Siem Reap's rural area.