Siem Reap, Cambodia Tourism: Where To Go and Eat - 6D5N - Day 1
From Kuala Lumpur, we did an "Amazing Race" going to the LCCT (Low Cost Carriage Terminal) airport. Why? That's because from the hotel, our taxi brought us to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) by mistake. We went in, looking for the Air Asia terminal. Horrified, we realized the mistake! It's already 5:30am and according to the taxi terminal, it'll take us at least 20 minutes to reach LCCT. Take note, our flight to Cambodia is scheduled to leave at exactly 6:50am. We left KLIA at 5:45am - all of us silent on the way after paying more taxi midnight charges (plus 50%) - worried that we might miss the flight.
happy picture at KLIA airport (before realizing the huge mistake)
Boarding time: 5:50AM - we reached the LCCT airport at 6am! So if you could just imagine us, we were literally running from the taxi to the check-in counter to the boarding gate. Even the attendants were telling us to RUN FASTER! And to make matters worst, our plane was at the far end side of the airport. Hearts beating fast, all three of us just ran as if our lives depended on it. In the end, we were really lucky to be able to get on the flight just in time :p
MORAL LESSON: Always check which airport you're supposed to go to and always, ALWAYS try to be at the airport at least 2 hours in advance :p
Kingdom of Cambodia embarkation card
The flight from Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap, Cambodia was approximately 2 hours via Air Asia.
Good flight via Air Asia
Resort-like feel at the Siem Reap Airport
"Lost and Found"
Our first day started with a series of unfortunate events. After enjoying the victory over our race with "time," we found out that Ligia and Mark Davis's luggage never left Kuala Lumpur. So we continued checking-in at the hotel with my one and only luggage and carried on with our planned itinerary - while making constant calls with the airport to track the luggage.
From the hotel, it took us about 1.5 hours to reach BENG MEALEA, a temple in the middle of the jungle. On our way, we saw a glimpse of how Cambodians live.
Cambodian houses are usually elevated. They used to have movable ladders which they bring up at night to keep them safe from wild animals like cheetah and tigers. Nowadays, they have stairs and use the ground level for resting from the afternoon heat. There is no electricity in the villages so the shade really helps to keep them cool.
I saw plenty of hay stacks and small clay houses. I learned that Cambodians use the hay and mix it with clay to make small "houses" to keep their things. It's like an extended stockroom :)
Rumduol Khmer Restaurant
Beef Steak ($6) and Chicken Amok ($6)
We stopped at a nearby Khmer restaurant and had an amazing lunch. It was our first time to try a Khmer specialty - chicken amok and we loved it. It tasted like Tom Yam + Thai Curry soup (only a teeny bit sweet). When in Cambodia, you must try the amok dish.
Beng Mealea ticket - $5 each
After lunch, we headed straight to the highlight of our day - BENG MEALEA. It is not yet that popular so expect less than 10 visitors in the whole area - perfect for picture taking :) Click the link above to check out the exciting temple in the middle of the jungle.
Stilted Village at TonLe Sap River Tour
We also went to TonLe Sap for the famous river tour ($10 each). It was an eye opener for us to appreciate life more. Click the link above to know what I'm talking about.
Pub Street – Cambodia
Our first day in Siem Reap was fantastic. Even with the unfortunate events, it still turned out great :) But it doesn't end yet, we had to have dinner and dessert of course to celebrate the wonderful first day. If you don't know where to eat in Cambodia, just ask your driver to drop you off at PUB STREET - this is where the party's at.
Khmer platter at Angkor Palm Restaurant
The Blue Pumpkin - ice cream shop ($1.50 per scoop)
We saw the sign "Lonely Planet recommends Angkor Palm Restaurant" so that's where we had our first Cambodian dinner. For dessert, we went to the ice cream shop beside Angkor Palm, The Blue Pumpkin. It is the most popular dessert place in Siem Reap. We loved the flavors but the problem was they were not frozen enough and melted too quickly, probably because the store cannot hold the temperature needed.
TIP: When riding a tuktuk, make sure you talk to the driver and tell him that you are only paying him $2 for the ride to the hotel. They might tell you $2 each but respectfully disagree because $2 is the normal cost per ride, not per person, but per tuktuk from Pub Street to the hotel.
FYI: Rarely will you be able to dine at an air-conditioned restaurant/shop in Siem Reap. Also, from our 6 days stay, we never once saw a Cambodian dining at the restaurants in Pub Street. Our tour guide told us that electricity and rental are very expensive and so do the food costs that's why most of them eat at the comfort of their homes and not at restaurants.
WHEN IN CAMBODIA, don't forget to check out the following things to do, places to eat and places to go in Siem Reap:
Where To Stay In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Angkor Palm: Bar and Restaurant in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Beng Mealea - Must See Place in Siem Reap, Cambodia
TonLe Sap River Tour: Stilted Village Tour
Borei Angkor Resort and Spa