Cambodia. Temples. Angkor Wat.
Guilty here! Honestly I did not make enough research before embarking on this journey. Cambodia has more than just temples to offer.
We visited Phnom Penh and Siem Reap to discover great things about this kingdom. We did pretty much everything in our short stay.
1. Feast on Khmer Dishes
Food should always be on top of the list. Thank you for that nod. Indeed, you cannot say that you visited a country if you haven’t tasted their cuisine.
This was at Phnom Penh Night Market. Aside from the stalls of clothes, souvenirs and what-not’s, there was food. There are many choices available from fried rice with pork, chicken or beef; assorted fried food from chicken, meatballs, battered shrimps and spring rolls which are quite similar to Vietnam’s. We picked out the food we wanted to eat and chose to sit at an available table. There are also mats placed at the center of these stalls where a lot of locals and tourists choose to have the meals.
Chocolate, vanilla and coconut ice cream with coconut meat. Coconut water was also served when you buy the ice cream. A perfect way to end that sumptuous meal.
While making our itinerary, I was tasked to list down the food we are about to try; and Fish Amok was one of them. I have been bugging my friends to eat Amok since we stayed at Phnom Penh. We cannot pass our last night in Siem Reap without tasting their national dish. Beside our hostel, Naga Angkor Hostel, was a small restaurant serving Khmer dishes. We had Chicken Amok since fish was not available. It is the Cambodian version of curry and it was delicious. We also ordered fried rice which a serving is good for two to three persons.
We hit Siem Reap’s night market and scourge for street foods. Every night. By the way, no fried insects were harmed during our street food episode just lots of rolled ice cream though.
2. Chase birds at the Royal Palace
In front of the Phnom Penh Royal Palace is a vast green patch of field where lots of birds are trying to get some sun. It is a good spot to have picnics and watch the sunset. It was midday when we visited the place, not really a good idea to have picnics if you are not fan of getting burned.
3. Learn Kampuchea’s history
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum was the imprisonment and torture site during the Khmer Rouge which happened during 1975. The buildings which includes the prisoners’ bed, torture equipment and photographs of the prisoners were still preserved. The floors of the torture were stained with blood. The cramped cells where you realized that you had probably claustrophobia. It was an eerie place. I had a heavy feeling as I visited every corner of the museum and read through Kampuchea’s history.
It was astonishing that some survivors of that dark phase are working in the museum and can still give you a bright smile after what they have been through.
4. Strolling around Siem Reap’s Pub Street
Bright lights and music can entice you to go around and see what night life in Cambodia is like. Definitely a handful of places to get some drinks, food and chill.
5. Shopping at Night Markets
Any Filipino traveling would buy something Cambodian for our love ones at home. But who are we kidding? It is good to get something for ourselves too. Haggling is also welcome here.
6. Temple hopping
As you can see temple hopping is not the only activity one can enjoy in Cambodia but it does not mean we can left it out either. We got a one day pass for around 37 US Dollars. But a full day would still be not enough to visit every temple.
For first time travelers in Cambodia, here are some useful tips,
1. Cambodian Riel and US Dollars are accepted everywhere. During our stay, the exchange rate of one dollar is equivalent to over 4,600 riel. If you would choose to buy in dollar, most stores would convert a dollar in 4,000 riel. It was better to pay in riel. But you can also opt to pay in both currencies.
2. There are clothes’ restrictions in visiting temples. No revealing clothes such above the knee shorts or skirts and shoulder-baring clothes. Wear something light and comfortable. Don’t forget to slather sunscreen and bring enough water. Allot time for each temple and include travel time from temple to temple.
Cambodia might be well-known for Angkor Wat and other temples but wouldn’t it be nice to know more about their history, culture and people.