In 2012 we flew from Vietnam to Siem Reap in Cambodia and stayed 3 nights in the town.
The main purpose of the visit was to see the famous UNESCO-listed temple at Angkor Wat as well as other temples in the surrounding area.
We were lucky to find an excellent guide on the first day. Mr Kao was the friendly taxi driver who drove us from the airport to our hotel. We got on so well with him that we asked him to show us around the whole area over the next few days.
We agreed on a price with him that ensured we would not be taken to any tourist shops until we were completely done with the temple visiting.
Kao was great fun and spoke English very well. He told us about his family and their history through the dark years of Cambodia’s troubled past. We invited him to dine with us for lunch each day and we got him to explain all the food we were eating and used him to ask questions of the people preparing it.
We made sure that we toured the surrounding temples for the first two days and left Angkor Wat until last. The area is quite magical. Yes, there are tourists everywhere and the inevitable people selling fake antiques, bananas and post cards, but the majesty of the place seems to take hold of you and make you feel you are seeing something that has remained more or less the same for centuries and centuries.
You fully expect Angkor Wat to be absolutely stunning before you go there. The fact that it actually is absolutely stunning doesn’t seem to remove anything from the feeling you get. You are looking at something that is almost quite unique in the world.
Each evening we went out in the town centre of Siem Reap. The town caters for the many tourists and there are lots of relatively high priced restaurants selling food aimed at foreigners. Nevertheless, we used the Lonely Planet to guide us and we had 3 fantastic meals to remember Cambodia by.
On the last day of our visit we stopped by the market hall in Siem Reap and had a good look around.