Cambodia is fascinating, beautiful and filled with some of the most amazing people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.
Staying in Siem Reap and exploring the Angkor temples is a must on anyone's travel plans to south east Asia.
Cambodia requires a visa but when I went we applied online printed a couple copies out and it only cost about $20USD, the drawback though is that it did hold us up for maybe 30minutes upon entry because the online visas are apparently not in widespread use. I heard that buying a visa at the border is also a viable option but of course did not hear about this until it was too late. We took a bus from Saigon Vietnam and it is literally a complete cluster f*ck at the border but its pretty much expected and just part of the long journey. A boat ride up the Mekong would be a nice alternative from what I have heard.
Upon arriving in Siem Reap you will be bombarded with Tuk Tuk drivers, and bartering a fare is the norm. Our driver was amazing and we used him for everything our entire stay. Getting to talk with him and ask him about his family and upbringing was more than enlightening and one of my best memories there. I very highly recommend the Siem Reap hostel. It was the best experience with lots of other young kids, perfectly clean, a gorgeous swimming pool (which helps in the humidity), a very decent selection of cheap food, a projection screen for movie and beer nights and the most awesome staff. Going out with the hostel mates to Pub Street was a blast. A short walk or tuk tuk ride away, pub street is filled with bars and restaurants all of them unbelievably fun. Angkor What? was a good one, but you can literally walk down the street and be entertained. The buckets (yes literal buckets of alcohol) are cheap and will get your night started.
Obviously the Angkor temples are a huge attraction and cannot be missed. Our tuk tuk driver spent the whole day taking us to different temples (there are more than Angkor Wat, which is just the largest and most well known). It costs $20USD for a 1 day pass. What is so cool, is that you truly get to walk through the ruins with little restriction but obviously much respect for preservation. It is enthralling, and we also made friends with some young monks who were just hanging out and praying in the temples. Learning about their schooling and training made the whole thing that much more personal. Going for sunrise or sunset is a must, it is one of the most beautiful memories I have from all of my travels.
Cambodia is well known for its damaged history and social ills such as child trafficking and high HIV rates. Yet it is one of the most joyful and inspiring places I have ever been.
The people and and places here are truly some of the best in the world.
Written and contributed by KateMay