I have always wanted to go to Cambodia since after I’ve watched Tomb Raider. Living in the Philippines and growing up in the province, I am used to the simple, uncomplicated way of life where we have our own beliefs, and traditions distinct from the rest of the country. Over the years, I have developed a huge interest in old cities, traditions, and culture. The ones that take you back to years before technology took over the world. Cambodia goes beyond that. I walked inside temples, visited museums, and ate delicious food that took me back to thousands of years before civilization and it was an incredible experience.
Angkor is a region in Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire. It is the largest in Southeast Asia that flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries. There are over 100 stone temples scattered throughout the Angkor region, the 5 listed here are the definite must-sees.
Unquestionably, Angkor Wat is topping this list. It was built by Suryavaram II to honor the Hindu god Vishnu. Angkor Wat is the earthly representation of Mt Meru, the Mt Olympus of the Hindu faith and the abode of ancient gods.
An inscription on the temple suggests that it was built on the site where King Jayavarman defeated invaders from Champa, a region that is now Southern Vietnam. Preah Khan is a genuine fusion temple. The eastern entrance is dedicated to Mahayana Buddhism with equal-sized doors, and the other cardinal directions dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma with successively smaller doors, emphasizing the unequal nature of Hinduism.
The Tomb Raider Temple. Ta Prohm should be on the list of every visitors. Its appeal lies in the fact that it had been swallowed by the jungle, and theoretically looks very much like the way most of the monuments of Angkor appeared when European explorers first stumbled upon them.
My personal favorite amongst all the temples I’ve visited. Known as the face temple, these huge heads glare down from every angle, displaying power and control.
Prae Roup Temple
Prae Roup means turning the body. It refers to a traditional method of cremation in which corpse’s outline is traced in the cinders. This suggests that the temple may have served as an early royal crematorium.
Angkor National Museum
Another must see is the Angkor National Museum. It houses 1,000 Buddha images, has exhibit about the origin of Khmer Empire, Khmer’s Religion and Beliefs, The Great Khmer Kings, Angkor Wat, AngkorThom, The Evidence of the Past, and Ancient Costume. Visiting the museum was a beautiful learning experience.
- Grab a beer at Pub Street
- Shop at a night market
- Try $2 Fish Spa with a free can of Cambodian Beer or Soda. Let Dr. Fish clean and relax your tired feet.
- Get a good massage at a very affordable price
- Try different Khmer food
- Send postcards to your friends
Where to book flights?
My go to platform in finding the cheapest flight is Skyscanner. As soon as you log in from their website, it will give you recommendations of where you should go next or if you are unsure, you can even search everywhere. If you already know where you are going, just type in your destination and it will provide you the cheapest flight you can get and even show you the cheapest deal available in a certain month.
Where to stay?
For hotel and accommodation, Agoda and Booking.com is my go to platform. They always have discounted deal from different hotel based on your budget. We stayed at Visoth Boutique Hotel. It was located near the different shops and restaurant, so it was very convenient for us. We’ve also arranged airport + hotel transfer with them.
We booked our daily tour at our hotel although it was paid separately. Our guide was very friendly, and he speaks a little English. He kept a container full of water bottles inside his tuk-tuk and told us to just ask for one when we are thirsty.
Some things that might be helpful to you
- They use 2 currencies, US dollars and Cambodian Riel. Anything below 1 USD are paid in Cambodian Riel otherwise all transactions are in USD.
- Filipinos do not need a visa to go to Cambodia
- Angkor National Museum entrance fee: 12 USD
- Angkor Passes for 1 day: 37 USD (valid only on the day of purchase), 3 days: 62 USD (valid for 10 days from the date of purchase), 7 Days: 72 USD (valid for 1 calendar month from the date of the purchase). The prices apply to foreign visitors. For children younger than 12 is free (just show the passport). They also accept payment with Visa, Mastercard, UnionPay, JCB, Discover, and Diners Club.
- If you are constantly looking for cheap flights like me, I suggest you subscribe to Cebu Pacific Air and AirAsia newsletter and be a member of Getgo and AirAsia BIG to receive emails regarding airline promotions ahead of time regularly.
What’s amazing about Cambodia is that you already have an expectation of what you will see there, but it will still surprise you in so many ways. Cambodia is already inexpensive, but still, the experience will give you your money’s worth.