Well Siem Reap gobbled me up and spat me back out! One of the worst hangovers I’ve had in years which has been the reason we’ve gone quiet over the last 4 days. I thought it would be a good idea to leave it a couple of days before reviewing our trip. If you’d asked me 2 days ago what I thought of Mad Monkey Hostel and Siem Reap, I would have probably said “never again”, but on reflection it was a fantastic experience and we met some amazing people.
I’ll rewind to landing in Siem Reap from Bangkok: You need to have US Dollars on you from the start! You have to pay $30pp for a 30 day travelling visa, along with $2 per passport photo, if you don’t bring one along (we luckily had some with us). Also you have to prepay for your tuk tuk/mini van/bus etc to leave the airport in dollars. We were so lucky that Georgi’s mum had given us some dollars before going, or we would have been in trouble! (Thanks Libby)
We were staying at Mad Monkey Hostel, which many of you may have heard of, this was a $7 tuk tuk ride from the airport, so it’s nice and easy to get to. In Cambodia they use American Dollars as well as Cambodia Riel, the way to understand it is – you will pay in dollars and get riel in change. The exchange rate is 4000 riel to 1 dollar and 1 dollar to 75p .. it does get tough on your maths skills at times.The hostel was amazing to be fair for $6pp per night, we had a shared bed room of 4 with the best air con. The pool was nice and chilled in the day with occasional underwater beer bonging going on. The beer was $1 a glass on tap, cocktails were $3 and the beer pong was set up and free all day up in the sandy Top Banana Bar! Between 8-9pm each night it was “Free Beer” so get to the bar as many times as you can.
There were local staff, including a lad who looked about 10, as well as seasonal staff making drinks constantly. Don’t get me wrong, it is a party hostel and you knew it! There were activities planned each night, be it bar crawls, live music with free beer, beer pong tournaments and numerous “free shots at the bar” calls. One night we hit the local club “Yolo Club” for a couple of hours and had a fantastic time. The drinks in the club ranged from $2-5, but listen out for the “free shots on the dance floor” call from the many reps inside that take you from the hotel. Don’t think you needed to buy a drink if you really wanted to save the penny’s.
This is the night we managed to blag a free tuk tuk as I told him “he was going that way anyway”, how we got away with that one I don’t know. The food from the hostel kitchen was actually really good! You may have seen some pics from mine or the 2going1way Instagram account. It was reasonably priced and tasted amazing .. the club sandwich sorted me out whilst I was in a dark place one morning.
We found a really good spot for breakfast, a little bakery opposite which did croissants and other pastries and all for 60-80cents, you could sit in with free wifi or take away if you have a bus journey etc to get.
Our trip to Angkor started on a bad foot, as I was soooo hungover it hurt to stand. But I ploughed through and Georgi struggled through the sweat and distance we had to cover on foot. We paid $25 for a tuk tuk to take us from our hostel around all the big sites of Angkor. It’s like a small city, it’s waaay to big to walk. We had heard of people cycling the route, but again it was 35 degrees and a very long way so not advisable in our eyes! Makes more sense to pay for the driver, who knew his way and waited outside whilst you explored the temples. Half way to Angkor you have to buy your tickets, it was $37 for a day pass per person! Extremely expensive but I guess it’s a huge income for the Cambodian economy. The big plus is they take your photo and put it on your ticket so you always have a souvenir.
We had heard people say you can sneak in, but we got checked at the entry point to every temple. It’s $100 fine if caught without your ticket, so not worth the risk. I struggled through the day, but believe me, even in that state the views and the temples were incredible. I would highly recommend and it should be on everyone’s bucket list.
The video will do more justice than I can ever explain in words, so I’ll leave it here for now.