Arriving from southern Laos we had heard a lot of bad things about crossing the border at Strung Treng between Laos and Cambodia. It is true that this is the first time we have crossed a border on foot. Either we were not at rush hours (10h morning), or we now used to outsmart the traps set by the locals to rip you off a few dollars, because we had no worries. Indeed, arriving at the Laotian border post, some locals are trying to sell you an easy border crossing process for 40 $. You just have to ignore them! The entire passage cost us 37 $ per person: exit stamp Laos 2 $ (incidentally little or not legal, but it is a Laotian policeman who asks so good), then 35 $ for the visa to the arrival on the Cambodian side. This does not count of the boat and the bus to 7 $ to go to the border Laotian side since Don Det, but also the minivan to 20 $ to go to Siem Reap from the border, but it depends on de Your itinerary.
Siem Reap and temples of Angkor
So here we are after 10h transport to Siem Reap, modern city, a lot of traffic, and full of tourists, it changes from southern Laos! Well we are not here to knit, we come to visit as 100% of the tourists here, the temples of Angkor. After talking with Tuk-tuk drivers, we opt for a visit in Tuk-tuk, cheaper than that by bus or private car and especially more flexible. The driver will wait for us, and we will leave when we want and where we want. Some opt for the visit by bike or scooter, but it is still convenient to have someone who knows the place and explains in English more or less rudimentary a little history. The tuk-tuk driver will cost us 20 $ per day for 6-8h service.
So we visited about fifteen temples in 2 days and our favorites are:
- Angkor Wat, of course, especially since we could see the sunrise and visit the floor before the crowd arrives! It must be done early in the morning!
- Ta Keo, a tall temple somewhat looking like a Mayan pyramid
- Ta Prohm, for its landscapes worthy of a decoration of Lara Croft and for the site very well restored.
After being honest, it's really beautiful end to end, each temple has its own character and I think we can spend more time, however the entrance to the site is very expensive (except tuktuk for travel ): 62 $ per person for 2 days, so as much to make them profitable by spending a maximum of time on the site. The site of the temples is well maintained and remains pleasant despite the crowd.
Thomas also took the opportunity to buy a new phone because after 4 years of good and loyal services his Iphone has given up the soul and all the repairs made since 6 months have not changed anything!
We had chosen a home away from the city center, may be a little regret the top, because despite the beautiful scenery around, we did nothing except visit the city center 6km away! Then the 30kms walk into the temples of Angkor and the bus 10h to come had certainly left traces! Well the advantage is that we were in an AirBnB and we were autonomous. We cooked pasta and barbecue with great local sausages: the Kep Pig, a French producer established for several years in Kep a seaside resort not far from there!
Koh Rong Samloem
So for Koh Rong, we had the choice between two islands, and heard that Koh Rong was for the party and Koh Rong Samloem more relaxed and family. We were on the end of our "banana pancake" in Southeast Asia and really wanted to rest (again). So we naturally went to the second option. Coming from Kampot, it is very easy to reach Sihanoukville, the 2th largest city in the country with a large port and a seaside resort, here it is very animated and with constructions from everywhere! Not very relaxing, but arriving on Saracen Bay after ferry 1h, we were not disappointed! We had a beach bungalow on the front line. Goodbye shoes and flip flops for 4 days. Here the main transport way is the beach!
You must know that access to different places of Koh Rong Samloem is on foot or by boat! There is no road, so no car or scooter on the island, which makes it peaceful and very quiet! The internet is accessory! We did not do much more than swim, sunbath, eat, drink a few beers and re-po-ser! We even extended our overnight stay at the expense of visiting Phnom Penh in more detail ... no regrets honestly! Here are some pictures of this little paradise:
That's it, no need for filters, the place is just beautiful by itself.
Some good places around Saracen Bay:
- Eden Seaside Resort: good place to sleep not too expensive for a beach front bungalow, managed by Russians, cold welcome, but very good value for Koh Rong Samloem
- Sunny Bungalow: good/cheap and very clean bungalow (about 50-60 $) and very good place, close to restaurants and very close to the dock where the ferry arrives
- By the Sea, blue and white Greek style restaurant, with good food
- The Big Easy, a western menu not very expensive compare to other places on the beach, good!
Summary of Cambodia
- Koh Rong Samloem and especially Saracen Bay! Just wonderful ! A heavenly place! One of the most beautiful beach seen during our world tour!
- The temples of Angkor and the history around the temples, but above all we believe in film landscapes such as Indiana Jones or Tomb Raider.
- Waste literally everywhere, except for highly touristy places, Siam Reap, Kampot, Koh Rong Samloem. Which is good, but it's really more shocking than all the countries we visited before: Laos, Indonesia, Montenegro. This smell of garbage takes your nose very often, even in the capital Phnom Penh where we spent only one day.
- The passage through Sihanoukville mandatory to go to the islands, big city unpleasant!
- Once again, the beer, Klang for purists: very strong and not expensive, and the Angkor or Cambodia for the classics one!
For 13 days in Cambodia we had a budget of 780 EUR, and then 70 USD for visa on arrival. We were above budget.
Of course, visiting the Angkor temples alone costs 164 USD for the tuktuk driver and the tickets. But also the waterfront bungalow on Koh Rong Samloem at 276 USD for 4 nights, and the one day extension on the island did not help to keep up with the budget.
Also to know that the food is a little more expensive than in Laos in general, it is still possible to eat for 1-2 EUR but comfort food is more expensive than in Laos and Thailand.
We spent 1023 USD so about 910 EUR, so 130 EUR above the budget! But we do not regret it, then again we will do better in the next countries!