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Siem Reap



to Cambodia


complex of temples


the best transportation

Zuzka Greizinger


I’m a stewardess, but I used to be an editor for a magazine, so I always have had my head in the clouds. In addition, I’ve always been attracted by the heights and distances and so I came up with a great idea – I could explore the world as a flight attendant! 🙂




Between my flights from Tokyo and to New York I have exactly three days off. How much time do you think I need to decide to go for the trip, repack the suitcase, book the tickets and accommodation and go? Well, exactly 45 minutes! 

I have three days off gap which needs to be filled up with some short trip since I feel quite down lately and traveling always helps. But where to go for such a short trip? Siem Reap in Cambodia has always been on my bucket list and connection through Bangkok from Abu Dhabi is super easy. I didn’t sleep much last days as I just arrived from bustling Tokyo and I won’t sleep any time soon as after three days I’m operating a flight to other side of our planet but still, I’m ready to go… Even weather conditions and empty seats on my booked flights seem promising…


Best time to visit Siem Reap

The best time for Siem Reap is December and January, when the days are assuredly sunny and dry. Just be aware that this is the peak tourist season, so you’ll find it more crowded everywhere and prices will be higher. April and May can get very hot in Siem Reap, especially in May when the wetter weather adds a layer of sticky humidity to the high temperatures. And from June through November, you can expect a lot of rain. On the other side, temples are less crowded and the surrounding tropical landscape is at its full, fertile, green glory. Certainly, do bring an umbrella but the rainfall usually comes in brief showers with moments of good sunlight. I’m here in the beginning of February and I find it as a great compromise…

Asia’s Boutique Airline

First I’m taking a flight with Etihad from Abu Dhabi to Bangkok and luckily on the board I see my two friends working among the operating crew. I didn’t even know! So lucky I am! They keep one raw of seats just for me so I can catch up on sleep. From Bangkok to Siem Reap there is direct one hour long flight with Bangkok Air. As I got lost at the big airport, I’ve missed check-in time, but they let me go anyway. Thank you, dear staff! I’ve never flown in smallest airplane! ATR 72 feels almost like a private jet…

Visa on arrival

You can get tourist visa on arrival at the airport in Siem Reap, just fill the forms you get in the aircraft and don’t forget to bring a passport picture. I forgot and I’m stressing about it but they give me visa anyway. Seems they don’t do much drama about it. The price for visa is $ 30. Bring dollars with you in cash for whole trip.

Free upgrade

Last minute I booked very nice Golden Banana Residence with swimming pool, breakfast and round trip airport transfer included for just about $ 40 for a night. And they replied they were full and there was a failure in booking system so I would be upgraded to a better place just next door. At the airport young hotel boy together with the tuk-tuk driver are waiting for me holding the paper with my name on it. During our ride across Siem Reap to my hotel young boy with he widest smile is giving me some briefing information about Cambodia and Siem Reap. I’m more interested about life of Cambodian as I know Cambodia is very poor country. He says those who study English can work in tourism and that’s something like privileged profession for them. When we are passing through the busiest part of the city I’m introduced to Pub street – centre of the night life in Siem Reap. But I don’t think I’ll find the time to stop for some beer and Cambodian street food since I’m extremely tired. The Amazing Residence where I was upgraded is really amazing. I love my spacious bedroom, bathroom with a big bathtub and boho style home deco. Quick shower and good night for few hours! Tomorrow I have to wake up at 4:00 am for famous sunrise over the lake in front of Angkor Wat Temple.

Getting around in Siem Reap

Definitely by tuk-tuk. You can hire one for full day, they will take you wherever you want and will wait for you while you’re sightseeing. Yesterday with the help of the hotel boy I made an agreement with our tuk-tuk driver to take me around the complex of Angkor Wat temples. The hotel recommended tuk-tuk are more expensive due to tuk-tuk having to pay commission to hotel, but you can find a tuk-tuk driver for cheaper on the street. I didn’t have time for it as I arrived quite late. The price is around $ 30 for small circle (half day tour) and $ 40 for a full day. 

Where to buy the Angkor Pass

Angkor is a huge complex of temples spreading round Siem Reap. It’s not just one temple as I thought. Unless you are Cambodian, you must possess an admission pass, often called Angkor Pass, to visit the temples in Angkor Archeological Park – Unesco Heritage Site. The pass is valid for some other monuments in the Siem Reap area, like Phnom Krom, Wat Athvea, Kbal Spean, Beng Mealea and the Roluos Group. The Angkor Pass can only be purchased at the official ticket center, located 4 km away from Siem Reap town and open from 4:30 am to 5:30 pm every day. It’s not possible to purchase the ticket online or through hotel. It can be paid in cash (US Dollars, Cambodian Riel, Thai Bath or Euro) or by credit card. An on-site ATM is also available. You can’t purchase your entrance ticket upfront. Angkor Pass for a one-day visit is issued up to 5:00 pm, ticket issued after 5pm are valid for the next day. There are 3 types of passes available – 1-day pass for $ 37, 3-day pass for $ 62 and 7-day pass for $ 72. 

Visiting hours

Most of the temples in the park can be visited from 7:30 am – 5:30 pm, but there are exceptions: Angkor Wat and Srah Srang can be visited from 5:00 am to 5:30 pm, to make it possible for visitors to witness the sunrise; Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rup can be visited from 5:00 am to 7:00 pm for both sunrise and sunset.

Angkor Wat temples and why the right timing is everything

When you come to Siem Reap they will tell you to wake up at 4:00 am and go to Angkor Wat to watch the sunrise. But the same information will get thousands of other tourists and visitors, so don’t count on that early morning hours will help to avoid crowds. Not here! But anyway, watching the sunrise over the lake is a must and there is not such a option as sunrise without people. In the dark you might not see them but they will be sitting everywhere around you waiting for the same thing… But this information can help you to plan the rest… After the sunrise experience go explore as much as you can but the best temples leave for the next day. Next day you need to wake up early again. Check the opening hours for particular temples you want to visit at most. It will be around 7 – 7:30 am. And while other people are watching another sunrise, start exploring the rest of this huge complex of temples. I would definitely start with Ta Prohm. This is the one with trees coming out from the roofs and the one famous from Tomb Raider movie. Here you want to spend most of the time, here you will take most of the pictures. So be there before the crowds. Tuk-tuk drivers will have the main circle route and big circle route ready for you. But to me circles are not necessary. All the temples look more or less same. If you visit just Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat and Bayon (temple of faces), you will see what you expected from this trip…

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

I didn’t have this information before and I have no idea how huge the complex is so advised by my tuk-tuk driver we are leaving 4:30 from the hotel for the main circle. And the big circle is planned for the next day. Hotel stuff prepare for me simple breakfast box and we can go. First we have to stop at the ticket center where I have to stand in line for tickets. But around 5:00 my driver is already leaving me in front of the gate of Angkor Wat. It’s a complete dark outside and I feel quite lost so I’ll hire one of the guide for $ 20 offering their services at the gate. It’s not necessary, you can just follow the crowds. I take it as giving hard working Cambodian people chance to earn some more money. The guide promising to show me the best photogenic places is taking me to the side-lake. While we are waiting for the sunrise in first line next to lake surrounded by other people, he is giving me some brief information about history and culture of Angkor Wat. I get to know, that the beginning of February is not the best time for the visit. In China they have New Year holiday and truly, the place is packed with Chinese tourists. After the sunrise my guide is briefly taking me around, helping me with pictures and then leaving me for self-tour. I still have some time till 8:30 when I’m supposed to meet my driver at the main parking lot. After Angkor Wat we are visiting another sites of the main circle. Scenario is always the same: the driver drops me in front of the gates and waiting for me until I come back. All the temples look very similar, just Ta Prohm and Bayon are outstanding. Unfortunately, it’s getting very hot and very crowded everywhere.


Afternoon chill

Around 1:00 pm we are done with the main small circle. The driver wants to take me somewhere for lunch but I prefer to go back to my air-conditioned hotel. Fresh pineapple and mango I bought on the way is more than enough this time of the day. More I need is refreshing shower and chill by the pool. Later I’ll have early vegetable curry for the dinner and ultimate back massage in my hotel. No time for Pub Street, I just want to go to bed.

Like Lara Croft in Ta Prohm

The initial plan for the second day was the big circle route. Since I don’t have to wake up for sunrise and temples are open since 7:00 am, today I don’t have to wake up as early as yesterday. I’ll take my breakfast box and I’m changing my plans. I’m telling my driver to forget about the basic route (all the temples look same to me anyway) and take me back to Ta Prohm – the most magical and unique place in Siem Reap. Ta Prohm is best known for the movie Tomb Raider and I really feel like Lara Croft inside. It’s also well know for the giant trees which growing out of the walls and dominate its ruins. I admire the strength of the nature. All place looks like enchanted fairy-tale… I’ll manage to get back to the hotel before the lunch time. The breakfast buffet is still open and even though I had my simple breakfast box they will allow me to join. I still have some time for the shower and rest before I have to go to the airport back to Abu Dhabi…

Facts about Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is a temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. It is more than 900 years old. Originally it was constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire but it was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. Nowadays it has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag. 

Zuzka Greizinger


I’m a stewardess, but I used to be an editor for a magazine, so I always have had my head in the clouds. In addition, I’ve always been attracted by the heights and distances and so I came up with a great idea – I could explore the world as a flight attendant! 🙂