This is a long post. In fact this is our longest post to date. It is because we mixed our advices, tips, and recommendations with the narrative of our experience. We’d of course appreciate it if you’re going to read everything but we prepared quick notes in the end. Thanks for visiting!
Cambodia is a popular tourist destination. Its rich and well-preserved culture has attracted people worldwide. And for Filipinos breaking into traveling internationally just like us, it makes a good starting point. Situated west of the Philippines, it only takes a 3-hour flight from Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to get there. To add to the convenience, the country does not require Filipinos to prepare a visa unless they are staying for more than 21 days. In our case, that’s long. Long enough to forget that we got a job back home waiting for us.
On the average, we travel far for recreation three times a year. November being our birthmonth is one of our travel seasons. We’ve visited a number of local destinations in the past. But this year, we and our significant human Eunice agreed to take things to a new level and travel outside of the country. While she did most [if not all] of the planning, we could say that planning was a breeze [paranoia aside]. We had to worry more about the requirements for leaving the country than arriving to our destination. Thanks to modern technology and our significant human’s efficiency, everything from flight to accommodation to tours was booked months ahead of our trip. We had to do last-minute changes but they didn’t really cost us a lot. With so much hype on travel, every airline now has online booking and mobile applications exist for booking a place virtually everywhere. It pays to know how to make the most out of these services.
We were dropped off at NAIA by Eunice’s brother about three hours before our flight. We thought it would be better to just wait there than come rushing like we are in an episode of Amazing Race. We also made it sure that we were being dropped off in the right terminal. In our trip to Bohol more than a year ago, we had to ride a cab from terminal 3 to terminal 4 and the cabbie extorted P1200 ($24) from us.
Time went by quite unnoticeable. After paying the terminal fee, we simply hung out in one of the fast-food restaurants for an early dinner. We tried to exchange some of our money for Cambodian Riel but the only foreign exchange booth we saw didn’t have any. Ironically, they have a sign saying that they exchange any currency. When it was flashed on the screen that our Cebu Pacific flight to Siem Reap was boarding, we headed to the departure area, got past security checks, and were flying in no time.
We landed in Siem Reap airport a bit earlier than our expected arrival time. After presenting our passport, declaring that we had no goods with us, and finally getting some of our cash converted to the local currency, we were met by our tuk-tuk driver and drove us to the hotel.
Lights were low when we arrived at the hotel; it was very late. Dim places generally don’t appear very welcoming. It gave us the feeling that we booked in an old formerly government owned building converted into some hotel. For a moment, we thought that Agoda failed us. But the place made up for all of it in the following days. It turned out to be more pleasant and homely at daytime just the way we like our accommodation. It definitely offered a lot compared to all other hotels we’ve been to.
The 6-day stay in the hotel costed us less than $100. With it came a spacious air-conditioned room with TV, free breakfast, access to the pool, bike usage for roaming around on your own, facilitation of your tour, and exceptional hospitality. When we had to be out at 4:30 am for the sunrise viewing at Angkor Wat, we were surprised that the staff prepared breakfast for us. Moments before that, we were already thinking of where to grab a quick breakfast. They change your towels all the time without you asking for it. Refreshments are actually free. Give them a dollar and they can also take care of your laundry. All of these come at a hefty sum in the Philippines. The only additional charge we had to pay for was for the extension we requested when we decided to kill time in the hotel while waiting for our flight back to Manila. It was a few dollars.
A hostel is of course cheaper, but we are not really the backpacker type who can trade comfort for less expenditures all the time. We can only be convinced to go backpacking in short trips by group or perhaps if we’re alone. When we go on travel dates with our significant human we prepare to shell out quite a sum.