Solo Trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia – March 2011 – Getting There

As it has happened in the past, I realised the financial year was nearing an end and I had about 26 days of leave left, of the total 30 that I am entitled to. Firstly, I couldn’t believe that the whole year had gone by and I hadn’t travelled anywhere! Secondly, I would have been miserable had I done nothing about it. So I planned a trip to Singapore and Cambodia. Singapore was a long pending one. I kept threatening friends that I would come over soon, but never did. So I decided to finally make good on the threat! Of course, Murphy’s Law had to prevail. So when I checked my passport, it was just 6 months away from expiring and I wouldn’t be allowed to enter any country let alone stay for a while. So that began a chapter of getting my passport renewed, but was not as painful as I thought it would be. And then I planned again. Singapore for a bit, then to Siem Reap, back to Singapore and then back home. 9P1040467 days in all.

I won’t be blogging about Singapore since it involved meeting friends, enjoying the super nightlife and of course, shopping. It wasn’t my first trip so I didn’t do any sightseeing. As glorious & memorable as it was, its not what you want to hear about, do you? I shall head straight onto Siem Reap.

I have always wanted to visit the Angkor Temples and it’s been somewhere on my mind, thoughts usually ending with a ‘some day’. So when I was looking at what places I could go to from Singapore, I began reading about Cambodia and decided that was it! Fairly easy to go to as well since there’s visa on arrival. March is the end of the high season for Siem Reap (the town close to which all the Angkor Temples are located) since it’s the beginning of summer. This also suited me well as it was not difficult to get flight tickets on days of my choice and hotel bookings too. I booked everything online & I can tell you that there is no need for a travel agent. I don’t believe in them. Spend sometime reading up about your destination online, make your itinerary & just do all the bookings. Simple. My trip started on a fab note when I was upgraded to Business Class on Silk Air.

Was it safe for me to travel by myself? Absolutely. Since I am on Couchsurfing, I got in touch with a few couch surfers and got a few tips beforehand. There’s a great Cambodia forum on CS which answers most questions & any other questions I had, I asked Nikki, who runs the forum. She was extremely helpful and even offered to take me to dinnerP1050309 to a great new vegetarian restaurant when I got there. I would have of course, liked to Couchsurf in Siem Reap but couches weren’t available for the dates I wanted. So after a lot of research, I chose the Steung Siem Reap Hotel, and did not regret it for a minute. It was a fantastic location, right next to the Old Market and Pub Street, the central area for food, nightlife & shopping in Siem Reap. Unlike people who would stay at hotels closer to the temples and have to take Tuk Tuks to come to this area, it was a much better option to stay in this area as the temples only take 30-40 minutes to get to by Tuk Tuk. Being from Mumbai, that’s a breeze!

Why solo? Well, it just so happened this way. I have travelled solo and with friends. Both are different experiences and there’s something good to be said about both. With friends, there’s never a dull moment, you share all your experiences, and enjoy their company. Solo travel gets you to meet different people since you are more open to conversation with people sitting next to you. It’s lovely to speak to people from different cultures, doing different things in life and a welcome change from all the digital, marketing & advertising conversation that I am surrounded by in Mumbai! I met Gerda, a Dutch lady, travelling solo on my flight in, she stayed at the same hotel and was on the same flight out. So the journey to & fro became memorable instead of it being just another airport-flight-airport-hotel experience. Gerda lives with her family in Singapore & was taking her first solo break from her life and kids for a few days. Some ‘me-time’. I didn’t plan any of my temple visits with her but I very much enjoyed chatting with her about my life & hers, India & its culture, and her travels all over the globe.

Next post will be about Siem Reap & of course, the Temples!

I got some great advice from these blogs & forums, so do check these out too.

Traveling Mark, Bombay Nomads, Fodors, Frommers

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  1. I have yet to try couchsurfing, having the guidance of a local seems like a great way to discover a city

      • Namrata B
      • April 4th, 2011

      yes, couchsurfing is great! it’s a great community where people are helpful though they haven’t even met you yet. and seeing a city through the eyes of a local gives you a completely fresh perspective. you should try it.

      • Namrata B
      • April 4th, 2011

      oh and thank you for visiting my blog!

    • Emma
    • March 18th, 2013

    Hello,

    I liked reading your blog. Perhaps you can help me answering a few questions. I am going to Cambodia on September this year. Besides Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam are also listed to be visited. But still I have a question about a hotel you might have seen during your visit in Siem Reap. I booked the following hotel: Tara Angkor Hotel. You know if it is a good hotel? I heard good stories about it. What are the best attractions to visit in Siem Reap and in the surrounding?

      • Namrata B
      • March 18th, 2013

      Hello. I remember tara angkor as being a good hotel. it sounds like you have planned an awesome trip! Siem Reap attractions: The Angkor Wat temples obviously are a star attraction and you must visit them! my personal favourites of all the temples were: banteay srei, banteay samre, neak pean, bayon & of course, angkor wat itself. apart from that, pub street in siem reap has really good pubs and restaurants. Also the night markets of siem reap for some cheap shopping, in the old market area (psar chaa). if you have time, walk around the stung river too.

        • Emma
        • March 19th, 2013

        I am really looking forward to this trip, but first I still need to work. Thank you for your information, and it is already on my list to visit. I heard from friends that the following restaurants are good.
        Tonle Mekong
        Tone Sap
        Tonle Chaktomuk
        Can you agree with that, or haven’t you been there?

        • Namrata B
        • March 21st, 2013

        To be honest I don’t remember the restaurant names except vitkong and I remember that because it was vegetarian and had some truly awesome food. But most of the places I went to on pub street were good.

    • Emma
    • March 22nd, 2013

    Ok, thank you for your help.

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