The Mekong Express staff picked us up from our hotel in Phnom Penh and took us to the Mekong Express coach bus port. The coach staff were very professional and the journey was very comfortable and smooth. It was more comfortable than the Air Asia plane in my opinion. We were given two pastries and a bottle of water each and they stopped off for lunch and toilet break. There is also a toilet on board the coach and a TV where they played Khmer music clips and movies. The coach ride ended up costing us 12USD each.
I would definitely recommend the Mekong Express coach service when traveling from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap or vice versa and from also Saigon to Phnom Penh which we also did.
We arrived at the bus drop off point in Siem Reap at around 2:30pm and the tuk tuk driver from the Villa Siem Reap guesthouse was waiting there to pick us up. After checking in to our rooms we arranged for the guesthouse tuk tuk driver to take us to view the sunset on Phnom Bakheng and to buy our temple passes. We bought the 3 day non-consecutive temple pass for 40USD each.
The view from Phnom Bakheng was incredible and a must see for the sunset. Although, a load of tourists will be there pushing and making their way there up in order to get a good spot. Make sure you also climb back down before it gets dark otherwise you wont be able to see the steps clearly and to get down safely.
The next day I had organised for tour guide Leng Tek to show us around the many temples of Angkor. I had booked Tek for two full days. Tek and his driver picked us up from our guesthouse early in the morning and we visited Banteay Samre, Banteay Srei, Kbal Spean and Beng Melea. It was a very hot and busy day and we learned a lot and enjoyed seeing the many sites. We thoroughly enjoyed Banteay Srei and Beng Melea and the trek up to seeing Kbal Spean. More especially Beng Melea for the adventure feel and you can climb up and down and around the rocks of the temple. The trek up to Kbal Spean was also adventurous with the climbing up and down over the rocks.
The following day Tek and his driver again picked us up early in the morning for another exciting day at the temples. On this day we visited Banteay Kdei, Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat, Kravan, Ta Keo, Angkor Thom and Bayon. We enjoyed Ta Prohm but most we loved Angkor Wat and Bayon. Angkor Wat with its mysterious and remarkable feeling of being there and what a sight to behold and Bayon being so beautiful especially when you get their in the evening when the sun rests on the many faces and lights them up.
We stopped off for lunch during both days and we thoroughly enjoyed our meals. We felt that the lunch at the street stalls in the middle of no where were more tastier than the restaurants down at Pub Street.
We cant highly enough recommend Leng Tek and his tour guiding services. Before our trip I was hesitating whether we would need a tour guide or just go it on our own. I am so glad now that I decided for a tour guide and especially Tek because we wouldn't of had no idea of what we were looking at and the history behind it if we didn't. We saw heaps of tourists looking at temples and cravings and having no idea on what they were. Some were even listening into Tek's explanations then finally understanding on why things were as they were.
Tek and his driver were very professional and accommodating. They treated us like kings and made sure we were always comfortable and happy. He was very knowledgable and humorous at the same time. His English was first class and his many years of experience really shone throughout. By the end of our trip we had learned heaps and our knowledge of Cambodia and its history and the meanings behind the temples were very in depth which made us enjoy Cambodia even more.
What made it even better by hiring Tek was that he knew what times to visit what temples and how to avoid the crowds in order for us to get the best sights and to see the sights without major hordes of tourists. We have some amazing photos as well all because of Tek who knew which positions were the best in order to get the best pictures. All in all, definitely get a tour guide...ITS A MUST...unless you're happy carrying your Lonely Planet guidebook and reading it in the hot sun. Definitely get a tour guide and definitely look into hiring Leng Tek. Search on the forums for his contact info or you can contact me and I will give you his details.
Every day after our long temple visits we would go to Pub Street for a walk around and for happy hour and dinner. The atmosphere was electric with people everywhere. I have never seen so many tourists in my life all in one place. The restaurants were many with all kinds of foods. All very cheap. I don't think we ever spent over 15AUD for any meals that being two main meals, entrees and desserts and drinks.
We also went to two night markets next to Pub Street - The Angkor Night Market and the Noon Night Market. The night markets were very busy selling all sorts of wares - souvenirs, clothes etc.
On our 4th day here we made a trip up to Happy Ranch horse riding. Sary Pann the owner picked us up from our guesthouse and we made the bumpy, dusty tuk tuk ride up to the stables. We thoroughly enjoyed our time here at the Happy Ranch and I would definitely recommend this to everyone who visits Siem Reap for a day break from visiting all the temples. To see my full review on the Happy Ranch you can check it out on the Happy Ranch review section.
On our final day in Siem Reap we did our last minute shopping and bought a few paintings which would be lovely for our house back home to remind us of our wonderful trip in Siem Reap.
We visited the Old Market and Centre Markets also which were a short walk from our guesthouse. They all sold the same sort of stuff and with the heat we made the most of it and bought what caught our eye.
Our stay in The Villa Siem Reap was alright...nothing special really and our full review can also be found on the accommodation review section of this site.
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Siem Reap and it is a definite must for all travelers. The temples are a once in a lifetime experience and the people here are just magic - so friendly, so innocent and always with a smile on their face. We fell in love with Cambodia and will be visiting again really soon. I believe Cambodia in the next few years will sky rocket with the new malls, and developments and will become the leading country for tourism in South East Asia. For everyone who believes they have traveled everywhere and have yet to experience Cambodia then they haven't really traveled at all.