10 Things To Do In Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the city adjacent to the ancient city of Angkor that hosts travelers from around the world who’s main objective is explore the temple of the ancient city of Angkor. However, there are other things to do in siem reap beyond the temple hopping experience in Angkor Wat Complex. Here’s a quick list of Other Things To Do In Siem Reap

    1. Pub Street

      It may not be as wild as Soi Cowboy in Bangkok but Pub Street does offer a good number of bars. Beers prices start for as low as $.50 and food can be priced at your usual bar prices. Just make sure you don’t bring valuables cause the night can be a bit too crazy and intoxicating, you wouldn’t want to wake up losing your wallet.
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    2. War Museum

      Cambodia as recent as the 1970’s has seen the horrors of war. Visiting the war museum is one of the other things to do in Siem Reap. It showcases the arms and equipment used during the time of struggle to gain independence from the vicious dictatorship of Polpot. Siem Reap was one of the places where people were sent to farm for the country, which unfortunately was a bad decision snce they were city people who do not know how to farm.

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    3. Tonle Sap Tour

      South east Asia’s biggest lake, the Tonle Sap hosts to communities who have adapted living on water. You will find restaurants, houses and even schools floating on the lake. Be careful though with scams about the orphanage. Tours usually include the Kampong Phluk Floating Village (pictured below) which is by a flood plain by the river. When the water level rises the whole village seem to look like it is floating as the plains become part of the river as well.

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    4. Cambodian Circus

      Catch the performance of the Pharem Circus near downtown Siem Reap can be one other things to do in siem reap that you can put on your list. The circus features acts by specially trained performers from the same province
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    5. Apsara Dancers

      You can find different Apsara Dance shows in hotels but they might be a bit expensive. You can however check out Koulen restaurant’s buffet dinner with Apsara Dancer Show at about $12 a person. You can call them to reserve a seat but I don’t think that will actually reserve a specific table for you even if you ask so be there early. Try to locate you selves near the stage since the back side of the room can make it hard for you to see the show because of the pillars. The food they serve are mainly Cambodian food so expect that there’ll be lesser meat and more on the vegetable side. You may want to ask if they still offer pick-up service from the hotel you are staying with for your convenience.

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    6. Cambodian Cultural Village

      Never actually been here but a friend did visit the park once. They say that the park was okay, there were shows that show cultural dances and other things about Cambodia. There are also places for photo-ops that shows some kind of sized down Cambodia (think of Nayong Pilipino)

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    7. Lotus Farms

      Lotus are a main accessory in Buddhist worship and plays a big role in its history. You can find various lotus farms to supply the demands of the faithful several kilometers from downtown. It is best to visit the farms during harvest season where you can find Lotus flowers blooming. A visit to these farms can be really special during bloom season and is a perfect activity if you are thinking of other things to do in Siem Reap

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    8. Watch Shadow Puppetry

      One of the Cambodia’s cultural heritage is shadow puppetry. Traditional shadow puppetry is shown using a big bonfire at the back of a white linen where the shadows are projected. Paper cu-outs mounted on sticks are used to be able to create these beautiful shadows.

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    9. Bike Around Siem Reap

      Bikes are available almost at all hotels in Siem Reap. If you are looking for a guided tour though you can check out organizations like ButterflyTours to help you find off the beaten path routes around the city or even the entire province.

    10. Mt. Kulen

      About an hour away from down town Siem Reap, Mount Kulen is not the first thing tourist think about Siem Reap. But after all the temple hopping and partying a trip to Mt. Kulen and its waterfall can be literally refreshing!

      >>>Check Rates Phnom Kulen Tours<<<

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These are just some of the other things to you can do in Siem Reap after seeing all the temples of the Angkor Wat complex. More than these activities, Siem Reap is also a good place to just slow down and take a breather on your travels. If you want to share another activity that travelers can do in Siem Reap, make sure to leave them on the comment section. Also, if you are a company who wish to collaborate with us you can send us an email at contact[At]thebackpackerguide<dot>com

Crossing From Singapore To Malaysia

If you are on a Southeast Asian trip or just trying to maximize your trip in Singapore, a quick trip to Malayia can actually be done via land. Singapore is connected to Malaysia via a few entry points. From thee you can start exploring places like Joho Bahur or Melaka, or even as far as Penang or Kuala Lumpur via an overnight bus. Yes you can always book a flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, but if you are aiming for a cheaper alternative a night bus can save you a lot.

How To Book A Bus From Singapore To Malayia

While in Singapore I tried looking for a travel agency that where I can physically buy a bus ticket from. It was quite a challenge specially in the area where I was staying (Bukit Pajang). So after scouring the mall (Bukit Pajang Plaza) I went back to my accommodation and just checked online.

There are several sites that you can book your bu tickets, it is actually a lot more convenient it just my traditional thinking that’s kicking in. I choose BusOnlineTicket.com based on the price and departure times available. I booked a trip departing 12AM that night, cost was SG$28

Upon arriving at the pickup point, I just showed my phone with their email confirmation and I was admitted to board the bus. The same bus will be taking you from the pickup point, through immigration then all the way to your ultimate destination. It was Kuala Lumpur for me.

Immigration

The bus crosses the causeway bridge and takes you to the Singapore Immigration processing center. The center was large and well organized just like an airport. There were not much people at that time since it was midnight so everything went quickly. We went back to the bus and once every one was in we then journeyed to the Malaysian side of the border to be stamped in. The Malaysian immigration office was remarkably smaller compared to Singapore but since it was midnight everything was done quickly.

Timetable

Travel time between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is about 5-6 hours. If you are traveling after summer you might consider a few things when you travel. You will arrive when it still is dark at around 5 AM and if you are getting off at Berjaya Times Square make sure that you have changed your money to Ringgit before you leave Singapore. There are no 24 hours money changer around the area.

 

Got more tips about crossing to or from Singapore and Malaysia? Leave them on the comment section and we’ll try to add them!

Singapore Hotel: Marina Bay Sands

As a backpacker, you know that I am not a big fan of luxury accommodations. So when the opportunity came to experience the hotel at no cost (thanks to my cousin – so pretty 😉 ) I jumped into it right away. The Marina Bay Sands, located in Marina Bay in Singapore, is an integrated resort touted to be the most expensive in the country. The property is not only famous for offering 5 star service. The building it self has become a tourist attraction as its top shows to be shaped as a big ship.

Marian Bay Sands

While the Marina Bay Sands hotel also has a massive shopping mall and casino. The main draw for non gambling tourists is actually the ship shaped roof deck of the hotel.  The roof deck allows people see Singapore from a bird’s point of view during the day and a crazy party spot at night. While the viewing deck and the roof deck club is a great spot, people actually check-in in the Marina Bay Sands because of its unbelievably beautiful infinity pool.

What I Like About The Marina Bay Sands

The Rooms

Obviously, the Marina Bay Sands exudes luxury throughout the hotel. The rooms are spacious and offers a great view of  either the Gardens by the bay or a gorgeous view of the city.  The room that we got at first was the Grand Club Room thinking that it was on the higher floors. The room was spacious at 79 sqm with a stunning view of the Gardens By The Bay. However, since we were looking for a room at the higher floors at tower three we asked to be relocated. Why? Tower three has the access to the Infinity pool and it would be more convenient to access the pool from the higher floors. We made a mistake of booking the Grand Club Room assuming it would be on higher floors. We thought so because it was more expensive, well lesson learned. Thankfully the hotel was easy to deal with.

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The Infinity Pool

One, if not the biggest draw for people to stay in the Marina Bay Sands is the Infinity Pool. It stands to be the worlds largest rooftop infinity pool there is. Honestly, I never imagined my self seeing this awesome view from the pool. Like I said I am not a fan of paying so much, yet still the rooftop infinity pool was something to experience at least once in a lifetime. Yeah, you can call me lucky.

The Infinity pool faces the beautiful Singapore skyline. Since check in time was at 3 PM we only got to catch the sunset and it was beautiful. The pool may be a bit crowded that day since it was a weekend but the view was still mesmerizing. We enjoyed the sun while lounging on the sun beds until sunset.

Marina Bay Sands

 

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The Location

The Marina Bay Sands is very accessible. In fact, it is directly connected to one of the MRT Stations. It’s that convenient! The hotel is also just across the Gardens By The Bay so I just crossed the street and I was there! The Merlion and the famous Singapore skyline is also just a short walk away from the hotel passing by the Science Museum and Esplanade and through the iconic Helix Bridge.

What I Didn’t Like About The Marina Bay Sands

Thinking that the Marina Bay Sands is one of the most expensive hotels in Singapore, I was quite surprised about their pool. Why? Well, the pool is freaking cold!!! Yep the infinity pool is not heated. I had to brave the cold water on sunset. Your body will eventually adapt, of course but it could have been a way more comfortable if it was heated!

Another thing that I felt off about the hotel is when we checked in. Checking-in an expensive hotel should feel classy and sophisticated. But when we checked in at the Marina Bay Sands, it felt like we were in a Mall! The interior felt too stiff that even the high ceilings didn’t compensate the feel that I was looking for. The staff wasn’t actually that bad, but I feel that they could be a bit more polite and warmer. Just saying that I’ve experience better hospitality before.

What I Think About The Marina Bay Sands

If you can afford it go ahead it is worthwhile experience. Sitting at the roof deck under the Sun in the morning and watching the Sunset at night was awesome. But if you feel that you’d actually spend this into something more and stretch it further I’d say skip it. What I am just trying to say is that do it only if you really like it. I don’t have strong recommendation like it should be a must do, that your Singapore experience will be incomplete without it. But then it would be like a cherry to your icing if you do. If you have around a hundred USD and couple more friends to split the cost with and you want it, go push for it!

 

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Got a different experience with the Marina Bay Sands? Leave your story at the comment section, let us know!

How To Get To Pattaya From Aranyaprateth

Most travelers coming from Cambodia opts to go straight to Bangkok as soon as they cross the border to Aranyaprateth. But if you are looking for to have some time under the Thai Sun a quick stop over in Pattaya can satisfy your craving for some sand between your toes.

One can get to Pattaya from the border by booking a bus online, however most of the bus companies that I found are quite expensive. Good thing is that staff in the hotel where I as staying gave me directions on where I could catch a Van to Pattaya at a fraction of the cost.

After going through immigration find your way to the Star Plaza Mall‘s open air parking on the right side where van are located. You can buy a ticket from the terminal desk, they will issue a receipt so make sure that you don’t lose it because at some point of the journey they will be inspecting this.

Fare all the way to Pattaya is about 250 Baht.

Here are some photos of the terminal that you should be looking for.

Terminal Desk

Terminal To Pattaya

Do you know any other way to get to Pattaya from Aranyaprateth? Let us know in the comment!

How To Cross To Cambodia From Thailand

Crossing the Cambodian border from Thailand could be one of the most challenging border crossing one may experience, like how I did.

First off you need to get to Aranyaprateth, Your bus or van may drop you off at Aranya (possibly their nickname for the market area) and you would have to hire a tuktuk to get to the border it self. Some vans may drop you off at the Border like the one I took from Pattaya.

Find the entrance where it says departure and walk straight ahead. You’ll find a sign showing “Foreign Passports”, go up to the stairs -no photos and videos as soon as you enter the door; that’s the immigration area already. Line up and have your passports ready together with your departure cards to have it stamped. That’s it you are officially out of Thailand.

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As you exit the immigration building you will see the Cambodian border arch, walk straight past it going to the arrival area. If you are a non-ASEAN citizen or are needing a visa you may secure your visa at the building near after the arch. There are a lot of people at the Thai border who will try to sell you or scam you in getting a Cambodian visa so be very cautious.

The arrival area is just a small office, immeadiately secure an arrival card, fill it up then queue for the immigration officers. No fees should be collected at this point. I have heard some horror stories from fellow travelers that immigration officers ask for at least $1 for different reasons ranging from so called “Processing fees” to rediculous “First timer’s fees”

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Be cautious of touts as well, do not answer any greeting or question from strangers or they will follow you up till you actually get on a bus or taxi. I made the mistake of answering to a “Hello” then the next thing I knew is that there are three men following me trying to have me get their service.

Once you have processed your arrival you either take a shared taxi or a bus to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh or where ever you are bound to, at the international Bus Terminal (6kms away) by taking the FREE government bus or walk straight to the Vikram Buntham bus terminal just straight ahead down the road. Fare for this bus company ranges from 8-10 USD depending on what type of bus you will be taking.

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Always remember to check for your visa requirements and have enough money , be it local or USD -which ever is acceptable to your country of destination. It is important to know what you need to do and your rights specially when traveling cross borders to avoid being scammed.

Do you have a story or different experience in crossing the Cambodian border from Thailand? Let us know at the comment section!

How To Get To Khao San Road From Airport

There’s a couple of ways to get to the city from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, it is really up to you how would you want to navigate the city depending on how much time and convenience you are willing to let go. Here’s a couple of ways on how to get to Khao San Road from the airport.

Via Taxi

The most convenient yet expensive way to get to Khao San Road from the airport is by taking cab. Flag down rate starts at ฿ 35 while ฿ 6 is charged for every kilometer while a surcharge of ฿ 1.25 for every meter is applied if your vehicle is moving under 6 kph. You will also need to shoulder the toll fees for the expressway while you will be at the mercy of Bangkok’s famous traffic jams.

Via Bus

There are buses at the arrival area that you can ride taking you directly to Khao San Road. Fare is about ฿ 150 – 180 depending on the bus company. Compared to taxis they are more comfortable with bigger seats designed for trips, but just like the taxi travel time will depend on the traffic situation.

Via Train

First off, the train will NOT take you directly to Khao San road. You can take the airport train up to the end of the Airport Rail Link line which is the Phaya Thai station. From the Phaya Thai station, walk to the Victory Monument or take another train (just one station away ฿15) and take the 509 or 157 bus. Make sure to tell the conductor to unload you at the right stop. Fare from the airport to Phaya Thai station is ฿45 and the bus to Khao San road is ฿13

Victory Monument Bus Stop

 

Vans From Pattaya to Aranyaprateth

The most popular way of  going to Siem Reap from Thailand usually is through Bangkok. But one route that is  not that popular because of the lack of information available is through Pattaya. This route is good if you are wanting to see the beach before you leave Thailand.

In Bangkok, go to the North or South Terminal Bus station and hop on  a bus bound to pattaya. Tickets cost 108 Baht from the east terminal while it’s 117 Baht if you’ll be taking the bus at the North Bus terminal.

You can spend a day or too in Pattaya and enjoy the beach before you move on in crossing the border going to Cambodia. I also absolutely recommend staying at The Big Five-O, It’s clean, they have a pool and their staff Opal is absolutely the best.

Van Pattaya to Aranyaprateth

Photo lifted from Five-O’s Facebook – trust me it looks this awesome in person

From Pattaya you can take a Motor taxi bike to the Van station(80 Baht). I don’t exactly know the name of the place but I was able to pin it down on the map and took a photo of the terminal that the hostel staff wrote down for me. Go ahead and have that printed to show to the motorbike taxi driver.

you can check out other Pattaya Hotels Here

From Pattaya the van will go through its route picking up and unloading passengers. There are no official stop overs as well just a couple of short ones to refuel and check on tickets. The van will take you to a Mall in Aranyaprateth that is walking distance from the border compared taking the train and bus-where you have to take a tuktuk to get to the border. It takes about five hours to get to the border so the earlier you leave the better. I took the 12 PM van and arrived in the border by about 5:30 PM – I would advise for you to check with the terminal first if you plan to leave on a later time since I am not sure if there are trips after 12 PM.

Here’s how my expense/itinerary looked like

Bangkok – Pattaya (ETA: 8AM) 117 Baht
Five-O Hostel 300 Baht
Motor Bike to Van Terminal 80 Baht
Pattaya – Aranyaprateth 250 Baht

 

This is the note that I gave to the motorbike taxi that the hotel staff wrote for me.

Van Pattaya to Aranyaprateth

 

This is the Van Terminal

Van Pattaya to Aranyaprateth

 

Map of where the terminal is located

Van Pattaya to Aranyaprateth