We arrived in Siem Reap from Bangkok on Cambodia Angkor Air. We nearly had a major mishap at the airport in Bangkok before leaving for Cambodia. I had booked the tickets with an American credit card that I did not think to bring on the trip with me. The ticket agent insisted on physically seeing the credit card that was used to make the purchase. Unfortunately, it was sitting at my cousin’s apartment in Bangkok. The agent said our tickets would not be valid unless he could see the card, and when we asked how much it would cost to book new flights and repurchase the tickets, he quoted a price that was nearly three times what we initially paid. We were all very frustrated and upset. I thought we were going to just cancel the trip since it would have been silly to pay so much money. The agent finally remembered that the only other option was to be able to show him proof of purchase, meaning, my credit card statement. I remembered that I had my credit card app on my phone and quickly logged in and pulled up the purchase. The agent was satisfied with that and gave us our tickets. He mentioned that I should print the statement so that I could show it on the way back. I took a screen shot of the page on my phone and we had no problems for the return trip. Lesson learned: always carry useful/important cards when traveling!
After that near-debacle, it was smooth sailing. The flight from Bangkok to Siem Reap is only an hour and the hotel taxi was waiting for us at the airport upon our arrival. Siem Reap is incredibly low-key compared to Bangkok, or many other places for that matter. The traffic to the hotel sped along fluidly and we arrived within twenty minutes. A friend of ours did a very similar trip to us over the holidays and when I asked her for recommendations, she highly recommended the Golden Banana hotel. The rooms are incredibly inexpensive (between $40-$60/night) considering the quality of the place and include breakfast. Our room was very clean and quiet and looked over the pool. Louis loved seeing the little geckos that would sometimes sneak into the room in the evening.
We spent five days in Siem Reap, which I think was plenty to be able to leisurely enjoy the town and see a portion of the Angkor Wat complex. To access the Angkor Wat site you have to purchase a pass, and there are several options. We bought a 3-day pass that gave access beginning the first evening after 17:00. The first evening we just took a tuk tuk to purchase passes and then visit the main Angkor Wat temple. As it was later in the day, there were far fewer tourists than I expected. The grounds are enormous and it is easy to find quiet, tourist-free spots if you just move a bit away from the masses.
On our first day of visiting the temples, we hired a guide and a taxi for half a day and only managed to visit two temples. I think maps of Angkor Wat are deceiving, I did not imagine that the whole complex would be so incredibly spread out. It’s definitely doable by bike if you can stand the heat, but it’s fairly cheap and easy to hire a taxi or a tuk tuk by the day or half day.
By the time we finished at Ta Prohm and then stopped off for breakfast, the sun was high in the sky and the air was thick and hot. To reach Angkor Thom, you pass over a bridge lined with demons and gods before going through the entry tower. The temple itself is in pretty good condition. There are many god faces sculpted into the towers.