In 2015, I told myself that I want to spend my birthday in Cambodia. It’s a dream to blow my candles in Angkor Wat while watching the sunset. It was a random thought that may change my life forever. I’ve been wanting/trying to travel solo and I took advantage of the seat sale Cebu Pacific had in December 2015. I bought my 7-day RT tickets for Php3,800. I remember having trouble getting the perfect dates (July 10-16) but thank heavens I was able to get ’em. I did a research about solo travelling in Cambodia and learnt that most of the bloggers and/or travellers crossed Cambodia to Vietnam. I thought that was a great idea – it’s hitting 2 birds with one stone. I asked myself “Why not?”
As months passed by, I saved Php20,000 enough to cover the trip (I heard it’s going to be dirty cheap there). A few days before my flight, I booked an overnight stay in a private room in New Home Hostel for $10 just to show an address at the Immigration. The hotel staff also suggested a tuktuk pick-up from the airport to the hostel for $5. I said yes since I’ll have no idea where to go upon arrival lol So here’s what I did during my 7 days solo backpacking trip in Cambodia & Vietnam:
4:30 am – Start the Angkor Wat tour
5:00 am – Buy tickets (I bought 1 day pass)
5:30 am – SUNRISE!
6:00 am to 12nn – Explore Angkor Wat, Bayon temples & Terrace of the Leper King
12:00 nn to 1:00 pm – Lunch/ Rest
1:00 pm to 2:00 pm – Ta Prohm
2:00 pm – 4:00 pm – Go back to town to rest
5:30 pm – Head back to Angkor Wat for Sunset
6:30 pm – Dinner/ Rest
7:00 pm – Night Market & PUB STREET! Then call it a night.
When the hostel owner asked me if I’ll stay another night (since my bus will leave at 7am the next morning) I said I want to transfer to a bed in a shared room to cut expenses. He let me use the same private room for half price ($5). The owner also bought the bus ticket to Phnom Penh for me. Thank you! I wasn’t able to see the sunset because past 1pm it started raining really hard. I saw it as an opportunity for me to roam around town to try street food. I did not think that the tuktuk ripped me off since I used it all day – we even went to Pubstreet and roamed around town to find Paracetamol. So for me it was a good deal.
Filipinos, remember that we don’t have to pay for anything at the Immigration. We have 21 days free access. I met a Filipino in Phnom Penh and he shared that he was asked to pay $2 for tax purposes at the border when crossing Vietnam. My experience crossing Cambodia to Vietnam was a breeze. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you! Haha! Also, in Cambodia, they prefer USD than Riel. So better change those PHP into USDs!
$5 – Tuktuk fare from Siem Reap Airport to New Home Hostel
$10 – Private room (good for 2-3)
$20 – Tuktuk rental (whole day)
$20 – One day access to the Major temples
$3.5 – Late lunch I had in front of the Leper King terrace (Chicken Pineapple)
$2 – 2 Bottles of water
$1 .5 – Noodles
$5 – Overnight stay in New Home Hostel
$10 – Bus to Phnom Penh
Total is USD 77/ Php3,623 – The Angkor Wat ticket is expensive I know but it was worth it! I Kat (Filipina from Davao) as I was walking along Bayon temple and she said that she rented a tuktuk for only $17. Use your haggling skills! Side note – I was astonished by how the people built the temples and carved every detail on the walls. The experience was exhausting but seriously worthwhile.
Day 2 (July 12)
That was a grueling 6-hour bus ride to Phnom Penh. I literally didn’t know where I was when I got down the bus stop but I kinda like that feeling. The place is busier, and compared to Siem, Phnom has tall buildings. I talked to a tuktuk driver to drop me off at Base Villa hostel, showed him the address and negotiated about the price. He was asking for freaking $9! We settled at $3 after a few minutes of friendly discussion. Base Villa was nice. It has a mini pool, a bar, AC rooms and the beds are comfortable. I paid $5 for 1 night. I arrived there past 2pm & wanted to make the most out of my short stay. I asked a tuktuk driver just outside the hostel for a 4-hour city tour (Killing Fields, Wat Phnom and Royal Temple). He gave a price of $18 but after a few minutes of talking we agreed on $15 (not bad since the Killing Field is too far from the city proper).
I recommend to take the audio tour in the Killing Fields so you get to know more about what happened there. It was a sad event but you’ll learn so much about Khmer history. After the Killing Fields we went to Wat Phnom. It stated there that you have to pay $1 but I didn’t see. Last stop was the Royal Temple. The tuktuk driver left me here and gave me a map to help me get back to Base Villa. I ate dinner here while watching the sunset. I had the chance to walk around the area then I headed back to the hostel. I bought my ticket to Vietnam when I arrived in the hostel. I met a solo traveller from Chile. He’s staying on the top bunk and we talked about our countries similarities.
$3 – Tuktuk from bus station to Base Villa hostel
$5 – Overnight stay in a dorm
$15 – Half day city tour
$1 – Killing Fields entrance fee
$13 – Bus to Ho Chi Minh
$3 – Food expenses
Total is Php5,459 for 2 days in Cambodia. I could’ve spent less but I chose to see the historical areas rather than not. I’ve learned so much about their culture.The tuktuk driver even had me go to their home and introduced me to his sister who works in a salon. I noted that I spent so much in transportation (buses/tuktuks) but I wanted this so, wth. Haha! I had to endure that back breaking 7 hours going to Saigon. Note that the hostels that I stayed in were capable of booking bus tickets so I did not have any difficulties choosing which bus. Also note that I avoided taking the night bus because according to the people I met and blogs I read that it is not safe (things were stolen, accident prone etc). Check out what happened next here.