Backpacking Southeast Asia Fourth Stop: Siem Reap, Cambodia with a Stop Over at Phnom Penh

Last Updated on June 12, 2020 by Tina

After spending two days in Kampot, I traveled back to Phnom Penh by bus. Then I took the night bus to Siem Reap. I booked with Giant Ibis my Kampot to Phnom Penh (PP) trip as well as my PP to Siem Reap trip. Giant Ibis bus offers free pick-up to hostels/hotels affiliated with them. You can see the list of affiliated hotels/hostels when you book your ticket online.

The hostel that I stayed at, Monkey Republic Kampot, is affiliated with Giant Ibis. I was picked up by a minibus at the hostel and was dropped off at the office of Giant Ibis. There we waited for the bus to PP. The bus leaves Kampot before 9:00 AM and arrives at PP before 1:00 PM.

The last trip to Siem Reap from PP during day time is 12:30 PM. Because I knew that I won’t be able to catch this trip, I decided to take the night bus and stay for a few hours at PP to do some more sightseeing.

Stop-over at Phnom Penh

I arrived at PP a few minutes before 1:00 PM. Because I booked my trip to Siem Reap with the same bus company, I was allowed to leave my big backpack in their office. From the bus station, I booked a Grab tuk-tuk to get to S-21 Prison.

S-21 Prison

Now known as Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, the site used to be a secondary school that was used by the Khmer Rouge as torture, interrogation and execution center from its rise in power in 1975 until its fall in 1979. The stories about the Khmer Rouge regime are very depressing but I highly recommend visiting this place when you are in PP. The entrance fee to the museum is US$ 5. Make sure to get the audio guide when you visit. It costs US$ 3 but you’ll understand the place more with the audio guide.

After exploring the S21 Museum, I booked a Grab tuk-tuk to get to the post office to send some postcards. Then I had lunch in one of the restaurants near the post office. After having lunch, I walked to Wat Phnom.

Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom is a Buddhist temple located on an artificial hill. Built in 1372, it stands 27 meters above the ground. It is the central point of PP and has an entrance fee of US$ 1.

From the temple, I walked along the riverside on my way to the Royal Palace. However, it was already closed when I got there so I continued walking to the Independence Monument. On my way, I passed by a park where many locals hang out. Some jog in this park while others do their Zumba session. Located a few meters away from the Independence Monument is the Statue of King Father Norodom Sihanouk.

After hanging out for a while at the park, I decided to walk back to the bus station. I was planning to have dinner along the way, but I couldn’t find a decent restaurant in the area. I even walked through a dark street with no people around while looking for a restaurant. It wasn’t a very good thing to do for someone walking alone at night but I got lost. When I found my way to the bus station, I decided to just eat the chips I have in my bag. I didn’t have dinner that night. At 11:00 PM, we departed for Siem Reap.

Related Post: Traveling from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, Cambodia by Night Bus

Day 1 in Siem Reap

I arrived in Siem Reap around 5 in the morning. From the Giant Ibis bus station, I walked to Joyo Hostel, where I was booked for 2 nights. The hostel was not that far, it was about 10 to 15 minutes walk from the bus station. When I got there, I was told that it was still too early to check-in. But the receptionist told me I can stay in the common area if I wanted to take a nap. At 9 in the morning, the receptionist told me that I could check-in already.

The hostel was okay. The only problem I had was that I had to leave my passport with them and I can only get it once I check-out. I didn’t want to do it but I have already paid for my accommodation online. Also, I didn’t want to go and look for another hostel anymore so I just gave my passport.

Related Post: Postcards From My Southeast Asia Backpacking Trip

One of my roommates in the hostel is a Chinese girl who worked in Siem Reap for a few months. When she learned that I am going to Angkor Wat the next day, she told me to buy the ticket in advance so I can go directly to the site the following day. So after having lunch, I booked a Grab tuk-tuk to the ticket office of Angkor Wat. It was super hot that day so I decided to go back to the hostel after buying the ticket. I didn’t leave the hostel until after sunset.

When I went out at night, I checked out the night markets. There are many night markets in Siem Reap- The Old Market, the Angkor Night Market, the Noon to Night Market and the Art Centre Night Market. The stalls in the markets sell everything from clothes, arts, crafts, jewelry, carvings, statues, trinkets, and foods.

Day 2 in Siem Reap

I woke up super early to do the Sunrise Tour in Angkor Wat. I arranged the tour the day before with Mao Khvan, a tuk-tuk driver recommended by fellow backpackers in a Facebook travel group. He was supposed to pick me up at the hostel at 4:30 in the morning but was late for 15 minutes because there was a problem with his tuk-tuk and he had to repair it first.

When we got to Angkor Wat, Mao brought me to a secret spot where we could catch the sunrise. It was a good spot, and there were only 5 of us in that area.–zhzff/

After watching the sunrise, he brought me to a restaurant and told me to have breakfast first because it was still early. The first temple we are going to visit, Ta Prohm Temple opens at 7:00. I didn’t want to have breakfast, especially when I saw the price of the food there. US$ 6 for scrambled eggs, rice, and a drink. But I ordered anyway, and I’m glad I did even if I wasn’t too happy with the food. I did the small circuit tour to Angkor Wat and it was so tiring. Had I decided to skip breakfast, I would have fainted due to exhaustion.

The small circuit tour of the Angkor Archaeological Park visits the three major highlights- Ta Prohm Temple, Bayon Temple/Angkor Thom, and Angkor Wat. Aside from the three, my tuk-tuk driver also took me to Banteay Kdei Temple, Ta Keo Temple, and Ta Nei Temple. I will write about Angkor Wat tour in a separate post but just to give you an idea, the Angkor Archaeological Park is a huge area. To get from one temple to another, you need a ride. Walking to the next temple is not possible. So your options would be to ride a bike/motorbike, join a tour bus or hire a tuk-tuk.

I finished my Angkor Wat tour at 1:00 PM. I asked my tuk-tuk driver to drop me off at the post office. After sending some postcards to friends and myself, I walked to a nearby mall to have lunch. Afterward, I walked back to the hostel and took a nap. Just like the previous day, I went out when it was already dark. I walked to the night market again to look for a place to have dinner. After dinner, I decided to go to the movie theater because it was still too hot outside even if it’s already night time. I watched Godzilla: King of the Monsters. The movie only costs US$ 3 and it is 3D. So cheap!


As with my previous posts, I’ll be using the conversion rate of Php 52 for US$ 1 for this post. The official currency of Cambodia is Cambodian Riel. However, the US dollar is the main currency used. Prices in most establishments such as hotels and restaurants are quoted in US dollars. Cambodian Riels are used only as small change at a rate of around 4000 Riels to US$ 1.

Stop-over at Phnom Penh

Bus fare from Kampot to Phnom Penh- US$ 11

Snacks (Pringles and Coke)- US$ 2.75

Tuktuk from Ibis bus station to S21- 6100 Riel (US$ 1.525)

Entrance fee to S21 + Audio Guide- US$ 8

Tuktuk from S 21 to Post Office- 6600 Riel (US$ 1.65)

Postcards + Stamps- US$ 1.50

Lunch- US$ 4.25

Entrance fee to Wat Phnom- US$ 1

Coke- US$ 0.75

Bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap- US$ 16

Stop-over at Phnom Penh total expenses: US$ 48.425

Day 1

1 bed in a female dormitory in Joyo Hostel: US$ 3.91 / PHP 203.23

Lunch- US$ 2.15

Tuktuk to Angkor Wat- US$ 2

Ticket to Angkor Wat (One day pass)- US$ 37

Postcards- US$ 4

Tuktuk to the hostel- US$ 2

Dinner- US$ 2

Day 1 total expenses: US$ 53.06

Day 2

1 bed in a female dormitory in Joyo Hostel: US$ 3.91 / PHP 203.23

Tuktuk for a tour in Angkor Wat- US$ 20

Breakfast- US$ 6

Coke- US$ 0.75

Lunch- US$ 2.25

Stamps- US$ 3

Dinner- US$ 4.25

Laundry- US$ 1

Movie ticket for 3d movie- US$ 3

Day 2 total expenses: US$ 44.16

Total expenses: US$ 145.645 (PHP 7,573.54)

Did I succeed in the US$ 20 a day challenge? I didn’t even if I exclude the bus fares. The one-day pass to Angkor Wat costs US$ 37 and the tuk-tuk for a tour in Angkor Wat costs US$ 20. The total is already equivalent to 3 days backpacking budget. But Angkor Wat is one of the must-visit in Cambodia so I didn’t skip it just so I could stick to my budget. I don’t know when I will be back in Cambodia again so I think it was worth spending that amount of money.

If you have any questions regarding this trip, feel free to leave a comment. Subscribe to my blog if you don’t want to miss any of my posts. And please follow my Facebook page @iwentanyways and like my Instagram accounts @iwentanyways and @tnadeperalta for updates. You can also check out my backpacking highlights in my IG @tnadeperalta.

Related posts:

Train Ride Experience in Cambodia: Phnom Penh to Kampot

Backpacking Southeast Asia Second Stop: Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Backpacking Southeast Asia First Stop: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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