On the road to Angkor

7 years after our last trip to Angkor, we decided to go back again and visit some of those magnificent temples. This time we did months worth of preparation work, because our amazing tour guide from the trips before was busy. So we decided to do it all by ourselves – research, planning and execution! We flew in from Bangkok again. Back in 2012 we took Bangkok Air, which was then one of the few ways to get there. This time we took Air Asia from the old Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok. What a mistake! I think I will never do anything from this airport again in my lifetime! Total chaos! The line was halfway through the terminal building. Nobody knew what is going on, where the line ended. There were chinese groups cutting in all the time and an indian group decided to cut in just before we reached the counters! We had the first flight to Siem Reap in the morning.

Huge line around the back of the departure building
The line circles all the way back to the red check in signs

Flight was ok with Air Asia going to Siem Reap Airport in Cambodia. The Cambodians did a lot of development, though the airport’s runway is still a small one. While we had 10 officials check, stamp, re-check etc our passports back in 1999 and in 2012, we now did our Visa online, which took no more than 5 minutes and the approval actually came right back into our inbox within 2 minutes!! Arriving, we still had to walk across the field and get in line. A seperate line for people who wanted a Visa-on-Arrival and several counters for people who had an online Visa printed out. Still took a while because all 10 finger prints will be taken in addition to handing over the printed Visa and having a photo taken. Also the luggage was delivered in an orderly fashion compared to the chaos years ago.

Immigration lines in Siem Reap

We took the pre-booked hotel shuttle to the hotel again, which is the easiest and most comfortable way to get to the town of Siem Reap, after buying a local SIM Card for as little as 1U.S.$. This time we did not exchange local currency at all but had our brand new U.S. Dollar bills with us, paid in Dollars and just kept the small change in local currency. From the Hotel we hired a tuk-tuk to get our 7 day Angkor Visitor Pass. 7 days is the longest we could get for the 8 days we visited and is the most expensive pass. We paid 72 U.S.$ for it, but the difference to the shorter visit passes is not so big and it is worth to visit as many days as possible. Again here, we had a brand new visitor hall with plenty of counters. Some lines for the 1 or 3 day passes, but no line at all for the 7 day pass. Though it was late evening when we bought the ticket, in order to see the sunset and sunrise the next morning as an option. We paid the ticket with a credit card and including taking a photo, it took just a few minutes. I was told we needed our passports, but we were not asked to show it.

Still dirt roads on the way to he visitor center
Modern and efficient visitor center in Siem Reap’s outskirts
Visiting rules – just wished people would read and follow them!