We recently spent 5 nights in Siem Reap and had an amazing albeit sweaty time! In this post, we thought we would highlight a few things you can do when planning your Cambodian adventure to maximise your time and experience.
1. Choose a local accommodation option
For Westerners, Cambodia is a very inexpensive country to visit, so it makes it easy to splurge on a 5-star hotel with all the amenities as well as a swimming pool if we wanted to. However, we’d also heard that many of these hotels are owned by foreigners, so it’s unlikely your money is benefitting the locals. To this effect, we decided to look for a truly local place to stay, and we found it at Bunyong Homestay.
Bunyong Homestay is run by Bun, an extremely friendly Cambodian, and his custom-built house sits just outside of Siem Reap’s city centre. He lives here with his family and offers 5 rooms for guests. Take a walk around the grounds and you’ll find his homemade gym, a vegetable garden, and best of all, a school. Bun and a few others teach English and computer skills to students who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to go to school.
For 5 days, we got to interact with Bun and his family, ask them questions, and eat dinner with the family. As well, Bun employs his friends who are tuk tuk drivers and tour guides, paying them a fairer wage than they would otherwise. None of this really would’ve been possible if we’d chosen to stay in a hotel.
Check out our YouTube video in which we go in-depth about our stay at Bunyong Homestay and show footage of the grounds!
2. Visit the temples the opposite way
Most people who go to Siem Reap to visit the temples visit Angkor Wat first, and then make their way to other temples for the remainder of the day. To avoid crowds – as much as we could anyway – our tuk tuk driver, Mr Champion, took us the other way and we visited the quieter temples first.
With that said though, there were still tons of people at Angkor Wat when we arrived in the late afternoon, and after sweating for the whole day, we did feel a bit underwhelmed when we arrived.
3. Say “yes” to any opportunities that arise
Within reason, of course! We say this because on our first day, Bun invited us to attend a Cambodian wedding that he was invited to, and of course we wanted to experience another culture’s wedding!
So on our second evening, along with another guest at the homestay, we attended our first Cambodian wedding! This leads us back to our first point, because if we didn’t choose a local accommodation, we’re certain we never would’ve had this opportunity.
Our YouTube video also shows what we experienced at the Cambodian wedding!
Have you ever been to Cambodia? What would be your top tips for travellers? Let us know in the comments!