Two Countries, One Trip

Two Countries, One Trip

A unique opportunity to see the most interesting places in Cambodia and Thailand
Text and photos by Regina Gutierrez

For backpackers wanting to visit as many destinations as possible in just less than a week, touring from Siem Reap, Cambodia to Bangkok, Thailand

is one of the most ideal options.
Not only this gives you the unique oppor-

tunity to see the most interesting places in Cambodia and Thailand, but also lets you experience a quick shift in culture that most adventure-seekers are fascinated with.

Together with friends, we booked our Siem Reap – Bangkok trip six months before the date of the ight. This gave us ample time to pre- pare and plan our itinerary thoroughly which we can say is an extremely ambitious one.

One of the best things of having friends who are frequent travelers is that they share their knowledge about the ins and outs of fast trav- els, saving both time and money which is very important especially if you are on a tight bud- get. Moreover, the fact that you have people with you who are experienced with exciting adventures adds pure thrill to the whole trip.

We arrived at Siem Reap at around 10:30 p.m. (local time in Cambodia) and one of my friend’s contacts picked us up at the airport. We rode in a tuk-tuk, which is the most com- mon means of urban transportation in Cam- bodia.

After arriving at the place we were stay- ing, we rested for a while then headed out to the heart of Siem Reap’s Nightlife—the fa- mous Pub Street. This is the liveliest area in town during night, and offers a lot of venues and restaurants to eat, drink, and experience nightlife—the Cambodian way.

Most local businesses there use US dollars as their main currency and very seldom that they use Cambodian riel. We ate our dinner, tried some local food, observed the place, and then decided to save our energy for the next day.

The Grand Angkor Temples

On our rst whole day in Cambodia, our wake-up call was 6:30 a.m. so we could start our day early. After eating our breakfast, we headed directly to the most popular Angkor temples.

Alongside with our Cambodian friend who volunteered to be our tourist guide for the day, we went to Beng Mealea, Koh Ker, Banteay Srei, Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom, and the famous Angkor Wat.

The price for a one-day grand Angkor Wat circuit is USD 20. We roam around the ma- jestic temples for about four hours and ev- ery second was worth it. Just simply staring and standing in front of the largest religious monument in the world is such an out-of- this-world experience already, and having the chance to actually walk inside it, touch the gigantic rock formations, and explore its surroundings are priceless.

Of course, my friends and I did not let this one-of-a-kind opportunity to just pass by without having our own photo shoot. Show- ing off our personal styles and ashing our ercest smiles, we took each other’s photos as if we were real photographers in an actual photo shoot.

After satisfying our enthusiasm for tem- ples in Cambodia, we went to the nearest res- taurant to ll our desire for Khmer cuisines. We tried some of the local’s most favorite del- icacies like the volcano pot, which instantly became our favorite as well. After eating and resting for a bit, we rode in a tuk-tuk to visit the oating village in KompangPhluk.

Simple Life on the Water

We rented a boat to get through the oat- ing village which cost USD 15 per person. As the boat started sailing, we could see the uniqueness of the community as it began unfolding in front of us.

Floating houses, pigpens, school, monas- tery—one could easily feel the simplicity of the community. As one of my friends said, who would have thought that there are peo- ple—a community, living down here. This is such an amazing view to witness. We looked at the houses and the people, and watched as the sun started to set. What a truly won- derful experience!

It has been a very long, tiring day, but we still got a lot to do on our itinerary for that day. We took advantage of our tuk-tuk ride to rest while heading out to Pub Street where we planned to take our dinner. And since we have yet to explore this area, we intended this whole night for Pub Street. We ate our dinner at the famous Red Piano Restaurant, which is known to be Angelina Jolie’s favor- ite diner in Siem Reap. The ambience of the place is very relaxing and an ideal setting to enjoy Cambodian food and drinks.

After, we went to Siem Reap Art Center Nightlife Market where we bought some pasalubong and ended the night with an in- teresting live show performance by some lo- cal entertainers.

Discover Thailand’s Culture

There are several ways to get to Bangkok from Siem Reap and the best option that we decided was to go through Aranyaprathet – Poipet Border, which is approximately eight- hour travel time.

Normally, the departure time of the bus is 7:30 a.m., and the ticket is priced at only USD 10—one of the cheapest tickets available.

Upon our arrival at the Aranyaprathet – Poipet Border in Thailand, a long line to the immigration check counters awaited us. It took us almost three hours to get through the entire immigration processing. And it was already late noon when we o cially en- tered Thailand so we took our lunch there while waiting for our bus to Bangkok (at that time we did not know that it will be a van that will bring us to Bangkok).

There are a lot of stores and restaurants near the border line so it was very easy to nd a good place to eat. Also, the price of the food is very affordable, and there are so many varieties to choose from. After lunch, we traveled via van for almost four hours to Bangkok. We arrived Bangkok past 6 p.m., so after we settled our things and a quick rest, we dressed up again and headed out for our rst night in Bangkok.

Our destination—the famous dome at Lebua Tower in Silom Road. This is where the Hollywood movie Hangover 2 shot some of its most memorable scenes in the lm. We rode the taxi and traveled for about 45 minutes from Bang Na to Silom Road.

Even though we were all tired from a long day of trip, we were very eager to enjoy the nightlife in Bangkok and relive the scenes from Hangover 2 that we’ve been looking forward to. And it did not disappoint us. It was one of the best cityscape that we have ever seen. The breathtaking city light from the 64th oor of Sirocco Lebua Tower is a must-see and the view instantly replenishes our exhausted body.

Be Enchanted In Kanchanaburi

The following day, we had an exciting Kanchanaburi tour that we booked online and a week prior to our ight. The tour package costs 1,100 baht. There are other tour options to Kanchanaburi and the price varies on the inclusions of the package.

We were 30 minutes late for our call time because of the heavy tra c but fortunately, the guide waited for us. The travel time from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi is approximately three hours.

Our rst stop is at the war cemetery. Then we went to one of Thailand’s war museum— the JEATH War Museum. Just a few meters away from it is the famous bridge on the River Kwai, where the Thai-Burma Railway is found.

Then we headed to Pont sur la riviere Kwai for a thrilling bamboo rafting experience and elephant riding. Only two persons can ride an elephant so one my friends got a solo riding experience.

It was really fun to ride at the back of the elephant and tour around their mini forest. If you want to have a wider shot and a clearer view of the forest while riding the elephant, the guide instructing the elephants offers tak- ing the photos for you at 10 baht.

After lunch, we headed to SaiYokNoi wa- terfall and tiger temple, our last destination for 600 baht entrance fee, which is excluded from our tour package.

But since we arrived late in the afternoon, the only tiger zone available that time was the canyon tiger. We were given this one-of- a-kind opportunity to get a close personal en- counter with the tigers and touch them. And indeed, it was a very memorable experience.

There is a monk present in the vicinity who has the ability to calm the tigers in case they get irritated. Seeing the monk inside gave us a peace of mind upon entering the cave. It was very peaceful sitting with the tiger and posing beside them.

Falling in love with Bangkok

We decided to end our entire tour and al- lotted the whole day discovering Bangkok. First, we visited temples such as the Wat

Pho and Wat Arun then went to the Viman- mek Mansion—where we discovered and learned more interesting facts about the history of Thailand.

We ate our lunch at the famous Siam Square and then roamed around malls and visited Scala Theater. We spent the whole afternoon walking around the streets of Bangkok and exploring its unique street life.

We also bought pasalubongs at the Platinum Mall where the most affordable clothes, shoes, foods, and many more are being sold at a very low prices, your lim- ited budget will surely go a long way. After buying pasalubong, we settled for street foods, but one of the best street foods I’ve tasted so far – for our dinner!

What a great way to end the night and our whole Thailand experience. It was very easy to fall in love with the place and the kindness of its people. Truly, Bangkok captured our hearts!