2015 was a shocking year for me, mostly because of the abrupt trend of millennial travel. 20-something travelers flocked every touristic spots in the world and it’s the greatest number I have ever seen in the course of my years of traveling.
Youngsters have been active and tenacious on pursuing their travel dreams. However, there are things that are still missing: they are still relying on tour guides and have not discovered to do things their way, yet.
Fortunately, we are not in a hurry. Progress will come as time pass. Travel agencies will sink and people will slowly understand that they can make their own guide books based on their preference.
I am not a tourist-spot-kind-of-traveler but in my recent trip in Siem Reap, Cambodia, I’ve observed a lot of people still paying loads of money for tours when in fact they can just to things by themselves, particularly a tour in the Angkor Temples.
Forget the tour guides! I know things can be more convenient if everything is planned but don’t you want to test your limits and jump into something you have no idea about? Here are some tips on a do it yourself Angkor Wat tour:
STEP 1: Map your tour
Our knowledge about Angkor Wat is that single temple that you see in your friends’ Facebook photos but Angkor is an empire of different temples. It’s like a compound that is composed of various temples such as the Angkor Wat itself, Banteay Kdei, Banteay Samre, Angkor Tom, etc.
I did not visit all the temples myself but you can just choose whatever you want to visit. For me, they are all alike after all and I didn’t want to drown into too much temple runs.
There are maps available in every corner of Siem Reap so trust yourself — you will find your way. Include the timeline: do you want to do a half or full day tour?
It all depends upon your preference or how much you want to do temple runs. But I am telling you, a full day is already too much for me.
STEP 2: Organize your ride
There are different ways to go to the Angkor Temples. The best thing is you can choose whatever fits your personality and preference. Below are some of your choices:
Taxi (for the luxury traveler in you)
There are a lot of black car rentals around Siem Reap that you can rent but the best way is randomly hailing a trusted taxi driver before your trip.
This way, you can bargain the price however, I must tell you that most taxi drivers have an agreed rate. Trust your gut and bargaining skills. | Taxi rate(s): from $25.00 – $40.00 USD
Tuktuk (for the local in you):
Want to experience how the Cambodian people use tuktuk? I am sure you are familiar about this mode of transport but one thing I notice that is something different from that of Thailand’s tuktuk: this is more spacious.
Looking for the best tuktuk guy is easy because they are everywhere. As usual, you can haggle for the price that you want or much better, do it on a per head basis.
Let’s say $5.00 per head. This is ideal for small groups (groups of 4) and is guaranteed cheap and efficient.
Motorcycle (for the adventurer in you):
Maybe you have a driver’s license and is looking for something adventurous? Motorcycles is it! As long as you have a driver’s license, you are free to choose this mode of transportation.
Make sure you know how to drive, too! This is ideal for solo/couple travelers and have more room for managing your own time/route.
Motorcycle rentals are usually on a full day basis so this is good if you have planned something else for that day (aka driving around Siem Reap). | Motorcycle rate(s): from $6.00 USD per day
Basket bikes (for the wanderer in you):
Or maybe, you don’t know how to drive a motorcycle nor you have a driver’s license? Basket bikes are the way to be!
Cruise the Angkor Temples in French style, manage your own time and find your way. Whether you are by yourself of traveling with a buddy, basket bikes are worth it!
Plus, it’s a good exercise! Motorcycle rate(s): from $4.00 USD per day
STEP 3: Bring your own breakfast
The best time to start your Angkor Temples tour is at 5:30 in the morning to catch the beautiful sunrise. You will then have to wake up at 4:30 and won’t have time to eat breakfast.
It’s best to pack your breakfast the night before the trip (or when you wake up) to save money. Food around the temples is ridiculously overpriced and believe me when I say you will get really hungry after the sunrise shenanigan is done.
Cold cuts, sandwiches, hard boiled eggs are easy to prepare and carry around. Make sure not to eat junk to avoid being sleepy and tired during the tour.
Fruits are good, too! Coffee is just $1.50 USD and can be found in the temples. I’m sure you’d want to drink it fresh.
STEP 4: Buy your tickets.
You can do this on the day itself. No need to book in advance. You just have to go to the ticket booth around 5:15, fall in line and voila, you will have a ticket with your very own photo. Like and ID type of ticket. Half day costs $25.00 USD.
STEP 5: Enjoy the tour!
Do it your own pace without anyone instructing you that you should move. Arranging your own Angkor Wat trip saves you a lot of money as tours like this can cost up to $100.00 USD from a travel agency. If you do it yourself, your budget will be cut by 50%.
It’s more fun, effective and gives you room to be creative and independent!