We had a rough guide after countless hours of research, our 8 plane ticket’s, most of our accommodation and our Cambodian visa’s. We got our visa’s at the Cambodian Embassy in Canberra on the way home from a few days touring the Snowy Mountains in the camper-van a few weeks before our trip. We traveled July and part of August 2016 which is low season.
We downloaded the Cambodian visa forms from their Cambodian Embassy website (here) and took our passports a passport size photo and $50 AUD each, and waited for 6 hours to pick up our passports and visa’s.
Day 1 – Airport Transfer
Our last hurdle was, how are we going to get to the airport ! After a little research we found that a hire car was our cheapest and most convenient option. We hired a Toyota Corolla from AVIS for $72 with drop off at Sydney Airport plus a $7 fuel top up.
The drop off point is in the car-park next to T1 terminal, drop off was quick and easy. We took the elevator to the departure level and it is then a short walk to the departure terminal.
We checked-in at the Air Asia counter, and then through immigration which was quick and easy. We sat and waited for our flight. The flights boarding gate was changed at the last minute so we were ushered off to another gate and loaded on buses and driven to the plane, after a 40 minutes delay we were on our way.
8 hours and 50 minutes later we landed in Malaysia at KLIA2 airport, there was a line up at immigration which took about 20 minutes to clear.
Malaysian Sim Card
Maxis store is right across from terminal departure gate, we got the guys to fit a sim and set up our phones up.
For 30MYR ($9 AUD) you get 1 month with 2 GB of data and 100 minutes of talk and text.
The Bus from KLIA2 to Kuala Lumpur
On the ground floor of the arrival terminal is a bus booth selling bus tickets, we purchased 2 ticket to KL Sentral for 11 MYR each ($3.50 AUD) with Sky-Bus. The trip takes about 45 minutes depending on traffic, and the bus drops you off under KL Sentral Station and from here you have many choices of transport.
We bought an LRT ticket for 1.30 MYR each (42 cent AUD) to Pasar Seni, which is the next stop.
Kuala Lumpur Transport – here
Our hotel was Hotel China Town Inn a short 500 meter walk from Pasar Seni LRT station on the famous Petailing Street. I have stayed in this hotel a few times now, its cheap, basic and all we need. The room was at the front of the hotel overlooking Petailing Street and the night market were in full swing, and there was no real noise until we opened the window. The room has an Air Conditioner, TV all channels in Malaysian a small bathroom with toilet, sink and hot shower, very basic but still comfortable.
Bus from KL to Malacca
Our day started early with a quick walk to get some breakfast and a quick walk around. Then back to the hotel to check out of our hotel and made our way back to Pasar Seni LRT station and took the walkway across to Kuala Lumpur KTM station to catch a train to the Bandar Tasik Selatan station or BTS for short. The trip to BTS took 25-30 minutes and cost 2.40 MYR each (77 Cents AUD). Once off the train it’s just a matter of walking up a few flights of steps and walk across the bridge and into the BTS, once your inside the terminal, turn to the right and select a window to purchase your bus ticket, and don’t forget your passport. A ticket to Malacca was 11 MYR each ($3.50 AUD), we went downstairs and waited about half an hour and boarded the bus. The bus was clean and had air conditioning but no toilet, the journey to Malacca is only two and a half hours and the drop off is the Malacca Bus Station.
Which was great for us as our hotel was only 500 meters away, River Front Sentral Boutique Hotel located across the road from the river in a quiet location, the hotel is clean, quiet and very comfortable. The rooms are basic but have all you need, and come with a TV, fridge and tea and coffee making facilities. There is no breakfast and the staff are friendly but most couldn’t speak English.
The bus from Malacca bus station to Jonker Street.
Is pretty easy, just look for bay 17 and wait, you purchase your ticket from the bus driver. The bus runs all day, about every 30 minutes and can get very full at times. The cost is 2 MYR each (60 cents AUD) to Jonker Street, near the clock tower which was the 1st stop.
We walked around Jonker Street area an historical world heritage site dating back to the 17th century and strongly influenced by the Dutch and Portuguese. The area is beautiful and the European and Asia fusion of architecture makes the area stunningly unique. Our visit fell on a public holiday and the Jonker Street area was packed with locals and tourists. We had dinner at Calanthe Art Cafe the service and food were amazing.
The bus from Jonker Street to Malacca bus terminal
You need to wait at the spot the bus dropped you off and take the 2 MYR each (60 cents AUD) ride around Malacca for about 30 – 40 minutes and then back to bay 17 at the bus terminal.
We walked from the hotel to the bus terminal and waited at bay 17 for the bus to Jonker Street, being early we got to beat the tourist buses. So we wandered along the river for a while and walked the Jonker Street walk as well as checking out the old fort and the other historical building. Malacca is a major tourist area with plenty of souvenir shop and restaurants lining the street, Early morning is a great time to explore this area.
We walked from the hotel to the bus terminal and waited at bay 17 for the bus to Jonker Street, being early we got to beat the tourist buses. So we wandered along the river for a while and walked the Jonker Street walk as well as checking out the old fort and the other historical building. Malacca is a major tourist area with plenty of souvenir shop and restaurants lining the street, Early morning is a great time to explore this area.
We grabbed lunch at Calanthe Art Cafe again the food is great and looked a lot better than a lot of the Chinese food on offer. After lunch we went to the Menara Taming Sari (revolving tower) for a ride and to enjoy the 360 degree view of Malacca the cost is 20 MYR each
Malacca to KLIA2
After lunch we caught the bus back to the bus terminal and grabbed our backpacks from the hotel, and by 330pm we were back at the bus terminal buying a bus ticket with Transnational Buses the ticket costs 26.50 MYR each ($8.50 AUD) to KLIA2, Transnational is the only bus company that does this run which takes two hours. We wandered the 200 meters to the Tune Hotel and checked-in, then went to the Terminal for dinner at NZ Curry House the food was nice, service not so good.
We had a very lazy morning and a bit of a sleep in and waited around for 11am check out time. We booked the Tune hotel because we had an early flight from KLIA2 to Cambodia, but about a month ago Air Asia changed the flight time from around 8am to 3pm. Which frustrated us a little as we could of spent an extra night in Malacca.
At 11 am we made our way to the airport and grabbed some lunch, checked-in with Air Asia and sat and waited.
Our flight left on time and an hour and 55 minutes later we landed in Phnom Penh Cambodia. We cleared immigration quickly and made our way out of the airport.
Our first stop was an ATM, we use Citibank visa debit plus card so we can use the Maybank ATM as we pay no fees on transactions with Citibank and Maybank is also fee free.
Cambodian Sim Card
Our second stop was to get a sim card for our phones, we selected a Smart sim which gave us 8GB of data for 30 days which cost $10 US. The guys at the Smart booth set up our phone within a few minutes.
Transport to our hotel
Now that we had all the important stuff organized it was time to get to our hotel, we had two choices a taxi for $12 US or a tuk tuk for $9 US. It was Trish’s first chance to ride in a tuk tuk and its also a great way to travel, so we took the tuk tuk to our hotel.
The ride was great taking in the sights and smells had us both excited, we have both wanted to visit Cambodia for a long time and it was hard to believe we were actually here.
We arrived at our hotel and chatted to the tuk tuk driver who called himself “3” because he has 3 people to look after and provide for. We arranged a day tour with him for the next morning.
We checked-in to the Tea House, this hotel is perfect in every way, very clean, very tidy and the staff are friendly and very helpful. Our room was great with a good size bathroom, fridge, TV, tea and coffee making facilities, A/C and WiFi. A buffet breakfast is included in the price which was delicious. There is a tuk tuk price list at the front gate which gives you a good idea of what you should pay for a tuk tuk.
We sat by the pool and enjoyed a few beer at happy hour, then we walked up to the river front for dinner, we ate at the Happy Pizza restaurant where I had pizza and Trish had an Asian meal with a few beers which cost us $12 US. After dinner we walked the one and half kilometers back to the hotel.
We both woke up very early and got ready and had some breakfast. After breakfast we went for a walk past the Independence Monument and up along the river front to the Royal Palace. Sat down and had a drink then walked to the morning wet market, some of the sights had us amazed and others had us stunned and the smells! some were wonderful while others had us nearly gagging. It was about 830am and we had to get back to the hotel for 930am as number 3 was picking us up for a day tour.
By the time we arrived at the hotel about 915am to find 3 was waiting for us, we grabbed a few things from our room and off we went to the Killing Fields.
We went about a block from our hotel and saw a petrol station full of people, we asked 3 what was going on and he said a man has been shot a few minutes ago. Apparently a politician has coffee there each morning and this morning a lone gunman walked in and shot him.
The Killing fields
The tuk tuk ride to the killing field took about an hour, we bought our tickets for $6 US each which came with an audio tour. We set off listening to our audio tour and as we moved around and the realness of what has happened here and in other spots in Cambodia started to hit us. By the end of the tour my emotions nearly brought me to tears, it was hard to imagine how one person could be so twisted towards other people. Once back at the tuk tuk we spoke to 3 about our experience and 3 told us about Cambodian life and his struggle and he isn’t alone, so many people are living life hard extremely hard. And through all this 3 and many other Cambodians have a real happiness you can feel. As we spoke more 3 invited us to his home, so we accepted. Soon we arrived at 3’s home which was a tiny one room house which is half the size of a single car garage for $40 US a month rent. 3s wife was at the local market with his daughter and 3’s son was asleep on the cool tiled floor while 3’s mum started cooking lunch. Soon 3’s wife returned and helped 3’s mum cook lunch while we spoke to 3 and his beautiful daughter Ching e, which soon turned into a English lesson for both Ching e and 3. We spent about an hour and a half eating and chatting to 3 and his family and still giving Ching e an English lesson. She really surprised us how quick and eager she was to learn English. Sadly it was time for us to move on to see S-21 the genocide museum. It was good to see Cambodian life this way and experience it differently than most people, and to eat a great Cambodian food.
S-21 Genocide Museum
It took nearly an hour to reach S-21 from 3’s home. The admission price is $3 US with no audio or $6 with an audio tour, twice in one day the emotions swelled inside just trying to imagine the atrocities that had gone on here and listening to the stories of the horror committed here.
We spoke to 3 about buying a bus ticket to Kampot. He took us to a bus company, where he purchased us two tickets to Kampot with a local discount we got the tickets for $6 US each instead of the $10 we were quoted. We got 3 to drop us at the hotel and paid him $25 US for the days tour plus a tip for the wonderful experience we spent with him and his family.
After a rest in the air conditioned room we caught the hotel tuk tuk for $2 US to the river front for dinner and to have a look around the night market.
We got a tuk tuk back to the hotel for $2 US.
After breakfast we took one of the hotels tuk tuk’s to the Russian Market for $3 US we walked around the market which sold souvenirs, clothes, backpacks, food and much more. We still had a few hours spare so we got the tuk tuk driver to take us the shooting range, which took about 30 minutes. Here there is a wide range of guns to choose from. There was even a rocket launcher and I quote the guy “you can blow a hole in a mountain” all for $150 US. We chose a M16 machine gun with 30 bullets and had 15 shots each. We paid the tuk tuk driver $10 US for the trip.
We hurried inside to get everything ready and walked a block away to a Vietnamese restaurant , the lunch was yummy and with a drink each it was $10US.
The Bus to Kampot
We got back to the hotel and grabbed our backpacks and also grabbed a hotel tuk tuk for $3 US to the mini bus to Kampot. By 1pm we were on a full mini bus (tickets $6 US each, which 3 bought for us and got them $4 US cheaper each) and on our way to Kampot, I sat staring out the window at all the sights along the way, 4 hours later with a 10 minute stop while the bus fueled up and also going via Kep, we arrived at the bus depot in Kampot. We walked the 850 meters to the Bokor Mountain Lodge.
The Bokor Mountain Lodge has great staff and owners but that’s were the good part ends, the hotel is run down and over priced for what it is and a shock after the Tea House in Phnom Penh considering it’s the same price. The rooms are basic with a fridge, old TV and a warmish shower. The toilet had a sign not to put toilet paper in the toilet, which left a bin to dispose of your used toilet paper (which we tied up in a plastic bag). We stayed 4 nights and not once was the room cleaned or did we get clean towels the entire stay.
We went up the road for dinner and a few beer which cost us $10 US. Then the rain hit and it hit hard with a big pour down which lasted a good hour before it turned to a light rain so we made a run for the hotel, we grabbed a few beers and sat on the balcony chatting.
About 530am we were awaken by what sounded like a squad-rant of helicopters flying over head. I went to have a look to discover the fishermen were on there way back home after a nights fishing.
We walked up the road about 8am for breakfast at Kampot Pie and Ice Cream Palace, toast with jam and a couple of cups of coffee and tea costs $9 US for the 2 of us. We walked around Kampot exploring and checked out the market and also called into the Smart phone shop to fix Trish’s phone. All the setting for her internet had gone so it needed to be reset.
We also checked out a few tours around the area, with a tuk tuk it would take 2 days to see what we wanted at $25 US a day or we could do it in a car for $60 US in a day. So we took the car option.
We had lunch at a restaurant where most of the people eating there were all Cambodian, the food was delicious and cheap a bowl of beef noodles $1.50 US fish amok $2 US and two ice teas for $1.60 US.
We relaxed at the hotel for a while, then went across the road to Golden Hands Spa for a Khmer massage $9 US for 90 minutes. The Khmer massage is a bit rough with a bit of stretching which I really liked but it was a bit rough for Trish who enjoys a massage of a softer kind. It was a nice place and did a great job.
We sat along the water front and took a few sunset pics and went to the Happy Pizza restaurant for dinner we had 2 Cambodian dishes and 4 beers for $10 US. After dinner we had a few beers on the hotels balcony watching life go by.
The fishing boats woke us up again, and it was raining, we got ready and walked up to Kampot Pie and Ice Cream Palace for breakfast.
We sat waiting at the hotel for our ride to arrive at 8am we were in the car and on our way to Bokor Mountain National Park, the entrance fee is $2.50 US. It turned out our driver was an off duty police officer and with his police hat in the back window seemed to go in our favor. The rain had just stopped and our 1st stop was the female Buddha statue and the black palace, the view over Kampot was amazing. Popokvil Falls which costs $1 US each with a free bottle of water for both of us, the waterfall was beautiful and we wished we had our trekking shoes so we could of made it to the bottom of the falls. The old abandoned French Catholic Church which looked a bit creepy in the fog coming across the mountain. The abandoned hotel/casino which was also covered in a cloud of fog which gave it a creepy spooky feel.
The water front has a beautiful atmosphere with tourists, monks, locals all enjoying the beach with picnics. dancing and swimming. Salt lake flats, here they fill paddocks with sea water and let it evaporate away till salt is left behind.
The day had come to an end and by 530pm we were back at our hotel.
We had dinner up the road with a couple of beers for $10 US for two people.
The boats didn’t wake us up this morning, we had breakfast at Kampot Pie and Ice Cream Palace again.
And dropped some Laundry to be done, the price was $1 US a kilo for 24 hours or $3 US for 3 hours.
We then went back to the hotel room as Trish wasn’t feeling the best , she had a lie down for a few hours. About 1pm Trish was feeling a little better so we went for a walk along the river front and found a tuk tuk driver, who couldn’t speak much English. Which made things hard, he then said come with me, my friend can help. We jumped into his tuk tuk and drove us to the smart shop, me and Trish sat in his tuk tuk wondering what was going on, when he emerged with the girl who had help Trish with her phone a few days ago. She was the wife of the tuk tuk driver, we explained to her where we wanted to go, which was around Kampot to places the average tourist don’t go. Once she explained we were on our way heading over the bridge and heading towards Bokor Mountain turn off here he went down a few dirt tracks past farms and rice fields and a small fishing village, a couple of hours later we were back at the hotel, and we paid him $10 US for 3 hours.
We also booked a seat for the bus to Sihoaukville. We had dinner and Trish felt unwell again, so we had a quiet night in the hotel room.
We had breakfast at Kampot Pie and Ice Cream Palace, and a long walk along the riverfront. Then back to the hotel to pack our backpacks and to check out.
Kampot to Sihouakville by Bus
We grabbed a drink and sat out front of the hotel waiting for our bus to Sihouakville the tickets cost $5 US each that we arranged with the same company as we use for the day tour. There are many places around Kampot where you can buy a bus ticket. The mini bus arrived at 1030am, we grabbed our seats. The bus did it’s rounds of Kampot till it was full, then off we went. And by 1250pm we had arrived in Sihouakville, drop off spot is the Monkey Republic a bar, restaurant and hostel.
We sat and had a cold drink and got onto bookings.com and looked for some accommodation. Trish found a place about a kilometer and a half away so we walked to the Ropanaha Boutique Hotel, a little oasis in Sihouakville. The hotel is beautiful the grounds and gardens are well kept and so is the pool area. Our room was decorated with a Cambodian touch, the room didn’t include breakfast. The room had a fridge, TV, WiFi and tea and coffee making facilities.
We decided at take a walk and as we were only a few minutes from Serendipity Beach we decided to check the beach out, we were a little disappointed in the state of the beach which was a little dirty with rubbish and had areas washed away from the drains from the street. All the shops, restaurants and bars along the water had to move back a few meters from the beach, so there was a lot of building going on as well.
We stopped at a small tour shop and bought 2 tickets on the Suntour Island tour at $25 US each. We kept walking to a small bar at one end of the beach and sat down to enjoy a quiet afternoon beer, we were lucky enough to enjoy 1 mouthful when the beggars started and then the mobile beach spa ladies were next and off to the right 2 Cambodian girls yelling at each other about who can sell wrist bands in that spot and to the left there was a group of about 15 doing the same thing. Trish and I just looked at each other and decided to grab some dinner a street back from the beach which has a long line of restaurants, we chose one and sat down to eat when a Cambodian guy walks in drunk and starts waffling on about some girl and ending each sentence with “something like that” we ate as quick as we could and got out of there and decided it maybe more peaceful and safer to get some take away beer sand go sit by the pool at the hotel. We enjoyed a beer and a cool swim to the distant tunes of Elvis with the odd firecracker going off, which helped leave a sore taste in our mouths about Sihouakville.
We waited for our 9am pick-up which arrived at 905am and off we went to the next pick up, which wasn’t ready so we left and headed to the next pick up who wasn’t ready either, so we sat for about 30 minutes before they emerged. Now back to the first pickup to pick them up, and onto the harbor. Wow the lines to the boat were crazy and way to many people for the boat, after a while we finally made it on board and found out that 1 bus load of people were over booked and the company had to get an extra boat to accommodate them. By 10am we were off to our first stop Koh Tas a small bay with coral and 40 minutes to swim or snorkel, along the way we were served cakes and pastries with tea or coffee which was free flow all day. The boats horn sounded signaling time to get back on board and then there was about 8 people stuck in a strong current that needed to be rescued by a crew member in a dingy. Finally on our way to Koh Rong Samloen Island and a buffet Cambodian lunch was severed along the way. In the distance we could see our destination Koh Rong Samloen Island and it looked like paradise with it long white sandy beach and its tropical jungle meeting the white sand and turquoise clear ocean. We soon pulled up next to the long jetty and made our way to this amazing beach, we had 2 hours to enjoy this paradise, we had a swim it the warm ocean and a walk along the white sandy beach and explored a little. The boats horn sounded 3 times, time to leave this amazing island and head back to Sihouakville. 330pm we set off and up went the music and everyone got a free vodka shot then came the skull a beer via a snorkel after a while the peace had returned.
We made it back to the pier in Sihouakville at 5pm and back on the bus for drop off, we got the driver to drop us in town so we could get some supplies and book transport from the tourist Information booth. We booked 2 tickets from our hotel to the airport for $14 US for both of us. We grabbed dinner on the way back to the hotel and decided to have an easy evening at the hotel.
We grabbed a tuk tuk for $2 US for a ride into town to the Maybank (we have Citibank Visa Plus Debit card which is fee free with Maybank and works with a 4 digit pin code and some other will only except a 6 digit pin). Then it was time for a hair cut and beard trim and not bad for $3 US, we grabbed a drink and caught a tuk tuk back to the hotel for $2 US.
We sat and relaxed while we had a cool drink and we decided to spoil ourselves and go for a relaxing massage at Bliss Day Spa, we selected an 60 minute aroma therapy massage at $12 US each. The massage was great, however the power was out so they had a generator working away which made to relaxing part a little hard.
Airport Transfer and flight to Siem Reap
It was time we got a move on and get packed and our airport transfer was coming at 2pm. By 2pm we were on the minibus to the airport. We bought the tickets for $7 US each at the tourist information center.
We had the bus to ourselves and by 230pm we were at the airport and we checked in and waited for our Bayon Air flight to Siem Reap.The plane was small and as we sat down I looked out the window and noticed canvas showing on one of the tires, oh jeez I thought. We took off on time and landed 10 minutes early, we collected our bags and met our tuk tuk driver who was sent by the hotel , out the front of the arrival hall. Half an hour later we arrived at our hotel 288 Boutique Hotel, we only had a quick over night here. the hotel is clean and tidy the staff were very helpful, our room was spacious and clean with a fridge, TV, WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities, breakfast was included and a pool.
We dumped our stuff in the room and went downstairs to reception to organize a bus ticket to Battambang for tomorrow morning. Then we walk a few hundred meters to the night market for a walk around and to have dinner.
The bus from Siem Reap to Battambang
We woke up at 6am got ready and packed our backpacks and went down for breakfast and to wait for our bus to Battambang.
Last night we had organized through the hotel to buy bus tickets to Battambang for $8 US each with Mekong Express and were told be ready by 7am, pick up was 8am. At 730am a bus pulled up and Trish and I rolled our eyes this bus was a piece of crap and thoughts of traveling 3 odd hours in this didn’t excite me at all. Lucky enough it was just a pick-up to the bus stop, we waited about 30 minutes and boarded the bus and received a free bottle of water. We left Siem Reap at 8am and at 10am we stopped for 15 minutes for a toilet break and by 1130am we were in Battambang.
The tuk tuk drivers were all fighting for customers, luckily we had a guy picking us up who was sent from the home stay.
On the way to Battambang My Home Stay, Trish noticed a sign in the back of the tuk tuk, it was the guy she had found on the internet that we were going to contact for a driver while we were in Battambang. We chatted to Nicky about doing a few tours and Nicky showed us around the home stay and our room. We settled in and the owner came to speak to us and formally checked us in. The home stay is very neat and tidy the room has a TV, fridge free WiFi, the owner and his family are lovely and really make you feel at home.
We got Nicky to drive us into town, the home stay was a few kilometers out of town.
A tuk tuk into town costs a $1 US each way and we got Nicky to run us to a Maybank ATM, a laundry and to book a cooking class then he left us in an area to have lunch and would come back at 3pm to pick us up for a tour.
We met Nicky at 3pm, where he dropped us off and just as he arrived the heavens opened up and the rain poured down so we decided to cancel the afternoon tour until tomorrow and we got Nicky to take us back to the home stay.
Around 6pm the rain had stopped and we called Nicky to run us into town for dinner at 7pm we decided to eat at Jaan Bai, which is a restaurant to help street kids learn and earn money, the food and service where great.
After dinner we walked around town and found the night markets and wandered around this small market and then called Nicky to drive us back to the home stay. The streets of Battambang at night are very quiet and the temperature was perfect nice and warm but not hot.
We were greeted by the owner and his wife of the home stay we had a quick chat and he gave us a small plate of tiny bananas.
Nicky picked us up at 930am for our tour of Battambang. Nickys tour included Home business making rice paper rolls, Banana chip home business which are a little chewy and so sweet, Ek Phnom a temple which pre-dates the temples at Angkor, entrance fee was $1 US each, Fish market , fish paste factory. This place stank ! Sticky rice, we stopped at a small road side shop making and selling bamboo full of sticky rice. The rice is cooked in the bamboo with some beans and coconut milk and it tastes fantastic, Cambodian spaghetti or rice noodle making, Bamboo railway which was a lot of fun and fast. The ride is about 20 odd minutes long with a few stops for the drives to dismantle trains to let another pass and once at the other end you get 20 minutes to wander around the markets and enjoy a cold drink then its about 20 minute ride back. Battambang Killing Cave and Buddhist Temple, this was hard to fathom just like the killing fields in Phnom Penh , we walked around while Nicky who is full of information told us all about what has happened here. We hired a jeep to drive us all over the mountain to different spots.
Breakfast at the home stay today was 2 rice paper rolls and 3 spring rolls with tea and coffee. At 930am Nicky picked us up and drove us into Battambang for our morning cooking class at Nary Kitchen which cost $10 US each. The day started with a tour of the local market to get ingredients we needed to make our lunch. As most markets in Asia you need a bit of a strong stomach and be prepared to see the bizarre. The cooking class was well presented and had a great teacher. We received a recipe book and we got eat an amazing Cambodian lunch that we had prepared and cooked.
After the cooking class we walked around Battambang and stocked up on some supplies and phoned Nicky to pick us up and take us back to the home stay.
Later that day we got Nicky to come get us so we could go get dinner. We sat chatting at the home stay for a good hour, then Nicky took us to Eden for dinner.
Nicky took us back to the home stay and gave us a bag of Cambodian snacks which looked like little ice cream cones and the home stay owner gave us some muffins, fruit and 2 bottles of water all for our boat trip in the morning. Trish fixed up our bill and paid for our boat tickets as well.
Battambang to Siem Reap by boat
Tuk tuk ride into Siem Reap
The tuk tuk drivers all scrabbled on board the boat all tying to get business, lucky enough Trish had phoned Saphorn our tuk tuk driver we used in Siem Reap who picked us up from the airport and organized a lift to our hotel the Mekong Central Hotel for $5 US. We also organized a tour with Saphorn for $25 US with an early start to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat.
We checked-in and were taken to our room, the room was clean but the bathroom was stained and the fridge didn’t work, there was a TV and tea and coffee making facilities but no tea or coffee and no hot water shower. A basic breakfast is included.
We wandered down to pub street a 15 minute walk and had dinner and a few beers.
Angkor Wat and the temples
4am the alarm sounded and by 440am we were in Saphorns tuk tuk and on our way to Angkor Wat, we joined the procession of tuk tuk’s and around 30 minutes later we were at the ticket office to buy a pass for the temples, which cost $40 for 3 days. Then it was another 10 minutes to Angkor Wat, we quickly made our way in and grabbed a position at the lake in front of Angkor Wat. The sunrise was nice but nothing to exciting. By 630am we were wandering around this amazing temple in ore of the carvings and amazed how an ancient civilization could build something so awesome and that has stood the test of time so well. By 8am we were getting ready to leave when I spotted a monk giving blessing, Trish and I both had a blessing by him for good luck for our travels. We then made our way towards the food and souvenir area to grab a drink, as soon as we got near there we were approached about a drink or food and he boasted about being James Bond – license to coffee. And with a name like that we followed him to shop 007, the coffee was about as tasty as a cup of mud.
We got back to the car park and found Saphorn and off to next stop, Bayon Temple he dropped us here and the walk started from here and finished at the Elephant Terrace where Saphorn was waiting for us. Then we did these temples Ta Keo Temple, Ta Prohm Temple – the tomb raider temple, this was our favorite temple and Banteay Kdei Temple. By 2pm we wrapped up our tour and got Saphron to take us to the hospital. Trish wasn’t feeling too good, Saphorn dropped us at the Bangkok International Hospital where Trish was check out. Two hours later and a small fortune with a bag of drugs we were on our way back to the hotel.
We relaxed for awhile in our hotel room and later that night we went to pub street area for dinner. After dinner Trish had her first foot spa for $3 US, then we had a foot massage for 60 minutes which included back and neck massage for $5 US each.
We had breakfast early and went for a walk down the road to drop our washing off, $1 US a kilo or $3 US a kilo dry in 3 hours.
We decided to phone Saphorn and see if he can take us on another tour today to see the rest of the temples. He arrived at 11am and off we went.
The temple tour included these temples, Preah Khan temple, Neak Pean – its a long walk to a very small temple, Ta Som, East Mebon Temple, Pre Rup and Sras Srang the Royal Pond. Which was the end of the tour according to Saphorn, which had us scratching our heads we were paying for a day tour. He seemed more interested in doing a tour for the next day. We got him to drive us back to the hotel which we reached at 3pm and paid him $15 US.
We grabbed a drink and relaxed in the our hotel room for awhile and we started googling and social networking to find a better driver for tomorrow. A Facebook friend suggested Pisal Jukin, we contacted him on Facebook and arranged a tour for tomorrow.
Dinner and drinks at pub street.
Breakfast at our hotel, and we met Pisal at 9am for our day tour. We are going to Kbal Spean which is about a 50 kilometer drive from Siem Reap, and off we set in Pisal tuk tuk. The country is stunning along the way and it took a good hour and a half to get there. The walk to the temple and small waterfall is 3 kilometers return and fairly easy, the hardest part is humidity. We saw heaps of brightly coloured caterpillars, a millipede, a few lizards and heaps of butterflies. Our next stop was Banteay Temple, Next stop was the Landmine Museum. Which has a display of all the different landmines as well as other war memorabilia. They also go out and search and destroy landmines and they tell us Cambodia still has a lot of un-exploded mines and bombs. It’s a great cause and worth supporting by visiting or even donating a few dolllars. Our last stop was Banteay Samre Temple.
On our way back to the hotel a huge rain storm and strong wind hit us nearly blowing over a tuk tuk and blowing roadside stalls all over the road. Trish and I were soaked and two poor Japanese girls hired bikes and were stuck at the side of the road soaking wet. By the time we reached our hotel the rain had stopped. We paid Pisal $20 for the days tour, Pisal also carries bottles of cold water which are free.
We hurried to the room for a warmish shower and to get dry clothes on. We hung our clothes to dry and went to pub street for dinner and also a few beers at Banana Leaf while watching a band.
Pisal is an excellent guide and speaks good English
We had breakfast at the hotel and packed out backpacks and met Pisal out the front of the hotel. We had to get to the airport for our Air Asia flight to Bangkok Thailand. We paid Pisal $5 US for the ride and bid him farewell and went and checked-in with Air Asia and made our way through immigration and waited to board.
Our flight left 15 minutes early and an hour later we were in Bangkok, we had 3 hours till our next flight to Chiang Mai and the immigration lines were crazy and taking nearly two hours to get through. We made a mad rush from terminal 1 to terminal 2 self checked in and passed through the security check, we grabbed a drink and a bite to eat and made it to the gate with 20 minutes to spare.
Ten minutes late but by 4pm we were on our way and 50 minutes later we landed in Chiang Mai.
Thailand Sim Card
We purchased a Happy Tourist Sim for 299 THB (or $11 AUD) which has 100 THB worth of calls and text and unlimited data for 7 days and 15 days of use.
Taxi to the hotel
We purchased a taxi voucher inside the airport, then proceeded to the exit door to the taxi stand 50 meters away, from the airport to our hotel the price was 150 THB (or $5 AUD).
About 20 minutes later we reached our hotel Top Garden Boutique Guesthouse, the hotel was great very neat and very tidy and friendly owners and staff. Our room was on the small side but still comfortable it had a fridge, TV and free WiFi.
We went across the road to the Cat House for dinner, the service and food were great. Then we took a walk down to the Tha Phae Gate area.
We walked down to the Tha Phea Gate area (about 15 minutes) we had some breakfast and after we bought a bag of fish food for 20THB to feed the fish. We then found a wet market (fresh food) and had a wonder around for awhile, then made our way back to the hotel. And we organized a tour for tomorrow with the owner.
11am and we were in a songthaew and on our way to an afternoon cooking class at Siam Rice Thai Cookery School, which we paid 700 THB ($26.50 AUD) each. There was only one other young English couple in the class, we were given a bottle of cold water and a few choices of what we wanted to make, Trish and I both cooked different meals. We choose 4 meals and one dessert, which our wonderful teacher showed and instructed us to create. By 330pm we were back at our hotel in a food coma and needed a little rest.
That evening we went for a walk to the night bazaar for a while and a slow walk back to the hotel.
We had an early morning walk and breakfast, and made our way back to the hotel to get ready for our tour to Doi Inthanon National Park. The mini bus arrived at 8am with 1 other person on board, we did the rounds picking up other passengers from their hotels, we had a total of 9 people in our tour.
The travel time was one and a half hours to the park. Our tour included Wachirathaw waterfall, wow this is impressive and also beautiful place, Sirithan waterfall, which is also impressive and just a few hundred meters from the carpark, Doi Inthanon the tallest mountain in Thailand, The King and Queens Pagoda’s and Hmong market. Lunch was next to the market. the food was good and we were served about 7 plates of food to share, water, tea and coffee was included. After lunch the Karan Village Hill Tribe was our last stop, here we walked around the village and saw women weaving. It was time to head back to Chiang Mai, which took one and a half hours. This tour was booked through our hotel which gave us a 200 THB ($7.60 AUD) discount on the tour, we paid 1000 THB ($38 AUD) each.
We did our morning walk for breakfast, and made it back to the hotel at 9am to pack our backpacks and then we checked out of the hotel.
The Bus to Chiang Rai
We waved down a songthaew and bargained a price with the driver, it was 120 THB ($4.50 AUD) to the bus station which was about 20 minute drive. We walked into the main entrance of the bus station and on the left is the Green Bus, we took a number and waited for our turn, we waited about 10 minutes before our number was called, we then purchased two tickets to Chiang Rai for 129 THB each we also had to show our passports. We had to wait till 1130am for the bus, as soon as it arrive we were quickly boarded and on our way.
At 130pm we had a 10 minute stop at a bus station, from here the bus made a few stops to drop off some people and by 315pm we arrived at the bus station in Chiang Rai.
We google mapped our hotel and decided to walk the one kilometer. Our hotel was Baan Malai a beautiful hotel with stunning gardens and friendly staff. Our room was clean and tidy with a TV, fridge and WiFi, and a basic breakfast was included. We relaxed for a while and checked out a few tours and spoke to the hotel staff and booked a tour. And then headed off for dinner and a walk around the night markets.
It rained pretty heavy most of the night, and all I could think about was the tour booked for today, and hoping the rain would go away. We got ready and made our way to breakfast and waited for our tour bus. This tour costs 1000 THB ($38 AUD) each and an extra 300 THB ($11.40 AUD) for entrance fee to the Long Neck Village. As we did the rounds picking up the other people on the tour the rain stopped. This tour included Singha Tea Plantation, White Temple and it started raining again, we still managed to have a look around – it was built and designed by a Thai artist, The Black House – Also an artist house built in the old Thai style, this was an interesting place and disturbing with furs and other animal parts used through out the complex. Monkey Cave – Its a small temple and a lookout on top of a long stairway, it has about 250 steps up. You can feed the monkeys or the fish in the turquoise water. Lunch at an Asian buffet, the food here was just ok, there was a huge selection to choose from and tea and coffee was included in the tour. After lunch the tour took us to the Long neck village, Mae Sai the busy boarder town with Myanmar. We saw the busy market and also went to see the Scorpion Temple and the view over Myanmar. Golden Triangle which is where three countries meet which are Thailand, Laos and Myanmar. The Golden Triangle was a major player in growing and distributing opium. Opium Museum which was a 50 THB ($1.90 AUD) each entrance fee – We didn’t go in as we have booked a tour for tomorrow and we go to the Hall of Opium and the entrance fee is included in the tour price. Trish and I went for a walk to the Mekong River and had a look around. On the way home we stopped at Chiang Saen an old town with many ancient ruins like Chiang Mai. We arrived back at the hotel at 715pm and freshened up and walked up to the night market for dinner, we ordered a clay pot soup meal, which comes on a flower pot shaped oven with hot charcoal burning and a clay pot half full of broth and a tray of vegetables and a plate of meat. You add the ingredients, wait 10 minutes, its a beautiful meal for 100 THB ($3.80 AUD) and a large bottle of beer for 90 THB makes it a cheap meal for two people.
We had breakfast at 7am and dropped some washing off and got back to the hotel in time for our driver to take us on a tour by private car. We paid 2800 THB ($106.50 AUD) each for this tour that had all entrance fees and visa’s included.Our tour included Choui Fong Tea Plantation – here we spoke about the tea as well as tasting some different teas. Our driver also bought us a tasty ice tea each. By 930am we where on way to Mae Sai and the Thai boarder, The driver went to the bank to change some Thai money to US dollar for our visa’s, while Trish and I walked around the market.
By 10am we had left Thailand (Myanmar visa was $10 US each, included in the tour price) and were standing in Tachilek Myanmar, and the difference was quickly noticed. Mahamyatuni Temple, Tachilek Shwedagon Pagoda, Temple of Enrobed Elephant and Myanmar street food – which our guide from Myanmar assured us it was the best in Tachilek, we found it very oily and bland. We walked around the markets and duty free shop. By 130pm we had crossed back in Thailand and on our way to the Golden Triangle.
Golden Triangle – here we had to leave our passport with the Thai immigration while we took a private rocket boat for a ride along the Mekong River, which cost 800 THB. And they didn’t lie about being a rocket boat, it was powered by a 2 litre Toyota car engine, and I’m sure we did 80km plus along the Mekong. We stopped at an Island which was part of Laos called Done Sao and costs 30 THB ($30 AUD) for a permit. The island is basically a large market and soon after we arrived it started to rain heavy so Trish our guide and myself sat and chatted while waiting for the rain to slow down. We made our way back to the rocket boat for our white knuckle ride back to Thailand.
Hall of Opium – Which is worth a visit and well set up and covers everything to do with the drug. We finished at the Hall of Opium at 5pm and we started the hour drive back to the hotel. Once back we picked up the washing which was 50 THB ($1.90 AUD) a kilo. We relaxed for an hour and headed up to the night markets for dinner, we bought 6 spring rolls for 20 THB and another clay pot chicken soup to cook ourselves for 100 THB and a large bottle of beer to share for 90 THB, not bad 210 THB ($7.90 AUD) for dinner and a glass of beer each.
After a hectic few days we had a lazy morning and a late breakfast and hung around the room trying to think where to go next and how to get there.
Around lunch time we wandered up the the clock tower and found a great little cafe called Easy Cafe the service and the food were both great and the price was good too.We wandered around town for awhile and spoilt ourselves with an ice cream indulgence at Swensens. Then back to the hotel room to finish up on some research one our next destination.
That evening we headed to town and found Lanna Massage and Wellness, deciding to go in we selected to have a Thai massage which was 250THB ($9.50 AUD) each for 60 minutes of bliss in the perfect ambiance. Feeling great, we wandered to the night markets for dinner, chilli chicken with basil with rice and chicken vegetable with rice costing 40 THB each and two bags of sticky rice for 20 THB all washed down with a large bottle of beer for 90 THB.
Our taxi arrived at 7am to take us to Chiang Rai airport, costing us 150 THB ($5.70 AUD) and took about 20 minutes.
We self checked in and grabbed some breakfast and waited for our flight to Bangkok. By 915am we were on our way, and we landed in Bangkok at 1030am
Getting to the Southern Bus Station
For us the easiest way was by taxi, which we caught for the official airport taxi stand that is easy to find just follow the signs, the trip to the Southern Bus Station took 50 minutes and cost 215 THB ($8.18 AUD) plus a 50 THB ($1.90 AUD) airport tax.
Bus to Kanchanaburi
We found the a bus to Kanchanaburi and bought tickets for 100 THB ($3.80 AUD) each, we waited 15 minutes until the bus was full and off we went. The trip took 2 hours with a few stops to pick-up and drop-off a few passengers and 10 minute toilet break about 15 minutes out of Kanchanaburi.
Getting from the bus station to the hotel.
We grabbed a tuk tuk a street away from the bus station and worked out a price of 60 THB ($2.20 AUD) to our hotel.
The Sky Resort was our hotel for the next few days, the place looked impressive with plenty of rooms a pool and the restaurant and coffee shop with river views and tidy grounds and gardens. The rooms were tidy and clean, the room has a fridge, TV and WiFi. The room only had 1 power point and was used by the fridge and TV, which made charging our phones hard. The room wasn’t cleaned in 3 nights, leaving the rubbish bin piled high, or no fresh towels. Non of the staff could speak English, except for the office girl. The pool was only half full and the restaurant showed no interest in serving food but the view is stunning.
We went for a walk for dinner and a beer.
We left the hotel around 7am and walked the 3km to the Bridge on the River Kwai, we had the bridge to ourselves except for 1 other couple who soon left. Which gave us plenty of opportunity to get a few photos without anyone in the way. We had breakfast at a cafe and walked across the road to the Jeath Museum, which costs 40 THB ($1.50 AUD) each. The museum was interesting, but sadly badly set-up and not very well maintained.
We took on the 3km walk back to our hotel, for a rest and to get our washing together. We walked down the road to drop the washing off which was 30 THB plus 10 THB ($1.50 AUD in total) washing powder and ready later that day.
Lunch was at BBB Triple B Bar for lunch, the food and staff are great and the food is very yummy. After lunch we walked the 2km to the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery, to pay our respects. We grabbed a songthaew for 80 THB ($3 AUD) from the cemetery to the markets at the Bridge on the Kwai, we had two key rings made.
We booked at tour at Toi’s Tours for tomorrow and went next door for dinner at the Triple B Bar, and again great food and service.
We went to the restaurant to have a free coffee and waited for our minibus for the 8am pick-up, there was a few more people to pick up. And we were on our way, it was amazing seeing warning elephants crossing road signs along the way. An hour and a half later we arrived at Erawan National Park, our guide gave us a talking to and off we went to do the trek to 7 levels of the waterfalls. Wow these falls are stunning and we went when the water level was low, it would be worth visiting during the wet season.
We had to meet at the bus for 12 pm for lunch at the restaurant, we all got a cold bottle of water and the choice of chicken pad Thai or fried rice with chicken. Elephant ride. I suggested we do an elephant bath to Trish as it’s much kinder to the elephant and she was more than keen. I feel that the elephant bath is a lot more fun and you feel more of a connection with the elephant, we also fed her some bananas. We spent about 20-25 minutes with an elephant splashing around in the river with the elephant. while everyone else had an elephant ride. Once we were all back together we all got aboard a long tail boat and tore up the river for about 15 minutes, then swapped the long tail for a bamboo raft which seemed to sink knee deep until everyone sat down, we floated down the river back to the elephant camp which took about 30 minutes. Death Railway – which was constructed by Japanese prisoners of war, The railway was built so the Japanese could move into Myanmar and India.
We had about 20 minutes to walk up the train line and check out the small Buddist temple. We needed to be back at the train station at 4pm to catch the train. The train arrived and everyone scrambled on board. Trish managed to get a seat while I stood in the doorway with a perfect view of the railway and the river. The ride lasted 4 train stations or 30 odd minutes, we got off the train and made our way to the mini bus. Bridge over the River Kwai, which was packed, so Trish and I wandered off to have a look at the markets. We watched a railway staff member clear the line and bridge so the approaching train could cross.
By 6pm we were back at our hotel, we walked down to Toi’s Tours and thanked her for a good day and booked a bus to Bangkok. And we found a small restaurant that made real tasty Thai food cooked in water and instead of using fat, the food was great.
Kanchanaburi to Bangkok by bus
We had a lazy morning and packed our backpacks and checked-out of the hotel at 930am as we had to be at Toi’s Tours at 10 am, our minibus was due between 10 – 1030 am. The cost was 150 THB ($5.70 AUD) each to Khoa San Road Bangkok, which we thought was a great deal. We didn’t need to get back to Kanchanaburi bus station by tuk tuk or get from the Southern Bus Station in Bangkok which would save us a fair but of cash.
The bus arrived at 1030am and was full of locals, this bus was very nice with good A/C. The bus made a few stops to pick up and drop off people along the way. We had a 10 minute stop about 30 minutes from Bangkok. We arrived in Bangkok at 115pm and were dropped off on the main road and had to walk 20 meters to a small alley way which was a 100 meters long and a right turn and we were on Khoa San Road. We walked down the road and found Soi Rambuttri and followed it to the end where our hotel is the New Siam 2. The hotel is clean cheap and central to many tourist attractions.
The room had a TV, fridge and WiFi, the hotel also has a pool and restaurant.
We caught a tuk tuk to the China Town markets for 150 THB ($5.70 AUD) and wandered around for awhile, then the rain came down so we found cover and waited it out. We caught another tuk tuk to Patpong night market for 150 THB ($5.70 AUD) we found a cafe and sat down and had dinner and a few beers. We wandered around the markets for awhile, and decided to grab a metered taxi back to our hotel for 250 THB ($9.50 AUD).
3am and the alarm blasted, we quickly got ready and made our way up the road and hailed down a taxi to the flower markets which cost 45 THB. We wandered around the markets for a while. Trish being an ex-florist wasn’t to impressed and said Sydney flower markets were better. We walked back towards the hotel and found the wharf so we could get some pics of Wat Arun with the lights on, we waited awhile to see if the sunrise would look any good, but the clouds had gotten thick, so no sunrise today. We had a drink and sat in the park in front of the Royal Palace and ended up feeding the squirrels. We walked back to Wat Po and paid our 100 THB ($3.80 AUD) each entrance fee and wandered around the temple waiting for 830am so we could go see the temple of the Reclining Buddha. We were near the first inside and quickly took a few photos.
We decided to catch the cross river ferry for 3 THB each to Wat Arun and have a look around, the temple was free as its getting some restoration work done. Next was a ride around the Klongs in a longtail boat, the guy wanted 1400 THB for two people to do a tour, just then a girl walked up alone wanting to go on a boat trip so I suggested she come with us making it cheaper and Trish started bargaining and we paid 400 THB ($15.20 AUD) each for the ride. The klongs are like Venice in Bangkok, it was great to see life long the klongs. We stopped at one spot to feed the fish which were thick fighting for the bread, we soon moved on but suddenly stopped as the boat guy had to change the propeller for some reason which took 20 minutes, then we were back on our way. We got dropped off at the wharf across the road from our hotel, and made our way to a small cafe called Jaywalk here we had breakfast of eggs. toast, jam and tea or coffee for 100 THB ($3.80 AUD) each. By 11 am we were back in the hotel for a little nap.
At 1pm we went down to Soi Rambuttri and had some lunch, then grabbed a taxi to Sealife the large aquarium in Bangkok, it took us an hour to get there and cost 150 THB ($5.70 AUD).We found Sealife and paid 990 THB ($37 AUD) each entrance fee and made our way around checking out all the displays, we were amazed at the effort that went into this aquarium. We both had a great time at Sealife and both agreed it was worth the money. By the time we got outside it was pouring with rain and the line for a taxi was massive, we waited a good half hour and got nowhere. The traffic was just one big traffic jam then the police came along and blocked the streets off so a few cars could come speeding through, once these cars had passed the police opened the streets up making an even bigger traffic jam. We ended up paying 300 THB ($11,40 AUD) for a tuk tuk back to Khoa San Road which took one and a half hours to get back, even with flying down the wrong side of the road in pouring rain.
We grabbed dinner along Soi Rambuttri and had a few beers, then came time to wander home in the rain.
Getting to Don Muay Airport by bus
5am the alarm woke us up and we got ready and checked out of the hotel, and waited for the minbus to the airport. We bought tickets at a small shop down the road from our hotel for 150 THB ($5.70 AUD) each, we only had one extra pick-up and half hour later we were at the airport.
We self checked-in with Air Asia and found a cafe to sit and have a drink. We made our way through immigration and by 8am we sat waiting for our flight and by10am we were on our way to Kuala Lumpur.
Getting to Kuala Lumpur from KLIA2
We arrived in KL at 1pm and made it through immigration fairly quick and bought a ticket for the Areo Bus to KL Sentral for 11 MYR ($3.50 AUD) each, the ticket booth is located on the ground floor near the Container Hotel. The bus into KL took about 50 minutes. Once at KL Sentral we caught the LRT to KLCC for 4.80 MYR ($1.55 AUD) for two people. We walked about 1km to the Traders Hotel and checked-in and freshened up and relaxed for awhile. This hotel had everything it was very comfortable and a great way to finish a big holiday. Trish got a good deal on Bookings.com. By 630pm we were at the Sky Bar sitting in our booth watching the sunset over KL and the Petronas Tower lights to come on. The Sky Bar was celebrating its 10th birthday and had a few Dj’s playing.
We had a lazy day and a long breakfast , then hung in the room and watched a movie. By 2pm we had to check-out of the hotel. We walked back to KLCC LRT station and bought two tickets for 4.80 MYR ($1.55 AUD). The train broke down and we had to get off and wait for the next train which took a good 40 minutes. We finally reached KL Sentral and bought a ticket at the small booth at the bus stop for 11 MYR ($3.50 AUD) each to KLIA2. By the time we reached the airport it was 5pm. We left our bags at the Container Hotel who hires out lockers for 10 MYR ($3 AUD) for 3 hours while we walked around and had some dinner.
We went to collect our bags and checked-in with Air Asia and made our way to the gate and wait for our flight home.
By 11pm we were sitting on the plane about to take off.
We arrived in Sydney about 930am and made it through immigration quickly. We grabbed some breakfast and waited for our lift home. As we sat waiting we started wondering where to next ?
Our Travel Budget
Flight prices for 2 adults
Sydney – Kuala Lumpur – $595 Return
Kuala Lumpur – Phnom Penh – $27
Siem Reap – Bangkok – $122
Bangkok – Chiang mai – $42
Chaing Rai- Bangkok – $49
Bangkok – Kuala Lumpur – $84
Sihanoukville – Battanbang – $134
Total price of flights 2 adults – $1053
Total price for Accommodation 2 adults – $1188
Total price for 2 adults flights and Accommodation – $2241