Siem Reap is the main city close to Angkor Wat and a vibrant city. Most travelers will use it as a gateway to the area around it. I did the same during my 9 days Siem Reap & Angkor Wat itinerary. The first day I explored the city center of Siem Reap and I chartered a helicopter to fly over all the temples I would see the next days. This helicopter flight over Angkor Wat gave me a good orientation of the places. Fly with me and enjoy!
Siem Reap City Walk
My first official day in Cambodia started with a satisfying breakfast at Park Hyatt Siem Reap. It would be an easy day with only a walk through the city and a helicopter flight over Angkor Wat on my agenda. Siem Reap is the capital of the province with the same name in north-western Cambodia. It’s located near the temple complex of Angkor Wat. The city boomed in the past century after the French saved Angkor Wat from the jungle but it was until a decade ago that tourist numbers reached millions on a yearly basis. I was worried before my visit that it would be to touristic but the city is not big and to my surprise has a lot of old traditions and heritage left.
After breakfast I walked first towards the old market and surrounding streets. Here you will find nice examples of old colonial buildings. On the market you can buy all kinds of fresh food but also lots of other items. It’s a bit chaotic but a great spectacle to see. Siem Reap is an agglomeration from several villages around the Siem Reap River each having a Wat (English: pagoda) at its center. I visited three: Wat Damnak, Wat Bo and Wat Preah Prom Rath. The last is probably the most beautiful in Siem Reap. Its construction started over 500 years ago and you will find several beautiful Buddha’s there. The complexes are not huge but give a good understanding of the daily lives of the Cambodians. I’m not used to heat and with temperatures close to 40 degrees Celsius it was a long walk. After I had seen all I wanted to see I headed to Pub street for an ice-cold Angkor Beer. Pub Street is the place where all evening action takes place and most bars and restaurants are located.
Helicopter flight over Angkor Wat
My helicopter flight over Angkor Wat was actually not calculated into my budget before I arrived to Siem Reap. I found the flyer in the hotel and I just had to take this ride. I did a ride before over the Iguazu waterfalls and one in Sao Paulo. This would be my third spectacular ride. They offered various rides from a short ride just over the main temples up to 48 minute ride covering all temples and surrounding areas. I couldn’t resist the temptation and I simply had to book the 48 minute ride. The problem is that I travelled alone and there were no other tourists for this flight so I had to pay for 3 persons even though it was just me. Sitting in the front seat and the fact that the pilot gave me a bit more time for photographing made it all good. You can see the ride in the GPS track below. I saw the following temples from the air: Angkor Wat, Bakheng Mountain, Srah Strang, Prasat Pre Rub, Prasat Ta Som, Estern Mebon, Banteay Samre Temple, Tonle Sap Lake with floating village, Phnom Bok, Rolous Group, Bakong Temple, Kulen Ranges with waterfall, Phnom Krom and Siem Reap itself.
The helicopter fligh over Angkor Wat took me over temples I would not even visit on the ground, some rarely seen by tourists. After the flight I had a good overview of the area. The perspective of the air gave me good orientation points. Thanks to HeliStar for the great service (http://www.helistarcambodia.com). I’m not affiliated with them in any way, but I can highly recommend to take a ride with them!
After the helicopter flight over Angkor Wat I went back to my hotel to fresh up and prepare for an evening in Pub Street. After dinner and some ice-cold beers I made a quick visit to the night market and had a massage before I went back to the hotel. The next morning my car with driver would be waiting for me at 08:00 for a full day tour. I will share my daily experiences from this 9 day Siem Reap & Angkor Wat itinerary in separate posts. This first day was an easy day to adjust to the time zone and temperature.Stay tuned for more stories and subscribe to the newsletter or follow CTB on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram including Instagram stories; on all social media you can find CTB @christravelblog) to get updated information.
Did you visit Siem Reap too or do you have questions? Please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. Love to hear from you!