We were super excited to go to Siem Reap because this was the stop where we planned to catch up with our friends. One year before, we spent Thanksgiving with our friends Steph and Kirkwood in Melbourne. This year, we decided to spend our 2nd Annual Thanksgiving together so they flew from Sydney to Siem Reap to meet us!
And, on the flight there we were the first ones to board — first time ever boarding an empty plane!
I also had a friend, Vanna, from Vassar College who was living in Siem Reap and who was our excellent tour guide. Vanna gave us the ultimate local experience and even gifted us a 2 night’s stay at Shinta Mani (one of the top rated hotels in Siem Reap). When we checked into the hotel, they had champagne for us and as we walked to the room, the bellboy stopped to pick out a pre-made bouquet of flowers for me. It was incredible! Needless to say, we took a ton of pics of the 5 of us on this honeymoon 🙂
Temples, Temples, Temples
During our first day in Siem Reap, we got a late start so we didn’t get to our first temple until mid-day. And after buying some crazy elephant print MC Hammer pants and a scarf to mummy wrap my entire body in (for modesty), we were thoroughly boiling, but were ready to explore.
The temples in Siem Reap are beautiful and very unique. One of our favorites was Bayon. It was SO hot the afternoon we were there, but that didn’t stop us from getting some glamour shots (and not so glamorous shots).
We loved this one so much that Justin and I went back again on our last day together. We each found a quiet perch where we sat to take in the beauty of the massively beautiful stone structures.
Our other favorite was Ta Prohm (aka Tomb Raider temple). The first time we visited it was late afternoon. We were dripping, the place was packed and we moved through pretty quickly, unable to take in the full scale of a temple built in the 12th-13th century, covered in thousands of year old roots growing over the giant stones. Justin and I went back one morning after sunrise at Angkor Wat, right when the temple grounds opened. It was incredible to take in the beauty of this temple without as many tourists. It was definitely one of our favorites.
We also loved Banteay Srei (lady temple) which had incredibly intricate carvings, a pinkish hue and was a lovely long tuk tuk ride out of town, along dirt roads and small villages.
And a few more highlights from some other temples (including Baphuon, the temple with the longest cat walk in the world!)
Of course, we visited Angkor Wat
We ended up seeing Angkor Wat three times during our visit. Our first time was just before sunset after a long day of temple touring. Right before visiting, we refreshed with some cold passionfruit smoothies, so we were ready to go. It was breathtaking and seeing the light hit the temple at dusk was stunning.
We also went back to watch sunrise, once with Steph and Kirkwood and once again on our own. The crowds didn’t take away from the serene beauty and stillness of watching the reflection of the temple emerge in the water lily dotted pond in front.
Golden Temple, Dinners and Markets
After checking out of the Shinta Mani, we checked in at a little hotel called Golden Temple. We were greeted with the most incredible welcome of treats, drinks and the most intricately decorated room of any that we stayed in while on the honeymoon. We loved this home base and the picnic breakfasts they packed us for our early morning trips. It was so relaxing to hang by the pool and cool off on hot afternoons.
On our last night day together, Vanna took us to lunch at an amazing veggie restaurant and then dinner at a restaurant serving traditional Cambodian food. It was such a treat and a wonderful way to wrap up this special time with these great friends.
Can’t wait to come back to travel together again!