Go continues testing the limits of his dwindling budget while sightseeing at Angkor Wat.
Welcome back to the second part of our Japanese-language reporter Go Hatori’s extreme budget travel to Cambodia! Go finally made it to Siem Reap, the town right outside of Angkor Wat, on his second day of travels. However, he’s down to only 8,511 remaining yen in his budget of 50,000 yen for the whole trip. Will he be able to stay within his limits and safely get back to Japan…?
▼ Go (pictured left) might also pick up some new friends along the way.
Day 3: Siem Reap, Cambodia (Angkor Wat)
Go woke up early with anticipation on Day 3 of his travels. Today he’d be visiting Angkor Wat–the culmination of this entire trip. However, first he needed to find a cheap way to get there from his hotel.
He’d done some asking on the previous day and it sounded like a fun and easy solution might be to rent an electric bike, which supposedly went for about US$10 per day.
He started walking towards a famous rental shop he’d heard about but quickly grew tired. It was farther away than he thought, so he decided to turn around and head back to his hotel for the time being and figure out something else.
It turned out that there was a perfect solution waiting for him right there on site! He could rent a regular city bike for only US$3, a mountain bike for US$6, or an automatic Honda Click 2015 scooter for US$13. Going this route would also save him from the hassle of returning a bike elsewhere at the end of the day.
Going with the cheapest option would definitely be best for his budget, but would he really be OK riding a regular old bike to Angkor Wat? He asked a staff member who enthusiastically replied that it’s a bit slow, but absolutely doable and safe. Go decided to trust those words and rented a US$3 city bike for the day. It had been tuned up ahead of time and also came with a lock.
After seeing that Angkor Wat was about 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) away on Google Maps, any remaining doubts he had vanished. Heck, he could jog that distance if he absolutely needed to.
Feeling quite pleased, Go took to the streets on his new ride.
He became even more excited after seeing that there was a path exclusively for bikes. This trip looked to be a piece of cake.
After a lovely ride, Go made it to the Angkor Wat ticket center without any problems and forked over US$37 (5,509 yen) for a one-day pass. That made a huge dent in his remaining budget, but visiting there was the main purpose of this trip, after all.
He hopped back on his bike and continued on the way to the temple complex. The road was smooth and he soaked in the happiness of knowing that his goal was just a short ride away.
At long last, he reached Angkor Wat about an hour after leaving the hotel. While riding the city bike had taken a little longer, it had turned out to be a perfectly reliable method of transportation. He actually appreciated the slower ride because it meant that he could really soak in and enjoy the scenery along the way.
Now Go was really in his element. It was time for some hardcore sightseeing!
After a while he stopped at a refreshment stand to purchase water for 1,000 riel (36 yen) and–you guessed it–a Coke for 3,000 riel (109 yen). It tasted like the best one he had ever had.
He continued along the bike path to various sites in the sprawling complex, which is Guinness-certified as being the largest religious structure in the world.
One stop in particular was an absolute must-see–Bayon Temple, a 12th or 13th century structure built to serve as the state temple for a king of the Khmer Empire.
He also wanted to see Ta Prohm Temple, but the route that Google Maps showed him seemed like it wouldn’t make for an easy ride on a city bike.
Nevertheless, he gritted his teeth and made it successfully to his destination.
He stood in front of Ta Prohm Temple, reminiscing after seeing it in person for the first time in 20 years.
Back then, he had asked his tour guide to snap the following photo.
Now, as a solo traveler, he set up a mini tripod and set his camera’s timer. It was incredibly fulfilling to get a shot at the same place under the exact same tree. It was as if he had transcended time.
A lot had happened in his life over the last 20 years.
And it seemed that a lot had changed in Siem Reap in the same amount of time.
Maybe, on his next trip to Cambodia, he would finally make it to the capital city of Phnom Penh further to the south.
After losing himself in his thoughts for a while, he eventually began to make his way back to the hotel. He felt fully satisfied with the new layer of memories of Angkor Wat that he could now treasure in addition to the ones that were already there.
In his usual fashion, one of the first things he did when he got back was to buy some cold water for 1,000 riel (36 yen) and a Coke for 3,000 riel (109 yen) at a general shop right next door to the hotel.
He now needed to research different ways of getting back to Bangkok on the following day. A travel agency near the hotel told him that it would cost US$32 (4,794 yen). The same tuk-tuk driver that had brought him from the bus terminal had also told him that he could do it for US$25 (3,745 yen).
The winning ticket came from the trustworthy hotel worker again. He could arrange for a service to pick up Go right from the hotel and bring him back to Bangkok for US$17 (2,547 yen). That would still unfortunately bump him over his 50,000 yen extreme budget…but he didn’t really have a choice this time. It was by far the cheapest option.
Completely exhausted physically and mentally at this point, Go popped back over to the general store to order dinner at the attached eatery. He got Cambodian-style fried rice for US$2.75 (411 yen) and a large banana shake for US$2.50 (374 yen) in celebration of the day. The fried rice was a bit gooey and just so-so, but the shake was really good. Come to think of it, he had also drunk banana shakes often during his previous trip to Cambodia.
And so Day 3 ended bittersweetly with him ending up 1,054 yen OVER his budget. At least the only thing left to do at this point was to get back to Japan.
Day 4: Siem Reap, Cambodia → Bangkok, Thailand
At 7:30 a.m. sharp, a mini bus pulled up in front of the hotel to get Go. It stopped at a few other lodgings in the area to pick up more passengers, and before long they were all on their way to Poipet.
They stopped twice for bathroom breaks. Go’s breakfast ended up being a simple donut for US$1 (149 yen) and a Coke also for the same price.
The bus made it to Poipet around 11:30 a.m. Just like before, he went through immigration checkpoints twice, but in reverse order this time. Soon he was officially back in Thailand.
Also just like before, he sought out a bite to eat at the Star Plaza building. This time, he ordered something that looked like a seafood rice bowl for 50 baht (203 yen).
Finally, at 6:30 p.m., the mini bus pulled up to the same Starbucks near Khaosan Road in Bangkok that he had waited at two days ago. He couldn’t believe that he had been dropped off at his exact place of departure.
His flight was super early in the morning, but he still had some time to kill that night. He wandered around looking for a good noodle shop and ordered some bami heng, Thai-style brothless ramen for 50 baht (203 yen).
After that, he caught the S1 bus to the airport for 60 baht (244 yen), just like on his day of arrival in Thailand. He figured he’d just read something at the airport until his flight, thereby also saving money on a hotel room that he’d otherwise only spend a few hours in. He made it through the night and his flight took off without any hitches.
So what was the end result of Go’s extreme budget traveling to Angkor Wat? Here’s a breakdown of all of his expenses:
Airfare and lodging
Round-trip flight from Tokyo (Narita) to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) with Thai AirAsia X: 32,340 yen
1-night hotel stay in Bangkok: 993 yen
2-night hotel stay in Siem Reap: 2,040 yen
Day 1: Bangkok, Thailand
S1 bus from the airport to the city: 60 baht (247 yen)
One-way mini bus ticket to Siem Reap: 900 baht (3,702 yen)
Dinner (khao phat): 80 baht (329 yen)
Coke with dinner: 30 baht (123 yen)
Coke from the convenience store: 16 baht (66 yen)
2 bottled waters from the convenience store: 7 baht x 2 = 14 baht (58 yen)
Day 2: Bangkok, Thailand → Siem Reap, Cambodia
Breakfast (bami nam): 40 baht (165 yen)
Pineapple at a bus rest area: 20 baht (82 yen)
First lunch at a bus rest area (khao kha mu): 50 baht (205 yen)
Coke with lunch: 14 baht (57 yen)
Second lunch at the border (khao phat): 50 baht (205 yen)
Bottled water at the border: 10 baht (41 yen)
[Crossing the border]
Bottled water at a bus rest area: 2,000 riel (72 yen)
Tuk tuk from the bus terminal to the hotel: US$2 (298 yen)
Dinner (Cambodian-style fried noodles): US$1.50 (223 yen)
Coke with dinner: US$1 (149 yen)
Bottled water from the convenience store: 1,000 riel (36 yen)
Coke from the convenience store: 1,600 riel (58 yen)
Day 3: Siem Reap, Cambodia (Angkor Wat)
Rental bike from hotel: US$3 (447 yen)
Angkor Wat admission ticket: US$37 (5,509 yen)
Bottled water from a food stand on site: 1,000 riel (36 yen)
Coke from a food stand on site: 3,000 riel (109 yen)
Bottled water from a general store near the hotel: 1,000 riel (36 yen)
Coke from a general store near the hotel: 3,000 riel (109 yen)
[From here, only 2,265 yen remaining]
One-way mini bus ticket to Bangkok: US$17 (2,534 yen)
Dinner (Cambodian-style fried rice): US$2.75 (411 yen)
Banana shake: US$2.50 (374 yen)
Day 4: Siem Reap, Cambodia → Bangkok, Thailand
Donut at a bus rest area: US$1 (149 yen)
Coke at a bus rest area: US$1 (149 yen)
[Crossing the border]
Lunch (seafood rice bowl): 50 baht (203 yen)
Dinner (bami heng): 50 baht (203 yen)
S1 bus from the city to the airport: 60 baht (244 yen)
Total spent: 52,002 yen
Overspent: 2,002 yen
ARGH! In the end, he had indeed gone over 50,000 yen, but not by much. It was the first time in any of his extreme budget travels that he had ever overspent. He blames it on the extremely weak yen, even compared to earlier this year (at the time of his Angkor Wat travels, US$1=148 yen). If only it were a little bit stronger, like US$1=120 yen, he’s positive he could’ve stayed within budget.
Regardless of his loss, it was still an incredibly moving trip for him in many ways and definitely one for the books. It was also a perfect, full-circle way to cap off his 50,000 yen extreme budget travels for 2023. And the best part? He’s already thinking of visiting Angkor Wat again 20 years from now.
In the meantime, Go is back at his desk in Tokyo and is working hard to bring quality journalism to the rest of the world.
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