This is Steve and Gayla of s/v Ariel’s 3 week independent trip through Cambodia and Viet Nam.  We did our research from other cruisers and the Lonely Planet Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos and the Greater Mekong guide book, then traveled on our own booking as we went.  Hotels are based on doubles, transport on single fares, and prices in US dollars.  We did not need the cell phone or computer. 



 FEB. 2008

From Langkawi Malaysia


We loved Siem Reap and Cambodia as well as the people.  The Angkor Wat is amazing and truly a MUST!  Viet Nam is VERY easy and comfortable to get around in and such fascinating history and culture.   Both countries are very inexpensive, safe, good food, bottled water supplied and we had a wonderful time in both countries.  We hope you have the same and can use this information to help in some way to fashion your own independent tour.



US dollars for Cambodia 

2 photo’s for Viet Nam visas to get in Phnom Penh

Recommend a small carry on backpack as we never checked luggage the entire trip!

Check:  Fire Fly, Air Asia or Tiger Air for cheap flights, from KL, Bangkok or Singapore


Firefly airlines Langkawi Malaysia to Georgetown Penang Malaysia  $1US

                                                           Staying on s/v Arnak at Tanjong Marina & met up with s/v Zarafet
Feb. 11, 2008 - Monday

        FireFly Airlines - Langkawai Malaysia to Georgetown Penang

                   Cost: $1US each   Total with taxes $16US each        (yes, $1 plus taxes)


         Hotel: Arnak  Tanjong Marina  (stayed on a friends boat)

PlusLiner plush bus Penang to KL
  $9 - 5hrs

    The Jawadene B&B in KL

KL Sentral Station

Feb. 12, 2008 - Tuesday

         PlusLiner Bus – Penang to Kuala Lumpar (KL)

                  Local bus to PlusLiner station 1 hour from Tanjong Marina  $1US 

                  Booked reservation at office in Marina one week ahead due to Chinese NY

                  Cost: $9 each  5hrs


        Hotel: Jawadene  

                   PH: +60163108449

                   Pick up in KL and delivery to airport in AM extra approx. $10 each time

                   Cost: $46US for room  (200 ringet total with transport)


          Restaurant: eat at KL Sentral Station before going to Hotel


From the bus station walk through building to KLIA transit and train to KL Sentral then on to Salak Tinggi. Prior to leaving KL Sentral, called the hotel and tell them we are on the way on the next train.  They will be looking for that call within one hour of our estimated arrival time.   Someone from the hotel will meet you at the Salak Tinggi station.


*The Jawadene is one hotel we booked in advance due to flights. It is close to the airport and has a shuttle if notified in advance.  Flights to Siem Reap are early AM so this was our best option.  It is run by an American ex-Marine and his local wife.  This is their  home, in a gated community, brand new, open since Aug. 2007.   It is an exquisite home with 6 rooms, swimming pool and of very high standard.  They bend over backward to accommodate you and are very personable.  A western breakfast is included (pancakes or eggs) but if taking an early flight a traditional Malay takeaway breakfast is supplied.   This was our last big splurge till our last days in Hanoi.


Feb. 13, 2008 - Wednesday

          Air Asia - Kuala Lumpar  lv. 7:00AM to Siem Reap  arrive 8:00AM  

                     Time change 1 hour – 2 hour flight

                     Cost:  $100US  each

Air Asia KL to Siem Reap

Free Tuk Tuk pick up at airport 8km to Golden Villas

                                               Siem Reap Cambodia's tree lined streets

CAMBODIA  -  currency used in Cambodia is the US dollar  

    Feb. 13,14,15, 2008 – Wednesday, Thursday & Friday – Siem Reap


         Hotel:  Golden Temple Villa’s #54 Artisang Angkor St., Strung Thmey 

                       Village, Siem Reap Cambodia

                       Ph: +855(0)12 946 459  Email:

                       Free pick up by Tuk Tuk if booked ahead – not far from town

                       Cost: $15US a night with air, welcome massage in room and a drink



                      Red Piano – good food nice atmosphere

                      Blue Pumpkin Restaurant – (upstairs, air, internet)Yummy pastries

                      Singing Tree Vegetarian Cafe (across river) profits to street kids and wildlife

                      Temple Restaurant has free cultural show in evening


To See:  Angkor Wat complexes on three day pass

               Artisans d’Angkor –handicrafts Rehab Craft by deaf women of Cambodia

               Rehab Craft Cambodia – Pokambor Street

Free massage upon arrival 

Golden Temple Villa's $8 to $15 a night



*The Golden Temple Villa’s are in a tropical setting in a location for safe walking at night and near center of town.  There is a café and free internet on ground floor, TV with CNN in rooms, private bath, and refrigerator with drinks (extra), and free massage in your room upon arrival.

The hotel will book bus tickets to Phnom Penh with free pick up then transfer 8km to bus station.   Also arranged by the hotel is a Tuk Tuk driver to get to Angkor Wat.  We used Mr. ChHoeung #4326 a driver.  He was honest, pleasant and always there for us.   Drivers as guides can be provided for extra or you can buy the book ‘Ancient Angkor’ at the temples from hawkers but don’t pay more than $6

Siem Reap Restaurants

The Red Piano Restaurant     The Blue Pumpkin with Internet on 2nd floor & bakery on ground floor

Amok Restaurant

The Singing Tree Vegetarian Restaurant

Proceeds go to street children and wildlife preservation

Temple Restaurant Cultural Show

Feb. 13, 2008

        Day 1: 

                   11:00AM  Angkor Wat by Tuk Tuk

                            Tuk Tuk will stop at ticket office on way out 

                            You can buy a one to three day pass.

                            Cost: $40US for 3 day pass - photo is now taken on the spot

                                      Tuk Tuk  $8  ½ a day   Angkor Wat is 8km from town


*We did all our arranging for Tuk Tuk and bus tickets on to Phnom Penh from the hotel when we arrived.   Had lunch out at the Wat before entering Angkor Wat  to avoid the crowds that return to town for lunch then spent a good half day touring this one area.

Mr.ChHoeung #4326 Tuk Tuk driver
to Angkor Wat and for next 2 days  

Buy $6 Guide Book from hawkers

 Entire family on one motorcycle


Rising above the jungle and surrounding rice fields is an ancient city and a designated World Heritage Site  clearly the center of a vast and lost civilization with some of the largest and most beautiful temples in the world.   Scattered over 1000 sq km are hundreds of jungle smothered temples, giant statues, and huge man made reservoirs with expansive causeways.

The greatest of all Khmer Temples

Angkor Wat was built in the middle of the 12th century


Angkor Wat means 'Temple of the Capitol'

The city used to hold over 1 million people. 

Between the 9th and 14th century the Khmer people created their Kingdom and from this base in Cambodia they dominated all of SE Asia. 


They constructed vast fortified walls and gates and huge mysterious faces.


Over 1200 inscriptions have been found inside the temples which have been translated, many of them  telling of war, life and praises of the kings of Angkor.  Building an understanding of all Angkor kings is how we know of the great Khmer empire which came to rise in 1800AD. 

In the later centuries Buddhist manuscripts inscribed on palm leaf were found in what was believed to be 'libraries' located on the temple grounds.    Today many of the lessons taught are from these ancient Buddhist doctrines. 


Many of the Kings glorified themselves as God Kings

Glorification of Kings reached it's zenith with the building of Angkor Wat

Feb. 14, 2008

          Day 2:

                      Leave early to beat tourists to Banteay Srei with quick visit to Preah Khan 

                      along way.  Then on to Kbal Spean with carved river bed with 1000 phallic

                      symbols.  Finish at Angkor Thom the town of the Wat.   Walk up hill for


                      Cost: $20US through hotel for Tuk Tuk for the day but goes over 60km RT.


*Best to go straight to Banteay Srei (14km Citadel of Women) early before tourists get there, insist to driver.   This has the most beautiful carvings and best of all in Angkor.  The road out to Kbal Spean is under repair and dusty (29km) We bought two surgical masks that worked great.  Also bought the medication ‘Flagyl’ for bacteria diarrhea (no prescription and cheap here) just in case!  The 1000 phallic symbols were a little disappointing but that depended on your expectations.  There is a 30 min. walk to get down to the river. Overview of Angkor Wat from hill at sunset is nice but there are thousands of tourists.  You can ride an elephant to the top but it is not far. 


Banteay Srei  -  Citadel of Women

Built over 1000 years ago, it was not until 1914 that this citadel, not a royal temple, was uncovered
It is know for it's beautifully carved reliefs and is often called the 'Citadel of Beauty'. 

Masters of stone carving, they used the local pink sandstone, carving every inch of it until no space was undecorated.

 Kbal Spean

Thankful for their pure mountain water they carved gods in the actual stream itself and hundreds of lingams, an Indian object of veneration, assuring the water flowing down to the distant temples of Angkor would be blessed. 

But why were they carved on the bed of a Cambodian stream some 2000 miles from their spiritual home in India? And why were many temples of Angkor filled with not local deities but familiar Gods of India?



The answer lies in the rhythm of the monsoons when Indian traders in ships had to wait out the change of winds.  While waiting they past on their ideas of religion, art, dance and architecture

The close connection with India explains why Indian mythology dominates and miles of carvings tell both Buddhist and Hindu myths.

Over 3000 of these mythological beings decorate the shrines and each of them is different with different hair styles, dress and expressions

But not only did they exist in stone

Girls from all over the Empire were selected to be taught the secret movements of their divine dances.

Today, these dances are one of the very links  from the lost civilization



Angkor Thom is the actual town of this ancient Khmer civilization.   At it's center, one of the great