Siem Reap

//Siem Reap

Cambodia vs Vietnam? Head to Head Show down!

If you’re looking for the best country to retire cheap , you’re going to definitely consider Vietnam. To be honest, until this recent trip, I never thought of coming to Cambodia. Known as the “more expensive, less safe version of Vietnam”, I had to come see it for myself. Today I’m going to compare two cities, Ho Chi Minh (AKA Saigon vs Siem Reap).

Rating 1: Partying & Nightlife

Siem Reap has Pub street, while Vietnam has Bui Vien. Both of these are the areas where people go to party when the sun goes down. The town of Siem Reap is also perfect for going out during the day, it’s small and everything is within walking distance. If you want a ride around town it’ll cost about a $1 for a Tuk Tuk. Ho Chi Minh (HCM) is much more spread out. It’s also a huge pain in the ass to get a motorbike taxi or cab. Getting a cab, is over priced as hell in Vietnam unless you use GRAB, and the problem with that is that it’ll take about 30 minutes to get one. (Half of the time you’ll book a GRAB and the car driver will cancel on you, or ask you to cancel.)

Winner: Siem Reap. Pub street kicks ass. It’s a much bigger area than Bui Vien, even though Siem Reap itself is much smaller than Vietnam. On Pub street you can get a massage, a beer, a pack of smokes and a taco for a combined price of under $10. Prices are great! (Tip: Go one block out of the Pub Street area, and pay 30% less for everything). The only problem with Pub street is Tuk Tuk drivers. They don’t allow them cars on the main part of the street, so the drivers themselves will stand there and constantly hassle you asking if you want a ride. These drivers will ruthlessly overcharge you, so make sure you never agree to one. If you are coming to Siem Reap, use GRAB or PASSApp. LINK TO TUK TUKS IN CAMBODIA STORY


Rating 2: Danger.
Both of these cities are relatively safe. Be careful of ladyboy hookers and pickpockets.

Winner: Siem Reap wins for safety. If you don’t go to shady places with ladyboy hookers, you are fine. In HCM one of the bigger problems is motorcycle mugging. They’ll drive by and the passenger on the back will snatch your phone, purse, etc. It’s not too bad, but it’s still not ideal. Because Siem Reap is a tourist town, police do seem more friendly, and keep an eye on crime.

Rating 3: English. The English qualities in both cities are fine. You won’t have any problems.

Winner: Siem Reap. The menus are universally English, and you’ll love it. Not only is English better, but it seems Cambodians are the most universally linguistically able people I’ve ever met. Here it’s not uncommon for people to speak 3 languages fluently! Vietnam isn’t bad, but definitely not as good as here.

Rating 4: Weather.

Winner: Tie. Both cities are universally hot and or rainy. If you like 30 degree plus weather, this is going to be the place to be. Also ants and mosquitos!

Rating 5: Food

Ok. I love food. Love it. If you love food, both cities have a great selection from local cuisine to imports.

Winner: Ho Chi Minh. Ho Chi Minh has one thing that Siem Reap doesn’t have. Banh Mi! LINK TO BANH MI STORY. Banh Mi for lunch for 80 cents is the #1 thing I love about Vietnam. Banh Mi, in case you don’t know are Vietnamese subs. Fresh baguettes from their in house bakery are stuffed with a mix of cured meats, and picketed vegetable. Literally if you have not had a Banh Mi in Vietnam you are missing out on one of the greatest pleasures in life. Also while Siem Reap has a great selection of food it’s missing out on McDonalds. I know you’re thinking I’m insane. I’m not. I don’t particularly need a McDonalds. I just use it as an example. If you like chains you’re out of luck. Ho Chi Minh has it all for food! This is a place to come for food. Whether you love Pho, Banh Mi or just want a burger and fries, Ho Chi Minh is a foodies paradise.

Rating 6: Cost

Both cities fall easily within my $1000 CDN a month budget. Saying that though, Ho Chi Minh is only affordable if you live in the local areas (District 7, 11, 12). If you live in the fancy areas of town with the expats and English teachers (District 1,2) then your budget will be much higher.

Winner: Siem Reap.

Rating 7: Shopping

Both places have little shops where you can buy things, but Ho Chi Minh has giant malls. Siem Reap by comparison has 3 separate night markets. These sell the $2 tank tops, and stuffed elephants.

Winner: Tie. Depending if you like luxury brands, and giant supermarkets or small night markets and local shops.

Rating 8:  Health

Both places have cheap pharmacies everywhere.

Winner: Tie

Rating 9: Gyms

One of the best gyms I’ve found in the world is in Siem Reap. $1.25 a visit, it’s not fancy, sweaty guys working out without their shirts on, and fit ladies. Ho Chi Minh though also has $30 a month places, but it’s usually not as common as expensive places around $60.

Winner: Siem Reap. Cheap, and I love the fact you can work out without a shirt. There aren’t that many places you can do that!

Rating 10: Internet

This is super important. Both have strong internet. Neither is horrible. Either way you’ll be in a place where you have internet. Till you don’t. Natural disasters, weather and such make it hard to rely on it sometimes.

Winner: Ho Chi Minh: The internet was definitely less spotty, and more reliable in Ho Chi Minh. Siem Reap is a tourist town, and it’s still developing. So, things like fast, reliable internet aren’t a given. This will change in the future, but for now Ho Chi Minh is definitely better. I work online as you all know writing this blog. I make videos and love playing games. In Siem Reap, it is tough. Not impossible but tough. Watching tv online is hard!

OVERALL WINNER? SIEM REAP, CAMBODIA. This little tourist town is great!Everyday feels like you’re on vacation here. It’s a small place, and I love the fact that you can walk everywhere. I also love the fact that visas are easy to get. A 30 day on arrival visa plus an easy to get 6 month extension, means that you’ll only be doing tourist border runs once a year. If you are surprised that Cambodia has won, you have to come check it out. You’ll see why I love it! Bonus Tip: Siem Reap has sidewalks. (Ho Chi Minh, has areas for motorcycles to drive that supposedly sidewalks.) Also beers in Siem Reap are 50 cents! Siem Reap’s slogan should be “Come for Angkor Wat, stay for 50 cent draft!”

Cambodia vs Vietnam? Head to Head Show down!2018-09-24T08:49:58+00:00

Lazy Tuk Tuks who don’t give a F*ck F*ck

The sun’s beating down on my lazy ass, so I’m debating if I want to make the 15 minute walk to the mini mart.

Luckily for the block where I’m staying there’s a Tuk Tuk every 4 feet. The call of Tuk Tuk drivers yelling “Tuk Tuk! Want a tuk tuk?”, is as common as mosquitos and 50 cent draft here.

Most of the drivers yell this while lying across their own Tuk Tuks, sometimes while in a hammock they’ve set up.

These guys have seen me everyday, and they probably know my schedule so well, that if an assassin wanted to get me, they’d just have to pay them a $1 to get to know it.

On this particularly hot day thouugh, I thought “Why not?”

So, I go up to one of the guys who has always hassled me, and I ask him how much,

“$6!”

“Are you kidding me?” To be completely honest, my mind is blown. I’ve seen this guy, hang out for 8 hours in front of the bar that I like to go to, with zero customers. He’ll just chat with the other Tuk Tuk driver’s, take naps and yell for customers.

Normally, I’m polite to these guys, (hey, we’re all out to make a buck). But a quote of $6, for something that should be about 80 cents? I didn’t mean to, but I did laugh out loud.

I just walked away, deciding a 15 minute trek though the blazing heat would be more enjoyable than haggling.

The Tuk Tuk driver, tried to haggle some more, but being sweaty and kind of annoyed that I had given him a chance only to get such a ridiculous price, I walked away.

I met up with a local Khmer and asked them how much Tuk Tuk drivers make a month. It turn’s out most of them make about $50 a month.

But they’d rather take a nap then try to find customers.

And when they do get a customer, these lazy drivers will try to get an exorbitant price versus a normal rate.

In their mind, “I’d rather get 6 customers a month at $10 each. Napping is so much easier, than trying harder.”

I can see this behaviour making sense making 5 years ago when there weren’t any ride sharing apps, but there are!

PassApp is actually used to book Tuk Tuks, or you can use GRAB as well. Both of these work fine, an 80 cent ride is an 80 cent ride. (Prices are confirmed ahead of time). Every time one of the lazy drivers, see me in a Tuk Tuk that  I’ve called by GRAB they’ll scowl, and yell. But there’s nothing they can do.

These apps, are a lifesaver in Siem Reap. If you’re negotiating for a Tuk Tuk on the side of the road? You’re probably going to get ripped off.

Do yourself a favor, and make sure you have an APP downloaded by the time you get out off the plane.

Want more stories? Check out LINK TO MORE STORIES

Lazy Tuk Tuks who don’t give a F*ck F*ck2018-10-02T04:23:26+00:00

Can you retire in Cambodia for $1000 a month

Cambodia is amazing. It reminds me a lot of Bali really. Let me rephrase that. Siem Reap is amazing. Phomn Penh sucks. LINK TO ARTICLE ABOUT WHY SIEM REAP IS BETTER

Siem Reap is a tourist town, that reminds me a lot of Sanur in Bali. It’s divided into two sections, a Cambodian section and the English/Tourist section.

If you’re going to coming here, chances are you’ll live in the tourist section.

I can honestly tell you, I never once went to the Cambodian side.

Not because I didn’t want to, but more because I didn’t feel like I needed to.

My gym is $25 USD a month and it’s a 14 minute walk away from the hostel I’m staying at $180 USD a month

Here’s the cost of living in Siem Reap (All prices in USD because it’s the unofficial currency of Cambodia)

  • Rent $180 private room/shared apartment
  • Gym $25
  • Breakfast $1 (like an omelette with a baguette)
  • Breakfast $3 (American style, with eggs, bacon, ham, toast, coffee, juice and fresh fruit)
  • Lunch $3 (medium pizza. Think Little Caesar Medium)
  • Lunch $1 (fried rice)
  • Lunch $2 (Khmer Curry beef)
  • Dinner $1.50 (BBQ Chicken drumstick)
  • Dinner $6 (Indian meal)
  • Beer 50 cent for a pint of a draft
  • Rum $3 a bottle (Cambodian)
  • Imported booze $12 (26oz of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum)
  • Cigarettes 50 cents a pack (Cambodian)
  • Cigarettes $1.50 (Marlboro/Mevius)
  • Massage $6 (1 hour)
  • Tuk Tuks $1.25(30 minute trip)
  • Movies $2.50 (cheap day Mon-Thurs)
  • Movies $3.50 (weekends)
  • Hard liquor at bars $2

Total Monthly Expenses

  • Rent $180
  • Cambodian Visa $56
  • Beer/food/cigarettes $10 a day ($300)
  • Entertainment $5 ($150)
  • Gym $25
  • Cell phone card $5

Total $716 USD = $1000 CDN

Besides the prices, how is living in Siem Reap? Well, like I said it is a tourist town.

What does that mean?

You’ll feel like you’re on a vacation all the time. It can get really easy to lose track of time. A month here just blew by. (I have found my favorite hammock and I live in it!)

The English is perfect. Even at the local mom and pop shops. I’d say 10/10. Better than anywhere else I’ve been to so far in South East Asia. It’s really nice, and definitely something I didn’t expect!

Healthcare? Pharmacies everywhere, and hospital care is cheap much like the rest of South East Asia

Transportation: Tuk Tuks and private cars. Use the Grab App or Passapp to book them. Incredibly fast. I waited 5 minutes maximum. Using Google Maps is still strange to some of the drivers, so be ready to show them how to read a map. They aren’t trying to cheat you, they just don’t understand how maps work.

Sidewalks and Traffic: After coming here from Vietnam, I was in love. Sure they don’t really use traffic lights but the traffic isn’t insane. They also have sidewalks. I know it seems crazy to say they have sidewalks, but after being in a lot of South East Asia, you quickly learn that in most countries, sidewalks are a luxury.

Gyms: One of the best in the world for value/price. The one I go to is a very serious one with tons of equipment

LINK TO GYM REVIEW

Wifi: Fast. But sometimes, the whole grid goes down because of shoddy electricity.

Food: Cambodian food, really seems to be a mix of foods from all over. I ate a lot of pizza, bbq chicken and fried rice. They have Amok, a type of protein dish that isn’t bad, but nothing I am dying for (unlike Hong Kong, which I have to go to for sweet and sour pork).

Sin: Beer is cheap cheap cheap. At 50 cents a pint, and smokes at 75 cents, you can literally pay for your whole vacation here if you compare the price to drinking/smoking/partying at home for a weekend.

Visa: As a Canadian, I got a visa on arrival for 30 days for free. I extended it for $50 for a month. (It’s possible to extend it for 3 months for $75.) That means you can stay here for 4 months before you have to do a border run

Crime: It felt relatively crime free, unlike Colombia, or Vietnam. Safe.

BIGGEST PROBLEMS

  • Bugs: Those little ants you see in tropical climates
  • Mosquitos that sting you
  • Streets with potholes
  • Hot! If you can’t stand the heat, do not come here. South America has a much better climate. It’s 30 degrees here everyday.

Siem Reap, Cambodia is definitely worth checking out and will make my top ten places to retire in 2018 LINK TO 2017 BEST COUNTRIES TO RETIRE

HOPE YOU ALL FOUND THIS ARTICLE USEFUL! DON’T FORGET TO SUBSCRIBE IF YOU WANT MORE INFO AND STORIES.

Can you retire in Cambodia for $1000 a month2018-08-31T06:26:50+00:00

Phnom Penh Sucks. Come to Siem Reap.

Cambodia? Have you even heard of it? Obviously you’ve heard of Angkor Wat and the Killing Fields, but did you know it’s one of the best places to retire cheap in the world?

As you know my dear readers, my goal is to find the best country to retire cheap. I’ve been looking for a place with it all, gyms, cheap food, cheap beers, massages and all under $1000 a month Canadian.

Coming to Cambodia I had very little hope. Every one I talked to told me, “It’s a crappy, expensive version of Vietnam.” Or “It’s dirty and backwards.”

I’ve got to tell you after a month here it’s been mind blowing. My expectations all have been shattered. LINK TO HOW TO GET TO CAMBODIA FROM SAIGON

Arriving in Phnom Penh from Ho Chi Minh, my plan was to spend a month here, and a month in Siem Reap. (The big 2 famous cities in Cambodia).

Phnom Penh as you know is famous for the Killing Fields. I spent day one there, but I can tell you day 2 was spent doing pretty much nothing.

I did go to their famous Russian Market. But after being to the weekend market in Bangkok, the Russian Market was horribly overpriced and boring. (I wonder if this means I’m officially a travel snob?)

My plans of staying in Phnom Penh for a month were shattered quickly. The place is dirty, over priced, and really has nothing to do.

Also there isn’t a central place to stay where you can go wander around. It’s like staying in a small town that’s the size of a big city.

No mass rail system means either taking the bus (yuck) or taxi Tuk Tuks (overpriced).

This is also the city in which I saw my first dog bbq. No thanks.

I took the bus to Siem Reap after day 2, with very low expectations.

I had booked my next flight (to Hong Kong) from Siem Reap, so I was now forced to stay here for 2 months.

After Phnom Penh my expectations were pretty low. Like, drunk at 3am in a bad bar trying to find a cute girl low.

Turns out I was wrong!

Thankfully Siem Reap is amazing! Yes it has Angkor Wat (voted 2018 best attraction by TripAdvisor) LINK TO BEST WAY TO EXPLORE ANGKOR WAT and yes it’s full of tourists, but it also still has a local charm that I did not expect.

People were friendly, spoke fluent English (9/10) and always had a smile on their face.

I think this is what Bangkok was like 20 years ago.

My private room in a hostel (Warm Bed’s Hostel) was $6 USD a night because I booked it for 2 months.

Right now I’m writing this article as I drink a 50 cent draft by the pool of Blue Bar…..

…I will continue this story with a summary soon. But I can’t today because I’m out of beer, and the waitress is coming by…..

If you want to read more about find the best countries to retire cheap check out this

LINK TO MORE STORIES

Phnom Penh Sucks. Come to Siem Reap.2018-08-28T08:02:29+00:00

Working out in Cambodia

The dust from the red clay on the roads blows into my face as I’m riding my Tuk Tuk to the gym. Thankfully my cheap sunglasses are helping to prevent it from blowing it into my eyes.

Arriving at Angkor Muscle Gym in Siem Reap, I’m ready to get my workout on!

The gym itself is in an open air warehouse. Huge Cambodian guys, and fit girls are all over the place.

Tons of machines, free weights and heavy weights show that this is a lifters gym.

While there are the rows of mandatory cardio machines, the majority of the gym is dedicated to getting your weightlifting game on.

In fact if you want to use the treadmills it’s $1 USD for every 20 minutes! I’ve never seen this anywhere else in the world, but electricity is expensive in Siem Reap.

My membership for the month is $25 USD, but if you only want to go occasionally the $1 USD a day drop in makes much more sense.

One crazy thing that sticks out here at Angkor Muscle gym is that it’s a shirt optional gym.

I haven’t seen many of these gyms in North America but after a few workouts without a shirt, I highly approve.

Without a shirt on, I quickly notice a couple things.

  • I’m tanned really oddly, splotchy like a fried egg, I resolve to get my tan on later.
  • I hate how certain parts of my body look, my obliques for example are gross. Normally I don’t notice because I’m usually working out with a shirt on. Here every imperfection that is normally hidden is in full view with the giant mirrors.
  • 6 packs are everywhere. This gym really can really highlight how out of shape you are.

Working out while travelling to find the best countries to retire cheap is mandatory for me. If I don’t do it, I find that I quickly enter the wake up, hammock and drinking stage.

When you have no real schedule, no need to work and nobody you know around, it’s really easy to get into this “who cares” phase.

So, If you’re looking into this retirement lifestyle, far away in a different land, I’d recommend you find a good gym as a 3rd home in your new city.

Hope this helps you with your quest to find somewhere cheap to retire, keep following the blog for more useful info LINK TO TRAVEL ARTICLES

Working out in Cambodia2018-08-25T14:16:43+00:00

Angkor Wat, Tuk Tuks & Roadside Monkeys

Rated as the #1 trip destination in the world in 2018 by TripAdvisor, Angkor Wat is a huge temple in Siem Reap. Is it worth the hype?

Definitely yes!

Getting there from anywhere in Siem Reap is a snap.

There’s a bunch of ways, bicycle, tuk tuk or private car.

The reason you’d want to go by bicycle is because it’s actually quite a pretty trek. If you like active travelling this is way to go. On the road you get to see things you might not otherwise like roadside monkeys

I saw a lot of bicyclists when I was going there by Tuk Tuk. (Because I’m lazy, there’s no way you could convince me to cycle there!)

I would advise against a private car or tour group because it’s not necessary at all. The ride there by Tuk Tuk is just fine.

(Although my Tuk Tuk did break down on the way to the ticket office!)

(The driver pulled into a nearby roadside stand, the kind you see all over the place in South East Asia, with little bottles of gasoline for sale in Abolut Vodka bottles, or Pepsi bottles. They fixed the flat and off we went!)

The price of a tuk tuk was $15 USD for a day of temples. This is pretty much a standard rate. The drivers have all spoken uniformly fluent English, so there’s no problems getting one. (On my hostel street, I get asked if I want a tuk tuk at least three times before I can get around the corner to breakfast!)

They’ll first take you to the Angkor Wat ticket booth where you have an option to buy either a 1 day, 3 day or 7 day pass. I bought the 1 day pass for $37 USD.

The official link to see up to date pricing for everything is here LINK TO ANGKOR WAT TICKETS (Also has dress code there).

We were at the ticket office at 5am because we were hoping to get to Angkor Wat for sunrise. We did make it for sunrise time, but unfortunately because of the clouds the site wasn’t much different.

We spent about 5 hours there, and could have spent more time, but it was enough time for us. It is a huge complex! When you get there they’ll ask if you want a tour guide. The guides speak fluent English, Japanese, Spanish & French. That’s part of the reason, I say that don’t need to book an organized tour. (Literally I saw a group of Japanese tourists and the Cambodian guide speaking fluent Japanese blew my mind. Cambodia so far has the best language skills I’ve ever seen in the world. Unlike South America, which only speaks Spanish LINK TO SOUTH AMERICA ARTICLES

The tuk tuk then took us on a temple circuit where we saw a few other different temples. (Your Angkor Wat ticket gets you into all the temples, so don’t lose it.)

After the day of temples our tuk tuk driver took us back to our respective hostels. (My new friends from the bus had booked at different hostels……..). A whole day of temple touring in Siem Reap was great, and not too expensive.

  • $37 1 day pass
  • $15 Tuk Tuk for the day (split 3 ways)
  • No extra food/water/etc that you wouldn’t have spent otherwise. (TIP: Don’t buy food at Angkor Wat, very overpriced)
  • Hope this helps you with your trip to Angkor Wat, and if you want more articles about Cambodia go here LINK TO CAMBODIA ARTICLES
  • Angkor Wat, Tuk Tuks & Roadside Monkeys2018-08-16T07:04:13+00:00

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