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Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia. - Getty Images/iStockphoto

Just Back From | Thailand and Cambodia

By Andrew Harper Staff

The Harper Way | January 30, 2015

Laura T., our Tour Consultant, took an epic journey through Thailand and Cambodia this past summer. Stopping off in Bangkok, the Golden Triangle, Chiang Mai and Siem Reap, Laura returns with once-in-a-lifetime experiences, travel tips, packing recommendations and more. She also had the opportunity to visit twelve hotels, including Andrew Harper-recommended properties The Peninsula, Mandarin Oriental and The Siam in Bangkok, the Golden Triangle's Anantara and Four Seasons Tented Camp, in addition to the Dhara Dhevi in Chiang Mai, Amansara, Belmond La Résidence d’Angkor and Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Siem Reap.

Read on to learn more about Laura's trip.

12 Days in Southeast Asia

Photo courtesy of The Peninsula Bangkok.
Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand. Image © Konstantin Kalishko.

Insider's Tip: Provided you're with your guide, don't be afraid to try street food.

What to Pack: A lot of light-weight cotton clothes, and a couple pairs of good, waterproof hiking sandals. Don't plan on wearing shorts. You need 3/4-length to long pants in order to visit the active temples. Also, no tank tops: only tops with your shoulders covered.

Image © Laura TriebeOverall Impressions: The sights were beautiful and the food was delicious, but what really left an impression with me is how kind and lovely the people are.

Can't Stop Thinking About: The baby elephant at the Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai.

Favorite Restaurant: The meals at all of the hotel restaurants were excellent, especially the Restaurant Le Grand at the Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Siem Reap. This is the only restaurant that has recipes for the ancient Royal Khmer cuisine which has been handed down over centuries by the chefs of the Royal Palace.

Where to Get Drinks: Have a cocktail and appetizer at the Thiptara Restaurant at The Peninsula in Bangkok, serving delicious Thai cuisine. There is also an extensive wine selection at the Raffles Hotel Le Royal.

Neighborhood to explore: In Bangkok, explore the back streets of Thammasat University and Khao San Road, the famous backpacker street.

Floating market in Thailand.

Day Trip Suggestions: Outside of Bangkok is the Amphawa floating market, which is frequented almost exclusively by Thais. Locals congregate to buy and sell everything from cooking pots to fresh flowers to wind-up toys. Vendors pack their boats and cruise the waters, waiting for someone to wave them down to buy their wares. The area around the market is a lovely place to stroll, with open-air restaurants, canals full of colorful boats, and crisscrossing bridges packed with people.

Outside of the Golden Triangle are the Black House and the White Temple. The artistic Black House of almost forty monuments is home to an extensive collection of weird taxidermy and bones. Wat Rong Khun, or the “White Temple,” was designed and built by artist Chalermchai Kositpipat to honor the current king. The White Temple is adorned with white and mirrored mosaic tiles.

Surprising Fact or Tidbit: The majority of the people in Thailand and Cambodia are traveling by motorbike or moped, and there don't seem to be a lot of rules of the road. Don't be alarmed – our travel partner employs excellent guides and drivers!

Souvenir: A lovely handmade cloth purse from Chiang Mai and a miniature plastic tuk tuk for my desk.

Favorite Moments: I have a lot of favorite moments...

  • Being able to sit in the temple to listen to the monks say their morning chants in Bangkok.
  • Seeing all of the beautiful temples throughout Thailand.
  • Riding on top of an elephant at the Four Seasons Tented Camp, Golden Triangle and at the Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai.
  • Walking through the crowded food market in Chiang Mai.
  • Seeing the Angkor Wat complex in Siem Reap. Truly amazing!

Anything Else? A lot of people think that they should only spend two or three nights in Siem Reap visiting Angkor Wat, but I don't think everyone realizes just how big and extensive the complex is. I could easily have spent three full days exploring the ruins. I suggest staying at least four or five nights.

Stay up to date with all of our globetrotting travel advisors and staff. Check back each week for another trip report, in our Just Back From series on The Harper Way.

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