Youali and I are very much looking forward to heading to Cambodia in a week!
We are planning to write a series of posts on how we planned for the trip and document our experience along the way, which hopefully would serve as a useful guide for your next trip if you are thinking about Cambodia.
A spontaneous decision
On a random Thursday night last month, my friend Jonathan forwarded me a $426 flight deal on All Nippon Airways (ANA) from San Francisco to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. This caught my attention since Angkor Wat in Siem Reap is on our list of top 5 places to visit.
This deal was particularly appealing to me as:
- There will be a meaningful layover in Tokyo (20 hours on the outbound flight and 11 hours on the return leg);
- ANA is supposed to have excellent customer service;
- We can accrue miles on United (without actually flying them) since ANA is a Star Alliance partner;
- I don’t think the fare can get any cheaper than $426 per person round trip.
I started playing with Google Flights, and got SUPER excited to find dates that would allow us to have an 8-day vacation (6 nights in Cambodia) without taking too much personal time off over the Thanksgiving holiday.
We will be flying ANA on this trip.
At 2am in the morning, I started to sketch out a possible itinerary and thought the trip would really make sense:
- We can fly round-trip from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, instead of taking buses, to save time (45 minutes flight time each way);
- As there are multiple flights each day between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, we can decide later how to split time between Phnom Penh vs. Siem Reap;
- The visa process is easy and can be done online;
- Priceline.com allows full refund until 11:59pm the next business day, which means that if I book on Friday 3am, I have until Monday night to regret my choice with no consequence.
I considered consulting with Youali the next day to make sure she’s on board, but at the same time I know deals like this wouldn’t last.
With all that in mind, I pulled the trigger at 3am in the morning and books the flights for two!
Youali woke up the next morning and saw the ticket confirmation email, and texted me “Cool, let’s go!”
In the next few weeks leading up to the trip, we slowly put pieces of the trip together:
- Applied for Cambodia on arrival visa
- Booked flights between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap
- Booked hotels on Agoda.com
- Contacted a local driver (referred to by my mom) who will provide transportation for us in Siem Reap
- Made a dinner reservation at two restaurants (Cuisine Wat Damnak and Genevieve’s)
- Made reservation for a zipline tour and a quad bike tour in Siem Reap
I also finished a short read of “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers”written by Loung Ung. The book centered around her experience growing up in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge, when millions of people were killed under the authoritarian Communist regime. That really gave me some context on what the country went through in the 1970s.
What we are looking forward to the most:
- Explore Angkor Wat and the temple complex in Siem Reap;
- Learn about history of Cambodia through the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh;
- Appreciate fall colors in Tokyo and quick stops to get Japanese ramen and sushi
Stay tuned for the updates over the next couple of weeks!
Have you taken advantage of any cheap flight deals recently?