Finally it was time to embark on our long awaited trip. We headed off to Heathrow T2 to catch our Air China flight to Beijing. The check in process went with a few hiccups; we hadn’t managed to check in online and when we arrived the electronic system was not working in the airport. After manually being checked in we did manage to get seated together on the first leg of our flight and said goodbye to our luggage in the hope that we may see it again soon…. The weight limit was 20kg and a meansly 5kg for hand luggage. The weight check however was a lady walking down the queue and picking up your bag to see if it was heavy or not. As a bonus despite it saying otherwise on the website we were able to take an additional bag on. Nigel had read some reviews of Air China prior to our travels and therefore was not expecting much from the journey. We were however pleasantly surprised by the facilities and service onboard. The leg room was adequate and the inflight entertainment was actually pretty good; we managed to watch “Finding Dory” which Tilly was very keen to see and play games, listen to music and watch tv shows. The food was average.
After our 9 hour flight which was pretty uneventful we arrived in Beijing at T3. We had undertaken some internet research about getting out of the airport and exploring Beijing as we had a 6 hours layover. We had determined that as UK nationals we were entitled to a free transit visa for up to 72 hours which would allow us to leave the airport and embark on the airport express train line to the subway system. After leaving the plane those with connecting flights are encouraged to go through the 24 hour transit section of the airport which we unfortunately thought would allow us to leave the airport. After rigorous checks from airport security (if you have a lighter no chance of keeping it) we discovered we were now in the departure area of the airport with no way of escaping…arggghh.
If you are a smoker please be advised there are no smoking areas in Beijing Airport. It was a long wait at the airport however we were able to see a lovely sunset, have a snooze, browse the shops and grab a bite to eat. Finally it was time to head to our next flight Air China flight to Phuket.
The plane was somewhat smaller but adequate for the 6 hour flight. We were understandably quite tired by this point and managed to have a bit of a sleep. We arrived at Phuket in the early hours of the morning, were reunited with our baggage (yey) and hoped upon our request that our overnight stop had sent transport to collect us. We were relieved to see a driver from Airport Mansion Phuket waiting for us with a van to take us to our much needed place of rest. The hotel cost £42 and was 0.3 miles from the airport. Upon arrival we had a smooth check in and were shown to our room which was clean and well equipped. We had a breakfast booked however managed to oversleep and miss it! The next day we checked out and used the free hotel transport again to return to the airport.
The next leg of our trip was serviced by Air Asia. It should be noted that there are two terminals at Phuket airport, one is for domestic flights and one for international. We unfortunately were taken to the wrong terminal as although we were flying to Bangkok next our final destination was Cambodia. This was sorted by a short bus ride to the correct terminal and we were able to check in with ease. The luggage allowance was 20kg again however the hand luggage was a little more generous at 7kg with an extra small bag. We waved goodbye again to our cases and were assured they would be waiting for us when we arrived in Cambodia. When we initially booked these flights Air Asia did not fly direct to Siem Reap; however when we were waiting to check in there was a new direct route advertised. We managed to catch our flight which was ontime and was a rather funkily decorated plane. The flight to Bangkok took approximately 1 hour and slightly more upmarket that Ryanair. There were no free meals but snacks and drinks were available to buy onboard if required.
Upon arrival at Bangkok we arrived at the International Terminal and had a couple of hours to kill until our next flight so grabbed some food and drink from Piri Piri Chicken. Start as you mean to go on 🙂 There were smoking areas in this terminal and plenty of food and drink choices as well as currency exchange kiosks which we found very handy and at a reasonable rate.
Our next flight left slightly late but was just as efficient as the first Air Asia flight. The flight in total took approximately 40 minutes with some turbulence upon landing. We arrived at Siem Reap airport at approximately 9pm which was the scheduled arrival time.
Next was the part we were kind of dreading at that was getting a visitor visa; however we needn’t have worried. The process itself was pretty quick taking approximately 15 minutes. We came prepared with passport photographs and filled in the appropriate paperwork and handed over $30 before waiting at the next counter for our passports to be returned. After reclaiming our luggage we exited the airport.
After approximately 41 hours and four planes we had finally arrived in Cambodia!