Hip, Retro Elegance...
Pictures do not do the Amansara justice. Words barely describe the experience. The Amansara is all about experience. From your pick up at the airport to the moment you leave, every detail is taken care of. The service went above and beyond our expectations. (They even picked up our return plane tickets for us!)
At the Amansara you will feel like you are staying at someone's private retreat.
While Angkor Wat spoils you with it's natural history and beauty, the Amansara, simply put, spoils you. • Amazing food
• Full, open bar
• An open "cheese and wine" room- help yourself
• Private Pool Suites
• Service with a smile that goes above and beyond your expectations
• Special touches everywhere!!
The Best Way to visit Angkor Wat...
"The Best way to see Angkor Wat..."
We had just over 24 hours in Siem Reap. With that said, that is not enough time to really visit Angkor Wat...unless you have a knowledgeable guide. We did. Yokohama (aka Ly) was truly amazing.
We arrived in Siem Reap at 11:00 am on a Saturday. We made our way to the most amazing resort I've stayed at, the Amansara. The Amansara has a hip, retro elegance about it. It is peaceful, magical, romantic and truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The service, the staff, the rooms are unmatched. My motto: you have one life--make the most of it. (If you can shell out the $$, it is worth it to get a suite with a private pool. After a long, hot day at Angkor, a dip in your private pool will refresh you, wake you up so that you can discover Siem Reap in the evening). I can confess, I am proud to be an Amanjunkie now.
The manager of the Amansara, Toby, had made arrangements for Yokohama to pick us up at 2:00 for an afternoon tour of Angkor. As Angkor Wat closes at 6:00pm, we had 4 hours to discover the beautiful and jaw dropping ruins. History. Nature in its finest glory. Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples are spell binding.
We lucked out with the weather. As we entered Angkor it started pour. We all shrugged off the rain. I mean, so what, we get a little bit wet. And, honestly, the rain really cooled things down. It was a VERY hot day. We started our tour...
We started our tour driving past the main temple--Angkor Wat. We crossed the bridge with the Gods and the Demons. We saw the "four faces". We explored Bayon, Ta Prohm, Angkor Thom, Elephant's Terrace and Preah Kahn (the Jungle Temple). During our excursion, Yokohama explained the carved stories on the walls and their significance. He pointed out the differences of the people depicted in the stories. For example, if the carvings had a "goatee" they were Chinese, not Cambodian. The stories varied from complex to complex. Some were about war. Some were about daily life. Some were about the king and queen. Yokohama walked us through these stories speaking very eloquently. You could tell he does have a passion for what he does and a passion for the history. (By the way...he speaks Japanese, French and English fluently). He explained all the major details at every place. From the faces at Banyon, to Hindu symbolism to the Apsara figures, the architecture, nature, etc. He was more than a fountain of knowledge. You were absolutely drawn to him. He knows every nook and cranny of Angkor. He even pointed out "hidden" pieces of carvings that if you didn't know they were there, you would simply walk on by. Why anyone would explore Angkor without a guide is beyond me...
We ended our tour (very tired at this point but eager to push on) to see the sunset over Angkor Wat from Phnom Bakheng. (This is definitely a must do!!!)
What made this excursion really special is that Yokohama took us through the "back entrances" of most of the complexes. Not only did this allow us to really feel like we were discovering something, we avoided the crowds! This was especially apparent at Ta Prohm (the Tombraider complex).
Now, if you are in bad shape, I wouldn't suggest that you see everything that we did in 4 hours. There are A LOT of steps and A LOT of walking. Our breaks were taken when we would travel by Tuk Tuk. But, there was never a visual break. And, as mentioned, we really lucked out with the weather. If it had been hotter (and believe me it was still hot--I think I lost 4 pounds) we wouldn't have been able to do and see everything that we did.
The following morning we got up at 6:00 am (tired from the evening before) and Yokohama took us to the main complex of Angkor Wat. After discovering the main temple, we took the tuk tuk around the whole complex and ended the morning with a balloon tour. Our flight left for Singapore at 12:10pm.
Yokohama 's is the best guide in Siem Reap. His phone number is: +855 12384 221. Have your hotel give him a call, if he isn't booked!!!!
• Wear comfortable shoes. You will be walking, climbing...
• Bring dollars--you'll want to buy stuff from the locals even if you don't want it. I know dollars go a long way there--and every little bit helps! Just remember, if three little girls approach you can't buy from just one of them. (You also don't buy from everybody that approaches you).
• Visit the shop where proceeds go to helping the disabled and the orphans-- bring CASH--only one girl in the shop knows how to process credit cards and if she isn't there, well, you'll have to wait for her to show up.
• Visit the John McDermott Gallery in Siem Reap. (He is no relation to me). He is a very talented photographer and you can buy the most amazing photos of Angkor. You can buy limited edition prints ($$$$) or digital reproductions ($$). He really captures the "mood" of Angkor. You are transported...
• Across from John's Gallery (sort of kiddie corner) is a great little bar run by a guy named Martin. They have great mojito's!!!
• The Khmer food is amazing. In particular, I had a great Beef Dish with Long Beans.
• We flew Air Asia from Kualu Lumpur to Siem Reap. Our return flight was on Silk Air. Other flights to Siem Reap can be found on Jetstar.com. In fact, the budget airlines were better than Silk Air!
• We got our visa's to visit Cambodia through their e-visa service. (http://www.evisa.mfaic.gov.kh/ ) The site is really slow...just be patient. Make sure you have scanned in new passport photos and have them cropped to the 2x2 size. You will need to bring passport photos for entry into Angkor Wat anyway!!!
• You'll be taking A LOT of photos (Yokohama actually points out the best view points and angles) Bring an extra battery and card for your digital camera---or lots of film!
In sum, I would definitely go back to Cambodia. I made the most of my time in Siem Reap, but would like to spend more time there and really immerse myself with the people.
Everybody has a story. The stories told by the people that we met were sometimes heart breaking and uplifting--at the same time. I am glad that tourism is on the rise in Cambodia and can play a major impact with helping the people of Cambodia.
I can't wait to return...