Siem Riep, Angkor Wat
Whatever the above 3 VT members said, are absolutely TRUE, believe me... You will just fall in love with the surroundings, and be lost in time.
Singapore ? don't waste your time with places that are just competing to get you to part most of your money. Maybe go to Kuala Lumpur, Malacca or Penang in Malaysia - lovely cities !!!
Fondest memory: The evening sunset !
I don't know how long you plan on being in Angkor Wat, but I suggest you get a guide to bring you around for 3 days. At the individual monuments themselves, there are mainly Inspectors (to check your passes) & charlatans trying to pass of as guides.
You need to get a 3-day pass (US $ 40/- per person) so that you have sufficient time to see all the major monuments (& there are plenty, trust me).
Essentially, try to cover:
- Angkor Wat
- Ta Promh (the Tomb Raider one)
- Bantey Srei
- Pnomh Kulen (to see the large carved Sleeping Buddha
& the 1,000 Lingas River)
- Tonle Sap lake
That should give you a generally good exposure to the monuments in Siem Reap.
Let me know if you want a good guide, you can use the one my family & I used. He is very professional, honest & communicates in good English. We paid him US $ 50/- per day & he drove us around in his big air-conditioned car.
Enjoy yourself in Siem Reap, cheers.
Fondest memory: The friendly people & the excellent fusion food.
I was in Siem Reap in April 08. You can get a taxi for the day for $25US. (maybe more now with the price of gas) He'll take you to Angkor and pick you up whatever time you want, then take you over to Angkor Thom and the Elephant Terrace. Most hotels can arrange this for you. Angkor is a National Park and you have to buy a ticket for entry. If you buy a ticket after 3 or 4 in the afternoon you have entry for that day plus the next. You can walk up a hill in the park that afternoon and watch the sunset over the lake. Easy walk up and back.
You can also take a motu from SR to Angkor. Don't know the cost, I'm sure it's cheaper but will take a lot longer to get around. Angkor Wat covers a very large area.
There are a few ATM's, they dispense US dollars everywhere in Cambodia. Everyone takes US currency and if the change is less than $1 they give you Riel. 4000 to the dollar. SR is really small, no need for taxi's or motu's in town.
Fondest memory: It's size. wow is it big.
We are presently in Cambodia and today's date is the 5th of June, the weather here now is a bit hotter than the Philippines, the difference is that since we got here which was nearly a week now, by 6 in the pm, it rains, yes, bringing your poncho would be ideal. There are so many restaurants here, specially where we live, the hotel is Golden Temple and just few meters away (about 5 mins. walk) are rows of good restaurants.
Have a great time here!
Cheers from Cambodia
Most independent travellers tour the temples on their own. If you must have a guide, your hotel can arrange a licnesed guide one for you at US$25/day.
Remember to pick up a copy of Siem Reap Angkor Visitor Guide published by www.canbypublications.com in which you'll find info on temples, itineraries, hotels and everything about Siem Reap. At the temples, children will try to sell you books about the temples (we bought one for US$10). With the book and the visitor guide, we did fine.
If you need a tuk tuk, we highly recommend our tuk tuk driver Mr. Bun Horm. You can check him out at www.angkortransport.blogspot.com
Mobile phone : Siem Reap 012414014
The temples are stunning. Enjoy !
When I first visited Siem Reap in November 2002, it was quaint, less crowded and had the feeling of a village. It has gone. Now there are close to 200 yes two hundred hotels and that many more guesthouses, altogether close to 400. Angkor is becoming the top destination in Asia-package tourists from Europe, China and Korea as well as Backpackers from Asia and Europe. Air Asia flies in from KL and Jetstar Asia flies in from Singapore making the journey affordable. Road to PnomPenh has been upgraded and many luxury buses ply the route, five hours in duration. No need to wait for the vagaries of the river and the lake.
Fondest memory: For Your Information, if you decide to stay at hotels owned by Khmer people or restaurants owned by locals or patronize local businesses (except the market), you would find that majority of the tourist businesses benefit foreigners. A couterie of French, English and European expatriates, genre of backpackers, have opened small businesses in the name of Khmer people. Very few Khmer owned businesses in the tourist section. Also included are the expensive hotels, of which there are plenty. they are owned by foreigners outright as a part of the chain.
with the boom, the prices for the locals have gone up. but the salaries remain relatively low. Khmer workers at the hotel you are staying are probably paid around 30 usd per month. Salary of people employed at Angkor Wat (by the way the enterprise is privately owned) is around 130 usd per month. compares favourably with Vietnam (average salary around 100 usd), Burma (average salary 12 usd) and Laos. but far below Singapore (average salary around 600 usd per month) or Malaysia (average salary around 300 usd per month)
Favorite thing: In Siem Reap, there is not an abundance of ATM machines like there are in other parts of Asia and alot of places do not take credit card. There is only one Western Union available where you can get money and its only open at normal business hours. So make sure you have enough money prior to coming to Cambodia. Basically the accepted currency is either the USD or Thai Baht.
Contrary to what others might say to you, go to Angkor even when it's raining. Bring your umbrellas and rain coats, and if you're going to climb up the stairs in the rain, bring some radioactive spiders too! *LOL*
Fondest memory: This is the French couple I wrote about on my tip above. I wish I have the one with the guy reading in the rain, but I was laughing so hard I've problem focusing on my camera. And my hand was holding my stomach (or is it my crotch?). I think I almost pee in my pants.
Later, I asked the French lady, what you guys doing in the rain? She said to me, just like any other French lady would when they were approached by a English speaking Chinese guy. (Ok, what I'm trying to say is, French-ie English if you dunno where I'm getting at).
"Oh, we're shooting for a commercial for our agency in Paris. "
And without finishing her sentence, turned to the French guy.
"Honey, don't move. Beautiful, gorgeous. Don't move baby. Oh I got that, I got that. Don't move. Stay in the rain! Oh beautiful. It's wonderful.
Ok, they are French, I think they must have said something like that in French. I'm just assuming.
The highlight of my trip to Siem Reap would definitely be the storm on the last day I was in Angkor Wat.
Fondest memory: I love Angkor Wat and was there everyday. Never expected to see Angkor in the rain as it had been really hot there the previous 2 days.
When it rained, and rather heavily. All hell broke loose in the temple. Tourists started doing crazy sh*t in the temple. There was a French couple shooting for commercial in the rain, the guy was reading, posing in the rain and the woman was all over the place, trying to get a good shot. I couldn't stop laughing at them. I thought I've seen them all but nothing beats a group of tourist (I think I heard them talking to each other in Japanese). They walked in to the temple, to the second level then to the uppermost level. Stop for a while, listened to their guide. And up they climbed to the towers of Angkor Wat in the rain. There are records of tourists fallen to their death on the stairs, yet these Japs just climbed up the stairs as if they had just been bitten by radioactive spider from some high tech lab. The stairs are very steep and the steps are very shallow, not to mention the water from the rain . I guess some Hindu deities must have watching over them from above on that day. The day is 9th May 2005. Me? I took off my sandals, walking in the rain on the uppermost level. The warmth of the water on your feet, the feeling of walking in the rain in one of the greatest structures ever built by ancient civilization is a feeling words just couldn't quite describe.
Note: The Japanese in rain coats and with umbrellas. What a good shot this is, the French couple (Lady in orange and guy in white) are in here as well!
This is how the stamp they gave you on the custom looks like. I don't get this from the airport in Siem Reap but friends told me stories of slipping US dollar bill into their passport to get it stamped when they enter the country by land.
In Siem Reap airport, they don't have connectors to link to the aircraft when it land. But they have trucks with stairs for the passengers to get to the ground (Pictures in transport). It's then you realized you are kinda travelling back in time. Oh they will be an airport tax of USD25 for insternational flights.
Favorite thing: If you're into art history like me, try and get hold of this excellent tome by Dawn Rooney at www.amazon.com Alternatively, you can be a real cheapie and get a cheap copy for USD3.50 in Siem Reap. This book was the best guide ever and gave me real insights on the architecture and legends behind the bas reliefs.
Favorite thing: Siem Reap is the closest town, and you will more than likely spend you nights here. The town has quite a few options for bars and restaurants. Tuk-tuk drivers are everywhere, so transportation is not an issue. Some of the areas made me feel unsafe, but I was assured that violent crime is very rare here against the tourists. But, always be alert. I was amazed at the contrast of social class differences here. Along the river, you will find shacks in which 10 people live. Then, across the river you have a true 5-star hotel.
Fondest memory: The name of "APSARA" is very familiar in Siem Reap. At the entrance ticket to Angkor Wat, you can read 'Apsara Authority'. At the cafes, resto and hotels you can read so many Apsara as their names too. What is Apsara exactly? This is a name of goddess. Based on the legend, there are 1,700 Apsara in heaven which assistance the king with their entertainments like dancing, smiling, etc. At the bas-relief, you can also find these "fancy" Apsara [based on idiom by my friend Sideth] and Apsara Dancing became a main attraction at the dinner time in Siem Reap hotels [more details on my Phumi Siem Reap page].
Fondest memory: Going to the Angkor complex after Siem Reap just so simple. As appears on this map. 7 km away from this small town and voila .... Angkor Complex presented and bordered by artificial ancient reservoirs called "baray" at the west and east side. Meanwhile the river of Siem Reap just flowing in the heart of Angkor. The reason why this Angkor situated close to the water [also Boeng Tonle Sap, Lake Tonle Sap]; the kings of Khmer Empire can gives their people with good food [padi fields need water also fish from the lake and river]. So prosperous and the geniality of the kings will be continued.
The nearest town to the temples, and probably the place where you will be sleeping is Siem Reap.
You can visit the Temples from the town in a motorbike. Some moto drivers offer you these tours for about 6 USD per day, though the prices vary depending on the distance of the temples you wanna visit.