When I was at Angkor, I thought it would be nice to be blessed and make an offering at one of the many buddha that are in the temple. As soon as I arrived I saw this little old lady next to a buddha holding incense beckoning me to come over and pray. This being a sacred and holy place I said why not. After I made my small prayer, afterwards the lady asked me for $5 US dollars. So beware these ladies are out for your money. If you want to make a prayer bring your own incense.
Ok, the kids at the ruins are just trying to make a living and admittedly they don't just beg and ask for handouts. No, they offer a service. For a nominal fee, they will point out the best angles for capturing Angkor on film. I kind of like the act of exploring and finding these on my own but many people found them fun to be lead around by.
When you climb up on one of the beautiful temples in the Angkor tempel complex,a guy starts to show you where Angkor Wat lies and several details on the making of the buildings.
The quality of their english is mostly so poor that you have no idea what he is talking about.you pick up words like red sandstone and hard rock granite...
He shows you some ornaments of the tempel that you saw on your own allready but being polite to this helpfull boy you listen to him while you are wasting your valuable time and are thinking of a way to get away even when his speech isn't over.
Then ...after the annoying speech..."can I have some money please ?"
I don' t wanna be a hard ass but after being chased by vendors at every entrance at every tempel .Having to say " No thank you" 1000 times a day you have enough of the crap.
If I want a guide,I'll ask for 1 and I'll pay him of course.
Unique Suggestions: Never show you'r interested and keep it short!
They are masters in pretending to give you tourist free information of their pride called Angkor.
In Cambodia nothing is for free !
Fun Alternatives: Several possibilities:
1 polite : "Thank you I know allready"
2 mistake : " I have no money"
3 hillarious: " I don't speeka theee english"
4 mature : "Not interested thank you !"
5 firm : "I said NOT INTERESTED !!!"
6 sneeky : don't answer and go your own way .
I appeared to offend my guide when I tipped an older woman who was minding a makeshift temple. He commented that people shouldn't profit from religion. It seems I was in bad form.
Fun Alternatives: DO TIP the kids if you take their photo or otherwise "use" them. No need to tip them all, though. You'll run out of money.
Bring hard candy. too. Much of the money they collect goes to adult handlers; candy they can enjoy on their own.
I was told that one company has a monopoly on all of the elephants at Angkor. Hence there is no competition and the price is held artificially high. $15 for a short ride up Bakheng Hill simply isn't value for money.
Fun Alternatives: Walk up Bakheng Hill. It's good exercise.
Tourists are advised to visit the floating village near Siem Reap. It is interesting to visit it - for 15-20 min. However, the only option is to rent a boat for 1-1.5 hours at USD 15 per person. This price seems not to be adequate to what you actually see there. In general you are supposed to move around the village for 20-30 min, and spend 30-40 min in floating restaurant in the middle of the village. If you won't do it, there's simply no point to stay in boat for 1 hour as there's not so much things to see.
Unique Suggestions: Don't buy a boat ticket, wait for your mates in car. But be aware that you will spend this time in place where freshly-caught fish is processed, so the smell is fantastic. Maybe you would prefer to go to boat... :-)
Fun Alternatives: Ask your driver to get you to villages around Siem Reap, especially to village markets. It's really fascinating to see the real life of people out there, especially in rural area. But be prepared to see that it is not a tourist attraction, and numerous people (and most sadly children) with legs lost because of landmines just confirm it.
The children of Siem Reap only spend half a day at school, the other half is spent helping out with the family business or chores. If your family business happens to be selling things to tourists then that's what they do to.
This group followed us the whole time and kept us company. They were a very funny bunch. The saddest thing was there was one little boy who was deaf and was completely frustrated he couldn't communicate- he ended up in tears.
Unique Suggestions: Take all sorts of small items that you can give away - stamps from home, pennies, even pens and pencils make them happy. It doesn't take much.
Wherever you go at Angkor Wat, you won`t be far away from someone who wants to separate you from your money. If you go in expecting that, it`ll be a lot less frustrating.
This lady was offering blessings for a small contribution. There were many scenes like this at the exit of different areas of the ruins. Sometimes they approach by placing something in your hand, at which point it is harder to refuse.
Unique Suggestions: Just take it in your stride and consider it part of the experience.
While you are enjoying the many sites at Angkor you will see lots of children trying to sell their goods. Scarfs is one of the main products. The scarfs have all different colors and that makes you think about which one you should take. There's your trap! Before you can see where they come from, there is whole groep of kids trying to sell you their scarfs...now you don't only have to choose which color, but also which kid to buy it from.
There are many young children in the complex offering to guide you. Sometimes it`s enough to simply rebuff their offer by saying `no, I`m ok` but every now and then they are a bit persistent.
Most of them only expect a dollar or two but it`s up to you. There are official guides in the park and technically the youngsters are taking business away from them.
Unique Suggestions: Even if I`m not interested, I don`t like to be rude. The kid on the right asked me `Mister, where do you live?`. Truthfully, I replied `Japan`. He immediately broke into Japanese! We then chatted away a bit and I must admit I was pretty impressed. He never queried why I didn`t `look` Japanese but did ask innocently `Do you have an American father?`.
In most cases hawkers and touts are pests, but at least in this case I felt I took something away from it.
At Angkor Wat I was approached by man dressed up as monk offering to guide me. Initially he said he was a monk working in the area. He seemed a little bit unusual to me and I got suspicious when he couldn`t answer questions about the ruins.
Unique Suggestions: All up I spent about five minutes with this man. In the end he admitted he wasn`t a monk and was trying to earn a few extra dollars. We just had a chat about Siem Reap. I gave him a drink and a couple of dollars and off I went.....
Much has been said of the young drink hawkers swarming around thirsty tourists. A child selling soft drinks is one thing, but this nine-year-old was selling beer! Although I found this quite amusing at the time, it is a little disturbing....
Unique Suggestions: One thing to make note of, don`t make any PROMISES to the young vendors. Before entering one section of the ruins, I told one persistent young boy that I`d buy a drink when I came out. Well, two hours later he was at the exit and observed me buy a drink from a different stall. That was a big drama, boy!
Up until that point I thought the lad spoke English fairly well, but this was where he displayed his rich vocabulary of `other` words.
If you want to travel to cambodia by land from Thailand. Just be careful when you cross the border.
Unique Suggestions: We were too early when we reach poipet. No tourist at that time and we have to follow one of the tout just to avoid the rest of them. Imagine, almost 30 cambodians following you all the way from main road to the famous "round-about". We were really under great pressure. Have no choice.
As a result, we ended up sitting in an "old" camry taxi. Broken wind screen and unlockable doors. What a GREAT experience!
Fun Alternatives: Walk straight to the Taxi. DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT agreed to someone until you see the Taxi. Stand beside of the taxi that you want. Ask the driver for price before you enter.
Never tell those kids who are trying to sell you thing that "You be back". Because their always there & upon return they will demand you to buy their stuffs because you said "You'll be back & will buy from them".
I don't know.... that's how they interpreted mine!!
Unique Suggestions: Just smile at them ;-)
Fun Alternatives: You may jokingly & offer to sell back stuffs you've purchased from other kids.
Tell them you have only last item & its very rare that they aught to have it.
Most places in Angkor, there are children and teens asking you "where you come from." without any interest in your answers. They just want to be your guide and maybe being tipped by you after their service.
I was with three girls I met during this trip and a local kid of no more than 10 year old started guiding us. When it was time to depart 20 minutes later, we gave him $1 USD and he demanded 100 Baht (roughly $2.50)
We gave him the money anyway and started laughing at the situation.
Unique Suggestions: If you don't want to be bothered just smile and don't reply and maybe a "No, thank you."
But there are times that some of the kids do know where a good photo spot is.