Trekking off the path
Honestly I cannot speak for the trekking opportunity, but as for the mines, the area around Siem Reap and Angkor Wat is publicized as clean, but they still highly recommend that you do not go off the established paths. I don’t want to rain on your parade, but I would look much deeper into reliable sources before going out in the jungle on your own.
One of the places that I stopped at was a handicrafts store of locals. They were all handicapped due to landmines. Some of them were teenagers (not old veterans), which means that there's still active ammunition in the ground with recent accidents.
- Hiking and Walking
- Adventure Travel
Make sure you take water with you when exploring the temple complex
You walk a long way and climb many steps. With the heat you are going to need the water or suffer the consequences.
You can buy water there, but it is more expensive than buying it in Siem reap.
ALWAYS CARRY PLENTY OF FRESH WATER
When visiting this vast complex area of ANGKOR WAT , make sure that you ALWAYS carry plenty of bottled fresh drinking water .Due to the Extreme Temperatures that you will encounter here make sure that you have sufficient for your needs...Most of the temples and various sites are well off the road and you will do a lot of walking/ hiking to reach them. I found the temperatures to be extremely hot and humid and found I was drinking a lot more water than I thought I would need.
It is very important to drink a lot of water to replace fluid losses due to the heat. Dehydration can creep up on you quickly otherwise and can be extremely dangerous.
When purchasing bottled water ALWAYS make sure to check the seal on the bottle cap to make sure that it is NOT broken and the bottle is a refill with ordinary local tap water...I have been caught and unfortunately paid the price.. SO BE AWARE...
When in Cambodia, do not go off the beaten track. There could be a lurking land mine that can explode, kill or maim.
From past wars, there are still many unexploded landmines in the countryside of Cambodia. So be very careful not to stray off the path.
There are still cases of loss of lives and limbs due to landmines in Cambodia. Always bear this in mind.
According to a 2004 landmine report,
"...several provinces, particularly in the north and northwest of the country. In the forests of Banteay Meanchey, Battambang, Oddar Meanchey, and Pailin, the most affected provinces, people still have their limbs blown off as they search for a way to feed their families..."
Children selling souvenirs
A common scene as you wander around the sights are children trying to sell souvenirs such as postcards as well as drinks, bracelets, scarf’s and such like. They're quite persistent, even bordering on annoying but at the same time they are quite sweet and only trying to make some money. I got chatting to a few of them when I had a little something to eat at one of the food shacks that overlook the Bayon on Angkor Thom and asked them about school to which they replied that they went to one but I wasn't so sure they were telling the truth.
Taxi from border or airport
Other than large tour companies 95% of all transport involve taking a taxi from the airport or border to your hotel. Ensure that your driver knows where your hotel is. Siam Reap is a large city of over a million people and contains as many as a thousand hotels. Some area are utter squalor and dangerous so it is important that you do not get lost. Our group became lost on the way to our hotel and our driver was very unhelpful, did not speak English and would not ask for directions or knew so little about the area that it would not have helped. It is very important for you yourself to know the location of your hotel on a map, speak Khmer or get a phone which works in Cambodia. Additionally, understanding the calling procedure and remembering the number for the tourist police, I think 1157 would come in hand. Don't let confusion of this nature ruin your trip it almost ended ours.
Beware of little drama princesses
My young friend Matt asked this question in his Cambodia page:
What will you do if suddenly this poor kid with a cute Cambodian English accent (That's nice to mimic!) suddenly leeches on you (without you asking), forces you to do the bargaining game with him and constantly harrasses you to buy his postcards? Will you:
A.) Pity the kid and buy his stuff.
B.) Politely say no and no until he leaves.
C.) Scream at him and harass him back! ?
Well, in our case it was this little 5 y.o. girl selling handmade bamboo objects that make a clicking sound when you shake it. She had her spiel down pat and had my friend's number. It's Letter A for my friend and the girl skipped happily off to look for another sucker (Me!). It cost us a dollar each and a little bit of pride as we drove off... our companions poking fun at us for our "high sucker quotient".
If you have a tender heart and you see these little kids coming, hold on tight to your wallet and run to the opposite direction. But if melting eyes and sing-song voice has no effect on you, then you'll be just fine! :)
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
Never felt safer
I never at any time felt like my physical safety was in jeopardy in my three days in Siem Reap. I wandered freely through the Angkor complexes with the only harassment being from the young children or shopkeepers trying to sell you stuff. I had an arrangement to hire a tuk tuk driver for three days and had grown to trust him, and since it was in his best interest to make sure I was satisfied he made sure we always were happy and safe. For the most part Cambodian people are very peaceful, be on your usual gaurd and enjoy yourself
Temple transactions with kids - Beware!
Staff who supervise in the temples are meant to ensure that tourists aren't encouraging the small armies of beggars, by giving them money etc. for photos and/or sympathy - and the kids often run when one of these attendants turn up. This was taken in Ta Prohm, where we had taken photograps of these kids, and gave them a little bit of money. Not happy Jan! She looked like a thundercloud!
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
Traffic is leathal in Cambodia, like in many countries around Southeast Asia. But the rules are pretty easy: trucks and buses go first, followed by cars before motorcycles and rikshas, followed by bicycles....and on the lowest step there is the pedestrian. Everything else is just detail.
I had the joyful experience riding my bike down the mainroad of Siem Reap when a speedying motorbike hit me with his rearviewmirror.....lucky me, my backpack caught the hit...most of it my newly bought orangejuice that exploded from the hit and spilled over everything.
Not to mention that the motorbikeguy drove right away nonestop.
- Budget Travel
Although guests are allowed the unique opportunity to climb and explore the magnificent and often crumbling structures, care should be taken. It implore any visitor to these unique temples to exercise care and caution during their time in Angkor, it is the only way to ensure that this amazing edifice will remain for future generations to enjoy. Many of the temples are currently under reconstruction and some of the lesser temples still need to undergo major preservation. And removing any objects from any of the Angkor temples is strictly forbidden. But also, as a visitor to these sacred sites please be respectful, many of these temples are still in use. Much of the ugly behavior we experienced from other tourists were shouting and shoving – especially on the steep and narrow steps to the top of Angkor Wat, which is not only rude but dangerous.
- Historical Travel
Don't fall over into canals when still dark
We went to see sunrise at Angkor. We were barely awake as it was still 4 to 5am. It was so dark.
Realised that when we walking on bridges in the dark but there were no clear markers where the edge or drop was.
During the day time, realized how periliously close we were into falling into the canals.
So bring a torchlight if you are seeing sunrise at Angkor Wat. Tread carefully in the dark so it will not be a dramatic wet sunrise.
Buy only imitation antique
Imitation antique looks close enough and much cheaper than original or "fakes".
I could see the dramatic heads along a bridge into Angkor Wat. Some are restored copies as the originals have been broken through wars or "sawn off" to smuggle out or sold to private collectors or overseas museums.
My opinion is that real historical antiquity should be left at their site for preservation and enjoyment by all, locals and tourists and those "looted or taken in the past" should be kept in public museums.
As tourists, we should not encourage destruction of historical sites by buying antiques for private collection. We can also donate any extra cash to UNESCO or other bodies for preservation of cultural relics.
Do not look without appreciating
If you are going without a tour guide, do read up before hand to appreciate the different bass reliefs on the walls depicting Khmer Kings, the wars and the local Khmer culture and daily lives. Otherwise, you will just walk through and everything after awhile look a like and you will miss the hilights of the historical documentation carved in stone.
If you are with a tour guide, do listen first to the wealth of information and ask questions. Then ask for free time to allow you to take photos or just look and appreciate.
Many friends who have visited Angkor have told me that it is "boring". Perhaps they have missed the finer details and were just walking through.
Watch your steps - do not trip
It is a feast to the eye when I walked through the gallery corridors of Angkor Wat temple.
The triangulated top and the pillars that allow sunshine to bask the walls to reveal the beautiful wall frieze. There are also many tourists and tour guides giving their commentaries.
In the midst of active tourism, beware of your steps. There are dividing beams across the flow to step over from one area to another. So while your eyes look up and left and right, do always look down. Stop and view or take photograph, do not try to video tape and trip over. It has happened and you do not want to spoil your holidays.