Being a tourist destination, the paths surrounding Banteay Srei are well-paved. Besides the monument itself, there are some interesting surrounding sites such as a big lotus pond with lots of freshwater fishes and some ducks, wooden bridges and local architecture, a huge souvenir shop area etc.
Best time to visit Banteay Srei and walk around is during the cooler and drier months between November to February. However, this is also the peak tourist season so tend to get crowded.
The road journey from Siem Reap to Banteay Srei takes about 1 hour by Tuk Tuk. The road is well-paved, and you will pass by some scenic villiages and rice fields along the way. There are also many stores at the roadside selling various stuff such as food, fruits, groceries etc.
More photos taken during the road journey are at the travelogue section of this VT page.
If you want to visit the Angkor Monuments, the best and cheapest way is by the local Tuk Tuk (carriages pulled by motorcycles). The official Tuk Tuk drivers will wear a vest with their numbers stated at the back of the vest, so this is controlled and safe.
Usually, the driver will charge by per Tuk Tuk per day, and each Tuk Tuk can take about 3 persons to be comfortable. The cost per day is quite affordable (see below), and the driver will send you to each of the monuments of your choice, wait for you to hop-on and going to the next monument and so-on. This is a very flexible way to get around, and it is a very good and relaxing experience.
When I was there in November 2009, my Tuk Tuk driver was Mr Heanh (see photos). He is a nice and honest person who speaks English, experienced and will guide you to the major monuments. If you are interested, you can contact Mr Heanh when you are in Siem Reap. His contact number is tel: 092-835-719 and his Tuk Tuk number is S20 (unfortunately, he does not have an email address). His charges per day is as follows:
- US$15 for Angkor Wat, Angkor Thum City and nearby monuments such as Ta Prohm, Ta Keo.
- US$20 for the above monuments, plus those in the Grand Circuit such as Sras Srang, Pre Rup, East Mebon, Ta Som, Neak Pean & Preah Khan.
- US$25 for further away monuments such as Banteay Srei (about 40km away).
Please note that the above rates does not include a guide. Mr Heanh will only tell you basic information e.g. names of the monuments and which era they were built. If you hire a guide (which I did not), I was told it is about US$40 per day. There are various guides who can speak various languages very fluently!
The road to Banteay Srei from Siem Reap is now completely paved and it's an easy run by car. But that'll be an extra 10 dollars, please, for your driver! It's 20km or so further on from Angkor, which is the reason for the extra charge.
It's worth spending the money, though, as you get a good look at some villages on the way and the temple has some lovely details too.
If you've negotiated a daily rate with a driver for the Angkor Temple complex the rate probably won't include the trip out to Banteay Srei. As this was further out from the main complex they will usually ask for an additional fee, probably $10, to make this trip.
Banteay Srei is about 30 km from Siem Reap, thus much further away than Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. Therefore the driver will charge you extra for the full day - in my case it was USD 20 for a moped pulled two seat trailer (sort of a ricksha but the moped was fast enough).
Due to the distance you save time by going in a car or on the back of a (real) motorbike. I liked the ricksha since u could sit there with two people (advantage over the moto) and enjoy the breeze and slowness.
On a bike it may be a bit too slow, but I saw some and it may have its own charme, if you have the time and stamina (consider the heat - this is no longer just a short ride!)
The ricefields are a soothing sight, and so are the villages you will come through.
Your driver will stop over at various other sites most of which are very nice too, especially (on my way back at least:) Neak Pean (small lotus shaped temple in a bassin) and enchanting Preah Khan (which rivals much more visited Tha Prohm in its junglish ruinous overgrown look, but has tons more charme for the sole reason of being less on everyone's path). Both sites are actually not far from Angkor Thom, but our driver made a point of leaving those sites for the Banteay Srei tour. Can't blame him: it would have been dull to see Tha Prohm and Preah Khan on the same day. So, again: let your driver pick the tour (just tell him how much time you have overall)