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During discussions with other guests at the second guesthouse we stayed in in Siem Reap recently, we discovered that while we were paying US20 per night, they were being charged US$45, for virtually identical rooms - they had a bigger bathroom.
Unique Suggestions: If you have a prearranged driver, ask him if he has an "arrangement" (as ours did) with a guesthouse, and that the rate works in your favour. Don't be nervous about talking to other guests about what they are paying, and make a bee-line for the owner if you are getting a bum deal.
Fun Alternatives: If you have an idea of a guesthouse you want to target, either before or after you get to Siem Reap - check it out on VT - and ask other members about costs as well as general experiences.
Updated Apr 21, 2006
First encounter was @ stalls outside Angkor Wat. We were looking for mineral water. The lady offered me one 500ml mineral water for USD2. We stunned for a while for such expensive price. Then she offered USD3 for 2 bottles. "No Profit...." she says.
Finally settled with USD3 for a carton!
This applies to all other things you would have buy from any free form vendors and stalls
Unique Suggestions: If you think the price is too expensive, just go next door. Dozens of similar stalls all over Angkor and town. Or ask your guide/driver to buy essentials for you. You'll be surprised of the price difference.
Written Apr 14, 2006
Sometimes you'll met some local who speaks decent foreign language waiting at temples and try to be friendly and offer their explainations. Normally they'll start with "Where do you come from?"
Of course they'll ask for tips after some 3mins of history. My friend gave them Rels amounting to about USD1++ for their 'kind assistance', and luckily they're happy with it.
Fun Alternatives: You may hire a private guide, read your books, or like my friends who had learnt his lesson, asnwer "I'm from Cambodia", haha!
Written Apr 10, 2006
Remember there's no free lunch in the world. So, when there's a guy who said to be a FREE tour guide in Angkor or Siem Reap and willing to show you around, simply say thanks and NO. All these TOUR Guides will eventually ask some tips from you after the tour if you take them.
Written Dec 28, 2005
We were amazed by the local living standards in Siem Reap - in the surrounding of a relatively small country town, with seemingly dozens of high class European hotels. Whilst these hotels must generate much local employment, the incomes of the locals are very meagre. Roughly US$10 per week, have been told. A bottle of water at the side of the road is typically US$1.
We asked to be taken to Camodian places, which our driver was happy to oblige with. When we went shopping for silk, also asked to be taken to a Cambodian co-op, rather than buying from the French controlled silk farm.
Written Dec 28, 2005
Practically anywhere touristy that you go, your car will be surrounded by throngs of beggars or people selling books before you've had the chance to even get out.
At Angkor you will find many children running up to you, all wanting to sell you their books. They will usually start off at around US$2 each if you say you are coming back. They try to "bags" you and say that you must buy from them when you come back. When you do return (and they are waiting), the books will no longer be $2, but up to $10 each. They will argue that the other book was different. For the sake of giving them a go, because at least they weren't begging, I did pay up to $5, because it is cheap really, even though they insisted it was $8.
The books seem to be seconds with some pages having blurred pictures (as I found out later), but they do have some good books.
Don't get caught paying over $5 each though, unless you're feeling generous. Most should be $2-$3.
Updated Aug 1, 2005
I’m not one to get a burger craving often and I never go to McDonald’s, even when I’m home but after two months in Southeast Asia, I found myself wanting just that; a big juicy burger. The Ivy Bar was supposed to have the best bar food in town and it looked like the real McCoy with its big wooden bar and typical clustered tables emanating from it. We sat ourselves down and ordered a couple of brews and two burgers for $12.50. The beers went down easily enough and though the burgers were big and looked good on arrival, we greedily bit into what turned out to be very dry examples of the form. Doreen’s particular choice was drenched in HP sauce, an English condiment that seemed incongruous on the American standby.
Fun Alternatives: Sometimes I guess you should just wait until you get home for the thing you are missing. Of course, now I miss the Cambodian stew I could have had instead.
Updated Jun 20, 2005
The EU is funding this school of artisans, sculptors, painters etc and some money they get by selling produced artifacts, such as buddha heads and other stuff. The school was a nice place to visit, but better made buddha heads can be found at the market.
Written Jan 2, 2005
Our driver seemed to enjoy stopping the bus in little towns which had hard to find toilets. The real purpose seem to be to allow locals to sell postcards, bracelets, etcs. By locals I should say kids. They are bright, funny and have no problems communicating in English.
Unique Suggestions: The kids appreciate pens, paper, crayons, stamps, pennies, etc. Of course, they prefer cold hard American cash BUT graciously accept any of the above.
They really do seem to just want to touch and talk to you. Be prepared to be mobbed, hold your pockets, smile and enjoy their chatter.
Fun Alternatives: Fly
Written Nov 7, 2004
When you first cross the border your driver will probably take you to an exchange place. DON'T DO IT :) - the rates are outrageous and of course they will tell you to get 'riel' but all local business people seem to prefer American dollars and will sometimes refuse the riels
Written Nov 6, 2004
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