Cambodia's most scenic boat trip
The majority of travelers head to Cambodia from Thailand on their way to Vietnam or Laos, but we were coming the other way. We had gone from Thailand to Laos, down through Vietnam and were now making our way back to Thailand to fly home. We still had Angkor Wat as our last Cambodian stop and the best way to reach it was via the river from what we had heard. We had braved the dusty bus trip from Phnom Penh to Battambang for eight hours and four bucks so doing the same to Siem Reap was not an option we entertained long. No, the boat trip was the main reason we came here in the first place. Getting the ticket at a fair price was another thing. There seemed to be a bit of a conspiracy amongst the sellers but with some diligence and a dose of deception we managed to get it by playing one hotel against the other. Even though we had chose to stay at the more upscale (well, a buck more a night) Royal Hotel, their boat trip price was nearly twice what the Chayya Hotel was offering. Though it’s never good practice to buy outside of the place you are staying, we saved $16 and hopefully The Royal will think twice before trying the same with other travelers. Anyway, it was $16 for two from Battambang to Siem Reap. The advertised seven hour trip was closer to twelve as the river was so low, a few passengers had to get out and give the rickety wooden vessel a shove a few times! It was a beautiful trip just the same and the slow journey time was more in tune with the life we meandered pass.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Taking a Tuk Tuk in Cambodia
In Cambodia, the king of the road is a 4WD, the queen a family sedan and the prince probably a "tuk tuk". A ride on this motocycle with covered trailer will probably cost you about 1-2USD (anywhere within city limits) and about 10-12USD if you're seeing the temple ruins. If you have to know, my diva friends and I did not take the tuk tuk out to angkor. Yes, being the spoilt divas that we were, we took an air-donditioned 4WD ( no less! ) on all the circuits, groan for USD20 per day.
Tuk Tuk driver, Mr. Da!
We managed to hire a very nice driver for a few days, Mr Da. He was a very skillful driver, although he had only one eye. We had a few flat tyres on the way, but the problem was always quickly solved, as there were every time helpful people around. This (picture) happened as we were heading to Bang Melea with a car.
A Car for a daytrip costs 50-60 USD.
A tuk tuk for a whole day costs 8-10 USD.
Contact Mr. Da directly if you want good service!
Tel (855) 12 960 905
Kagna Out Dorm Guest House
House 017, Sivatha Road,
Siem Reap CambodiaRelated to:
- Road Trip
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- National/State Park
Irritating but necessary stuff: Visa/Taxes
If you're not planning to stay in Cambodia forever, make sure you pack an extra 25USD for your departure tax ! If not, be prepared to cry as you pay 10% extra by VISA ( there's a lousy VAT included ) . In my opinion, this tax is bloody expensive for a third world country. I thought that it was bad enough at 14USD for Hanoi, but this is almost double!
As for the visa, yes, you'll need to prepare a nice, small photo of yourself and it's made on arrival at USD20 a pop ( valid for one month). And yes, the folks at immigration are nice enough to trim your photo if you idoitically hand them 6 repeated prints of your image to them.
Get there by air ...
Flying is the easiest and safest way to reach Siem Reap and the Angkor complex. The roads are not good and the boats on the Tonle Sap do not meet basic safety standards.
Several airlines fly to Siem Reap. We flew Bangkok/Siem Reap Air. The flights from Bangkok and to Phnom Penh were on ATR 72s and were fine.
Fun Taxi Ride
My friend and I visited Siem Reap March 2005 and had a very nice experience taking the taxi. It my be a bit expensive but if you have money to spare rent a taxi. It would definitely save you from a lot of hassle and anxiety....giving you more energy to enjoy Siem Reap better.
$25 - Poipet Border up to your hotel. This could definitely be negotiated but as I have researched, the prices of gasoline went up drastically so it is a fair deal....travel time is 4 hours by rough road.
$20 a day around Siem Reap.
This might seem like an advert (and it is!) but if you plan to go to Siem Reap, please contact "Pov"....it would definitely help him earn a more decent income. Tell him, he was recommended by Isa and Myla from the Philippines. He is a very nice guy who took care of all our travelling needs while we were there. He is funny, eager to learn, industrious and most importantly trustworthy. I left my IBM notebook in his car while we were sightseeing and true enough, he took care of it as if it was his own.
Cab driver's name: Pov Hem
Mobile: +855 12 964 780Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Women's Travel
Beng Mealea Villa to Ankor Wat & other Temples
(date hired the motorbike w/driver - Jan, 2-4, 2004)
Usually, you need a motorbike with driver in order to visit temples. Regular price is US$ 6.00/day but don't hesitate to ask for discounts---I got it for US$ 16.00 for 3 days!
Look for Chang Rong (stay-in driver of Beng Mealea Villa & Restaurant) He can speak English, friendly and kind.
I gave him US$ 10.00 tip for the good effort!!! I gave it secretly without telling other stay-in driver and the owner ' coz they will ask for commission!!!Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
How to get to the temples
The temples of Angkor are located in such a distance from one another that it is impossible to reach them on foot. Cycling could be a good idea but hot weather makes it an effort that only a few decide on. Definitely, the best way to move around, especially if you travel in a party consisting of two - four people, is tuk-tuk. To find one is no problem - despite the increasing number of visitors, there still seems to be more tuk-tuk drivers offering their services. It is a good idea, though, to decide on one tuk-tuk driver for the whole of your stay.
We met ours on the very first day of our visit to Siem Reap. When we got off the bus he offered to help us find a hotel which would suit our needs (it was to be something decent, but inexpensive). Because it was late in the evening it didn't turn out to be easy. After almost two hours we finally found the accomodation and the driver didn't charge us more than had been fixed. We paid him two dollars (including one dollar tip) and he asked if he could be our driver for the next three days. We agreed and never regretted. He turned out to be a very reliable, punctual and helpful young man. He took us to the temples but also suggested some extra attractions, like Tonle sap lake or apsara dances, but without being pushy. When it was time to say goodbye we paid him the fixed forty dollars plus a well-earned tip.
To experience the local life and enjoy the scenery
Either to take a boat from Siem Reap to Phnom Phan or a reversed way is highly recommended as it provides a different way (if you get tired with plane, train and bus) to explore the local life occurred on the bank side and enjoy the beautiful river sceneries.
Every guesthouse sells the boat cruising ticket at $6 only.Related to:
Elephant Rides in Siem Reap
Way before Land Rovers and Tuks tuks in Cambodia came about, the only way to get to the Angkor Temples was via an elephant. If you're keen to follow tradition, you can find a group of elephants just outside the Angkor Thom south gate. For about USD11, you can hire an elephant with a handler and he'll take you through the south gate into Angkor Thom and bumble along for about half an hour. Alternatively, if you have cash to throw around, you can pay USD25 for a sunset elephant ride in Phnom Bakheng. For that said amount, the poor animal will walk uphill with you in tow so that you can watch the sunset from the top of the hill.
Needless to say, the elephant ride at Phnom Bakheng was not endorsed by the divas. It was too expensive and cruel in our opinion. The elephants there looked really over-worked and sad..
Getting to Siem Reap, only one advice.....
Going to Siem Reap, coming from Phnom Penh or Battamabang I have only one advice, take that boat or ferry, crossing the wetlands of lake Tonle Sap !
It is the perfect combination of travelling in the country at a relaxed way and watching at the wonderful world of the daily life at the water and the unique natural phenomenon of the wetlands. You can take the fast ferry of about 3 hours, but if you have the time take a slower boat.
We took the slower boat to Battambang. It took us about 8 hours, but we had one of the most fascinating days of our stay in Cambodia. If you like, you can also reach Siem Reap by road or by air of course. The airport is about 7 KM from the citycentre.
We came by road from Poipet at the Thai border by minibus. This distance of about 150 KM along dirt tracks took us -including a lunchbreak- almost 6 hours. Our bordercrossing was rather quick and smooth. After buying a visa for 1000 baht, a open-air bus brought us to the immigration for free. After getting a sticker and stamp we took a remorque-moto to the travel agency where a minibus was waiting for us.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Sailing and Boating
Remorque moto, bus, bicycle or walk
For visiting the spreadout area with Angkor temples about 10 KM north of Siem Reap, the other temple complexes at even longer distance or the floating villages there are different types of transport available.
The remorque moto, a motorbike with a roofed carriage behind is the most striking. Most of the time some of these motos with place for two persons were standing in front of our hotel. For 10 $ a day you can hire this remorque moto. In Siem Reap itself we usuallly walked, but for a longer distance in the evening we took this moto, being rather fast, you sit in the open air and can talk with your fellow passenger.
You can also go around at the backseat of a moto or hire a car, minibus or bicycle. Most hotels can help you or have for example bicycles for rent theirselves. To visit the Bayon temple at Angkor Thom we saw elephants just south of the southgate (a short ride for 10$).
Also I saw a hot air balloon hanging in the air during our visit to the temples and I red a flyer about helicopter flights.Related to:
- Hot Air Ballooning
- Historical Travel
Boat for Tonle Sap
Tonle Sap is a floating village in Siem Reap famous to tourists. To see the place, you need to hire a motor boat. Most hotels and guesthouses offer tours for this.
Since we have a hired taxi for our whole stay, we opted to buy our ticket directly from Salakhet Siem Reap - Central Commission of Chong Khneas Tourist Boat Arrangment. Boat rent is USD20 and it is good for 2 to 8 passengers...includes life vests.Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Budget Travel
Bicycling Around Town
If you are travelling free-and-easy, this is probably the best way to see downtown Siem Reap.
I suggest that you start early in the morning as it can get too hot by mid morning up to mid afternoon. We had a 3-hour biking trip for 2 days and it was so fun.
Siem Reap has a lot of things to offer besides the magnificent Angkor Wat. People watching, for one, is such an enjoyable past time. By the riverside, we saw a lot of cute and friendly children on their way to school...the small and yet so tidy nipa huts...monks in their colorful robes...the ever busy intersections (beware!)...the grand hotels (I have enough to fill an album!)...fellow travellers enjoying their coffee at the Old Market vicinity...and so much more.
Most guesthouses rent bicycles for $1-3 per day....some offer those for free.
- Be sure to check the bicycles before going out as you will be asked to pay for any damages on it when you get back.
- Don't forget to use the lock provided whenever you leave your bike unattended. If you lose it then you'll have to pay $30 for an old bike.
- Do not entertain anyone who approaches and tells you that the bike is theirs...this is some kind of scam I think (I'll include in my warnings).
- Be very careful...the street is so busy and full of bicycles, motorbikes, some cars and pedestrians. Most intersections have no traffic lights.Related to:
- Women's Travel
Road Ride to Siem Reap...
From Poipet to Siem Reap,you'll get very accustomed to the "red earth" road throughout the journey...
We paid 1000Baht for 4 people for the whole taxi...From Aran border ( Eastern Border of Thailand ), just walk to Poipet , ignore the touts and walk on to the immigration...
A reminder that the touts will not let you go from his eye until he gets you into his "father's", "uncle's" taxi...Blah Blah Blah...
The more they chased me, the more I was determined not to get into any of their taxis..
Managed to get one after walking away from them ( usually after the roundabout in Poipet )
Its okay to get into their taxis, except if they are gonna charge you ridiculously, then, you be the judge of that...
Read Gordon Sharpless comprehensive write up in Tales of Asia for Travelling Overland to get a better view...Related to:
- Budget Travel
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