Best way to see Ankor?

Old May 7th, 2010, 03:39 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 1
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Best way to see Ankor?

I am planning a trip to Siem Reap and have read various posts about the best way to see the sights... wondering if it is really necessary to hire a guide or should I go it alone? If a guide is desirable so should I do it through a travel agency or wait till I am there ?
Hugh_dc is offline  
Old May 7th, 2010, 05:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,288
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Whether to use a guide is up to you and how you want to see the temples. If you've done good research ahead of time you won't need a guide (although some people prefer a guide). Start by getting a copy of Dawn Rooney's Book Angkor: A guide to Cambodia's Wonderous Temples. That will give you the info you need to decide how much time to stay and can act as your guide in Cambodia.

No need for a travel agency for any arrangements. Your hotel can arrange a driver for you and can arrange a guide if you want one.

We had done lots of research ahead of time and did not use a guide - that was perfect for us.

Kathie is offline  
Old May 7th, 2010, 09:34 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 29,053
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
you will find it very hot there....for this reason i find it necessary to have an a/c car.....guides will overload you with facts and stories 24/7, but they do provide the most efficient way to see the temples and to see the most important sites within the temples with little hastle....they also generally know where to go when for best results...

many guides come with a car but you pay them runs about $25-50 a day each....imo, its the best money you will spend on your trip....

if you have a hotel already you might ask them in advance to select a guide for you...

btw, we kept the driver some nites to drive us to dinner for some small extra fee...
rhkkmk is offline  
Old May 7th, 2010, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,276
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree with Bob - a guide was very beneficial. The guide also convinced us (rightly so) that it was best to do several hours in the morning, take a siesta for a few hours at noon, and then go back out again around 4. This avoided the worst of the heat.

We used Ponheary Ly who had been recommended on this board. Her brother is also a guide (Dara) and he actually took over one day when she was tied up. Both were extremely knowledgeable. If you like taking artistic photos, Dara has a great eye for where to stand and what to shoot. Ponheary is involved with a foundation that supports schools in the area and we specifically wanted to visit one of those (very enlightening), plus we had an opportunity to have dinner with the woman who founded and runs the foundation along with several high school and college students who were there to volunteer in the schools for several weeks. You could probably just search for her name on this board to see other comments. Also search my name and you should be able to pull up our trip report. It was a couple of years ago - one of the best trips we have done (and we've done alot).

If you wangt to be a bit more adventurous - try taking one of the tuk-tuks to dinner rather than the car you use for the temples. We had one who always looked for us and it cost about $1-2 for our trips to dinner. Great fun! He would even come back and pick us up at a certain time.

Don't know if you have selected a hotel yet. We staed at the Bopha Angkor which is right near the old town area and it was a good choice for us. The rooms were a bit dark (very low lighting to save energy) so it was hard to read at night, but we were usually so tired that we went right to sleep. The rooms were comfortable, the pool and grounds were lovely, and the breakfast was great. We ate dinner there the first night and it was fine, but we enjoyed trying some of the other restaurants in town also.

You will love Siem Reap. The temples are unbelievable and the people are terrific. If you want more info, e-mail me at [email protected]
jcasale is offline  
Old May 7th, 2010, 01:41 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 12,874
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Unless you really have studied up, I'd get a guide. I'd read Dawn Rooney's book, but it was pretty dry without having the temples in front of me, and the book had way too much information to try and read while walking! I had a hard time even figuring out which temple we were at, except for the big ones!

Our guide, Sam (pron like 'some') was referred to us by Ponheary. He was very good at telling us the history and legends without overloading us. Also very upfront with his feelings about the wars and current events & politics in Cambodia.

He and our driver were also quite good at helping us avoid crowds and entering the temples away from the hawkers and beggars.

If you really don't want to pay for a guide the whole time, maybe hire one for a day of touring some of the smaller temples and then do the more well known ones on your own with a guide book. You can always add days with the guide or get another one if you like having one.
lcuy is offline  
Old May 7th, 2010, 02:59 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 6,664
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You don't need a guide, but your time at the temples will be very much enhanced by using one. There are no bonus points for seeing the dights on your own and guides are cheap by US and European standards. Ponheary and Dara have both gotten rave reviews. There are others on this forum that have also gotten good reviews.

Stay in a hotel with a good pool. It is very hot and a swim after temple=viewing is very relaxing.

Check out for information on the foundation with which Ponheary works. many Fodorites have reported wpecial interactions with this foundation and the schools.
Gpanda is offline  
Old May 7th, 2010, 03:47 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 168
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I agree with everyone else. I am not a guide person... much prefer going at it on my own, but the guide we had here was wonderful. Definitely made all the difference in the world to us.
travelersusan is offline  
Old May 7th, 2010, 07:24 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 2,790
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We didn't use a guide, but then we're art & architecture fanatics and did a lot of studying up before hand. We managed to sidle up to a few guided talks in progress (just to hear what we were missing) and for the most part concluded, not much. To me, too much talking and listening distracts from looking.

Tote along Dawn Rooney and read as you look.

We really, really liked gettng around by tuktuk. It was breezy refreshing and a lot of fun.

Most days, we stayed out during the mid-day siesta as we found it the least crowded time; however, since this is not SOP make sure you clear it with your driver beforehand.
marmot is offline  
Old May 8th, 2010, 04:13 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,418
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
How many days will you be there>? I've seen best results with taking a guide out for a couple of days and then spending the last day with a tuk tuk driver and going out alone to some lesser temples or revisiting your favorites just to walk around and soak up the energy.
offwego is offline  
Old May 9th, 2010, 05:23 AM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 1
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I understand that some would rather go it alone without a guide but my experience was the opposite. I am an art and architecture professional and had done a good deal of research before my visit but the insight and information our guide had to offer was invaluable. The ability to name the hundred of characters in each narrative frieze, having in-depth information on each site, directing us to the real local restaurants and not the touristy ones, not to mention his humor and warm personality ... these were only a few of the things that made our 10 day trip an experience of a lifetime. Our guide was Sovann Eath, who goes by David ( - he made our visit the best it could be. Having spent a good deal of money to get to Siem Reap I am so glad that I had the good sense to spend a bit more to get the most from our visit.
lns_traveler is offline  
Old May 27th, 2010, 06:07 AM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 7
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Tour guide is a key to reveal the secret of Angkor myth, esp for travelers don't have much to read very details. Book your guide before get to the area. Sometime it is not a good idea to read in the temple complex it took lots of time to do both. Listen to the knowledgeable tour guide's explanation and read them again in the hotel room. You will remember it.

On the other hand if you should take tour guide for one day to the main temple such as Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm. The rest you can be own explorer.
Santatravel is offline  
Old May 27th, 2010, 03:48 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 704
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A guide is probably the best way to go and not that expensive. Just make sure you have a/c in the vehichle (as mentioned above) and good suspension. A tuk-tuk is not a good way to see the temples as it would be too hot and dusty on the dirt roads.
krgystn is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2010, 03:37 AM
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 4
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
You won't regret having Sovann Eath as your companion (tour guide) to Angkor. He is everything you will need during your stay in Cambodia and exploring the great temples of Angkor, be a tour guide, driver and tourist consultant. I had contacted him during my trip to Angkor with communication on e-mail and we felt confident about his services.
kaceo1 is offline  
Old Jun 8th, 2010, 06:29 AM
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 49
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you want to see the Bas reliefs in Angkor without any one else around, I suggest you wait till the groups have gone back for lunch and then take your chance. You won't regret it.
Also don't use the main entrance take the one on the right side a enjoy the short stroll up to the temple.
Have fun
shj is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
Mar 8th, 2017 04:17 PM
Aug 26th, 2015 06:59 AM
Dec 3rd, 2012 12:53 PM
Nov 30th, 2011 02:41 AM
Aug 29th, 2006 08:33 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -