Cambodia

Old Apr 18th, 2005, 07:14 AM
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Cambodia

Hi! We are thinking of a quick trip to Cambodia & Thailand or Laos in Jan/Feb. We have been to Thailand and Cambodia before and definately want to return to SR (Angkor). We were thinking 4 nights there. Now the question is where else could we go. We have been to PP & Siouknville (???Spelling sorry!) so we were looking for somewhere else. I have a Lonely Planet book that is a few years old that I was looking at last night but there was nowhere that jumps out. So I was wondering if anyone here would have some suggestions.
Thanks in advance.

J
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 05:44 PM
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I don't know where you are flying in from. In Laos Lunag Prabang is an enchanting town - if you search this forum you will find many posts from people who have gone there and loved it. You could combine LP with either a cruise in laos or The Boat Landing in North Laos. Else you could consider going to Myanmar which is also great. In Camb itslef IMO nowhere else is as much of a must do as SR...so I would add another country altogether...
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 07:10 PM
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I would also recommend considering Luang Prabang, Laos. I spent a week there and loved every minute.

Burma really takes more time. Unless you have a couple of weeks in additon to your time at Angkor, I'd save it for another trip.
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 07:26 PM
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in myanmar we did the yangon area only and it was fine for a few days....have you been to all the different areas of thailand??
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 08:22 PM
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Can I ask what appeals to you about LP? I have read the posts here and there certainly seems to be an attraction there but I am just trying to get a feel for it if you know what I mean. I am thinking it would be interesting and that we would prefer it over somewhere like Chaing Mai (I was there 10 years ago). Since we will have to fly through BKK we will definately spend a night or two there because I do find it a facinating city.

If we went to LP from SR would we have to fly back through BKK to avoid Laos airlnes?

We are now thinking we may make the trip in late Nov. Would that make any difference to destinations because of weather?

Kathie, we are thinking of having a few days in the SR area. As I said we have been there before but want to go back and spend more time. My hubby is a keen photographer so just to have the time to do that is a joy to him. I was thinking that perhaps we would do a guide for a day or two and a driver only for a couple of days. My thoughts were perhaps we would get the best of both worlds that way with and without a guide. Do you or anyone else have any thoughts on this?

Thanks all so much for your input. I appreciate it.

J
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 08:31 PM
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As far as time at the temples of Angkor are concerned, some people like having a guide, some prefer to do it on their own. I had done lots of research before I went and took along Dawn Rooney's guide, Angkor. I preferred to tour on my own. I loved the experience of being the only visitors at many of the minor temples.

Luang Prabang is lovely. It's like stepping back 50 years. It's the old cultural capital of Laos and the site of the home of the Royal family. The old Palace is now a museum. The town is filled with lovely working wats. It has not yet been overrun with tourism, but given it's size that will be a danger. It's a World heritage site. I find that what I am writing doesn't capture the magic of LP. Perhaps some photos would help: www.marlandc.com You find photos of a half dozen or so of our trips, just click on the section for Luang Prabang.
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Old Apr 18th, 2005, 08:58 PM
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Thanks for the photo link Kathie. I had seen the link one another of your posts and did not get to look at it but I did this time and that is the best collection of LP photos I have found so far. It is definately making me feel like LP could be the other destination. Actually it was the comment about stepping back 50 years that I really wanted to hear!!! Can I ask did you organize things in LP before you left or once there? What things did you do by tour and what by wandering? I understand what you say by a guide in Angkor. The thought of sitting in a temple just the two of us savoring the atmosphere sounds just wonderful. We did have a guide the last time we were there. My husband thinks the guide will be able to help us with the best time to go to some of the temples and help us figure out which of the less popular temples we should see but in the same sentence he says he would like to be without a guide in the main complex so he can wander and get back to the driver when we are ready and I feel the same way. So I guess I was thinking some time with and some time without a guide would possibly serve the best of both worlds!!
I did do aquick search and it seems that to go between SR & LP we would have to go via BKK if we want to avoid a Loas airline but it does look like possibly tight connections?
Thank you I am beginning to get a feel for LP & excited that this may be an option.

J
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 04:26 AM
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Jules, I flew Laos Aviation and they are fine. Planes, service, etc all decent. I would suggest you consider them rather than back tracking. I love LP as well - it is a town to go to with no agenda and just experience. You may on day feel like kayaking to the Pak Ou Caves (we did). You may one day feel like renting cycles to explore the town. You may one day take a tuk tuk to the waterfall. And you may just feel like wandering the town's short main street savouring the feel and watching the monks asking for alms. So, just go with an open mind...

I too have been to SR twice. I went with a friend and loved it so much I had to take my husband. DEF go for the hot air balloon ride - the aerial view of Angkor Wat is fabulos. Great perpsective in that 10 min ride. Ask your guide to book it. Re with and without guide - we had a very non intrusive guide who e,g, did not climb up the second level of Angkor Wat with us. My husband I did that and spent an enchanted half hour there. We also went to Ta Phrom the jungle temple for sunrise and our guide left us alone and went back to the car while we watched light break over the beauty of the temple which is still so much covered in nature. So, is really a call you need to take. I think the guide enhanced our trip but understand why Kathie chose not to take one.
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 08:04 AM
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Jules, a couple of comments that may help with your planning. In SR, our driver helped us figure out when places would be less crowded. A guide could do that as well.

In LP, all we did was to book our flights and our hotel. We talked with a driver who drove us from the airport to our hotel and negotiated with him for one or two days of his time. He arranged our private boat for the Pak Ou caves. I tend to be someone who likes to make decisions as I go. In all of my travels, I've never booked a driver or guide ahead of time (though I inderstand why some people do.)

Bangkok Air has flown different routes over the last few years. For a while, it was possible to fly between SR and LP (but only one direction). Check their website carefully.

Personally, I'd return to Bangkok rather than to take Lao Aviation. While I know that Lao Aviation has made considerable upgrades to its planes in the last few years, their long-term safety record is not reassuring to me. It's been a couple of years since their last crash, but I tend to be very conservative about small airlines. (In the past they flew ancient Chinese and Russian planes. They still have some of those and fly them on their smaller routes. If you could check and see what kind of plane they fly between SR and LP, that would be helpful. Then you'd only have to be concerned about their pilot training and aircraft maintainence.)
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 08:04 AM
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PS I'm glad you enjoyed our photos.
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 10:46 AM
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my 17 year old daughter and Ijust (2 days ago) returned from REP, LPQ as well as BKK and Chiang Mai. We both adored Luang Prabang. Of course, being there with all of the new year merriment was fabulous. I would recomend it in a flash. We both wanted to stay longer although there is not a lot "to do" in a tourist sense of the world. We walked down to the Mekong at the main dock after breakfast, spoke to a boat driver, easily negotiated a deal (don't bargain too hard, it is a desperately poor country) and paid $18 for him and his wife to take us to the Pak Ou caves. 2 hours up and 1 hour back. Waved to children on the river banks, saw herd sof oxen on sand bars, etc. Had we more time, we would've used him to go to the waterfalls. Very easy and we enjoyed just being together, although you can arrange through your hotel to go on a boat with more people (and for more $$$). btw, Laos is the only country in which you can pay for things in mixed currencies (we used baht & dollars for the same transactions! I had a couple of hundred dollars in 5s and 1s. you'll get change in kip, but with 10,400 of them to a dollar you really don't want too many of them). We watched the monks process at dawn the first morning and then, the next bought rice so my daughter could offer alms the second morning. On our walks, we passed one wat and a monk was standing there with an english grammer booking his arms so we walked over and had a wonderful conversation with him. At another time, at another wat, we heard the monks chanting and walked to the steps of that wat and sat down and listened to them. Food is fabulous--french, lao and fusion..as well as cheap. Stayed at 3 nagas gh which wasn't but it was very convenient and they met us and returned us to the airport. We arranged all air travel via a travel agent in BKK on Bangkok's Discovery Pass. Every flight was on time (good food too for an airline)and when one flight was late and we thought we'd miss the next, an agent from the airline met us, ran with us to a waiting mercedes, drove us to the other terminal and we made our flight to Siem Reap. Moreover, so did our bags. From LP, we flew back to BKK then onto SIN No computerized baggage check in LP, so the tags were handwritten. Singaproe Airlines checked for us and sure enough, the bags were transferred for us. btw, spent 2 nights in REP, saw a lot of temples on a one day pass..I'd recommend doing what our guide did which is take us to Angkor for sunrise (as we requested) and then since it doesn't open for another hour or so, we drove to Banteay Srei which can't be missed and did not loose any time. On the reutrn, we stopped by various clusters of shacks and gave out pens, pencils & caryons that we brought from home. You've never seen such well behaved and grateful children. Even the tinest ones who could barely walk, wai-ed in thanks. Make sure you go out to Tonle Sap and go for a ride on the lack. We did not think it was poor, poverty stricken or as awful as some have made it out to be here. BUT, the shacks and people lining the dirt road for several meters to the dock were....and even more than I imagined and I'd thought I'd seen it all in India and So. America.
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 11:07 AM
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Thanks Janak for your trip report it is great. Can I ask how long you stayed in LP? Which order did you do the different places in. I see you did LP last but where did SR, CM & BKK fit in? Thanks again for all the info.
J
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Old Apr 19th, 2005, 03:52 PM
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In your planning take note that there are no direct flights from Siem Reap to Luang Prabang. You either take Bangkok Air to Bangkok and then to LP or laos Air to Vientiane and then on to LP. If you choose Laos Air (they are fine to fly with) then the capital is worth a 1 day visit if you have the time.
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Old Apr 20th, 2005, 07:06 PM
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you can fly from Chiang Mai to Siem Reap, but the flights are not every day. We did our trip all through Bangkok Airways Discovery Pass. Frankly, it became futile making reservations through Bangkok Airways one rep, Gavin, posted in New Delhi. He could get none of the flights I wanted and bookinghotels was contingent on which days we woere going to be where. And, a cashiers check has to be sent to the BKK Ariways CA office even tho there is one here in NYC where I live. Through an ex-pat friend, I found a BKK-based travel agent and she booked everything seamlessly, even with changes. We went BKK-Chiang Mai-BKK-Siem Reap (two flights on the same day)-Siem Reap to BKK overnight--on this site I read somewhere that sometimes flights are canceled so we took the 2nd to last flight out of Siem Reap in order to hedge our bets. We did this to catch the 1 flight/day to Luang Prabang @ 11 am (and this necessitated a night in BKK). From LP, we flew back to BKK and onto Singapore. (even tho there was no computerized check-in in LP and the baggage tags were hand written to go through to SIN, they made it!! Singapore Airlines staff called and confirmed this as well without our even asking. As an aside, on the leg between Chiang Mai and Siem Reap, the flight was late leaving for BKK and so the connection became veeeeery close. We explained our flight plans to the head flight attendent and when we got off the plane in BKK, a BKK Airways rep was waiting for us and whisked us right out the door of terminal 1, into a waiting air conditioned Mercedes and deposited us at just the right place in terminal 2 to make the connection. The staff at the counter were waiting for us and had our boarding passes ready to hand to us. And, guess what? Our bags were waiting for us in Siem Reap! All in all, Bangkok Airways is the most accomodating airline I've flown on. Even the meals were interesting and every leg offered something different. The fact that they held the Siem Reap plane for us,got our baggage transferred quickly and, on another leg, offered us marigold leis and sprinkled us with water when leaving LP---Lao lunar new year---all adds up to service rarely seen these days. We had no interest in Vietienne or Phnom Pehn, btw. We were in LP for only 48 hours and "saw" all there was to see, incl the caves. However, it is a lovely place just to be in & soak up and 2 more days would have been perfect for both me and my teenager. It is a small town that possess great intrinsic charm and by sitting in a sidewalk cafe, or on the steps of a wat or at one of the tables at the 'restaurants' on the banks of the Mekong,one can see life played out in real time. With an extra day, we would have gone to the waterfalls. I hear that the 2- 4 day trips on the Mekong are becoming the hip thing to do, so that may be anoption for you esp. as the time of year you are thinkingof going, the land will be green and lush, although it is now as the rivers are used for irrigation. what are your thoughts?
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Old Apr 20th, 2005, 08:00 PM
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Janak, you had a whirlwind tour of Luang Prabang in 48 hours, but you didn't see "all there was to see, incl the caves." In addition to the two waterfalls outside of town, the silk-weaving village, the Hmong villages, and other things close by but outside of town, there are literally dozens of wats to be seen in town, several markets (the central market, the Hmong market) the Palace Museum, the climb up Phousi, the trip across the river to the wats , etc, etc. I was there a week and didn't get to quite everything I wanted to. And even if I hadn't I wouldn't assume it was all there was to see. Ok, I'm probably just quibbling here, but I think it's all too easy for visitors to anywhere to assume they've seem everything when they have just scratched the surface. I'm glad you had such a great time there and enjoyed it so much.
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Old Apr 20th, 2005, 08:19 PM
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i also have to chime in to say that i had very good results when making my bkk air flight reservations directly with them over the phone, using the india site....they understood exactly what i wanted and sent me an e mail to that effect and i sent a money order to them in nyc...all very easy and perfect .... maybe your guy does not belong on the phone....have you sent them an e mail to tell them of your experiences....they are very customer friendly....
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