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Cambodia in July - How much help do we need?

Cambodia in July - How much help do we need?

May 27th, 2014, 02:12 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2010
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Cambodia in July - How much help do we need?

My wife and I are traveling to SE Asia in July and August and we've returned to this forum for some more help.
Here is our first question. We've booked our long haul flights open jaw NYC - BKK, SIN - BKK. We've also booked most of our short flights. We are now trying to get our long haul flight switched so we arrive in Siem Reap or Phnom Penh instead of Bangkok. We're hoping to skip Bangkok and avoid any problems due to the political changes. We weren't doing Bangkok or Thailand any justice with only three nights planned anyway and now we will have a pressing reason to return soon and spend some quality time in Thailand.
So now we hope to find ourselves with 3 extra nights in Cambodia. I think we will do 2 or 3 nights in Phnom Penh (probably 3 since we will be bouncing back from our long flight), travel by ferry or bus to Siem Reap and then spend 4 nights in Siem Reap. We already have a flight booked from Siem Reap to Yangon on July 16th.
Here are my questions:
1. How much help can we expect a good hotel to give us with our plans? Do we need to enlist a local travel agent when taking a trip outside of town or arranging a good driver or guide? I have been in email contact with several agents helping me with Myanmar and Vietnam and they have begun offering suggestions for Cambodia. I normally prefer to make my own arrangements, but love to have a knowledgable local person or agency for support when it enhances our experience or convenience greatly. We will probably find and book our own hotels so do we need them at all. We would like to explore the temples and villages, experience the Khmer people and culture, take a boat ride and cooking class, learn some history, see local art and artisans, check out the markets, relax by a pool, go for a bike ride, eat good local food. I'm thinking most of this can be handled on our own or with the hotel, but I don't want to always be directed to the hotel's "guys" who may or may not be genuine especially in regards to experiencing the villages.
2. Which Phnom Penh neighborhood to stay in? We don't know much about the city. I'm thinking near the Royal Palace and the water. If anyone has any hotels they love in the $30 - $60 range, post or message me privately please. Location near the things described above (especially nice food markets), helpful English speaking staff and a pool are the priorities.
3. Siem Reap hotel suggestions? Old Quarter or French Quarter a few blocks away from Pub Street the best area to look in? Same criteria as for Phnom Penh.

4. Myanmar, Hanoi, Bali and Singapore are our next stops. I will be posting several questions shortly about some of our decisions in these places. With these other destinations in mind, I think Cambodia is the best place to go for a more upscale hotel. Myanmar is more expensive and not as tourist ready. Hanoi - maybe, but we are going to be to busy exploring, eating and kayaking Halong Bay to be in the hotel much. Bali - maybe but busy time and more expensive I think. Singapore - much more expensive. Am I correct in thinking Cambodia will be the best value for a more upscale experience? It would be nice to be able to treat my wife with a nice hotel when we first arrive after our long flight.

Thank you for any help you can provide. I will post some questions about our other stops soon.
Sean
europe2011jc is offline  
May 27th, 2014, 03:14 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 32,836
You don't need an agent for Cambodia, though you might find that an agent can get you better hotel prices. So see what your Myanmar agents quote you and whether what they offer fits for you. In Siem Reap, you hotel can recommend a car and driver for you. Also, they'll be glad to recommend a guide if you'd like. I'd been reading about Angkor for decades, so we were glad to take our Dawn Rooney book and guide ourselves. In Siem Reap, my only guideline is to stay in town, rather than out of the road to the temples.

You can get nice accommodations in Siem Reap with A/C and pool for under $100 a night, especially in July. SO I don't know whether it makes sense for you to splurge in Cambodia or not.

Note that there is no private messaging here on Fodors, so people can only answer your questions by responding to this thread.
Kathie is offline  
May 27th, 2014, 09:31 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,378
I agree with Kathie that you do not need an agent in Cambodia. All the hotels, both large and small in PP and SR are very much geared up to help arrange tours, transport etc. The one proviso I would add is that the more expensive hotels may load the prices considerably. In PP we hired a Tuk Tuk driver to take us around the major sights - Tuol Sleng, the Killing Fields, Russian and Centra markets etc. For $15 per day. Nice if you can find a driver that speaks a little English great but not absolutely essential. Hotels can do this for you or you can find one yourself.

In SR you can also hire Tuk Tuk drivers for around $15 per day or a car with driver to viste Angkor and elsewhere for approx $25-30. Double this for a car driver and English speaking guide. I have done both and enjoyed the tuk tuk more but bear in mind it will be the rainy season so a taxi might be drier!

Lots of choice of hotels in your price range in both SR and PP. The hotels scene is changing constantly and you should be able to get some good deals as it is low season. I would tend use booking engines find hotels but usually book direct with the hotels if possible.

I hesitate to recommend specific hotels as things do change quite quickly but the Foreign Correspondents Club in PP was in a great location close to the river and the Palace and would just be within your price range ( great place for sundowners even if you don't stay).

In SR I too would stay in town but would find somewhere away from pub street. We stayed at. Peace of Angkor which was within walking distance ( 15 mins) of town
crellston is offline  
May 28th, 2014, 11:24 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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A note about going to PP to SR. You might want to look into flying if you will be there this July.
It used to be that you could drive (with a private car and driver) in about 5 hours. I think the bus was about 6 hours. But according to a friend who lives in SR, the road is all torn up right now due to construction along the entire route and the trip is currently about 8 hours.

As for the ferry, I've not heard good things about that trip in a very long time. Look for current reports.

I'm going back for my 4th trip this July and will be flying between PP and SR. Oddly enough, I'm also flying from SR to Yangon, but not on the same day. Did you select Air Asia for that trip? Agree that the hotels in Burma seem overpriced, though this is where we decided to splurge, instead of Cambodia.

On the low end of your budget in SR, check out the Seven Candles Guest House. Family owned, clean, well located out of the chaos but close enough to town, and associated with a wonderful NGO. Not "upscale" though, sorry. In PP, check out the Pavilion Hotel. It's a lovely oasis.
Kristina is offline  
May 28th, 2014, 11:47 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2014
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The road between PP and Battambang (BB) is in good condition.
So why not consider taking the bus from PP to BB. It's about the same distance as PP to SR.

BB has plenty of decent hotels, with the Seng Hout being an sound budget choice. Here's a review off Trip Advisor by Chris45ny who's got an excellent trip report on this forum...

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/ShowUse...ECK_RATES_CONT

The countryside around BB is National Geographic quality, and well worth hiring a tuk tuk for a couple of days to show you around. And there's also the novelty of the Bamboo Train...

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=ba...w=1024&bih=653

After a couple of nights in BB, it's only 3 hours by bus to SR.
LancasterLad is offline  
May 30th, 2014, 05:39 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2014
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I have just returned from two weeks in PP and Siem Reap. We stayed at The Little Garden in PP. Our room was a walk up on the third floor but included a balcony for $50 a night. Clean but minimal and included a full breakfast. The staff spoke passable English. In Siem Reap we stayed at Siddharta for $75 per night including a fantastic breakfast. I can not say enough good things about this boutique hotel. For the price it was an oasis. We had planned on staying there only three nights, but as soon as we arrived we added a fourth night. They arranged a private guide along with an air conditioned van for three days. Both hotels had a pool and air conditioned rooms. That is a must! It is incredibly hot! We flew to Siem Reap for $100 one way. We hired a driver to take us back to PP. A 7 hour, dusty, bumpy, boring ride for $90. I would opt for a round trip flight. We had a Tuk-tuk driver in PP who was at our beck and call any time of the day or night. If you are lucky enough to find a driver like we had that will make your stay in that city better. PP in intense. The restaurants we hit that were exceptional were Corn, Friends, Malis ( very nice), and the sister restaurants to Friends I think is called RenDang. Be prepared for the heat, take it slow, bring Imodium and Cipro, plan on a swim and rest every afternoon and enjoy!
hiker1 is offline  
Jun 2nd, 2014, 01:34 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
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We used a very nice driver when we were there. I got his recommendation off another website and was so glad we met him. He is a lovely young man, now with two young children. I assume he still has his air conditioned car.

He was very reasonable and also took us further away and help due make the best of ur time in Siem reap.

His name is VUTHY. Here is his email

[email protected] and [email protected]

Here is our trip report. Perhaps there is something here that can help you focus on your activities.

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...ang-and-pp.cfm
lincasanova is offline  
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