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Do I need a tour guide? Suggested itineraries for Angkor Wat

Do I need a tour guide? Suggested itineraries for Angkor Wat

Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 07:49 AM
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Do I need a tour guide? Suggested itineraries for Angkor Wat

Hi there - I am booking a trip to Cambodia for July 27-July 31. I am looking for help on what kind of tours to book?

Do I need an English tour guide for all of it in addition to a tuk tuk driver?

Any recommendations and advice would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks
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Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 08:57 AM
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There is no one-size fits all answer to this. Whether you want (not need) a guide depends on how much preparation you have done for vsiting the temples and the level of detail you want. You will need a driver and a vehicle, though a tuk-tuk would not be my choice. Unless you are acclimated to the heat, that may be a tough, hot, dusty way to travel.

Some people opt to get a guide for part of the time they are at Angkor, some for all of the time, some for none of the time.

My one recommendation - don't book a tour.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 09:02 AM
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You might prefer an a/c vehicle to a tuk tuk...

If you enjoy using a guidebook such as Dawn Rooney's, you may not need or want a guide. The guide we had kind of went overboard on the detail.

If you do use a guide, it might pay to brush up on the various gods in the Hindu religion - you will hear all about them at length as your guide describes the stories portrayed in the reliefs.

It seems that most on this forum do use a guide at Angkor but its really your call.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 09:23 AM
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personally i feel the guide and a/c car are essential.... the place is so big, there is so much to see, the sites are so spread out and you have such little time, i find that the guide, while the running commentary can be annoying, is the only way to go....
they allow you the lux of breezing through the many sites in your limited alloted time and seeing what many consider to be the major attractions... they guide you directly to the imprtant sites, usher you into and out of the sites in the most efficient manner... choose which site to visit when it is least busy, etc. etc...

the a/c car is just essential unless you are used to hell on earth---heat, heat and heat and huge humidity...

i also prefer to visit a site without having to reread a guide book while doing so....in other words full frontal entertainment with eyes wide open to the sites at hand...
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Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 09:24 AM
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is dawn rooney available for private tours?
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Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 01:01 PM
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I would recomment NOT to use a tuk-tuk for Angkor Wat. It is hot and dusty. You will want a car with A/C (and decent shocks.)

A tour guide is best, but at least get a taxi if you want to do it yourself.
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Old Jun 22nd, 2010, 07:28 PM
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May I jump in and also highly recommend the a/c car and guide? I have 2 good guide books and still found that the personal attention from our human guide book was far better. Try figuring out from a book which one of the 20 alcoves is the one where you pound your chest and the whole tower reverberates! You will be clambering over rocks and climbing steep steps and the extra hands will be invaluable for carrying your stuff as well. If you find the informative patter annoying, just tell him you want to listen to the peace and quiet and need to be alone for a few minutes while you wander around. The cost is negligible and it's better to have the guide around, than to get lost in a temple and wish you had him! Plus, of course, he will gladly take your photo and retrieve the stuff you forgot in the car
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Old Jun 23rd, 2010, 12:24 AM
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Oh, and your hotel can easily book both ac car and driver for you. Last I heard there are over 2,000 freelance but registered and official guides in Siem Reap.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2010, 02:17 AM
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I'd say it depends on how much preparation and self teaching you're interested in doing in advance. To make our itinerary, we studied the Dawn Rooney book, consulted friends, liaised with our driver. We planned on 2 or 3 sites a day times the number of days, made a list of our top choices and allowed time to re-visit our "best of."

We hauled along Dawn Rooney everywhere and read and looked and looked and read. Sometimes we sidled up to listen to someone else's guides, but the information always seemed extraneous. Maybe we missed some of the finer points, but I think we gained on serenity and control.

We used tuktuks exclusively at Angkor. The only time we had a car with aircon was when we went to one of the more distant sites. Personally, I loved the tuktuk experience. It was breezy and scenic and the drivers are so charming.

Well, there are obviously different outlooks here and the good news is that everyone seems to have enjoyed Angkor, with or without guide, by tuktuk or car. You're there several days; you can try a little of each.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2010, 04:07 AM
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We have used a guide plus driver on our first visit for three days. It was good at first but by the end of our stay I really had had enough of the in depth commentary on each site we visited. If you are deeply into history and antiquity then fair enough but I would have appreciated a little more time just to absorb the atmosphere of the place.

The second time we visited we hired a tuk tuk driver who spoke just about passable English for $14 per day and he was really excellent and took us to a number of lesser known places we would otherwise not have found. He was also adept at taking us to sites at times when they were not overun with other visitors. He was more than happy to be at our beck and call all day and drove us anywhere we wanted included Tonle Sap etc. We also ate with him at some local places off the beaten track which was an interesting experience.

Whichever way you go it does of course, hugely depend upon the guide or drive you get on the day.
rhkkmk makes a very valid point the advantages of a/c. It does get very hot around the temples. Personally, I prefer the breeze in a tuk tuk and I do believe being in the open provides a better feel for the place but if the heat bothers you go for a car.
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Old Jun 29th, 2010, 02:06 PM
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I guess the only thing I don't really understand is why, when people are confronted with a private guide who talks too much, they don't just hold one finger gently to the mouth and say, very gently <i>'Sh-h-h-h-h...'</i>

The trick is not to explain, not to apologise, just say 'Shhhhhhh...' with a twinkle in your eye and a smile. Then, when they shut up, a calm 'thank you' works wonders.

Actually, the issue is mostly not the guide, who is only doing what you hired him to do, rather <i>too</i> well - but our fear of confrontation and a warped sense of good manners. Western concepts do not apply. Change channels.

Try it.
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Old Jun 30th, 2010, 12:45 AM
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Thanks for the advice dogster. Believe me I am not reticent in telling people too say 'Shhhhhhh...' to anyone, apart of course to my wife, who actually enjoyed the in depth historical analysis by our guide!
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Old Jun 30th, 2010, 09:27 AM
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I'm guessing then that based on the replies here, I should ran fast and far away from touring by bike...? Has anyone done that?
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 05:51 PM
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I won't comment on biking (no chance my mom, sister, and I were touring by bike), but I have to agree with the posts in favor of a guide and a car with A/C. The car was an oasis after sweating out in the ruins, and I think we would have turned in much sooner each day without the cool breaks. We had plenty of tuk tuk rides going to the markets and dinner. And maybe we just lucked out because he was assigned by our hotel, but our guide, David, was just right--plenty of detail for me but no overload. I would have felt like I was missing something if I hadn't had the historical background, and I don't think a book would have done it (though my mom had her dog-eared Dawn Rooney handy at all times). We also appreciated David's humor along the way when we needed a little levity from too much family time. His tour was a huge part of what I'll remember from the trip, so I can't imagine going without a guide. In case you're still trying to find a guide, here's his contact info[email protected] or www.davidangkorguide.blogspot.com. Whoever you have, you should feel comfortable telling your guide your priorities, and I'm sure they'll work around them. It was an amazing trip--I'd go back for another trip in a heartbeat. Enjoy!
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 05:54 PM
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boston---no feed back??
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Old Jul 6th, 2010, 06:07 PM
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Oops--above I meant to write [email protected]. The confused face emoticon was the result of a typo. (I would have made it a smiley face if I was doing it on purpose!)
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 07:36 PM
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thanks for all the responses. i think we are going to do a guide for at least 2 of the 3 days. just debating on whether to use a tuk tuk for one of the days for the closer temples. we are visiting the last week in july. it may just be too hot for that.
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 07:41 PM
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the advantage of a car is the a/c which allows you to cool down slightly after each temple visit....its also a place to keep chilled water which you will need....it will be the best money you have spent....

if you are in boston, remember the last week and how uncomfortable it has been....well in july in SR it will be far worse... were you out and about on a mortoized bicycle last week and also climbing over rocks and up steep staircases....i doubt it!!
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Old Jul 14th, 2010, 07:41 PM
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Get the A/C car. Only ten more dollars a day. and you can enjoy tuk tuk rides around town in the evening if you want to joyride!
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Old Jul 17th, 2010, 07:31 PM
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We flew from BKK to Cambodia (2 people) stayed in the 5* hotel in Siam Reap for 5 days and had a driver and guide pick us up twice a day for tours. We got the tour at one of the major hotels in Bangkok. We booked it a couple of days before going. It cost $800 for all of this including the round trip ticket back to Thailand. The driver and guide picked us up in the am and pm after breakfast and lunch. At noon we went back to the hotel, ate, showered and bought another t shirt. The hotel charged $5 to wash the T-shirts and they wer $2-$3 on the street. We came back with 13 t -shirts.
It was so hot that the guide suggested that we hire some kids to fan us. At the end of every corridor at Ankor Wat we gave each a piece of paper Cambodian currency. The guide said they wanted paper, not coin. The stack of currency cost $20. We had plenty left and ending up trying to give the rest away to kids. They were so excited that we tossed it in the air so we could get away while they picked it up.
Great trip, saw all of the major monuments plus the lake Tonle Sap.
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