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Feedback on Siem Reap hotels & area info

Feedback on Siem Reap hotels & area info

Mar 13th, 2005, 05:52 AM
  #1  
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Feedback on Siem Reap hotels & area info

Hello all!

I just returned from a trip to Asia that took me to the temples of Angkor in Cambodia among other places.

I started to "seriously" travel to Asia about a year ago and became an unconditional of the fodors website's travel talk after stumbling upon it on the world wide web. I began to base my logistics and trip itineraries on the fodorites' knowledgeable and detailed postings and thought that, this time round, I should exchange some of the good info that I've received from so many of you over the past few months!

Back to Siem Reap... I had decided to stay in downtown Siem Reap, and to avoid the hotels lining the road leading to the airport. Those of you who like modern design and architecture will be delighted by the Foreign Correspondents Club (FCC in short) which is a set of cream-coloured buildings, real architecture showcase, with a pool encased in a small garden. I had booked a pool-facing room for $140 per night (breakfast included). The room was large, quiet and separated from the bathroom by a sliding wooden door. Note: the TV was a smallish computer screen linked to a satellite box. Breakfast was copious and and can be taken ( as can the other meals) in the restaurant side of the hotel, either on the street level patio (facing the street and Siem Reap river) or up on the verandah. I enjoyed my stay at the FCC, although I found the welcome and setting to be a bit impersonal. The front desk staff's laborious English made it a little tough to obtain information at times, which I thought was unusual for an international hotel of that standard.
Out of curiosity, I walked over to the Shinta Mani hotel - which had been mentioned in some postings- to check it out and made my way across the street from the Shinta Mani to visit a brand-new looking hotel, the "Day Inn Angkor Resort" (www.dayinnangkor.com). I must say that I was rather impressed with the latter hotel where I was shown a $90 a night (breakfast included), pool-facing room -- tasteful decoration, spacious without being huge and neat bathroom. The pool at the Day Inn was also larger and more appealing than the one at the FCC, set within a largish central landscaped garden full of bushes and flowers.

We hired the services of a friendly driver in order to visit some chosen temples in the Angkor complex, and also asked to see some of the surrounding countryside and villages around Siem Reap. We had little time left before flying back to Bangkok, so our driver suggested a visit to the lake of Tonle Sap which is located a good half hour's drive from Siem Reap. The drive to the lake was an excursion in itself, as you go through poverty-stricken fishing villages where kids in rags play on rubbish-littered roads. If you are one of those people that likes to experience the human aspect (taking the good and bad) of the countries you visit, then the floating village in northern Tonle Sap is another eye opener. Hundreds of boat people, refugees and poor fishermen live at the rythm of the dry and wet seasons, on the filthy - yet teeming with fish - waters of the lake. A 2-hr boat tour ($10 per person) takes you around the floating village complete with catholic church, stores and private "houses". The boat driver is paid around $0.50 per hour, the rest of the money you pay ending up in the pockets of the boat owner and of the local police, so he really appreciated the tip we left for him... I had read that Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world and I sure got confirmation of that during my short trip there... Beautiful land trying to emerge from its poverty and the legacy of a terrible democide! I will no doubt return to Cambodia for another longer visit and am looking forward to reading other fodorites' experiences and travel accounts in that country!

All the best to you, fellow world travellers!
azucena is offline  
Mar 13th, 2005, 07:21 AM
  #2  
 
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thanks for the report....while many of the people are in poverty by western standards i do think that generally they seem very happy with their lot...it is what they know after all...our standards are not theirs...
rhkkmk is online now  
Mar 13th, 2005, 08:02 AM
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Rhkkmk: Indeed our standards are different and those people I saw at Tonle Sap live in acceptance of their fate - the kids were merrily waving "hello" as we went past their floating homes... but the parents's reaction was -understandably- more "mixed" let us say. I am still new to Asia and found it difficult to qualify this visit to the boat people village. I have experienced poverty in Africa, stayed with poor people and lived with them for a while, but never quite experienced what I felt in Cambodia. Tough to explain!

I have inspired myself from many of your postings on the Asia board - so thank you for the info you -indirectly- gave me in preparation for my past trips!

You seem to know Asia fairly well. What's your favourite place there?
azucena is offline  
Mar 13th, 2005, 10:00 AM
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I saw you checked out Shinta Mani, what did you think? I have reservations there for September. Thanks.
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Mar 13th, 2005, 10:25 AM
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i like them all, except korea....thailand has to rate number one as we prepare for our 6th or 7th trip in 11 years....

i did not find the cambodia poverty to be as bad as i have seen in other places and we spent one whole afternoon on back roads around SR....
even the "begger kids" and those selling stuff are not an annoyance to me but rahter a joy....they are fun and innocent in many ways...
rhkkmk is online now  
Mar 13th, 2005, 11:02 AM
  #6  
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lbrown7: I asked to see a room at the Shinta Mani. We were shown upstairs in a garden facing room. Although the room was large and seemed comfortable, I thought that the bathroom was tiny and didn't look that well maintained at all - or clean for that matter. Obviously I don't know if the bathrooms are in the same state in all rooms. As for the pool area downstairs, it is screened from the street, but really small. My general impression of the place wasn't all that positive. By contrast, the Day Inn, just across the street, where I also saw a room, seemed much better all around. Hope that helps.

rhkkmk: I am due back in Thailand at the end of April and have planned to fly up to Chiang Mai for a first visit there. I have heard so many great things about the place that I really look forward to seeing it! Which, in your opinion, are the must-sees/ dos there?
I too have been impressed with Thailand in the few days that I was there. The amazing variety of Bangkok's Chinatown markets, its magnificent wats and palaces, the friendliness of the people and the amazing food!
About Cambodia: I too was taken in by the joyfulness and ragged beauty of the little kids that I saw. These people's truly positive attitude is a great lesson to me...
azucena is offline  
Mar 13th, 2005, 11:37 AM
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Without vering off topic too much I have visited countless places over the years living in Thailand including visits to extended family. My wife's great uncle and their extended family live down the coast towards Trat in Thailand. He goes out fishing only about one a week leaving it to the younger generation. Thre's about 15 people in the family.
They now have elctricity to the house and they have water delivered. We bought then a refrigerator a while back. The only thing they keep in it is Soda and Cola ! Food is bought from the nearby market everyday. Everyone is relaxed, carefree, smiling, at night sitting close to the boats near their wooden house drinking a Singha Beer(me) while the other guys drink Thai Whisky, listening to Thai modern music on an old cassette player, or watching some Thai classic drama on a TV with the wire going 10 metres back to the electricty pole, eating amazing seafood by parafin lamp, the whole family helping out. Dogs and cats, No one cares about anything that does not directly effect their own lives. They have great food, there is schooling, susidised medical care. It is not that they accecpt their 'lot' they are totally happy with it. Would they swop this for an apartment in Bangkok? Not on your life would they!

Poor? These people are amongst the 'richest' when it comes to wealth and satisfaction from life and I have nothing but admiration for people who can be happy with so little, it makes anything else so valuable. If you can find the utmost happiness from life because you caught more fish today then yesterday, then you can easily reach the 'peak' of pleasure from life.
JamesA is offline  
Mar 13th, 2005, 12:32 PM
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JamesA: Rich and wise indeed are those who are content with however much or little they have. I have felt the same sense of admiration you describe during my previous travels to Africa and Asia, and was moved each time by the spirit of mutual help that prevails there but has mostly been lost in the West.
azucena is offline  
Mar 13th, 2005, 01:20 PM
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Absolutely. My English seems to get worse by the day in explaining things but that was the jist of what I was trying to say. I am not saying forsake those things which bring benefit but the greatest times I have spent in Thailand have been in small towns and even villages, and the most poignant have been get togethers with local people at an evening local fair, the loud and often out of tune singing of locals up on the stage, families all out together, the smiles and laughter, it brings a lump to my throat on many occassions to experience the sheer joy and pleasure from simple pastimes. An old piece of wood with a hook fishing in a bowl to win a small bar of soap, .....pure magic!
I am never one for saying how people should spend their hard earned vacation, whatever someone does with their hard earned bucks is entirely their choice and their business. I do however strongly urge people to really get away from the sheep track even just spending a few nights in a Thai local town (you can always find nice a/c hotels no problem ) and seriously venture to the local market, relax, go to a local fair.
In small towns they still bring around a small truck on a Saturday night, set up the wores to an old projector, rig up a screen. Everyone brings a platic stool or floor mats and settles down to watch an old movie ( lines on the screen, crackle from the speakers ), local vendors sell Soda and fruit shakes, fried bananas, and you sit with family or friends ( cold beer of course ) and watch some tatty old movie...again...another pice of sheer magic.
(5 a.m...time for some shut eye )
JamesA is offline  
Mar 13th, 2005, 07:03 PM
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firstly i have to tell you i do not like chiang mai, but i am perhaps a majority of 1.....

i have been there twice or 3 times but just can't connect to it....

the shopping is good, but not as good as bkk, imo...along the craft road there are interesting workshops, but they are very commercialized....worth doing...

doi sutup (sp) wat is very lovely and amongst the best things i did there....we took a boring trip out to the national park which took all of one day and we saw lots of trees, a waterfall, some workers in the fields and two wats to the royal family....

the elephant camp is worth a visit...we did the one near to the orchid farm...

the hilltribes above doi sutup are not worth the time in my opinion---too commericalized as well....the kings palace was not that great either....

others rave about CM but not me...hope others give you options...
rhkkmk is online now  
Mar 14th, 2005, 03:56 AM
  #11  
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Rhkkmk: Thank you for your feedback on Chiang Mai! I guess a lot of subjective elements go into our likes or dislikes of a place - this lack of connection you refer to I feel towards Singapore each time I go there... I am indifferent to the place. I guess I'll just have to experience Chiang Mai myself and see... I have never been close to an elephant in its natural environment and am really looking forward to making it to an elephant camp! Thanks again.
azucena is offline  
Mar 14th, 2005, 04:31 AM
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If you want to trek with Elephants you can do that in many places, River Kwai?Kanchanaburi is just a couple of hours by cab from Bangkok, you can trek, elephant ride, river raft, river kayak, great part of Thailand and cheap and easy to get to. Nakon Pathom also not far from Bangkok has lots of temples.
JamesA is offline  
Mar 14th, 2005, 04:33 AM
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That should have been River Kwai/Kanchanaburi.
Mae Hong Son is really a place to get into the remoter parts of Northern Thailand, remember, Chiang Mai is the country's 2nd biggest city.
JamesA is offline  
Mar 14th, 2005, 07:59 AM
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Perhaps you can help me to decide if Chiang Mai really is for me...
So far, I have only ever spent time in Bangkok - I was with someone who was on business there and we simply didn't have the chance to make it outside the city. I do like to look around the capital city of the country I'm visiting, but start to overdose on the urban landscape after 4-5 days. I do prefer spending time in the countryside/ outside the city. I simply love nature (flora and fauna) and a slower, more simple life. I love mixing with people in the type of gathering you described in an earlier message. But that's often a limited possibility when you are facing a complete language barrier... I made some friends in Africa and was able to simply "hang out" with them in the evenings, sip strong mint tea, chat, watch the world go by, the air smelling of roasting meats and of the fragrance of flowers... This, for me, is bliss.
Now... I am new to Thailand and I realise that the country is vast and its landscapes varied. For my second trip there, I'd like to see more of nature than I did during my first trip. Visit an orchid farm for instance, take an elephant ride for the first time of my life, meet some villagers and see how they live.
I get a bit bored of the commercial traps (what i guess you call the "sheep track") us tourists can fall into everywhere we go. I don't travel in order to shop, but to see and feel... I'm not scared of leaving my comfort zone and rather welcome the chance of doing so...
So what do you think? Will Chiang Mai be for me?
azucena is offline  
Mar 14th, 2005, 09:49 AM
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You are absolutely right, language would be a problem, you can get somewhat of a balance but considoring the language issue it's perhaps realistic to be in an enviroment where as close to natural as it is things are still arranged. Just to give you some ideas of what is available here are some links to photos of some real nice places which probably are close to what you are after:

Lampang River Lodge: About $40 twin (http://www.r24.org/beachsiam.com/tha...odge/pictures/)

Mae Hong Som Fern: $30-50
(www.r24.org/beachsiam.com/thai/fern/pictures/)

JamesA is offline  
Mar 15th, 2005, 12:50 AM
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Thanks for these, will check them out...
azucena is offline  
Mar 15th, 2005, 03:32 AM
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azceuna: have res at FCC Cambodia in 3 weeks at $120 incl airport transfer. have not paid. am wondering if you would recommend Day's Inn over FCC? I am with my 17 year old daugher who will have been working for 3 months in Thailand before we meet in early April. Woukd like a clean nice pool, no bugs. Also, what would you suggest we do our first nignt in REP as we are arriving at abt. 8 pm and want to walk around town and eat "local" without guide in tow or hotel restaurant. (have guide for next 2 days and do plan to take boat on Tonle Sap.) thanks Jan (PS; would like tohear abt. other "finds" from your stay in REP. thanks again.
Janak626 is offline  
Mar 15th, 2005, 04:43 AM
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Azucena, I fully understand your reaction to Tonle Sap. Seeing children wading in the lake which was a literal cesspool was difficult. The children who "grow up" must be hardy. I still wonder about what they use for drinking water. I saw people carrying drinking water plastic jugs in their boats, but I also saw dishes being washed in the lake water. Clean water was a most valuable resource. Since many of the boat people go back and forth to VN, I doubt that this area will be a priority to the Cambodian government. We, too, tipped the boat man and his young helper, gave all our pens, pencils, and some money to the school teacher (we were there during a schoolday recess. But, these were the poorest people we have ever seen including trips to Peru and Ecqudor. Aside from the fish in the lake, these people had few resources, tho many must work on the mainland.
Elainee is offline  
Mar 15th, 2005, 05:37 AM
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Elainee & others: I have a cache of new school supplies ( small, solar-powered calculators, crayons, pencils,other chilren's art supples, bandaids) to bring to Siem Reap. Of course I want them to fall into the "right" hands. ANy suggestions? Is there a school we might pass going through the floating village? How much did you tip boat driver/captain and his helper? What about tipping in non-hotel restaurants? Are there other palces for weavings & Pottery besides the artisans' school outside of Siem Reap? I don't want to offer too much, but my friends have been generous in donating some supplies for us to bring. thanks Jan
Janak626 is offline  
Mar 15th, 2005, 05:46 AM
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re: Shinta Mari: I had followed the postings here when I was planning our trip initially ( a few months ago). It was of interest as its "politically" correct in teaching young people the hospitality trade and turning over a portion of its profits to its hospitality school. However, the feedback here (look back to Dec and before) was about non-functioning showers, un-clean bathrooms, etc. Seems from this round of postings that these concerns continue. At $85 - $120 you decide. Too bad as it sounds lovely, a wonderful way to "pay it forward" and I think I read that a major US mag rated the restaurant as tops. Other postings here said that the restaurant was empty. If you do book, check out other hotel sites as they are much cheaper than the SM web site. good luck.
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