from BKK, Cambodia or Laos???

Old Mar 30th, 2008, 11:36 AM
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from BKK, Cambodia or Laos???

Hello all

we're finally going back to Thailand. In early May so expecting massive heat and much rain but hopefully it won't be unbearable. THinking of spending a good 4/5 days in BKK and then some time in Phuket (understand one or two hours rain a day... or should i be looking for other beach destination?

Anyhow, my question is: we'd like to sandwich in four or five days in either Laos or Cambodia (views on which is preferable/best not having been to either) and wonder if you can recommend a good tour agent in BKK with whom to book a minitour (eg LuangPrabang and Vientiane or Siem Reap and Phnom Phen) or should i forget that and simply book flights and hotel and go it alone?

Thanks to all
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Old Mar 30th, 2008, 12:19 PM
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The temples of Angkor Wat are truly wonders of the world. However, if you're not a ruins person, LP would be a better place.

You should book on your own. If you're going to Cambodia, use either Ponheary or her brother Dara, both are great. E-mail at [email protected]. She can book hotels.

If you're going to LP, you will not need a guide.

Going to either place, you will save money using a Discovery Pass from Bangkok Air. You can fly to Phuket on BKK Air, so you will qualify for the three legs necessary fopr the Discovery Pass. Call the 800 number from the US.
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Old Mar 30th, 2008, 01:36 PM
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Lao Airlines offers a phenomenally low-priced package out of BKK to Luang Prabang, which includes R/T airfare, 2-nights at the Villa Santi Resort, breakfast, fruit basket, tax, service charge and airport transfers for little more than you'd otherwise spend on lodging alone. But the Villa Santi Resort is reported to be quite a ways out of town (approx. 20-minute drive); so, in that respect, it may not be appealing.

That aside, my recommendation would be for Siem Reap and the temples at Angkor. The 3-day pass to see the temples is just about right, and the experience is well worth it. It's an opportunity of a lifetime that, if you decide against it, you may end up wanting to return again someday to see. Many people say that, in another 5 years, the temples will be ruined by commercialism. My vote is definitely that you see Angkor Wat now -- while it is still fairly unspoiled.
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Old Mar 30th, 2008, 01:57 PM
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Thanks LadyHawke and GPanda

and I like the idea of the bangkok air pass...

are ponheary/dara in Siem Reap or in Bangkok? would they also go to Phnom Phen? Indeed is it worth going to Phnom Phen.

Also is there anyhthing else to do in Siem Reap other than the temples?

Thanks again for the help
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Old Mar 30th, 2008, 01:59 PM
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gpanda failed to point out that penheavy is a tour guide, who also owns a guest house, but she has fantastic rates for many of the SR hotels...

SR is for ruins.....luang prabang is more for rest....if you decide on LP many of us have hotel favorites there...

did you see that we are having a fodors GTG in bkk on may 3...you are welcome to attend:: [email protected]
for info

it will be hot but bearable
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Old Mar 30th, 2008, 02:05 PM
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Thanks RHKKMK

i take it from all your messages that in Cambodia you suggest going to Siem Reap but not necessarily to Phonm Phen

Does Ponheary get better prices in hotels than, say, asiarooms?
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Old Mar 30th, 2008, 09:35 PM
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Phnom Penh is well worth a vist for a day or two to see the main sights and a visit to the Tuol Sleng Museum and perhaps the killing fields. You will find it a lot less touristy than Siem Reap.

Using the Bangkok Air Pass you could fly here from Bangkok, spend 2 days and the take either a bus or taxi for the 5 hr ride to SR over a good road. You could fly but going by road you see some of the country. Don't even consider the overpriced boat.

From SR you can fly to Phuket with a change of planes in Bangkok but it only counts as a single flight with the pass. Then use your 3rd coupong for the flight back to bangkok.

You don't need a guide in PP but a car/driver is the best way to get around. If you like your taxi driver from the airport then arrange with him to drive you around.

In siem reap a guide/driver is the way to go. There are many good guides in SR other than the ones mentioned. If you need recommendations I will be glad to help.

Asia rooms are hard to beat but it depends on what type of accommodation you want, budget, mid-range or lux. May is off season so booking directly with the hotel may get you just as good a rate or better.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 12:37 AM
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Thank you Scotters. The route you mention is probably what we will do. Except can't find how to get hold of the BangkokAir PAss from Belgium but will keep looking.

Surprised that boat option is a no no as had read about that (in no detail though) and thought it sounded nice. Should we arrange a taxi from PP to Siem Reap once we're in PP or should ask the guide in Siem Reap to pick us up in PP??

Also if you do have any suggested car/driver in PP much welcome.

Views on either Hotel de la Paix or the Grand Angkor (Raffles) in SR??

Thanks again
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 01:26 AM
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Both hotels are nice in a very different way. HDLP is modern, Bensley designed, hip hotel. No real grounds but an interesting pool, a cool restaurant with swing tables you can try, and a great location near the old market area.

Raffles is about 15 minutes walk to the old market, has a bigger layout, classic/colonial decor.

Just near Raffles is the Victoria, which we had a very nice stay at. Rooms were nice enough, pool was excellent, bar was excellent for hanging out at the end of the day, spa was good, location was good. Price was less than HDLP and Raffles.

We spent 6 full days in Siem Reap with Ponheary for 5 days and Dara for 1 day...and actually the whole family for one day....lovely people, great guides. 6 days was not enough for us. Ponheary might be able to arrange a car to get you to Siem Reap from PP if you wanted the comfort of prearranging, but it's no problem to either take the bus (Mekong Express) or a taxi.

You might look at www.canbypublications.com and www.talesofasia.com.
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 02:47 AM
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Excellent Kim,
thanks for the adivce. Sounds like i really should be writing that email to Ponheary fast!!

Can't get hold of a BKK-air discovery pass from here but still working on that.

Have my international flights (austrian via vienna) delivered and am about to finish booking a hotel in BKK so guess by the end of this week i'll have most things sorted out!
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 03:06 AM
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Call Bangkok Air directly...they have contact offices in many countries, even Japan! You can book it right on the phone, and pay by card or cashier's check (at least with the US and Japan offices).
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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 03:11 AM
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have just emailed their office in Germany and will phone them later if they don't react

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Old Mar 31st, 2008, 11:21 AM
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So I finally spoke to the Bangkok air office in Paris

the flight coupons for the Air Pass are now priced at $100 per person for the international legs and $60 per person for the domestic legs. So $520 for the two of us. That is not including tax and service charges. Turns out once the taxes and service charges were added the total came up to €510 .... don't know what exchange rate they're using nor how high the taxes are. And the BKK=PP flight on the 5th was full....

So i gave up and separately bought BKK-PP with Air Asia (on the 5th!), then SR-Phuket with BKK air and finally Phuket-BKK with Air Asia again. The total came out at €540 so untimately only €15 each more than the discovery pass AND we get the dates we wanted...

So now full steam onto the hotels

Have written to Ponheary and await reply. Am looking at Pavillon in PP.

Thanks again to all for replies.
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Old Apr 1st, 2008, 03:20 AM
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hi again,
still waiting for Ponheary to reply but guess they must be busy with clients so i'll give it a few days.

In the meanhwile was looking up a driver for one day in Phnom Penh and have found several all charging the exact same fare of $25 for a day. But can anyone recommend an especially good/friendly driver there?

thanks
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Old Apr 1st, 2008, 01:58 PM
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have the flights and have the hotels - FCC in Siem Reap and the yet to be opened Quay Hotel in Phnom Penh (also operated by the FCC chain) which is giving excellent opening rates (fingers crossed! )

Can't wait to go there...

Still no news from Ponheary but i wait patiently..


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Old Apr 1st, 2008, 08:01 PM
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i would e mail her again
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Old Apr 2nd, 2008, 06:00 AM
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Hello again. Just got a message back from Ponheary. Both her and her brother Dara are busy the dates we're going. She offers to provide someone else (charging 60 USD per day car/guide/drvier). Unsure whether to take her up on offer or check first if any other recommended guides are available. Can anyone recommend another guide?

thanks
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Old Apr 2nd, 2008, 06:52 AM
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look at AskOsbana's thread....she had someone recently that she really liked as a guide
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Old Apr 2nd, 2008, 06:58 AM
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here is his contact info:

[email protected]
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Old Apr 2nd, 2008, 07:06 AM
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Here are several good ones that people have been very happy with.

Veasna (pronounced Vesnu) - Charning guide. He can be contacted at [email protected] or
[email protected]

John Teng is excellent,. His web site is http://www.angkorservice.com/

Kim Rieng at [email protected]

Sokun Men - [email protected]

Saron Soeun can be reached at [email protected] and he has a good website at www.sarontours.com
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