Guides, Hotels, and dining in Siem Reap

Aug 16th, 2010, 05:02 PM
  #1  
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Guides, Hotels, and dining in Siem Reap

I was in Siem Reap 11 years ago when the Royal d'Angkor was brand new, empty, and everyone was hoping the tourists would come. I am planning to return to Siem Reap in November and could use some guidance. The posts have been great and I wanted to get feedback from people in the know.

1. Local guides and drivers. We will be be in town for 3 nights (2.5 days). Prices are set for all guides/drivers so the question is quality'knowledge of guide, safety of driver, creativity in terms of planning an itinerary that doesn't stop at touristy spots where we most probably don't want to stop. We are looking at 1. ) Angkor Guide Services (Mony had one post on the forum and he was very responsive when I sent him an email 2) David Angkor Guide --David @sovanneath David 3) and Ponheary li and./or her nephew Dara (everyone raves about her on the forum and the feedback seems to be split on him.

I would appreciate any feedback you have on the guides. I have used local guides all over Asia for many years--some excellent (Vietnam, Indonesia) some not so excellent (Mr, Li in Beijing).

2. Would love restaurant recommendations for Siem Reap--Love great food from local to upscale. Great food and ambiance and great value is always appreciated.

3. Hotels-- looking at the Relais and Chateaux Heritage. Can anyone share with me the major differences between the bungalow rooms and the deluxe rooms. Also Relais and Chateaux's usually have great food--can anyone comment on the food, wine selections, prices, spa. Also open to other suggestions, packages we may not be aware of, etc.

Thanks so much--the input from this site is always incredibly helpful and much appreciated.

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randic is offline  
Aug 16th, 2010, 06:08 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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I'm sure there are at least a hundred excellent guides that would meet your needs. If you've started corresponding with one you like, I'd go with him. No matter who you choose, you ned to tell them what you want - places you especially want to go or don't want to go, and once he starts telling you about the temples give feedback on the level of detail you like.

I don't know what you mean by "touristy spots." I've never heard anyone complain of drivers/guides in Siem Reap taking them to shopping stops unless they request them. If you are talking about particular temples that get a lot of traffic - well, there is a reason they get a lot of traffic. Usually, a guide can choose a time when a temple will be less crowded, but a few are always crowded. I've never seen The Bayon when there weren't lots of people there, but I'd never suggest that someone skip it.

Do you have a copy of Dawn Rooney's book? Do some research ahead of time so you know particular places you want to go.

I don't know of anyone who has stayed at the Relais & Chateau Heritage, so please report back on your stay. I'd suspect they have very good food, but do check out a long thread on places to eat in Siem Reap by offwego.

And do you know about www.theplf.org Their work might interest you.
Kathie is offline  
Aug 16th, 2010, 09:44 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
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1. We self guided so can’t help you there. Take Dawn Rooney’s book and follow along.

With a combination of various guidebooks and Fodor’s and RL friends’ advice, we put together an itinerary of must-see and if-time-permits. We always leave some time for best-of return visits which was worthwhile because the temples are so overwhelming the first time. We had four whole days and could have used two more, so you need to be discriminatory.

I agree with what Kathie said about the lack of “touristy places.” The major temples like Angkor Wat and The Bayon can get very crowded at certain times of day, but you wouldn’t want to eliminate them. We stayed out during lunch/siesta time, but if you do this be sure to discuss it with your driver.

We did the sunrise and sunset events, but I don't know if I'd do it again.

We relied on tuktuks in Angkor park and in Siem Reap and only took a car when we traveled further out.

2. Our favorite restaurant was Abacus. We also very much liked Selantra, though another Fodor’s poster was disappointed. We found Sugar Palm good, but not great, and Amok downright awful. We liked the looks of Samot and Picasso, but time ran out.

We had lunch everyday in the Angor area at one of those big tourist restaurants. We chose Khmer Village but I imagine that they’re all the same. Good, cheap food.

3. We stayed at La Residence D’Angkor and really, really enjoyed it. I wasn’t aware of the Relais and Chateaux Heritage and look forward to hearing about your experience.
marmot is offline  
Aug 17th, 2010, 02:49 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: May 2004
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Of course go with Ponheary or Dara! (shameless plug)

I've made an update to the restaurant list:
http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...-siem-reap.cfm

Be sure to go to Toiuch while you're in town.

Regarding the Relais & Chateau Heritage. I've seen all the rooms including the hideous Presidential suite, and they are of course nice. And pricey. I'd do the bungalow if you want the most value for your dollar, unless you need the plunge pool. I'm pretty dure that's what the deluxe room has going for it. I will say that the common pool at night is pretty dramatic with the big, and I mean BIG torches. It's funny that a very expensive hotel is on a back street in a very local neighborhood. Walking out, there's nothing much to see; the dichotomy is pretty intense. You'll be going in a tuktuk everywhere, which isn't a bad thing, just be prepared.

The restaurant: the food there was so-so, the atmosphere is nice although a bit sterile, but wow the prices! You can eat MUCH better elsewhere (I'm thinking Abacus, Meric, Aha, the Nest) for less $ and actually have some fellow diners.

Enjoy your trip; you aren't going to recognize the place.
offwego is offline  
Aug 20th, 2010, 05:52 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 2
victoria angkor hotel is wonderful
janicelorraine is offline  
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