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I need some advice from those of you who have been to Cambodia =)

I need some advice from those of you who have been to Cambodia =)

Oct 30th, 2007, 06:18 PM
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I need some advice from those of you who have been to Cambodia =)

My sister and I will be traveling to Cambodia, leaving America on the December 10th, and we need to get back before Christmas. So we are thinking that we will have about 9 or 10 days in Cambodia.

We are going to be helping out at an orphanage in Phnom Penh for the vast majority of the trip, but I would also like to see Angkor Wat in Siem Reap as well. How much time should we budget to make a trip from Phnom Pehn out to Angkor Wat and back? Should that be an overnight trip?

We just need to be able to tell the people at the orphanage how many days we can give them. Also, if we want to load up on souveneirs before we come home, where should we go? I've heard the Russian market is good?

Thanks so much Fodorites! You guys are my favorite
TylerTraveler is offline  
Oct 30th, 2007, 06:20 PM
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Also, what is the cheapest way to fly to Cambodia? Is it into Phnom Penh from Portland?

Thanks again!
TylerTraveler is offline  
Oct 30th, 2007, 06:41 PM
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It really depends on how interested you are in visiting Angkor and learning about the temples. I actually went there without stopping in Phnom Penh - and went through Vietnam. I spent 4 - 5 days there and it was the perfect amount of time for me to see the main temple including the sunrise over angkor (standard tourist task), other temples at father away sites and a trip to the waterfall, surrounding areas - without rushing.

If you wanted to maybe you could do it in 2 days but it seems strange to go all the way there and not spend at least a few days there. I have heard stories of people being "templed out" but it seems like that really applies most to the dis/uninterested.

dailln4n4 is offline  
Oct 30th, 2007, 06:53 PM
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After you get to Phnom Penh check out the boat ride to Siem Reap. Several years ago I took the ferry up to Siem Reap, there were several stops to let off people and supplies.

You pass through a large lake with some of the biggest catfish in the world - about the size of sharks! You may see some of them on the way there. (Over fishing is expected to make them extinct maybe in the next twenty years if nothing is done!)

The ride would probably take not much more time than over the road. You could go by road on the way back for a change.

December is one of the expensive months to fly to that part of the world, especially close to Christmas.

You can possibly save a little by checking the price from Portland to Bangkok or Hong Kong and from there to Phnom Penh. I was in Thailand and flew round trip back to Bangkok. You can check on some of the Asian carriers like China Airlines, Korean Airlines, Asiana and Cathay for any special prices.

Oh yeah, avoid leaving on Fridays, weekends or holidays because those days are usually higher than the rest of the week.

Good luck.
SirHalberd is offline  
Oct 30th, 2007, 07:11 PM
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Three days is the amount of time it takes to see the major temples at Angkor. I spent a week, didn't see all of the accessible ones.

From Portland (Oregon, not Maine, I assume) the least expensive flights to Asia are into Bangkok. Form there you can take a budget airline, Air Asia from Bangkok to PP.
Kathie is online now  
Oct 30th, 2007, 07:36 PM
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It would depend how many days you can take off from helping at tht orphanage. I would suggest a minimum of 2 days but 3 would be better. Since you might be on a tight schedule you could fly with Siem Reap Airlines. They have an early morning flight that would give you a good part of that day and you can fly back in the afternoon or evening on the day you return. Flight is around 1 hr and cost about $150 return.

By road it takes 5+ hrs by bus or by taxi a little less. Don't bother with the boat as it is boring except while close to shore and is not that comfortable. Cost for 2 is the same as a taxi.

Probably the cheapest is to fly into Bangkok and take an Air Asia flight to PP
Scotters is offline  
Oct 30th, 2007, 08:07 PM
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I also spent a week checking out the ruins at Siem Reap, time well spent in my opinion. Some people just go for a day, i feel that's doing yourself out of some pretty amazing sights but then the relic of an era when kings rode elephants and commissioned vast works in their own honor is just a pile of rocks to some people.

WeiLong is offline  
Oct 30th, 2007, 08:40 PM
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Dear Tyler,

I'm curious about what orphanage, how you found about it, if you are paying or being charged for your efforts, etc. Is it church affiliated? Please share more information. I'm retiring next year and loved Phnom Penh. Could I do some good there? Thanks.

cmenoni is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 01:40 AM
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Wow, thanks so much for the replies! Once again, you guys have far exceeded my expectations! Thank you thank you thank you!

I've traveled a lot before:


...so I'm not that afraid of some challenging travel. That taxi sounds like a great idea if it's going to be about the same price as 2 bus tickets. The idea of the massively huge catfish is a fun and novel one.

Time is definitely an issue so the taxi sounds like probably the best bang for the buck? About how much would we be looking at for that long of a taxi ride?

That flight may be a good option for us because time will be an issue sadly... I hate rushing but can handle it if I must.

My sister spent 2 weeks at this orphanage helping out with the children, teaching English, playing with kids and doing random odds and ends for them. They are a Christian ran organization. We might be donating to the orphanage so we wanted to go check it out in depth.

It feels good to give a little when you travel.

Also, all of those children make ridiculously good photo opps

Yes, Portland Oregon.

P.S. What are the odds I get ill on my trip to Cambodia? My sister said that of the 30 people that went with her, 18 of them go sick during their time there. I have a hearty stomach... What tips should I take into consideration to avoid spending the first 7 of my 9 days throwing up?
TylerTraveler is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 05:20 AM
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It would be a shame to visit Angkor in a rush. No days trips, please!

You say you have travelled a lot before - but ask about how not to get sick.

I would have thought you'd know the golden rules.

But in case not - never eat fruit you haven't peeled yourself; beware of salads; if you are into cheap and cheerful, look for places where the locals eat. No ice in drinks.

It's been my experience that street food is OK as long as it is freshly cooked - some of the best meals I've ever had in fact.

chimani is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 08:55 AM
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So water is a complete no-no in Cambodia I'm guessing lol.
TylerTraveler is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 10:50 AM
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You're right - in Cambodia, stick with bottled water and peel your own fruit.

We ate pretty much what we wanted, either in places with locals eating or street food if we saw it cooked so we knew it hadn't been sitting around for awhile.

Definitely you need a few days, or at least a couple, for the basics of Angkor. But don't forget to get around Phnom Penh a bit too. It doesn't get a lot of positives here, but we liked it just for getting a rhythm and meeting people more so than sight seeing. We also spent sometime around Battambang and points then back towards PP, but you probably have your hands full with those great kids and the big ticket attraction at Angkor.

Clifton is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 11:28 AM
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Indeed, you need to be cautios about bottled water that has only been purified with UV. There was a thread about this recently. It's in a light-blue colored plastic. Look for the thread, there is even a link to a photos of the problematic bottled water.
Kathie is online now  
Oct 31st, 2007, 11:53 AM
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Here is the picture of the bad water


and here is the thread


hawaiiantraveler is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 01:16 PM
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My word you guys are awesome. Thank you so much! I will definitely avoid that water!

Does anyone have any suggestions for hostels or cheap hotels? The orphanage is out on the island so I'm guessing that if our accomodations are closer to the ferries the better. Of course I've been told that getting around is really easy because of the cheap motos.

I've also been told that rarely will you find any moto drivers or taxi divers who speak any English and most actually can't read their own language so it's good to learn how to say the names of the place where you want to go? Has this been the experience of other travelers to Cambodia?

So by now I'm thinking that we will skip away for a couple nights and stay at one of those beautiful hostels in Siem Reap. If you only had 24 or 48 hours to see Angkor Wat, how would you do it? I know it's not idea but it's better than nothing I assume... and certainly better than sitting here in Oregon doing homework or working! =)
TylerTraveler is offline  
Oct 31st, 2007, 01:29 PM
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Tyler- I was not very clear but the cost of boat for two would be about the same as a taxi $50.
The bus is $10 each (may have gone up a dollar or two for the high season) and the best is the Mekong Express. Very comfortable seating and there is a washroom.
Scotters is offline  
Nov 1st, 2007, 07:30 PM
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Tyler, I have been to Cambodia twice (the first time I worked in an orphanage too - great experience, the kids love it if you take them gifts. Raid the $1 shop!).

I think if you only have 24/48 hours to do the temples I would fly (if money permits). Firstly, at that time of year the days are HOT and walking around all day is tiring. So I think it is best if you can get in at least one early morning and one evening. This is also a good idea because seeing the sunset/sunrise is an amazing photo opportunity.

Also, if only two days, I would probably stick to the bigger temples. I am bad with the names of them - but there have been previous threads on here about a good temple itinerary, and maybe see one or two smaller ones that are tucked away in the jungle.

Another thing, the temples cover a very big distance - (they are not all side by side as some people have mistakenly thought) so I would think you would need a guide (we had a guide both times) to get around. Communication was never a problem for us, and we found that all the guides spoke very good English.

Re: accomodation. It is cheap and easy to find. The first time we went we stayed at the Spring Guesthouse. Twin share and it cost about $7usd per night per person (hot showers, tvs, air cond). It was a bit far away though i thought. A better place to stay is along the river front. We stayed at a place there called the bali cafe. It was good (no hot showers though, but we didnt need them) and cheap (I think about $10usd a night per person). Of course, you can sleep VERY cheaply (i.e. $3 a night) in a dorm or something. But I reckon just pay a few dolars more and you can stay in a very nice place.

I am not sure what island you are talking about, but PP is not that big, and it is fun to drive around in a tuk tuk or on a moto. Very cheap too.

And yes, only drink bottled water, and eat things that are freshly cooked and peel your own fruit and veg.

A great restaurant in PP is called Friends - it is run by a non government agency and serves delicious food and drinks. No worries about food prep nasties there!

Hope this information helps!

OH Yes, and for shopping - the Russian Market is great! Keep your money safe though (pickpockets about), and BARGAIN, BARGAIN BARGAIN! There is another market that is alright, it is in a big yellow interestingly shaped building. I cant remember the name of it thought, central market perhaps? But Russian Market is the best I think.
cookiescompanion is offline  
Nov 1st, 2007, 08:24 PM
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A guide is not a necessity for the temples, but a driver/motodop is.
Kathie is online now  
Nov 9th, 2007, 10:21 PM
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Thanks again everyone... you guys are soooo generous and helpful!

I did find the website of the orphanage we are trying to go help out at:


"Sovanapoom is located alongside the Mekong River directly opposite the Palace in Phnom Penh. Our village is accessible only by ferryboat from Phnom Penh."

So I'm thinking that the most convenient place for us to find a hotel or hostel would be somewhere along the river near(ish) the ferry terminals.

If anyone has a great recommendation for a place to stay near there for anywhere from 10-20 dollars a night per person, that would be great! It seems like there are a lot of great places to stay for relatively cheap, but prices can grow exponentially if you start sifting through the resort-style places.

Hot water, clean beds, and a place to store my laptop safely are all I need. (a free breakfast would just be gravy hehe) =)

Thanks again everyone!
TylerTraveler is offline  
Nov 10th, 2007, 03:06 PM
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You are talking for two $20-40 a room per night. For this you can get good accommodation. The two hotels that are reccommended on the orphanage's web site fall into this catogery. Also check the California 2 guesthouse which is on the river. While further away the Billabong hotel is very good for the price and as a bonus has a small pool. All these are $40 or less for a double room.
Scotters is offline  
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