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Paranoid newbie in Asia needs help with the itinerary

Paranoid newbie in Asia needs help with the itinerary

Dec 8th, 2004, 05:42 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: Dec 2004
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Paranoid newbie in Asia needs help with the itinerary

Hi all,

Well, a little paranoid. As a long-time reader and a first-time poster, I think this forum is fantastic in terms of providing advice to fellow travellers.

To give you some background, I have already visited Thailand (for about a week) and am now preparing another trip in March. My intentions are to stay in BKK for three days and then see other places. I love cultural sites (temples, etc.), but also enjoy time on the beach. I have two itineraries in mind:

First one:
3 days in BKK
3-5 in Cambodia
2 in Singapore

Second one:
3 days in BKK
2 days in Singapore
5 days in Bali

I am not on a backpacker budget, but I am still on a budget. I am very independent and absolutely ABHOR organized tour groups.

Here are the questions:
1. Which itinerary is cheaper? Any revisions to the itinerary? The first three days in BKK are an absolute must, but everything else is open to your suggestions.

2. If the first itinerary is more interesting, how do I go about the country? Lots of Fodorites seem to have contracted out a tour guide and a car. Can I do that and have the guide take me to Phnom Penh to Siem Riep and Angkor Wat or do you fly from PP to Angkor? How many days do you spend in Cambodia, ideally?

3. Is it too late to book for March?

Thank you. Asian experts, I am counting on your much appreciated feedback.

Razzle Dazzle
Razzle_Dazzle is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 06:08 AM
  #2  
 
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The most expensive destination in either itinerary is Singapore. I like Singapore, and certainly think it's worth a couple of days (at least) but food and lodging there will be more expensive than anywhere else you are going.

If you are interested in visiting the temples at Angkor, I'd recommend that you do so as soon as possible. Once it finally became safe for visitors to venture to Angkor, development has followed rapidly. You have a short time in Cambodia, spend it all in Siem Reap/Angkor rather than going to PP (you'd want to fly there, not drive). Also note that in SIem Reap there are guides and there are drivers (never the same person). I didn't use a guide, I prepared before I went and took my trusty guidebook (Dawn Rooney's Angkor) with me. I preferred to see the temples without a guide. Some people find a guide necessary - it's a metter of preference. You car and driver will cost you about US$20 a day; if you want a guide, it'll be another $20 a day. Your temples pass will be US$40 for 3 days or US$60 for a week. You'll need at least three days to see the major temples. If you're really interested in temples, a week will be barely enough.

If you can add a couple of days to your trip, you could do Bangkok (3days), Angkor (3-5 days) and a beach in Thailand for a few days. It would be less expensive without the flight to Singapore.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 06:17 AM
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Singapore is the most expensive and, in my opinion, also one of the least interesting destinations in asia. I would definitely recommend Angkor. It takes a good 2-3 days to see the temples would-- I'd go with the 3 days-- so how long you stay depends on what else you want to see in the country.

Bali is wonderful -- combines beautiful beaches with wonderful culture and sights but the flight might be expensive. If it works in your budget, I'd go there.

Another option might be to substitute Hong Kong for Singapore -- it's a much more interesting city.
glorialf is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 06:25 AM
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I knew the first response would come from you, Kathie!

Thank you kindly. I think 3-4 days in Angkor/Siem Reap will be enough. Do I just fly in and get a driver on the spot or do I book in advance? I understand you stay in Siem Reap and the driver takes you to Angkor. Do you come back to Siem Reap at the end of each day or stay in Angkor?

Also, where can I find the cheapest flights? I used a Canadian West Coast agency for my trip to Thailand, but their prices are hardly cheap. Expedia then? I presume I still have time if I am going in March.

I have revised my itinerary as follows:
3 days in BKK
3-4 days in Siem Reap
2 days in Singapore

Did visit Koh Samui, would love to visit a beach somewhere else (e.g. Bali, etc.), but I guess I have to cut the beach out.

For Singapore, I estimate $200-300 for the hotel, plus $50-60 a day for food and minor souvenirs (not living life big).

What do you think?

Many thanks,

Greg
Razzle_Dazzle is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 06:57 AM
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Angkor is very close to Siem Reap, so yes, you come back at mid-day for lunch and a rest and come back in the evening for dinner and to sleep. You can get a driver and guide if you wish "on the spot" no need to book ahead. I just asked my hotel for recommendations.

There are no cheap flight from Bangkok to Siem Reap, as only Bangkok Air flies that route. Buy your tickets online. Your travel agency will add a commission. (indeed, I find that everything is more expensive from a travel agency, I do all my own booking online or via phone).

Your budget for Singapore is fine, perhaps even a bit generous. You'll have a fine time.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 06:57 AM
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Thank you, Gloria. HK is an interesting alternative, though expensive.

Already scanning through hotels in Siem Reap. Angkor Princess looks nice.
Razzle_Dazzle is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 06:59 AM
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Razzle Dazzle...I read your comment on you figuring that Singapore hotels would be $200-300 a night and my mouth flew open in horror. I go to Singapore, regularly, for vacation. I love the place. Anyhow, get a room at the YMCA International House Hotel...1 Orchard Road...Singapore 238824...Tel.(65)3366000. It's right next to the Dhoby Gaut MRT(subway station).Although the location is great and very central, it is not in the heart of the Orchard Road madness where all of those other hotels are located.It's in a real nice area, but you can walk to the sights on Orchard Road and in that area...like Emerald Hill where all the Paranakan restored houses are. It's also 2 stops from Orchard MRT station in one direction and one stop from City Hall MRT stop in the other. Plus one stop to Clarkes Quay on the new line...and a few stops from Tangong Pagar MRT in China Town. The price is S$75.00 (US$44.) breakfast included...private room...two twin beds and a very nice private bathroom. It's a hotel, not the American image of the "Y". Ask for a room on the 8th floor...the top floor. There's also a swimming pool on the roof. I have stayed there for years. One year my best friend and her daughter came with me on vacation and they stayed across the street at the Rendevous Hotel which is 4-star, but I stayed at the Y because I really like it there. It's a very happy and friendly place...plus the internet service is very cheap as is the laundry service. You just leave your dirty clothes in a bag in your room and someone comes and picks them up and delivers them back the next day. It's about US$1.00 to have a shirt laundered...if I remember correctly.As for restaurants in Singapore...try the Hawkers stands at Newton Circus...at the Newton MRT station. It's good to go there for dinner. And my two favorite restaurants are Indochine Restaurant...for lunch..on Club Street...around the corner from the Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple which you should check out... and Thanying Express Thai restaurant at the B2 level of Takashiyama Dept store on Orchard Road at the Orchard MRT stop. Then there are also the seafood restaurants on the East Coast...they are listed in guide books. You must go to the Asian Civilizations Museum which is wonderful. It's at the Raffles MRT station...exit the subway and walk to your left out the exit and then right and you will cross the Cavenegh Bridge. Singapore is a lot of fun. Oh, and go down to Arab Street...interesting shops and architecture.Got to go. Will post later if anything else crosses my mind. Happy Travels!
Guenmai is online now  
Dec 8th, 2004, 07:08 AM
  #8  
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Thanks, Kathie.

I wonder if I could just walk from Angkor Princess Hotel to the Old Town in Siem Reap. Perhaps, take a cab to Angkor and explore Angkor by myself for three days, instead of getting a driver...or do you need to be driven around Angkor? Damn, sorry, totally clueless about how things work in Cambodia - gotta grab a travel guide today.

I think I made up my mind.

Guenmai, LOL, thanks for the tip. By US$200-300, I actually meant 2-3 nights!
Razzle_Dazzle is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 07:10 AM
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P.S. I presume no danger of landmines in the Angkor area? Or just stay on the pavement if such exists.
Razzle_Dazzle is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 10:10 AM
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The temples at Angkor cover a HUGE area, and some of the temples you'll want to visit are at least a half an hour drive away. So, no, you don't want to take a taxi to one temple and try to walk! You'll need a car and driver to get you from temple to temple. Get yourself a guide book and this will all make more sense to you.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 10:12 AM
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Or, if you are going alone, you could opt for riding on the back of a motorcycle... depends on your tolerance for risk.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 10:25 AM
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Kathie, this really helps. I will post a detailed report (my first) as soon as I get back (if I go this March, that is).

Re transportation...I will stick to the good old automobile. ;-)

You only get to live once!
Razzle_Dazzle is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 10:26 AM
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They use USD there, don't they? (vs. the local currency). I understand Cambodia is just as cheap as Thailand.
Razzle_Dazzle is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 11:41 AM
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In Cambodia, everyone will want US$. Take lots of small bills, especially 1s and 5s. You'll want larger bills to pay your temples pass ($40), driver ($20 a day), visa on arrival ($25) and departure tax ($?). Generally, I'd say that Cambodia is cheaper than Thailand.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 12:17 PM
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The temples of Angkor cover an area the size of Manhattan so definitely book a driver for your time there.
glorialf is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 03:35 PM
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Thank you, Gloria. And thank you Kathie.

I am already in touch with my tour agent and he will get back to me with the flight rates tomorrow. I will book the hotels through asiahotels.com

I have decided on the following routine:

Day 1 - 3: BKK
Day 4 - 7: Siem Riep
Day 8 - 10: Singapore

Kathie mentioned the three-day pass is US$40. Since I am there for 4 days, would it make sense to devote Day 1 to seeing the Siem Riep Old Town and the remaining three to Angkor Wat? That's the plan. Also, I will catch a taxi to the hotel from the airport and then, hire a driver on the spot as the hotel recommends, as per Kathie's suggestion. Makes sense?

Thanks, guys! This is totally out of the blue for me.

I will post several reports as I come back.
Razzle_Dazzle is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 03:57 PM
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I made reservations for a aircon car/driver ($20) and guide ($25) in Siem Reap. An extra $10 to go to Banteay Srey temple.

The two way airport transfer is only $5.

The guy found me, sending an e-mail saying he is at the reservation office at the Sofitel.
mrwunrfl is online now  
Dec 8th, 2004, 05:55 PM
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Since your routing is Bangkok - Siem Reap - Singapore, fly Bangkok Air from Bangkok to Siem Reap, then Silk Air directly from Siem Reap to Singapore. (note that SIlk air makes this fight about 3 times a week)

You can spend a little time in SIem Reap itself - not much to see. Take a look at the market, visit Les Artisans d'Angkor, the handicrafts shop (where all the crafts are made by amputees)... You can buy you pass late on day 1, and can get a "free" visit to the temples for sunset the first day, then spend the next three days at the temples.
Kathie is offline  
Dec 8th, 2004, 06:25 PM
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Im going to BKK Dec 26th, Cambodia, Viet Nam and China. I would recommend checking airfare on www.toureast.ca for cheap flights from Canada. You can also choose open-jaws tickets on the web site. But phone an agent if you can't get what you want on the internet. It is cheap about 1050cdn return. I found you might have to phone a few times to get an agent that will help you.
Siriuslea is offline  
Dec 9th, 2004, 03:39 AM
  #20  
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Great, thanks, guys. That's very helpful.

Kathie, I understand that if I buy my pass late on day 1, then the pass covers the next three days.

I suppose a question "where do you buy the past" is a bit stupid. Haven't picked up the guidebook yet, plan on doing so today right after work. ;-)
Razzle_Dazzle is offline  

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