Siam Reap Guide

Old Nov 21st, 2011, 02:30 AM
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Siam Reap Guide

I know this has been discussed at length in other threads, but I want to be 100% sure of my plans. Any help will be greatly appreciated.:

1. We are staying at the Steung Hotel in SR in Jan. Will I be fine in hiring a good driver and good guide on the spot at the hotel--no advance planning?

2. We (2) arrive at 2 PM, stay 3 nights, depart 12 PM. Our plan was sunset at Banteay Srei (day 1), Angkor Thom area (day 2), Angkor Wat (day 3), sunrise Angkor Wat? Is that reasonable?

Jason
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Old Nov 21st, 2011, 06:04 AM
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I guess it depends on what you want. We were very happy to have a wonderful guide named Denny, that the hotel provided when the guide we had booked through high recommendations here sent an alternate driver in his place. We just wanted the basics with a competent driver and a small amount of information who got us to all the important spots in the best timeline possible. Some people would like a guide who will give them endless quantities of details. Therefore you might try to book that kind of guide ahead of time. But dont be surprised if they send an alternate.
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Old Nov 21st, 2011, 07:21 AM
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No, I'm with you. I've read the Rooney book. I'd like someone to hit the highlights, and maybe weave around the tour groups.
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Old Nov 21st, 2011, 08:05 AM
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If you really only want the highlights (we only want the "highlights of the highlights" -- I always say we want "temples lite", not a PhD ), you can definitely do more than one temple complex in a day. We did Bantay Srei, Kbaal Spean and Beng Melea one day, and Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm (our favorite) and Angkor Thom the second day (plus the hilltop temple Phnom Bakheng for sunset). It really depends on the level of detail you want. We went with a guidebook and driver, not a guide.
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Old Nov 21st, 2011, 09:40 AM
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thanks for the reply. Exactly--we don't want temple fatigue! Did you just get the driver on the spot?

Your plan sounds like what we'll probably do. I suppose, then I'm looking for one of those "really good drivers" that could play the part of the guide.
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Old Nov 21st, 2011, 10:27 AM
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sf -- did u get your driver thru your hotel? I'm worried about temple fatigue so your approach sounds like it might be a good one. Haven't even figured out what we want to c yet.
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Old Nov 21st, 2011, 10:31 AM
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We did get our driver through our hotel - but we went in a tuk-tuk, not a car (we prefer "local" transportation; other people prefer having air-conditioning). Our driver was wonderful, however, his English wasn't great, so he wasn't really a guide at all. We stayed at La Residence and our driver was Mr. Tu.
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Old Nov 21st, 2011, 10:32 AM
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A driver will not go into the temples with you; Only the guides in the yellow shirts can "guide".

I was very pleased to have a guide the first time we went to Siem Reap. Though I had read Dawn Rooney's book, once we got on site, all the temples- and all the sections of the temples -were rather overwhelming and started to look alike. Our guide helped us distinguish the historical and interesting features and directed us to photogenic spots.

On subsequent trips, I've just wandered and enjoyed the sructures but I'm glad I had someone to help make the area and temples "come alive" the first time.

PS: Often the "name" guides often have a loose agency of guides working with them. We had our "name" work with us one day, but the other three days we had the "alternate" and we loved him as well. His style and ours were a perfect match.

All the guides have pass a lot of testing to become certified, so they have the knowledge of the history and structures. What is important is the way they "read" your interest in the temples (Temple-light vs every detail), your ability to understand each other, and even the way your physical stamina matches with theirs can make an impact on the success of the match. In addition, talking to the guides can be an interesting way to learn a bit of local culture even if you aren't interested so much in temple info. Many of them are happy to answer personal questions, talk politics, etc.

There are lots of guides, so it's not difficult to interview and hire one locally. In addition, the guide services are very cheap, so if you decide to part ways halfway through the day, you won't be out a huge amount of money. Just tell the guide you won't need him/her after lunch, but that you want to keep the driver.
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Old Nov 21st, 2011, 04:44 PM
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jannan We stayed at The Cool Hotel. The driver we got was named Denny. He was prompt and knew where to go and would stay as little or as long as we wanted. We did the sunrise and the sunset with him. He was so sweet at the end when we gave him a $25 tip he cried, he was overwhelmed and when we got a ride to a restaurant that night he refused any more money saying we had given him too much. So humbling- I wish I had given him so much more.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 12:18 AM
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Lcuy's approach sounds good to me. My husband and I arrive in Siem Reap on Thursday after 24 days in Vietnam. Have arranged a guide (with air-conditioned car) for the first three of the seven days we will be there. If we want more "guidance" after that we'll work something out through out hotel. Otherwise we'll just enjoy the time on our own, using tuk-tuks to get around.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2011, 11:17 AM
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Thank you lcuy. I think we'll just "wing-it" and get a guide on the first half day.
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Old Nov 30th, 2011, 02:41 AM
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I stayed at an inexpensive guest house. They arranged for a tuk-tuk driver to meet me at the airport. I used him for a full day next day to take me around Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and the Bayon at my own speed. I used a good guidebook I found in the guest house, but I also did a lot of reading before I arrived.

There are sure to be lots of drivers associated with your hotel. Talk to them until you find one whose English is good.

A full day cost $12 in 2008, trips withing Siem Reap were $1-$2 and to the airport was $4.

My trip reports are here:

http://loraltravel.blogspot.com/2008/03/cambodia.html

http://loraltravel.blogspot.com/2008/03/angkor-wat.html

http://loraltravel.blogspot.com/2008...gkor-thom.html

Cheers, Alan, Australia.
Born Under a Wandering Star
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