Siem Reap car or tuk tuk?

Jun 23rd, 2011, 09:57 AM
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Siem Reap car or tuk tuk?

We are traveling to Siem Reap in November to visit the temples at Angkor Wat. For those of you that have visited did you use a tuk tuk or car to see the sights? Never having been to Asia I am a bit nervous about the safety of using a tuk tuk which is sharing the road with cars and trucks. Is this something I should be concerned with? Did the exhaust fumes coming from the bike bother anyone? Would air conditioning in a car give a bit of relief from the heat while traveling between temples?

Thank you for your advice!
kch246 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2011, 10:11 AM
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We used a tuk-tuk, even to go to a distant temple (Beng Melea). We just felt more "connected" to the whole area in a tuk-tuk than we would have in an air-conditioned car. Others obviously prefer the relative comfort of the car. We were not bothered by fumes from the bike at all -- the dust can be pretty bad, but it's so hot, you're going to get very sweaty once you're out of the car anyway.

This falls in the category of "Know Thyself".
sf7307 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2011, 10:12 AM
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We used a car. We did appreciate the air conditioning. Cooling off between temples meant I could cover a lot more ground. But I know of people who liked using a tuk-tuk. The tuk tuk does expose you to signifiganct exhaust fumes and dust, espeically if you are going to more distant temples.

Do what feels most comfortable to you.
Kathie is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2011, 10:47 AM
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True, but it also exposes you to the people and things you pass in the villages on your way to the temples!
sf7307 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2011, 10:54 AM
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I used as tuk-tuk, plus a motor bike (I was a passenger!) for Banteay Srea (sp?). I recently used an AC car for Hampi in India, and found the frequent change of temperature didn't agree with me. When the tuk-tuk is moving the breeze will cool you down. I don't remember the traffic being that bad, but it was in 2004 and I think traffic has picked up a bit since then.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2011, 10:55 AM
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I took a tuk-tuk to go everywhere last November. It wasn't that hot. The breeze as we moved around was great to cool me down and I loved just relaxing and admiring the views.
mcbg1 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2011, 12:41 PM
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Thanks everyone your feedback has been most helpful. I think we may try a tuk tuk for a shorter distance, but knowing my DH we will probably end up with a car!

Any preferences for Hotel De La Paix vs. La Residence de Angkor?
kch246 is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2011, 01:07 PM
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We used both a car and tuk tuk and greatly preferred the tuk tuk.
dgunbug is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2011, 02:26 PM
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a car for sure...!!

you need the a/c to cool you down and add more stamina to your touring...
rhkkmk is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2011, 04:05 PM
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I used a TT two days and I thought it was one of the most enjoyable aspects of SR. I should mention I hated them in both India (the very worst) and Thailand. But my driver - a Mr. Van Kai - was so sensible and the sweet smell of the flowers and breeze as we drove along past close-up monkeys and some elephants was wonderful. I even used him a 2nd day to go to the most distant temples so I could enjoy more of the country and stop freely as I wished.
Eastofsix is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2011, 04:37 PM
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I have done four trips there and used a Tuk Tuk every time. You feel more at one with the people there. The breeze of the air through the tuk tuk will cool you down enough.

A car may be nice, but, you lose touch with the atmosphere of the place in a car. Secondly, I feel that the contrast of being in a 20C cold car, and 30C outside heat would be worse. Get used to the heat and the tuk tuk is a bonus.

I even used a tuk tuk to go to Beng Mealea.
gearsau is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2011, 05:17 PM
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Ultimately its up to you. Why not try a tuk tuk for a small distance the first day and see how you like it. You can always arrange a car through your hotel after that. Personally I don't like the abrupt changes of temperature. They seem to have the air con set very high (or low in temperature).
silverwool is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2011, 05:18 PM
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I like tuk tuks and used them daily. It's great when you have a nice and good driver.

But, there are safety concerns. Though crashes aren't all that frequent, if you are unlucky and are involved in a crash, there is nothing in the way of vehicle structure to protect you. Bigger vehicles vs. tuk tuk is grim in terms of physics and crash dynamics. If you were to worry about that enough to spoil your enjoyment, definitely go for the car option.

In a tuk tuk, you may also want to wear a mask. The fumes aren't so bad the the dust can bother your lungs and lead to respiratory infection.
KimJapan is offline  
Jun 23rd, 2011, 07:00 PM
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I used a car and will definitely have a car for my next trip this October. Several reasons: You are less likely to have your purses or whatnot stolen and you don't have to worry about your things when they are locked in the trunk while your crew of driver and guide and your family are all eating lunch together. You can still stop anywhere you want, and won't feel anxious about your camera tripod while you wander around at a small roadside stand or go to bathroom. You don't have to have the AC on full blast, you can always ask them to turn it on low or open the windows and turn off aircon. But at least you will have the option of aircon if you need it after huffing and puffing it up and down steep steps.

You can always take a tuk tuk for short trips or just to get the experience, but for comfort and safety I prefer a car. Also, you have ample opprtunities to get close to local sights and people when not touring the temples. Real life is just a hop and skip away. Talk to your driver and guide, who will be happy to show you their side of life.

Have a wonderful trip. The Cambodian people are some of the most lovely people in SEA.
kuluk is offline  
Jun 24th, 2011, 02:56 AM
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We used tuktuks for all except Beng Mealea and next time would probably go for a tuktuk for that as well. We liked the slow speed and breeze.

There aren't that many cars and trucks so I wouldn't worry about traffic safety. Safety for your personal belongings honestly never occurred to us. If this is a problem in SR we weren't aware of it.

After a few days the ride from the hotel to the temple area became a little tedious. We were glad we decided not to go back to the hotel for lunch and siesta. Though if you choose to have lunch in the temple area clear it with your driver first.

Part of our experience may have been that our tuktuk driver, whom we "found" (actually he found us) in front of the hotel and used the whole time we were there, was exceedingly charming and helpful and our car driver was snarly and uncooperative.

We really liked La Residence D'Angkor, even moreso after we visited Hotel de la Paix. De la Paix has a lot of fans, though. To us, the architecture and design just seemed slightly off kilter. The Residence has lovely grounds and a nice breakfast.
marmot is offline  
Jun 24th, 2011, 08:29 AM
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Ditto. Besides, who leaves their purse/wallet in a car (or a tuk-tuk)?

We had hoped to stay at Hotel de la Paix, and were about to place our deposit, when they apologetically told us that the entire hotel had been rented out by a group for one of our days, and since we couldn't change our days, we instead opted for the Residence d'Angkor. We never did see Hotel de la Paix, so I can't compare them, but we absolutely loved La Residence. I posted a trip report on Trip Advisor (same screen name), but to make a long story very short, beautiful hotel, beautiful grounds, excellent (but not obsequious, which would drive me crazy) service, large and well-appointed room, great breakfast, gorgeous pool (where we lazed away one entire day), in all, we'd definitely return if returning to the area. Since we had not arranged our temple transportattion in advance, they did -- we had the same driver on consecutive days - Mr. Tu - and he was terrific, although he spoke little English. Here's the part of my trip report about Siem Reap:

"La Residence Siem Reap. Aaaah, what can I say? This hotel is gorgeous, the people lovely, the service excellent. One day we left the safe in our room unlocked. When we returned that night, they told us that we had left it open, they had inventoried its contents and closed it with a new code! Breakfast in a beautiful restaurant (I will say the one negative was that although the restaurant opened daily at 5 a.m., the one day we were there at 6 a.m. they really weren't quite ready for guests, although there were others besides us), again with a lovely gardenside setting. Oh, when we arrived, we had been upgraded from a riverview room to a gardenview room. The room was huge, with a balcony we didn't use, an incredible bathroom (although again, that huge tub that you have to be pretty agile just to climb into). Gorgeous pool. Lunch at the pool one day was very good. Great location, a few blocks from Old Town/Pub Street area. This was pretty expensive, but we knew we wanted a lovely pool to use during the heat of the mid-day (as it turned out, it wasn't as hot as expected, which was actually really nice...80s instead of high 90s). I think we paid $275 a night for this one. It was our one hotel splurge, and it was worth it!

All of the above hotels included breakfast and free WiFi."


Lunch at Le Tigre Du Papier - $12 for a decent burger, caprese salad and two diet cokes

Dinner at AHA - more upscale and trendy ambiance, food good but not great, and compared to what else you can get in Siem Reap, not really worth the $40 it cost.

By this time, we were tired of planning dinners, so just walked over to Pub Street and looked at menus and other people's food until something looked good. So we had dinner at Khmer Family Restaurant - not bad at $12 for fried spring rolls, one fish amok, one stir fried chicken, 1 giant water and a draft beer (50 cents everywhere in town)

Dinner at World Lounge - $12 for two beers, two [large] salads, pizza.

Dinner at Picasso - tapas. $20 for beer, sangria, and a bunch of tapas, most of which were very tasty, and none of which were bad. We happened to arrive in the first huge rainstorm of the dry season (it apparently hadn't really rained since October), so we were the only ones there. We had a very nice time conversing with the bartender and her boyfriend (another Picasso bartender who was off that night)."



Day 1 in Siem Reap. Arrived no pblm. A little confusing re visas. Lucky we had brought pictures. Had to use the ATM to get cash for visas. Lots of workers at Siem Reap airport - looks like a full employment policy. They are the nicest immigration people ever. Met by driver in Lexus SUV. DH had left his backpack inside at the visa counter. Went back to get it and they let him in and out without too much of an issue. Car service was too expensive through hotel, but worth it (and helps the local economy anyway). Hotel is fabulous. Took a walk to town. Lunch at Le Tigre Du Papier. Shopped, poked around (considering a fish pedicure), spent an hour at the gorgeous pool. Rested - watched a stupid movie on TV (Taken with Liam Neeson). After dinner, had a $1.00 foot massage at the night market. Every foot massage place at the night market was busy (why not, for $1.00?)

Day 2 in Siem Reap. Planned to grab a tuk-tuk to go to Angkor Wat. Not sure whether we would come back mmidday or not. Front desk was great - used their guy, Mr. Too - and hired him for the whole day for $17. Went to Angkor Wat (after getting tickets - $40 each) and Ta Prohm before lunch, then decided to go back for a few hours of sun and pool - gorgeous day, about 90 degrees. Had lunch at pool. Mr. Too picked us up at 3:00 to go out again - went to Angkor Thom, then to a mountain temple to see the sunset (his idea, us and about a million other people - very few Americans in evidence, loads of Japanese). Agreed he would pick us up in the a.m. at 8:30 to go to Banta Srei, River of a Thousand Lingas, and Beng Melea (which is 65 km in a tuk-tuk, so we'll see, but we loved it today). I had another $1.00 foot massage (waited for my girl, no. 56) and Michael had a shoulder massage -- mine was better than his. Total $4 with tips.

Next day, Mr. Too was right on time. He suggested going to Kbal Spean first, then Banta Srei. Done. Loved the hike at Kbal Spaen, but it's not so easy - first of all, it's uphill, second, there's a lot of scrambling over rocks and boulders. There are some great views, and you're mostly shaded. the full employment act was in evidence again, as there was a crew sweeping leaves from the path. Obviously had no idea what we were doing or looking at so took guidebook suggestion and "hired" a local guide to walk us around. Total time at Kbal Spean 1-3/4 hours. Drove to Banta Srei from there. Had a decent lunch - rice and shrimp for me, rice and stir fried chicken for M, two diet Cokes and "free" fresh fruit - bananas and mango. Very small - spent about 45 minutes or an hour there (as I've said before, we are not "in depth" people - we prefer to the short course to the PhD . 1-1/2 hours drive on bumpy dirt roads to Beng Melea. A little long, but traveling through rural areas was excellent adventure. Every single child, and plenty of adults, waved to us, and we waved back to everyone! In Beng Melea, we again hired a local guide -- we never would have gotten through the temple without him, since most of it is not restored and you have to scramble over broken-down rocks, tree roots, ledges, etc. Ride back to Siem Reap was also tiring, but again, it's a really great way to see the "countryside" (as Mr. Too, who speaks practically no English)called it. Whole day with Mr. Too was $40, plus $10 for entry to Beng Melea. After a much needed shower, and decision to have an R&R say tomorrow, had dinner at World Lounge.

Last day - R&R. Weather is gorgeous- humid, but temp hasn't gone above 85 and sun has been in and out. As usual, DH has been in the sun all day and I've been in the shade. Before dinner, walked over to Seven Candles Guest House to bring some things we had brought along to donate to the Ponheary Ly Foundation. It was drizzling when we left our hotel, and while we stood in the lobby of the guest house, the heavens opened -- a tropical rainstorm like I've never seen outside the Caribbean. We waited it out (chatting with Lori) for a few minutes, then put on our ponchos and got in a tuk-tuk (the driver had zipped up the sides). The poor driver got soaked, but he was laughing when we got to town. There was so much water, we had to roll up our pants to cross the street! After dinner at Picasso, had a fish pedicure (couldn't leave without one - very very weird, then mani/pedi at Dr. Feet."
sf7307 is offline  
Jun 24th, 2011, 07:08 PM
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I would never leave my purse or wallet in the tuk tuk. What I was referring to are the purse snatchings. Like it or not, crime does exist in Siem Reap as it does in all parts of the world, and several websites refer to that, as well as warnings I received in person. What I mentioned about leaving in the car was your camera tripod and other things like umbrellas.

But everyone has their own ideas. I certainly have taken tuk tuks around Siem Reap, just not for the temples, as I need my giant cooler with drinks and cold towels.
kuluk is offline  
Jun 24th, 2011, 11:13 PM
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On our first trip to Angkor we hired a car and driver for the full 4 days at $50 per day. The guide was very knowledgeable but after the first day or so the constant narrative at every site we visited was more than we could handle so we asked him to tone is down a little but he did find it very difficult to cut back as, being an "official" guide he seemed to think that he had to impart every single piece of his knowledge to us (it was almost like a prepared script for each site). Great if that is want you are looking for.

On our second visit we chose to hire a tuk tuk driver for $14 per day. He spoke enough english for us to get by and was absolutely excellent and took us to lots of smaller sites we had not seen or even heard of before. He was also great company and took us to many other palces in and around Siem Reap.

We did not find the traffic fumes to be a problem nor did we miss the air con compared with the car, indeed, I do feel that not having a car does enable you to acclimatise to teh heat that much quicker (plus the breeze as you ride does provide a natural aircon!). If you do need cold drinks, towels etc. then these are usually available from vendors at at least some of the sites (or take one of those cool sprays that are readily available at all good travel stores.
crellston is offline  
Jun 25th, 2011, 07:30 PM
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Just for driver is $25 a day..could be that you booked online? Also, just for people reading this don't get confused, drivers of cars or tuk tuks cannot guide. Only licensed guides can accompany you inside, and in my opinion it's a huge help since many of the temples are a huge maze.

Last year I paid:

tuk tuk : $15 a day (quoted, but didn't use, the hotel gave us free tuk tuk for evenings)
Guide: $25 a day
A/C car: (but you don't need to turn it on, it can stay off or at a lower fan) $25 a day in major temple area, $5 extra for further out.

Anyway, no matter what anyone chooses to do, it's really easy to get around and it's very well set up for tourism. It may be somewhat detrimental to the long term well being of Cambodia, but for us tourists it's great. And in the short term it does help some Cambodians. But that's another can of worms.
kuluk is offline  
Jun 25th, 2011, 11:21 PM
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Sorry if my post was missleading. $50 per day covered car driver AND guide.

kuluk - I would echo your concerns re the effects of tourism on the area. we first visited in 2003 when tourism was just beginning to take off. Angkor was relatively quiet with few crowds particualrly in the early morning. In 2008 i could not believe how much the town had grown along with the hordes of visitors. I seriously doubt this level of tourism is sustainable for too much longer. The fabric of many of the building is already beginning to suffer.

As you say " a can of worms" and i am not sure what teh answer is..
crellston is offline  

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