Travel services with a difference - Andrew Booth, the founder, aims to bring education to the rural areas via profits from providing great travel services. Very warm local and foreign staff who understand luxury travel well. Great itineraries - well-researched routes allow you to view the temples unhurriedly and without the usual tourist crowds. My friend travelled alone with three kids and they provided a nanny! Thumbs up for making a real difference to travellers and the local communities.
Your hotel will recommend a driver and guide (two separate people) for a hefty mark-up. I can recommend Nhep Sophea who's known as Tee for short. He's punctual, courteous and knows his way round all the temples. A car is much more comfortable than a tuk-tuk given the heat and dust and not a whole lot more expensive .
Great guides and transport to distant locations.
I went on day trips to Koh Ker, Beng Mealea and a day trip on the Tonle Sap lake. As a photographer they look for good light situations and locations where people out of the city were less bothered by tourists with cameras. Amazing photo opportunities with small groups and reliable transport with knowledgable guides that mostly spoke good English.
I was picked up by a tuk tuk driver at the bus station which was chaotic. He took me to the hotel I had booked without any detours or hardsell and then politely offered his services as a driver.
After I had been sick I started leaving some of my camera equipment with him and he would mind it while I explored the temples. He also made me aware of tourist spots that I may have missed and knew the way everywhere.
His name is Arong ph 855 (0)12 534470
One of the worst bus journeys I've ever had, but my, what an experience. Watch your bags at the border town, Poipet - a hustlers' town dominated by 2 large casinos. You'll get told by a friendly hawker that you can't spend baht in Cambodia - and duly be guided to his currency exchange where he'll charge extortionate rates. Humour him but don't take him up on his offer - you can spend baht and get a far more favourable rate in Siem Reap. The road from the border is potholed and remote. The colours are spectacular and the locals curious. The rock hard seats will thwack your ass as you bump along through the potholes, arriving in Siem Reap some 18 hrs after you departed Bangkok. You'll arrive in darkness and be guided to a pleasant guesthouse where you'll find an abundance of Angkor or Lao lager - indulge yourself!
You could fly of course - but I'd recommend the bus....
Though most independent tourists hire a moto to take them round the ruins, if you're up to it hire a bicycle and head out in the delicious cool before sunrise.
It is quite a long ride (at least 40km there and back, including the distances between the temples), but you'll have the freedom to explore Angkor at your leisure without the heat, crowds and the pressure of knowing your driver is hanging around waiting for you. It'll also help you see the country more like the locals do, though remember never to venture off the main roads and tracks due to the landmine threat. Wear a krama to spare you the dust and sun.
Available to hire from several guesthouses for a couple of dollars per day.
Angkor Wat is simply brilliant. I recommend that if you are travelling from Bangkok take the train to the Cambodian border rather than the bus as when you reach Cambodia you will probably find yourself in a clapped out minibus rather than the promised air conditioned coach. Although you will probably end up in this minibus anyway for the journey through Cambodia, at least you will have got the chance to travel separately from the vast majority of tourists.
If you arrive at Siem Reap by bus, you will be 'greeted' by wave after wave of moto drivers, all offering rides to guest houses for 500 riel. There was a security guy keeping them at bay with a stick when my bus arrived! Beware - the price seems far too cheap, and it is. Once they've got you on the bike, they'll give you the hard sell to get you to hire them to be your guide around the Angkor temples etc. It's better to negotiate a realistic price with them (around 4000 riel) and then choose your guide yourself once you've checked into your hotel and freshened up etc. Much better than trying to negotiate while screaming along Siem Reap's streets on the back of a bike!
Siem Reap, bus station
Unless you are flying in or out of Bangkok / Phnom Penh, due to Cambodia's primitive infrastructure getting to Siem Reap can be a nightmare.
If you are determined to travel overland, it's worth checking out the website below. The author is clearly an old Cambodia hand and his site is filled with regularly updated info, tricks and tips on how to get around.
And loads of other nice stuff on the rest of the site.
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