Cambodia visiting, please informations/advices
I thought I could make trip I dreamt of long time. That is visit Cambodia. And of course as you can imagine Angkor teples is main reason. My travel ageny have offer for next hotels (all prices in Euro, bead and brekfast, without plain flight of course):
MITTAPHEAP - 513,00
HOLIDAY VILLA- 820,00
LE ROYAL 1691,00
CITY ANGKOR 513,00
MONOREACH ANGKOR 615,00
KHEMARA ANGKOR 718,00
PRINCESS ANGKOR 718,00
LE ROYAL 1691,00
I would like to hear from you who knows which hotel from this list is OK, and everything else one who first time go there should know (about people (how to interact with people), food, what is OK to do, what is NO, NO, health warnings, what to wear/bring to wear, etc...)
Oh, and of course, best time of year when to go
Haris - if you want, PM me off the list and I'll send you the contact information for the guide I work with in Cambodia. He is very good, very honest, and will help you get a good deal on a hotel if you like. If you want to book your own hotel, he can still provide guide service and ground transportation arrangements. I have used him myself and have referred a number of friends to him, and everyone has been very happy.
For what time period are those prices for those hotels? Is that the per night rate? If so, that is ridiculous. I hope those prices are for one week. You should be able to do the entire trip, not including airfare, for $1200-1500 USD for seven days, including guide services, site admissions, hotel, food and spending money. I stayed in downtown Siem Reap, near the old market, in a decent but older hotel, with air conditioning, private bath and cable TV for about $50 USD per night (40-45 euros), including breakfast every day. The hotel served fresh made bread with breakfast every day, which was wonderful- one of the few good legacies of the French - that and ice-making plants.
I would recommend spending more time in Siem Reap and less time in Phnom Penh. Take a couple days, three at the most, and go to the National Museum, visit the Tuol Sleng genocide museum (the Khmer Rouge death camp), and maybe the royal palace. Phnom Penh is still a bit rough as I understand it, but Siem Reap is fairly safe, even when it is run down.
As to time of year to go, September to October is a good time, as it is the end of the rainy season, and the moats around the temples are still full of water, so you can get shots of the buildings reflected in the water. It is also still a quiet time, as not many tourists are going because they think it is rainy all the time during the rainy season. On a bad day, it rains for an hour a day during the hottest part of the day, when you want to be inside anyway. When I was there, it rained just one day, for a half an hour, and it was done raining before I got out of bed to start my tour for the day.
I would bring lots of light cotton fabric clothing, always long pants, no shorts. The temples, although many of them are in ruins, are still venerated by the local cambodians as active sites of worship. Bring some kind of head covering, although you will find that much of your day is spent under jungle cover and the skies will often be overcast, so you won't burn so easily. Bring sunscreen and bug repellent, especially if you go anywhere away from the main monuments. Get lots of bottled water every day - your hotel should provide you with some. There is one local brand which is good and safe - it comes in these blue plastic bottles that look a bit like artillery shells. Do NOT buy any bottled water that does not have a safety seal on it, as some enterprising locals are known to recycle bottles and fill them with tap water, or even the water from the irrigation canal near their house.
Food is good if uninspiring. It is similar to Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. You can also find Indian, Chinese, and western food - Pizza is quite popular in Cambodia, but watch out for the "oregano" - some places will offer you marijuana as a pizza topping choice. In Siem Reap there are a number of decent restaurants around the riverfront area near the Old Market. Because it is a tourist area, food is actually a bit more expensive than comparable food in Thailand, but still very reasonable by western standards. If you have US Dollars, this will be a big help, as the dollar is the semi-official second currency in Cambodia, and is universally welcomed. I had a nun at a temple solicit me for a donation, and when I gave her Cambodian Riel, she got mad and scolded me "American Dollar!!"
For interaction with the locals, the Cambodians are a very friendly people. There are a lot of handicapped beggars, most of whom have been injured by landmines. Give to them if you want, but be warned that if you give to one, you will be bombarded by the rest of the ones who see you giving, and you will probably be pestered by the same one you gave to every time you see him. It becomes a neverending cycle, so if you can stand it, it is best to ignore them. Cambodia is a VERY poor country, so some of the conditions there may shock or disturb you. However, this is just the way of life there for people.
You will see a lot of monks and nuns, mostly at the temples, but even sometimes in town. It is quite ok to talk to them, and the younger ones may very well want to engage you in conversation to practice English or another foreign language. The more bold ones will probably ask you for a donation to their temple, which is ok to give a few dollars or euros. Do not ever give the donation directly to the monk or nun- they are not supposed to handle money. Also, do not touch them, especially the nuns, even in a friendly gesture like a handshake.
You'll have to learn also how to deal with the "mosquitoes" - aka children. Around most of the temples, there are kids who are trying to sell things - bottled water, sodas, postcards, souvenirs, 35mm print film. Children in Cambodia go to school for a half-day until they reach a certain age, so that they can go home and help their families with farm work. Some of them go to the temples with stuff to sell. You just have to master the art of saying "no thanks" and keep walking - Often you'll get offered the same thing or things by three kids in a row.
You'll face this hurdle at every major temple you visit. While the Cambodian children are quite cute, you'll get tired of dodging them after a while. If you want to get a different picture of Cambodia, ask my guide about going to visit Phnom Kulen - a sacred mountain about 30km outside Siem Reap. It is a destination not often visited by westerners, and is still held as sacred by the Cambodian people today. The tourists who go there are mostly Cambodians. There are people selling things on the paths around the mountain, but it is mostly folk medicines and the like, and so they do not expect you to be interested. Also, some of what they sell are animal parts that may be from endangered species, so they know you can't buy them anyway and take them home.
There is a sacred waterfall at the mountain that is about 30m tall, quite spectacular and worth a visit. You'll see some local photographers set up there with booths where they rent out traditional costumes to Cambodian tourists to have their pictures taken with the river and the waterfall in the background. Wandering through the jungle trails you will see many orchids, butterflies and other tropical flowers and birds. It is a very refreshing change of pace from the tourist zoo around the temples. My one interaction with some of the local youths tending one of the shrines there was an offer of a footrace! I politely declined as I was wearing hiking boots and I am overweight; I wanted to keep my ankles from getting broken on a rock in the forest.
If you have any specific questions about photography there, about which temples to see, feel free to ask. You will have the experience of your lifetime going to visit Angkor.
Originally Posted by haris
These prices are rip offs! Thay are about 20x to 50x the actual costs and I think your travel agent is scamming you BIG TIME.
Originally Posted by haris
I'll post later when I get out of the airport today....
... and everything else one who first time go there should know (about people (how to interact with people), food, what is OK to do, what is NO, NO, health warnings, what to wear/bring to wear, etc...)
Sorry, I made mistake. Quoted prices are for 15 days staying...
Originally Posted by gr82bart
Let us know when you will be going. I will be in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap at the end of June or in the first 2 weeks of July. I am married to a Cambodian and go there regularly.
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