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Siem reap - or not?

Nesodden...
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Siem reap - or not?

Hi, just about to confirm air tickets from bangkok to SR, and then comes hesitation. Going to Thailand (Bangkok - Krabi) with a group of six for three weeks from mid-december. My daughter (16) and I want to experience more than beaches though, and decided to fly into Siem Reap from Bangkok and stay 4 nights before going south. But now I have second thoughts. First I was thinking northern Thailand. Seems so beautiful.But then we found out Angkor was no further away, and seeing Angkor must be magic, we decided. But then: I read about the crowds. And somehow I feel that this will be dissapointing and meaningless. This is my daughters first time in Asia (I have been India and Nepal many years ago) and I am thinking that the experience should be about people, atmosphere, sounds, smell, colours. Is it worth the trip? How is SR besides from Angkor? Would be glad to have some opinions on this.

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1. Re: Siem reap - or not?

Tonelis go, you won't regret it.

My wife and I have traveled to S.E.Asia for the last few years, our last trip was to Seim Reap. For both of us it was by far the best experience of our lives. We love Thailand but Cambodia for us had what we had been looking for in Asia, a sense of adventure and the things you describe, atmosphere, smell ect. And the temples of Angkor were magnificent, truly breathtaking. As far as crowds were concerned, at Angkor wat for instance we found ourselves alone sometimes unlike the Grand palace in Bangkok. At no time did we experience crowds like you would see around the tourist attractions of Bangkok or Chiang Mai in the north. As for the town of Seim Reap it's a fantastic place to stay, and you'll not see any crowds here either it's very relaxed and sometimes you won't see any other westerners about. We went into the old market one day and did not see any tourists at all. The restaurants and bars are fantastic, the food outstanding. But the best thing of all was the people, the most honest, friendly, hard working people it has been our privilege to meet, truly wonderful, the sort you would like your children to meet.

So go, take your daughter it will be a trip you both will never forget.

I was told at the time by a fellow traveller that Cambodia is how Thailand was years ago. Yes tourist visit Siem Reap, but not really that many.

Take care.

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2. Re: Siem reap - or not?

I just got back from SR and I would NEVER describe it as disappointing or meaningless. As the other poster said I consider it one of the best experiences of my life. As for crowds, well, there are large tour groups (mostly Korean it seems) that you will come across but I really didn't feel overwhelmed at any time by the amount of people. Avoid popular temples during peak hours and try to visit some of the less famous temples--I enjoyed visiting these just as much as the so-called must sees. Siem Reap is a charming town, who knows if it will stay that way much longer as they appear to be building up more and more hotels and it might turn into Angkor Vegas eventually...so if you have any interest in Angkor, I think you should go now without hesitation!

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3. Re: Siem reap - or not?

We were there in mid-December last year. The bigger temples did get a bit busy sometime but certainly not crowded, only a few tourists in most of the smaller temples. It's definitely worth going. Weather in mid-December is very plesant, though the mid-day sun is very hot, it's cool in the morning and evening. My 12 year-old daughter can't wait to go back. Chiangmai in Northern Thailand is a very nice place to spend a few days. Personally I find it has alot more to offer than Siem Reap town.

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4. Re: Siem reap - or not?

Depends on your defenition of crowds!

When people say crowds, it could be tops of 100 people! You come across more people in the supermarket on a saturday morning, or queueing for a naff ride at a theme park!

The vast majority of the time we were the only people in the temples.

naturally the larger, more touristy sites are "busier" especially with tour groups, ie angkor wat, bayon, angkor thom.

easiest solution, reverse the typical route, or go and see some of the temples on the grand circuit!

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5. Re: Siem reap - or not?

What put me off about North Thailand was all the package tours who promised to let us walk through the lives of villagers for unforgettable photos with somebody's grandmother. It just sounded so insensitive. Nth Thailand is great I'm sure - but Siem Reap is wonderful. The Angkor Temples awe inspiring, the Cambodian people really friendly - their smiles! - and if you want to meet people on their own terms I recommend hooking up with Savong's School for a day. The students (age 8-18) would welcome you and your daughter and pile you with questions. This is good language practice for them but superb for you: a case of meeting on each other's own terms.

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6. Re: Siem reap - or not?

Hi,

I think Angkor is worth the visit, even crowded. As advised you can avoid peak-hours.

One day I visited Ta Phrom. At that time I was lucky: the site was deserted. I was almost alone in this wonderful site, the forest around.... God, great atmosphere!

Beside angkok sites there are severals things you can do:

- the old market

- local crafts at Artisans d'angkor

- a day trip to Phnom Kulen (30 km from SR)

- the cambodian cultural village

-pub street with restaurants and bars

- buffet-dinners with traditionnal khmer dances (at the end of the show, you can take photo of you daughter while she's posing with the dancers -- it's free)

If you are not on a budget, you can get a hotel in the tourist area like Steung siem reap hotel which is a very good one with great location.

I also tried Star Royal hotel which is also very good, less expensive but at the limit of SR on the road to angkor.

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Nesodden...
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7. Re: Siem reap - or not?

Thank you all, this was really helpful.! Every one of you had a really good answer to my question, So we are going, four nights; three and a half day. Starting to really looking forward to it. Good advise about the school, was thinking about that ( being a teacher myself).

Will probably stay at Bopha Angkor wich seems really nice. Hope lokation is as good as it seems, Thanks again!

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8. Re: Siem reap - or not?

Hi Tonelis,

I think you made a good decision and also wanted to say that we absolutely fell in love with Cambodia. It was one of the most unique experiences of our lives. And you won't regret it most definately. I only wished we stayed longer...

The Angkor Wat is just magnificent and mind blowing. We hired tuk-tuk driver for $8 per day! (this included sunrise & sunset) - this price was his first offer and we just accepted it without bargaining it down. I would feel very ashamed to haggle the price any lower as their lives are very hard.

At times the temples got busy but if you are not part of any tour and can be flexible, you can just hang around the temples until the major tours are gone. This is what we did most of the time and had Ta Promh temple all to ourselves and it was just amazing! (go around 4.00pm for the best light for your photos - it is very dramatic as the sun starts to go down).

We didn't stay at Bopha Angkor but went for a dinner and found it really lovely, it is right by the river and close to the main market. Restaurants/bars are also quite nrea just over the bridge.

Enjoy Cambodia!

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9. Re: Siem reap - or not?

I know you've probably made up your mind. We came back end of Feb from the trip you are doing. It was absolutely majic. Upon reflection we probably feel the SR was the best part of the whole trip.

Like you we have been to India and if you like to experience different life then SR was superb. Make sure you visit Tha Prom, the temple that has been left to nature. That was the best bit of our three weeks. We went early (about 8) with our own tuk tuk. He stayed with us all day and into the evening when we tried to get up in the baloon to watch the sunset. To late, never mind went back to Angkor Thom and climbed the hill instead. The whole Angkor complex was less busy than most other important monuments we have visited. . We stayed at the Angkor Lotus which was very good with a lovely pool, which we appreciated for the odd hour or two between visiting.

After Angkor we went to Krabi and stayed at the Krabi Thai Village which again we were very happy with. Make sure you do the kayaking in the mangroves, It was amazing, about 3 hours and we spent time with the monkeys climbing over the boats. Some lovely food in Krabi.

Can.t forget to mention Bangkok, which again was superb. The floating market and Rose Garden trip were not to be missed and the palace is an absolute must. We stayed at the Arnoma again VG.

Have a wonderful time.

PS only found your message after looking on Rome forum, we are off in 3 weeks. Must have similar tastes.

Bridget

All in all a really well balanced trip, with just enough of everything.

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10. Re: Siem reap - or not?

Having just returned from both SR and northern Thailand with my 17 yr old daughter, I will weigh in with an opinion...you can't go wrong with either one!! SR was fascinating, the people are wonderful, the town is so lively and interesting, and the temples are amazing. We were greatly moved by the living conditions that some people live in and found our visit to the floating village to be very enlightening. At the same time, we stayed at Anantara a few days later in the Golden Triangle area of Thialand and LOVED it, they have a wonderful elephant training program that my daughter did and she totally enjoyed herself with the elephants, bathing them, riding, feeding etc. We also went to Burma and Laos while there which was a total throw back to the Vietnam era sort of experience. Definitely get away from the beaches if you can, there is so much more to see!!!

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