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Angkor Wat tours

London, United...
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Angkor Wat tours

I haven't really looked into this properly yet but I just stumbled across a site that was offering angkor wat tours from ko chang. They all seemed to be at least 3 days and anything up to £500 per person which seems extortionate to me.

I am aware that I clearly won't know what I'm looking at without a guide but can you just walk around on your own? I'm quite prepared to just be blown away by it without knowing all the finer details. Perhaps naively I had only planned on 2-3 nights in siem reap due to time constraint and hadn't really considered having to budget for it in this way.

Probably rather stupidly, I had visions of arriving in siem reap, finding a hotel, going to the ruins and having a wander round for the day and leaving on the third day. Is this at all possible or have I completely misunderstood how it all works up there?!

Sorry for my ignorance!

Kurashiki, Japan
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1. Re: Angkor Wat tours

Once you get to Siem Reap and check into your hote or guesthouse, you can talk to the staff about hiring a tuk-tuk for the day. All the drivers will know the tourist routes (they take people on pretty much the same routes, to see all the highlights), so you don't have to plan anything. Then you go with the driver to get your Angkor Wat pass, and start your day.If I were you, I'd allow 3 full days to see the temples as it is a vast area and there is a to to see. No, a guide is not necessary, the driver will drop you off at the entrance of each temple, you flash your pass at the attendant, and you can go explore on your own. The driver parks his vehicle and waits for you outside...I'd also highly recommend you purchasing a decent guidebook and reading up on the place- it will give you a good idea of waht to expect.

sydney
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2. Re: Angkor Wat tours

Hi

I agree with maneki - no need for a guide - there will be lots of posts recommending guides or suggesting that you can't get the most out of angkor without one but it's up to you, you do not NEED one, some poeple LIKE one - if you see the difference. We boudht Lonely planet before we went and did lots of reading. we also checked out canbypublications.com/siemreap/sritinerary.h…

whichc gives heaps of good info about how much time to spend and what the best time to avoid crowds/get the best light etc

We just hired a tuk-tuk - our driver was also a great source of information and went from there

if you'be got an idea of the temples you want to see then you can 'do it' in 2 days, 3 would be better and more relaxed. Don't forget it it always hot so coming from the UK you might find the heat and humidity pretty uncomfortable unless you have travelled in other hot/humid places. Just make sure you drink plenty of water.

You will be blown away without knowing the finer details!

happy travels

Helen

Bangkok, Thailand
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3. Re: Angkor Wat tours

I continue to be amazed by people who travel half way around the world to visit one of Asia's most important historic treasures, then ride around on a motorbike while reading a guidebook to try to figure out what the heck they are looking at.

Guides in Angkor are licensed professionals. They have to complete a two year university level training program and pass a series difficult of tests. They are required to have almost encyclopedic knowledge of history, architecture and culture. Of course you can wander around and try to figure out Angkor's complex history and evolution on your own. But why would you want to waste your time doing that? Most people see Angkor Wat once. If you leave without learning as much as you can about what you have seen you will have missed a great opportunity.

Angkor Archaeological Park is 400 square km. It's not like the Colisseum in Rome, where you can just pop in and have a look around. If you have a good reason to visit Angkor in the first place, do some homework and structure your time so you get the most out of it. Most visitors spend two full days seeing the bare minimum (Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Bayon/Terrace of elephants and maybe Ta Keo and Sra Srang). That is barely enough. For those who can stay longer the really good stuff usually comes on the third, fourth or fifth days.

Stay longer. Use a guide for at least the fist two days. You will be happy you did.

Kurashiki, Japan
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4. Re: Angkor Wat tours

"I continue to be amazed by people who travel half way around the world to visit one of Asia's most important historic treasures, then ride around on a motorbike while reading a guidebook to try to figure out what the heck they are looking at."

I am sorry, but I find your comments a little silly. Here's why-

Before I embark on a place that involves any amount of serious sightseeing, especially places with deep cultural or historical heritage, I devote a good deal of time to do the research on the place. I use the internet, read guidebooks, and ask my friends who live there or who have been there for even more information. I am the kind of person who enjoys quiet and solitude, and not particualrly interested in hearing about dates, reigns of particular kings or where exactly the laterite was unearthed to construct what temple (I can get a lot of that information in a guidebook). That said, I believe guides are a very good investment IF you are the kind of person that LIKES guides, and to be guided, but as all people have different tastes and styles of travel, they are not for everybody.

johannesburg,southaf...
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5. Re: Angkor Wat tours

Hi there, just read your note and had to reply - getting into the battle of the "it's thursday it must be Belgium" point of view versus a group that actually understands about getting its money's worth - making a trip an experience never to be forgotten with all its insights (not academically speaking regarding dates and kings but of how the people in the area think and live their lives.) Possibly the first group hasn't experienced what a truly intelligent and sensitive guide can offer - we never look to our guide for facts for as anyone in either group will tell you - that's what the travel books are for. (By the way, at this point I must say that we too research the heck out of a place before we get there - even if we use a travel agent to do the booking we always seem to advise them where we want to go - they tend always to be surprised at our awareness and knowledge. And while we are talking about books - after reading Frommer's and Footprint(which by the way is very good) we heard about another source of info - "Ancient Angkor" by Michael Freeman and Claude Jacques - both have spent years researching the area. This book is high quality softback with stunning colour pictures rating each site that you would ever want to see as one, two and three star - telling you time of day to visit and what you will find at each. This is a book that is invaluable for those who have chosen not to go with a guide. BUT I RETURN TO MY ORIGINAL POINT - As I have said before, when you add the cost of international airfares/hotel accommodation and meals as well as gift buying etc - the price of a guide will add a minimal percentage to your bottom line - especially in places like Cambodia which offer a new experience/culture/way of thinking so different from ours. As TMoore has noted in the past a guide should cost maximum agout US$25 per day - that is US$75 for three days. A GOOD GUIDE WILL OPEN YOUR EYES AND TAKE YOU BEHIND THE WALLS AND TOWERS OF A BUILDING.

Sometimes I feel that I am "farting against thunder"!- so it's refreshing to read comments from someone like "Pickyin Paradise" who I believe feels as we do.Best of luck whatever way you go - yes, I do accept that it's the differences in people that make the world go 'round!! P.S. By the way, have you chosen a place to stay? Are you travelling on your own or with others? Approx how much would you be prepared to pay for lodging? Would you appreciate some thoughts on which sites are "must sees"?

johannesburg,southaf...
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6. Re: Angkor Wat tours

Hi there again - just realised I made a real mistake. I should not have called my first group "if its thursay it must be Belgium - that was totally uncalled for - rather, and in the best sense of the word "great people who float through life having a super time not really that interested in the world about them" sorry the positioning is so long. I have to say we have many fantastic friends like this so please do not take it the wrong way - its just the way they are and we are just the way we are - probably taking life too seriously and wanting to know too much - maybe a bit too cynical and questioning. Great listening and talking to all of you in both groups!!

London, United...
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7. Re: Angkor Wat tours

P.S. By the way, have you chosen a place to stay? Are you travelling on your own or with others? Approx how much would you be prepared to pay for lodging? Would you appreciate some thoughts on which sites are "must sees"?

Travelworld23 - I would be interested in all of this advice. Not yet chosen a place to stay but I am travelling with my wife (we are both 27). We are trying to do our whole trip through Asia on a budget so although we want to stay somewhere safe and not too "out of the way" we are certainly not after pools, gym facilities and room service.

I would like some advice on the "must see" cetainly.

I did not mean to sound as though I am not prepared to pay at all for a guide - a decent priced guide is something to consider. Just having not previously thought about guides, when I came across a 4 day quote for 27000 baht I wondered whether all guides were such a price - in which case qwe would certainly not choose this option.

Hiring a tuk tuk or a cheap guide for a day or 2 is something I may consider though.

Thanks

MaineUSA
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8. Re: Angkor Wat tours

I guess I fall into the catagory of agreeing with Picky and Travelworld. However, that's the beauty of the Trip Advisor Forums - everyone is free to report and express their own opinions - touts excepted!!

johannesburg,southaf...
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9. Re: Angkor Wat tours

Hi there,

Just saw your response.

a.Regarding guidebooks - please do try to get hold of book I mentioned - it is really the one way you can initially appreciate what you are about to experience - the one by Michael Freeman and Jacques Claude.

b.Regarding places to stay - there are so many hotels in Siem Reap that when you arrive and are driving from the airport to town, you will wonder how you will ever climb over all of the tourists if each of these establishments are even half full. There is one place that I would not call inexpensive in terms of what one can pay - but probably best value form money at around US$49 per room -that is the Villa Loti - go to www.coconut-hotel-angkor.com(it used to be called this!). At 27 you guys should be looking for a place that is more than just a bed - it is so romantic and welcoming. I really have no experience with the really bottom of the range places but there are plenty of them. You surely won't have any trouble in that there are many TA members who will be able to guide you.

c.In terms of "must sees" - also consider time of day to "must see". This is where above mentioned book guided us and will guide you.

d.Starting of course with Angkor Wat itself - be in your tuk tuk at 5am - especially if your hotel is a way from the sites. Be at the gate to buy your ticket (one or three day ticket) - they will take a bit of time to take your picture and mount on ticket. If you arrive the day before your sunrise venture then get ticket the day before - I believe if you buy it after 3pm or 4pm you do not pay for that day's visits.

Be at west or main entrance to witness sunrise from the east over the temple complex. Then a short while after sunrise, walk to moat on left side of complex to take photos rerlected in water - possibly the best you will have of this site. Walk up the steps of the site and view inside and as high as you can go - we weren't able to mount to the third level as construction was taking place.

e.Move onto the Bayon and its welcoming South Gate - just a taste of what is to come with this sites many headed towers. In walking around and up the Bayon you will come across corridors with bas relief carvings of daily life and wartime -here a good guide will enhance what may be common sense interpretations.

f.The elephant terrace is most impressive as is the leper king terrace - get up the steps and into the back of the latter to see some amazing carvings that are hidden by those who just rush by.Both are in the Angkor Thom complex.

The above places should take at least a whole morning to see - not even properly but pleasantly without rushing. You then could break for lunch. As everyone would have told you this part of the world is extremely debilitating so have lots of water in your tuktuk.

g.Because you have three days and because it is so absolutely mindblowing, I would spend a good part of the afternoon in everyone's favourite place - Ta Prohm. As all the above mentioned places, it too gets three stars. At every corner there is a picture - when we were there, three middleaged Japanese women were calmly seated drawing the magic. Climing over pillars and stones, through doorways and around mighty trees glued to carved walls will be with you forever.

h. End this first day by climbing the Bakheng and watching sunset over Angkor Wat with quite a few other peope.

i.If you want - you could also take a short break and come back to Angkor Wat to see it lit up at night - we did so in conjunction with a sound and light show that starts realively poorly but definitely improves when you get to your seats and watch the stage show.

j.I would start the second day by visiting Srah Srang at sunrise - a beautifully romantic experience as are most sunrises.

h.My next stop would be a definite "must see" and a half hour or so (maybe a little more in a tuk tuk) into the countryside and to Banteay Srei - a jewel of a place - proof that beautiful things do come in small packages - the carvings on red sandstone will without a doubt be the best preserved and executed that you will see on this trip. You will also be here relatively early just before the hoards arrive and at a time when the sun is not to high playing a golden light on the site.Please remember that timing is reasonably important here as there are no trees in the way to cause light and shadow.

i.Consider visiting some of the small villages on the way back - we came across a very interesting homestead where palm sugar was being made the people, houses, children etc added to the journey as well as did a street market selling everything the town required.

j.Visit Banteay Samre on your way back as well before stopping for lunch - interesting not though a "must see" but really on the way. Take a break for lunch or whatever.

k.Spend afternoon briefly visiting first Thommanon and Ta Nei and finally Preah Khan also enhanced with nature breaking into its walls.(late afternoon is a good time to be here).

l.We spent three days visitng the above as we really had no desire to rush each site. Your third day might be spent visiting the Rolous group - particularly the Bakong.(three stars). Hope this helps a bit. There are quite a few other temples that get one and no stars which I believe only the totally committed would find other than repetitious.

If there are other points of view from other TA members please speak up! Best of luck.

bangkok
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10. Re: Angkor Wat tours

when you get here there are plenty of guides,its a personnal thing if you want one,you certainly dont need one,infact i prefer not to.just travel independantly and enjoy a lot more and of course cheaper