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Forget about the tour guides - do it yourself

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Sandton, South...
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Forget about the tour guides - do it yourself

We arranged tour guides in advance of our short visit to Siem Reap but actually think it was a waster of money. We found the guides from TA reviews but the first one, Ratanak Eath, having confirmed that he would act as guide sent us an email about 10 days before the trip wanting to change our carefully planned schedule to accommodate some family ceremony that he wanted to attend. We dropped him and went with Kim San who guided us for 2 days and then told us that he couldn't take us out on day 3 as he had some family matter to attend to. They are pleasant guys but have an issue with committment!!

Having done the trip I wish that we had waited until we got to the hotela dn then planned it from there. If you stay in Siem Reap the main temples are very close by and many people just hire bicycles and ride there. The area is the flattest place I've ever seen so cycling is easy. There are a couple of temples that are a little further away but there are literally hundreds of tuk tuks that would take you there and back and you also use them to get around town for restaurants, markets etc.

People in Siem Reap are wonderfully friendly and willing to do anything (unless they are licensed tour guides, of course) to make your trip memorable. A fantastic place and easy to fall in love with.

Phume Phnom...
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3 reviews
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1. Re: Forget about the tour guides - do it yourself

Spot on!

Far too many travellers try to micro-manage their visit and without knowing anything at all about the place or the people they are locking themselves in to.

Just wait until you get there, or, if you absolutely must, ask your Hotel or Guesthouse in advance to select a guide and transport for you. These people know the guides and the drivers. You do not.

It simply amazes me when posters talk about the outstanding merits of a particular guide or driver and all based on a sample of one or two! How valid are these posters remarks? They are not valid at all in the larger context.

I have spent many, many years in the Angkor region and am constantly amazed at the glowing eulogies written by first and second time short-time visitors to the region.

Regards. Ian

Buckinghamshire...
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147 reviews
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2. Re: Forget about the tour guides - do it yourself

I tend to agree, we didn't have a guide on our temple visits. I'm glad we did it that way. When we spoke to people in our hotel they wished they had done the same. They were tied down to the group they were with for the whole day and stuck with the itinary of that tour. We had a good explore of the place in our own time with our own book. Our tuk tuk driver was good too, we showed him out itinary and he did exactly that, telling us where we where, where to meet, no interfering .....

3. Re: Forget about the tour guides - do it yourself

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Removed on: 18 January 2011, 11:05
sydney
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for Cambodia
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4. Re: Forget about the tour guides - do it yourself

Just going to add my 2c worth.

What soooo many single posters who say "Oh you gotta have this guide -he's amazing - did this, that and more for us" (as if their particular guide was the only one who did these customer service things) do not seem to realise is that guides have to attend training courses to become certified. You can be absolutely sure that these courses include things like " have water for your client, show them where the good restaurants are, know where the great photos can be taken etc etc" these are not things that one or two guides do of their own volition - they are taught to do these things- it's in the 'customer service' module - just as any other profession has things which are required and expected.

A lot of posters also fail to realise that many tuk tuk drivers are equally as knowledgeable but for whatever reason (usually financial) they have not done the guide training courses.

OK that was more llike 25c worth .....

cheers

helen

Edited: 18 January 2011, 10:41
Phume Phnom...
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12,520 posts
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5. Re: Forget about the tour guides - do it yourself

Poster number Three makes my points exactly!

A one time visitor and no depth of knowledge of guides and guiding in the Angkor Region.

So what basis for comparrison with the many other excellent guides?

Or the various guides associations and training requirements.

Nor does the poster state the guide's registration number etc.

And yet others, yet to visit Angkor Region, will hang on every word and rush to pre-engage this guide, sight unseen and with no prior knowledge.

Leemings in action.

Regards. Ian

Canberra, Australia
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559 posts
101 reviews
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6. Re: Forget about the tour guides - do it yourself

So what basis for comparrison with the many other excellent guides?

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Many visitors to Angkor have no other judgement method than what they have heard/seen on the www. Arriving at SR to have your hotel or a tour agent assign a guide is no better than throwing the same dice taking 'recommendations'. How to compare? Isnt that what TA is for, in a subjective sense?

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A one time visitor and no depth of knowledge of guides and guiding in the Angkor Region.

Many people only go once and 'want ot make the best of it' so they are keen to engage a guide who has at least one (or more) recommendations (see above) Thats the best you can do really...

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And yet others, yet to visit Angkor Region, will hang on every word and rush to pre-engage this guide, sight unseen and with no prior knowledge.

* see all of the above. Who really knows as a first time visitor? Better someone who at least has had a good word about them than a complete mystery...

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Leemings in action.

Yes, we're called tourists. You could say this about 1,000,000 places in the world.

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I posted a reply to someone else a while ago - in summary - if you only intend to do the main temples you can get one of the very good Angkor books and do it yourself. IMHO unless you're right into the history and architecture to a nth degree, you wont miss much. We enjoyed our guides company and that extra info imparted, but If i was a classic 2 day tourist 'lemming', for the main Angkor region we could have done without him...

Would be interesting to see if the original poster offered a little inducement to retain services? Might have done the trick.

enjoy !

R

Gulfport, MS
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17 reviews
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7. Re: Forget about the tour guides - do it yourself

If you just want to visit the temples, look around and take photos then just a driver is good enough.

But if you want to learn the history and culture of the area then a trained guide can fill in all the details. It all depends how much of a history buff you really are.

8. Re: Forget about the tour guides - do it yourself

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9. Re: Forget about the tour guides - do it yourself

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Removed on: 11 April 2011, 12:49
Kurashiki, Japan
Destination Expert
for Kurashiki, Cambodia, Myanmar
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10. Re: Forget about the tour guides - do it yourself

Don't be silly, Gerash, we are simply stating our opinions.

I for one have never used guides, I simply prefer to go on my own, at my own pace, without getting a lot of dates and names thrown at me. I just don't care for it. Other folks LOVE to hear details about a country's culture and history and the dates, names of dozens of kings, stones, gods, etc.

And there is a multitude of reviews of guides on these forums, some good, some bad and some mixed. People can make a choice based on what they read (or on what we here can recommend personally).

Simply hiring a person just to give him or her business is beyond silly. Hire a person to provide you with a service that YOU want or require.

Edited: 19 January 2011, 02:50