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Help Planning Surrounding Temple Visits

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Help Planning Surrounding Temple Visits

My friend and I will be staying in SR for 3 days towards the end of June. I am assessing my options and seeing what sort of schedule we could get away with that would allow us to make the most efficient use of our time. I am currently planning on using some variant of the 4 day schedule in the link below (under the heading, "trip agenda for your reference"):

tripadvisor.ca/Travel-g297390-c148813/Siem-R…

Questions:

1) Are the grand and petit circuits both doable in one day (together)?

2) What time should we start in order to avoid/minimize contact with the crowds?

3) Is it plausible to fit Banteay Srei and Beng Mealea into the same day with the above 2 circuits?

Thanks!

Amsterdam, The...
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1. Re: Help Planning Surrounding Temple Visits

I say both the small and grand circuit as defined in your link are not do-able in one day unless you find yourself only spending 30 minutes in even the larger temples and 15 minutes in the smaller ones (not much more than photo op stops). Many people will only accomplish Angkor Wat and all of Angkor Thom in one day and others might do all that's categorized as the small circuit on that link in one day. But both in one day is a herculean accomplishment in my opinion that will leave little impression beyond a fog of temples. Adding Banteay Srei and Beng Mealea into the same day with the two circuits is I believe physically impossible regardless of how quickly you run thru all the temples. Its not for nothing that its described as a three-day itinerary in the link.

June is not the busiest time so the crowds won't be massive like in January. But if you want some truly special visits, not only without crowds but without other people, then be out for sunrise each day and besides Angkor Wat you can have 1 or two temples almost totally to yourself from first light up to around 8.30AM. There are also a few temples at the end of the day where there are very few people given the tour bus schedules. Beng Mealea is one of those but that then requires a 1 hour (car) to 1 and 3/4 hours (tuk tuk) trip home after sunset.

Also the link suggests Bakheng for sunset but you should know that it is a huge mass of elbow to elbow people on that hilltop temple for sunset. This website - http://angkorsunsets.com/ - offers info about alternative places to view sunset.

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2. Re: Help Planning Surrounding Temple Visits

Thanks lenny. Looks like we'll be doing both circuits on separate days. I'm assuming those circuits are timed to get you back into SR by nightfall, correct?

Would it be plausible to lump Banteay Srei with either of the two circuits? If so, which one would you recommend? I've read it's only 15km away from the main Angkor complex.

We could then spend our third day in Phnom Kulen, and check out Beng Mealea, Preah Ang Thom, Lychee Mountain, and Kbal Spean?

Is that doable?

Amsterdam, The...
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3. Re: Help Planning Surrounding Temple Visits

Most of the people I know or advise usually do the highlights of the small circuit on one day but then included Angkor Wat (and excluding Rolous) on their first day. On a second day they will then do the grand circuit (without Angkor Wat obviously) and Banteay Srei (which is about 35km from town and about 24 km from Pre Rup at the eastern "corner" of the grand circuit). Many will then do Rolous, Beng Mealea and depending on interest and time of year also include Kampong Phluk or Kampong Khleang (two stilted communities on the great lake Tonle Sap) on the third day.

Your third day is also possible with careful planning. When people refer to Phnom Kulen they are usually referring to the mountain top and area below the top which includes Preah Ang Thom and the waterfall at "Lychee Mountain". If you go there, you might consider skipping Kbal Spean since you will have had some nature surroundings on Phnom Kulen and have seen riverbed lingas as well. Phnom Kulen requires a car (or back of motorbike) as its not suitable for tuk tuks. It has a steep entrance fee of $20 per person and given the twisty narrow road up and down its one-way traffic up the mountain in the AM only and only one-way traffic down the mountain from around 1 PM if I recall correctly. Depending on how you plan the day, you might have time for Rolous while returning to SR from Beng Mealea (for Rolous and Kbal Spean if you include that) you need a valid temple pass. For Phom Kulen and Beng Mealea you do not. They have their own separate entrance fees (Beng Mealea $5 p.p.)

Birmingham, uk
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4. Re: Help Planning Surrounding Temple Visits

Honestly? I think you have a 5 itinerary there!

If you only have 3 days, then I'd have a careful think about what are your must sees and work around that.

Don't forget that the Angkor complex is around 15 mins from Siem Reap (depending on where you're staying), and the complex is huge!

the grand route has: Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon, Pre Rup

petit route:

Ta Keo, Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei, Sras Srang, Prasat Kravan.

On top of that, you've still got Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom inc Bayon, Bauphon, The Elephant Terrace, The Terrace of the Leper King, Five entrance gates, Phnom Bakheng.

Even starting at 5am for sunrise, you could be hard pushed for time, and more importantly be going around so quick that you don't spend any proper time at the sites - jumping out and taking a photo doesn't count! Don't underestimate how much the heat will slow you down too.

Bantay Srei is at least 20km away (from Angkor) doesn't sound far, but if you go by tuktuk, it takes a while, but you could go in the afternoon after say, the big circuit.

Phnom Kulen/Kbal Spean and Beng Melea can be done in a day, if with a car.

Obviously, up to you and depends on what your absolute maximum time there is, and if you will enjoy tearing around, or if you'd rather just hit a few main sites and soak up the atmosphere. I can quite easily spend most of a day wandering around Angkor Wat, and others are in and out in less than an hour!

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5. Re: Help Planning Surrounding Temple Visits

Alright, thanks for help so far guys. We did some shuffling and have managed to get an extra day in Siem Reap. We now have 4 full days/nights, and currently have the following plan (based off of lennybruce’s advice):

Arrive in SR the day before, spend the night.

Day 1:

Petite circuit WITHOUT Rolous Group and WITH Angkor Wat:

Prasat Kravan

Sras Srang

Banteay Kdei

Ta Prohm

Ta Keo

Thommanom

Victory Gate

Bayon

Angkor Thom (Baphuon – Elephants terrace – Phimeanakas – Tep Pranam, Terrace of the Leper King, Manglartha, etc)

Angkor Wat

Day 2:

Grand circuit WITHOUT Angkor Wat and WITH Banteay Srei:

Preah Khan

Neak Pean

Ta Som

East Mebon

Pre Rup

Bayon

Bakheng

Banteay Srei

Day 3:

Rolous Group

Beng Mealea

???

- Maybe Kampong Phluk or Kampong Khleang

Day 4:

???

Questions:

1) We’ve read that Banteay Samre and Ta Nei are worth visiting. Ta Nei is supposedly nearby Ta Keo - so we’re planning on including that in Day 1. Is that the best day to do it? What day should we include Banteay Samre in?

2) Where exactly is Chau Say Tevoda? Would it be easy to incorporate into our current plan?

3) Are we missing any temples worth seeing (maybe some of the underrated ones)?

4) Given that we will have part of the third day now available (if we don’t do the Kampongs) and a full fourth day, how would you recommend we structure our visit to Phnom Kulen/Preah Ang Thom/Lychee Mountain/Kbal Spean?

5) If we do the Kampongs, which of the two is recommended (Kampong Phluk vs. Kampong Khleang?)

Thanks!

sydney
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6. Re: Help Planning Surrounding Temple Visits

Don't get too hung up on planning every single minute of your trip (and the order of the temples etc) - you will go mad. Hire a driver and tell him which circuit and let him work the route.. temple fatigue will be a major factor the first two days... hint - take a photo of the sign board as you enter a temple and another photo at the end, this way when you go back and look at your photos you will be able to remember which is which.

Your day 1 & 2 are jam packed - so I'd suggest slowing down a bit on the rest

Go early to Beng Melea ( the bus hoards have discovered it and generally arrive around 9) and give yourself plenty of time there to explore. Your plan for BM & Roluos on this day are fine but I wouldn't plan to jam more in - have a visit to the lake as a 'maybe' depending on how much time you have and how you are feeling - do not discount temple fatigue and the need for some down time.

Alr mentioned the heat, and by June the wet season will be happening - sharp heavy afternoon downpours may also impact - and you may need to find somewhere dry to wait it out - this too will eat into your time - particularly if you are intent on micromanaging your time around the temples

Lenny has mentioned that the Phnom Kuleen road is a single lane and runs a contra flow - up (only) between dawn and noon and down (only) between1pm and dark - you may need to factor this in (and the separate $20 p/p fee).

and if you don't see everything this visit you will just have to return - we are just back from our 4th visit and 'finally' made it to Koh Ker but have still not visited the lake villages - next time.

cheers

helen

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7. Re: Help Planning Surrounding Temple Visits

Thanks thmoore. Maybe we'll do Phnom Kulen as a full day trip on the 4th day.

Lenny mentioned that we could skip Kbal Spean if we're going to Phnom Kulen anyhow. We may end up skipping it. If we don't, however, where would it make the most sense to fit in?

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8. Re: Help Planning Surrounding Temple Visits

If the first two days are too hectic, I'm also open to splitting them over the first three days a little bit more evenly.

sydney
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9. Re: Help Planning Surrounding Temple Visits

all the temples are amazing .. just be up for calling it quits on any of your days when you feel you have had enough rather than feeling you have to push on and see everything you initially planned - you can always come back (like many of us have)

you may well find the heat & humidity very draining (you don't have a home destination listed on your profile - so it is impossible to know if hot & humid is something you are used to already - maybe update that - it really does help sometimes when people are offering suggestions)

my best advice is to take your time - go at your own pace, see what you have time to see, call time on a day before you get too tired to really enjoy more - and although SR is changing rapidly the temples will always be there - just plan another trip... (that's what Lenny & I do)

If you are going to PK - then I agree with Lenny, missing KS is probably not a huge thing this time. - take your swimmers to PK - the waterfall there is lovely and you'll see lots of people having a dip. It is however, very busy on weekends so if you can avoid going on a Sat or Sun - do so.

Kurashiki, Japan
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10. Re: Help Planning Surrounding Temple Visits

It is also very easy to just have your driver take you to see the following-

Small circuit on your first day

Grand circuit on your second day

Outlying temples on your third day. The guides/drivers klnow all thr routes and instead of picking and choosign(possibly backtrakcign and wastign time), just let the driver do his job.

As for the outlyign temples, I'd recommend Kbal Spean, Banteay Srie and Beng Mealea. If you hope to do Phnom Kulen, add another day.

As another poster said, you're going to need 5 days (or more) to accomplish your original itinerary.