Cambodia. Anyone been? Any tips?

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Intiniki posted this 11 September 2017

Use booking.com to book something in advance and then see if anything better comes up beforehand. Usually the different between pay no and pay later is small enough to go with it. I also have had some alleged discounts with expedia and booking.com due to using them quite a bit. 

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Dubai_Phil posted this 11 September 2017

Originally posted by Intiniki

Use booking.com to book something in advance and then see if anything better comes up beforehand. Usually the different between pay no and pay later is small enough to go with it. I also have had some alleged discounts with expedia and booking.com due to using them quite a bit. 

 Yep did that for a lot of the hotels I could have saved about $50 in Cambodia paying now but this spreads the cash flow so much better.

Having said that, a favourite of ours in Bangkok for the NYE stop over - Amari Boulevard was $120 cheaper paying in advance with Hotels.com

It pays to use booking.com but have the comparison sites as well!

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Dubai_Phil posted this 21 December 2017

When you just know you'e gonna have a great road trip.

Meet Vuthy- Cambodia Saints legend. Wore this to a skates wedding!

Goatboy posted this 21 December 2017

Originally posted by Dubai_Phil

Originally posted by Intiniki

Use booking.com to book something in advance and then see if anything better comes up beforehand. Usually the different between pay no and pay later is small enough to go with it. I also have had some alleged discounts with expedia and booking.com due to using them quite a bit. 

 Yep did that for a lot of the hotels I could have saved about $50 in Cambodia paying now but this spreads the cash flow so much better.

Having said that, a favourite of ours in Bangkok for the NYE stop over - Amari Boulevard was $120 cheaper paying in advance with Hotels.com

It pays to use booking.com but have the comparison sites as well!

 You should try the Rembrandt in Bangkok. Better than the Amari in my opinionlou_wink2

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Dubai_Phil posted this 2 weeks ago

It's time to start telling the story. These threads hang around the innerweb for ages so who knows, maybe in a year or so someone else may be planning a trip to SE Asia (eg @Intiniki)

I'll do bite sized chunks I promise! But we learnt some lessons that may help others

Planning

We flew via Bangkok - this is economically important as there are SO many airlines who fly there and so you can get very good deals. Our plan was about the cost (1/3rd of the cost of other airlines via Gulf Air who were actually better than Lufthansa - sure they only had 6 movies and only served Beer, Wine Whisky & Vodka but they had better legroom than Emirates KLM or Lufthansa.

The unexpected benefit was that we chose to stay 2 nights - to give a full day to get some shopping (ie below knees shorts for Mrs D_P) needed for "the jungle" - the BENEFIT was that we got the 3 hours jet lag out of our system. Coming from Europe Jet Lag could utterly screw up a trip to Siem Reap (see below) 

There is a huge choice of airlines flying from Bangkok (BKK and Don Muang) - full service and low cost. We chose Bangkok Airways from BKK simply because we could take 30kg each and the cost was only about $10 each extra. They actually served a 3 course "meal" and beer on a 55 minute flight - A320 standard legroom, clean and on time.

Siem is a mass of hotels from huge 5 star resort machines processing tour groups down to Boutique Hotels. We stayed in a 12 room 4 Star Boutique for $38 per night inc breakfast. It was a 7 minute Tuk Tuk ($2) from the centre of town 

http://www.laroseblancheboutique.com/

Because Vuthy was busy on our first full day the hotel gys arranged the Tuk Tuk Driver for us - they are tied to the hotel so WAY safer than going all back packer and finding a guy from the street to save $2.50

Visas

Most countries do NOT need a Visa for Thailand - you need PATIENCE - Bangkok Immigration is a SLOW process (make sure you fill in your landing card!) Transit (to KOH or Phuket) means you clear immigration & customs at the arrival point so make sure you DON'T lose your sticker!

Cambodia NEEDS a Visa for all of us. Yes they do Visa on arrival. yes it is cheaper than online. BUT when we landed at Siem Reap airport, there were 3 people ahead of us in the passport queue. There were about 200 in the queue for Visa on Arrival. So, don't arse about get your Visa online - takes 24 hours to get it and we saved at least an hour at the airport!

Siem Reap

So we planned to see Angkor. It is a National Park, it is huge. There are two "routes" Grand Loop or Big Circle (tour) and Inner Loop or small tour. You need 2 days to do these. Your FIRST task is to decide when to buy your ticket. IF you buy up to 4:30pm you can enter the park that day (1 day 3 day or more passes $72 for 3 days which you can use over a week or so). 

You can pre-book Vuthy via his web ste or via Facebook messenger - he is a gem. Huge Saints Fan but SUCH a nice guy. He charged us LESS than the going rate for the 3 days he drove us round so for someone who never tips he was over the moon when I gave him a 30% tip - to be honest? Our time with him was priceless

Book your Tuk Tuk in Siem Reap

Grand circle covers all the "not in the middle Temples" - to be honest we loved these as much as Angkor itself, I was climbing all over them. We did this on day 1 with a 7am hotel pick up by Tuk Tuk. Hotels start breakfast at 6:30 you need it but their service is SO SLOW!

The Tuk Tuk Driver takes you to the temples in the right order, you can buy a guide book for about $20 or download the online guide to word documents for your phone (much easier) The driver CANNOT take you around the Temple - you either rent a tour guide or read the stuff yourself or do what we did - take thousands of photos and drool. First trick is the early start gets you ahead of the millions of Chinese tour groups who are a pain in the butt and swarm over everything you want to take a picture of. Equally you REALLY need to have some basic photography skills - the lighting is harsh and getting good shots meant I had to bracket almost every scene I took with my Canon EOS. We also used a Powershot, Galaxy A7 Galaxy Camera Phone and a Note 4 - 60% of the pictures were useless after about 9am hence it needs planning!

The rainy season is the European Summer - try and avoid that. The Dry season is normally 28C plus - it was 14C when we left the hotel so we needed thermals! (14C 60kph Tuk tuk wind chill - do the maths!. You DO need to be "healthy" to cope and climb everywhere, but I managed so you one level above couch potato will be fine.

There are a ton of restaurants for lunch your driver gets a free lunch for taking you there. 

BECAUSE it was cooler we actually got round the Grand Loop without wilting and so after lunch we carried on and visited the "other" "not in the middle" temples. We were done by about 3pm and had covered about 15kms walking.

Back to the hotel for a snooze and then dinner and a much needed massage.

The Town

It is a boom town, it is also clean and (reasonably) safe - but do heed the warnings about bag snatching on the streets and from tuk tuks. All the guides focus on Pub Street being the centre and so we went there. It was kind of shit. Not nasty, it was just that we went, had a beer had a meal but actually away from there (and the tourist market) we found other streets - Might Market Street and Sak Son Road that had restaurants and bars where the food was better and about 20% cheaper (although Pub Street IS cheap) - We didn't like it because it was trying to be Koh Samui or Phuket without the go-go bars. Also there are a number of Happy Pizza places great pizza and free herbal toppings once you get off that street.

Shopping was VERY limited - 7/11's for basic needs but clothing wise - fantastic if you want T Shirts Fake Under Armour gear or Elephant Pants & Back Packs. There are a smattering of Duty Free Shops selling local made original gear Columbia, North Face, Jack Wolfskin, and lots of souvenir type stuff.

TBH you should be too knackered to want to go clubbing. Just a nice dinner and a cocktail or two. Mallis is a great fine dining restaurant. You should also catch up with Travel Mush.

Food choice is perfect. We usually had Spring Rolls ($1 away from Pub Street) you can have Vietnamese style (cold) or chinese style deep fried. Almost every Cambodian dish has a kind of sweetness to it. On the whhole it is NOT spicy having said that I did come a cropper on a red chilli by accident twice! I had (local) Pepper Steak and chips a couple of times ($7.50) Most Curries are actually very sweet - not a big fan of Amok or their Curry but I did eat it. And yes plenty of burgers grilled stuff - in fact 70% of their stuff seemed to be cooked on charcoal grills

OK that was our day one 

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Yes my wonky knees got up and down this stuff!

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Yes that is me being all Laura Croft. Wearing a Hoodie.

I'm slowly building the albums on FB in lower res.

Having had a huge walking day one we planned "Further Afield" and "The Lake" for our next two days. Will lump them into one post for you.

Could you do Angkor in a day? Yes IF you are really fit. BUT you need to see Angkow Wat at sunrise - that means a 5am departure from your hotel. Then you need to see a sunset - which is around 17:45 - not sure 12 hours in the Temples is the right thing to do. We visited enough on day 1 to save half a day later in the week. We REALLY needed that down time. Anyway - Further Afield is an adventure that you really should not miss out on! And as for the sundowners ....

 

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Goatboy posted this 2 weeks ago

I really want to go back nowlou_sad

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Dubai_Phil posted this 2 weeks ago

Originally posted by Goatboy

I really want to go back now

 I'm telling a story 

Don't jump to the last page too soon GB

😎

 

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Goatboy posted this 2 weeks ago

Hurry up and get to the bit where you find yourself in a sleazy bar snuggling up to a wrong 'un with a long 'un then.lou_wink2

Dubai_Phil posted this 2 weeks ago

It wasn't in a bar Goatie

OK The Alien connection (PMSL, yawn. So many errors - externals of Angkor yet statues from Banteay, c'mon)

 

Dubai_Phil posted this 2 weeks ago

Oof.

Obviously I'm still downloading stuff but this (Canon EOS 300mm f5.6 1/1000th Exposure +0.7 step).

Tonle Sap Lake Sundowners

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