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Thread: siem reap with/without phnom phem

  1. #1

    Default siem reap with/without phnom phem

    Hi guys, its my first solo backpacking trip..and I'm thinking to go Cambodia before finding a job..

    Currently feeling lost at whether should I just go SR or both PP? If just SR, I guess one week would be enough and two weeks for both places?

    Wondering if 500 sgd budget would it be enough for 11 days trip?

    I'm more interested in temples and local lifestyle when comparing to seasides..

    And for first timer solo trip, do people usually hire a tour guide to bring around?
    Last edited by -star-; 17th July 2012 at 08:57 PM. Reason: lower budget

  2. #2

    Default Re: siem reap with/without phnom phem

    One week is actually enough for both places. If you have two weeks, you can do some other places in Cambodia. If you are very into temples and am sure you will not get a overdose of it, you can go for a 3 day Angkor Wat pass, gg there during sunrise or sunset for photos. If you worry about an overdose, then get a 1 day pass/ticket. The temples looked pretty much the same after a while, since they are built in the same era. You can view the local markets or take a trip to a fishing village if you have too much time left after doing a one day temple visit. For PP, you can do both the killing fields and the museum in half a day. You can spend the rest of the time wandering around other places.

    1k is more than enough for 2 weeks for Cambodia, esp if you are travelling backpacking style. If you stay at hostels or guesthouses, your accommodation is not gg to cost you more than $20. Of cos, if you have more requirements, then the accommodation will cost more. Food and transport are relatively cheap in Cambodia. It is a third world country after all. I spent only $500 for my 2 weeks there a few years back.

    There is no "is it necessary" when it comes to hiring a tour guide. It all boils down to your own preference. If you will like someone to bring you around, without you having to keep checking the maps and also have someone rambling on about the history as you visit the temples, then of course, you can hire yourself a guide. If you are someone who really likes DIY and prefer to save money, you can just go without a guide. If you are staying in backpackers hostels/guesthouses, these places are usually well equipped and can offer you travel advice. You can just book your transport to sights through them, especially if you are not sure of how to do things on your own since it is your first time. All you have to pay for is the car and the driver. You can then arm yourself with a guidebook and walk around the temples, looking at the info in the guidebook as a reference. If you prefer to join up with other people, you can always sign up for one of the many tours that hostels/guesthouses offer. It gives you a chance to mix with other travellers, and you can have someone guiding you. Tours to popular tourists sights goes everyday, you just have to sign up with the hostels/guesthouses the day before.

    Take note that in Cambodia, you will probably get hassled a lot by kids who want you to buy stuff from them. Do not buy anything from them nor give them money as this is NOT helping them but is encouraging them to stay out of school. Also, you can be sure that if you buy from one child, you will be surrounded by many children within minutes, all clamouring for you to buy stuff from them.

    Hope this helps. Feel free to PM if you have more questions.

  3. #3

    Default Re: siem reap with/without phnom phem

    I just came back from solo backpack in PP and SR. 2Night PP and 3Night SR. Basically the 1st day i arrived in PP in the afternoon, i went to visit Royal palace area and had dinner and then went to Nagaworld. 2nd day went Killing field and S21, Wat Phnom. Din managed to go Russian market thou. 3rd day morning took bus to SR and visit Angkor Wat with the free entrance if you purchase the 3 day pass after 4.45pm.4th and 5th day visited the Grand tour and small circuit tour and Banteay Srey too. 6th day did street shots in old market area before flying back home. A tuktuk from PP airport to town is USD7. Personally i feel 2 night in PP is enough. A 1 day tuktuk cost me $15.

    In SR, i hired a tuktuk from the same driver who drove me to my hotel when i alighted the bus. He charged me $40 for full 2 days (Including 1 sunrise + Banteay Srey) temple. As its my solo photography trip, i dont need a tourguide to explain the history of the ancient city.

  4. #4

    Default Re: siem reap with/without phnom phem

    1k is enough to do many things (you can live like a prince for 1 week)...I went both PP and SR in June and here's my iternary for 6 days:

    1st day: Arrived in PP (late afternoon), dinner and wallkabout the town.
    2nd day: Went to Killing fields, followed by Quad Bike tour around the villages and farms and also visit S21 and Grand Palace.
    3rd day: Took a bus trip (Mekong Express) to SR. Went walk around the old market area and night market.
    4th day: Angkor Wat 1 full day (abit chiong) Grand tour, small circuit and Banteay Srey. (Reached at 5am for sunrise shot and ended tour about 5pm, hired a driver US$25 for 1 full day in a Toyota Camry, additional $10 to go Banteay Srey as it is quite far from Angkor Wat.)
    5th day: Went for full day floating village tour, an eye opener for me. Organised by non - profit organisation Osmose. (7am to 4pm) Night go dinner and walk around night market again.
    6th day: Horse riding around villages and farms in the morning before leaving back to sg at 1pm.

    I am not a 'temple guy', so Angkor Wat was impressive at first but soon I found many of the small indivdual temples are kinda similar. The part I enjoyed most is the visiting around the villages, farms. The most educational trip is the one by Osmose, as the guide explained the ecosystem, lifestyle of the villages and how do they make their living and overcome some of the challenges posed by nature.

    I brought lots of stationary such as cheap pencils, pens, notebooks for them. This is one way to stop them from hogging around me trying to hard sell their items. Just for your information, the price for the items they sell is significantly cheaper than ones bought in markets. You will be surprised how some of these kids are fluent in different languages, including Chinese.

    The floating village includes visiting the villages floating in the middle of the river by sampan boat. Wanted to include visit to bird santuary for birding but June is not the ideal time as the river water level is too low to reach there by boat.

    Do visit tripadvisor for tips too. The floating village trip has a guide (no choice but good to have), Angkor Wat the driver can be a semi guide (at least mine can). The rest I see no need for any guide. I like Cambodia, generally I feel that the people are more friendly and honest compared to Thailand (my personal opinion). Taking tuk tuk at night, remember to say NO to "making new female friends" LOL .

    Just to share, my setup is canon G1X (compact with zoom) for general shots, DSLR with fast prime (85f1.4, 135 f2) for portrait shots of the villagers, esp kids. I would love to go again on solo trip (my trip was accompanied by 3 'tai-tai' girls so I had little chance to really slow down and take photos.)

    Just some sample shots:
    Last edited by gundamseed84; 16th July 2012 at 07:58 AM.

  5. #5

    Default Re: siem reap with/without phnom phem

    thanks bro for all the recommendation After researching for information, i have drafted out a itinerary..please give any advice

    Day 1:
    -Flight landed at 1pm (Phnom Penh), check in guesthouse
    -walk around

    Day 2:
    -Russian Market
    -Wat Phnom

    Day 3:
    -National Museum
    -Royal Palace
    -Killing Field

    Day 4:
    -Bus to Battambang (~4hrs by Mekong Express?)
    -Battamang, bamboo train

    Day 5:
    -Walk around? anymore attraction for this place?

    Day 6:
    -Bus to Siem Reap (~4hrs)
    -Angkor Wat (3Days pass)

    Day 7:
    -Angkor Thom (w/wo grand tour circuit?)
    -Ta Prohm (w/wo small tour circuit?)

    Day 8:
    -Banteay Srey for sunrise
    -Bayon Temple (is this near the angkor wat? how long can be reached by tuk tuk from angkor wat nearby?)

    Day 9:
    -Tonle Sap Lake (via boat or bus, traveling time? Do i need to spend a night here?)
    -flight back sg or stay 2 more night in SR.. It's either i have a 11 Days or 9 Days trip due to the air ticket..any advice which is better?

    Any recommendation for guesthouse or hostel in a walk-able distant from Angkor Wat? and in Phnom Penh near the attractions?

    A few noob questions here..
    1)does the hostel provide laundry washing, do i need to bring along washing powder etc? =X
    2)For whole trip, is it advisable to bring a track shoes along or slipper will do?
    3)Found online that many said it is enough to bring USD along, the tuk tuk and food places all paid with USD?
    Last edited by -star-; 17th July 2012 at 07:42 PM. Reason: mixed up, should reach PP first than SR

  6. #6

    Default Re: siem reap with/without phnom phem

    For Day 1 ,estimate u leave guesthouse around 3-4pm. Enough to just visit Angkor Wat alone for a Sunset shot.
    For Day 2 , wake at 5, reach Angkor Wat for a sunrise shoot before 6 (Loads of people there by then). Leave at 7 for Ta Prohm instead. Very popular so bus loads of people come in after breakfast around 9 after returning to their hotel from watching the sunrise. Very magical when no else there but U. Spent the rest of the day visit other sights .
    Day 3, Sunrise at Bayon before the bus-loads come in. It is just 10 mins away from Angkor Wat actually. Banteay Srey is a problem though cause it is 2-3 hrs drive away. Tuk tuk not recommanded., I tried, very slow. A car is better if U can share it with others. Better to do it in the afternoon.
    Day 4 , the lake , depends on who U sign up with to go there. Best U ask your guesthouse. Most are just morning or evening boat tours (1-2hrs) 45 mins drive there. No overnight that I know off.
    Rest of place, never been there so info for U.

    Questions. No need for washing powder. track shoes better, Mostly USD for food and drinks.

  7. #7

    Default Re: siem reap with/without phnom phem

    1. i suggest you getting a guide for the temple tours. although may be there just to take photos but its also good to at least know what you are shooting and some background history on the place. i personally liked the trip with the guide.

    2. definitely track shoes or covered shoes for the temple tours, other roaming around can be done in slippers so its best to bring both.

    3. they mostly use USD for round sum amounts, only if they incur cents in usd will they return you with their local currency. however this currency is not exchangeable back to sgd in most sg money changers so spend as you have and try not to keep too much (but do have spares, because street exchange rates are not as good)

    4. normally the guesthouses will provide service and offer tours, but be careful of the prices as they may charge you much more. i paid US15 + US30 for a tuktuk and guide for a one day tour for a group of 3. if you are going for a three day tour may be x3 of the price

    5. the place in siem reap is quite small. so it won't be too far to travel from place to place, if you are taking a tuktuk around (those for hire outside on the street) it should cost US2 to get to anywhere, but walking is feasible as well. it is not unsafe as due to tourism many police have been assigned on the roads (esp siem reap) and it is safe to walk around at night as well.

    6. 11 days just bring more clothes, can buy some singlets e.g. locally as well to reduce the heft of carrying there. but note when visiting the temples wear covered shoes, non-sleeveless shirt and also pants below knee level. if not they can decline your entrance.

    7. phnom penh is quite a modern place (of course do not compare to singapore) and theres quite a lot of things to be seen there. i only spent 1 day there was quite rush. i guess 2 days would be good. i went to the royal palace (30mins before it closed, wasted some money) but there was few people inside by then. good to take pictures then, so maybe could go earlier to visit and stay till closing time for some shots. went to wat phnom as well, definitely do-able in one day (both places). also can check out sisowath quay during evening. locals like to exercise there and hang out, good place for portraits

    8. maybe you can check out phnom krom when you are in siem reap, roughly 2km south of the main town area. climb a mountain for good view of the lake and the plantations beside, and one ruin temple on top good for sunset shots. when i was there it rained so wasted trip (rainy season) but its a rural environment. there are many friendly villagers and can really see how the lake is their source of life. also how they build their houses to suit the environment, a lot of portrait shot opportunities here as well. i paid 10US for a tuktuk there and back to my guesthouse.

    9. i stayed at HI siem reap when i was in siem reap. reasonable price and beside the night market but the guesthouse's water is really strong in iron content, when bathing or brushing teeth really feel bad (can taste easily). not really recommended if you are staying a lot of days.

    10. i stayed at aqua boutique guesthouse at phnom penh. super good and awesome services with breakfast e.g., 10+US per night. they got their own registered tuktuk drivers also so its very trustworthy.

    hope the information helps!
    Last edited by shiosaki; 17th July 2012 at 03:36 PM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: siem reap with/without phnom phem

    Ok, finally remember the name of guesthouse I stayed in. Golden Temple Villa near the old market & Pub street. Enjoy your trip.

    Sample pics
    Angkor Wat Trip 2010 - a set on Flickr


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