http://www.canbypublications.com/ for useful information maps etc
If you use the minivan to Cambodia from Kaosan rd note the following: 1) they will try and overcharge you for visa (just say you have it already) 2) they will then try and get you to exchange you money but Cambodia operates on $’s US so no need. Also once the other side they will try and get you to take shared taxi to Siem Reap not the the bus you were promised. Once in Siem Reap you get free taxi to your GH and there the tuk tuk drivers will extract money from them, which means you will pay more for your room. The drivers will also try and get you to take them for your day trip ro Angkor wat I always arrange with the GH not the outside drivers. Just one bad experience; where the driver wanted to head back to Siem Reap at lunchtime, whereas I had booked him for all day and sunset at Bakheng.
From Laos border I just think my following experience is worthy of a read lol. My previous entry was also not without problems but that was an unofficial border at Wernkham before they opened the road.
For years now that border even Wernkham was rife with corruption ie demanding $25-$50 for speed boat fees, between Stung Tren and Wernkham by the boat Mafia and now its an official crossing fro corrupt immigration the following is my experience yesterday 6th January.
First the rip off merchants charging up to $29 visa on Don Det when it should be $20.
So finally we head off to the border and exit Lao side I jumped out first from the minivan intent on getting to the counter before anyone else which I succeeded. He demanded $2 exit fee and I reminded him by saying “Govt Official no fee!” he stopped examining my passport and told me to move aside from the window to allow the next person in I refused and reminded him, “no one goes next till I get my exit stamp, after this impasse he then stamped my passport and I exited Laos without paying the fee Ha! Ha! However the girl behind me heard what had been said and said I too govt official (I never said that even if it was inferred I just meant it was Govt official no charge to exit LOL) So he promptly shut the window and went for breakfast. Next was some bogus quarantine section on the Cambodian side, where they measure your temperature and charge you $2 for the privilege I refused and walked past saying I am already quarantined so no need. They did not block me.
NEXT the real problem I stood alone in front of VOA office window Cambodian side as he opened his case and demanded £25 then adjusted to $23 for visa I refused handed him $20 note and waited He refused and demanded $23 as he spoke English I again said “GOVT OFFICIAL $20!!” this didn’t wash with him so he said “NO VISA go away” so I WALKED INTO HIS OFFICE AND SAT DOWN IN THE SPARE CHAIR AND QUIETLY SAID. “If you dont give me my visa for $20 next year you will be transferred to the jungle border Ratinikiri OK! also let me see your ID and name please, now give me your telephone so I can call Hung Sens office in Phnom” “I also said I would stop any further visa applications and cause a scene
unintimidated by this he told me me to get out of his office, or he will call police to arrest me. He then shouted to the policemen at passport control, but they pointed to a great crowd walking across border from the Laos side and they must have said something to him , I personally think it was because the others behind me were finally crossing the border with the Lao immigration having returned from breakfast and demanding $2 per person corruption fees Ha! Ha! Which meant more problems if they followed m,y example.
So conceding to their suggestions he opened his case and angrily gave me my visa and stamped me into Cambodia. I felt quite sick at the stress of the events and wondered whether it was worth the $7 SAVED But corruption is killing the Cambodian economy and I feel it’s time something was done to stamp out this disgusting habit that offends most visitors who enter Cambodia whether like me from Laos or from Poipet, Hat Lek and other land border crossings into Cambodia.
Anyway wish you were here and if this $2 fees + that stupid quarantine issue (I remember a similar one in 1999 Poipet border) then write to Govt offices complaining and naming even photographing them at the border
From the Laos border the bus will take you to Phnom Pen it also stops outside Kompong Cham for change over to buses heading for Siem Reap at Skuon
When you finally arrive at phnom Pen late evening you will be dropped off outside the city at a prearranged spot, where Tuk Tuks are waiting to overcharge you for the 3 km ride into town. Just walk away and head down the road until one agrees to do it into city centre for less than $3 Unless of course you book Soroya bus company and they take you to their bus station again use this bus company for bus to Siem Reap
I always stayed on the lake at Happy Guest house street 258 Long Nget but since they moved everyone out and filled in the take the backpacker area is close to the Palace tel 023 692 6525 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
recently I have been staying shared twin rooms at reasonable prices
http://angkorinternationalhotel.com/ ie $30 for twin bed room and very central close to markets and river front. Good food at Sinan restaurant 172 st from Angkor hotel walk towards river to market turn right and 2 streets on right. Lots of reasonably priced restaurants in this area . also first thing after breakfast head for Te sleung museum get there for 9am and make sure you see the video, A heart rending story. Then after go to Russian market and have lunch here its quite close to the Te sleung museum but has great food and also lots of tourist buys then after lunch here head for the National Museum which is a must, maybe even make it to see what has happened to the Bakeung lake now filled in by Chinese enterprise and further development stopped after moving everyone out a sad loss to Phnom Pen.
From Phnom Pen head for Siem Reap and leave Cambodia minivans to Koh Chang direct or then onto Battambang and exit via Paillin border alternatively if you go Angkor Wat to Phnok pen and sihanoukville from Sihanoukville you can head to Koh Kong exiting via Hat Lek border to Trat & Koh Chang this website is very helpful for travellers to Cambodia http://www.canbypublications.com/
If Sihanoukville there are a number of different beaches serendipity, independence but for me quiet and peaceful evenings are essential so I stayed Otres beach where ‘Done right’ is always recommended I moved out of one place run by an Aussie manager into ‘I don’t know,’ but things have changed a lot since then. I went to Kep from Sihanoukville and onto koh Kong and left by hat lek border to Trat and Koh Chang. just on road out of town at Kep is great GH Visal sak with good food and atmosphere and rooms at reasonable prices although the beach is nothing to write home about. Its also on the bus route to Koh Kong and border to Thailand.
If you head for Paillin from Battambang (Inm Battamabng do the bamboo railway and temple on hill ) I stayed Asia Hotel reasonable prices and good rooms with hot showers. it’s a 5 hr bus ride away to Paillin but I suggest cross over to Thailand same day and head direct for Chantaburi and Trat (Koh Chang) by pick up and bus etc
Most Guest houses are close to the Old Market or on the road nearby, Phsar Krom road I recommend green Town House and have stayed there since 1999 even before they rebuilt it.
Angkor Wat and Temples
When you arrive finally at your GH in Siem Reap, book your Mobo tuk tuk driver for early next am normally $15 per day from 6am – Sunset
Books to read on Angkor:
Dawn Rooney’s ANGKOR is best.
Don’t forget If you pay $2 -$4 [photocopies] for her book Dawn Rooney doesn’t get copyright fees.
also Ancient Angkor by Michael Freeman is Pictorial book with useful information on routes etc
I’ve only done Angkor Wat 5 times and had only one day in 1999 and august 2003.
book your Motorbike [my choice for 1 or 2 persons] $6 with GH when you arrive for early next morning 6am and only book through Gh as they have their reputation to keep. One year I needed to get to the GH I stayed at in 9pm and motorbike taxi said i take you free to Gh and if you hire me for day to Angkor Wat. He was so unhelpful and wanted to go back to Siem Reap at 1pm also wanted to charge me extra for the long route. I never had problems with GH drivers. 6am head off $20 1 day ticket $40 3 days payable at kiosk.
best order to see temples: main ones are a must to see but also others in between worthy of quick peep.