SIEM REAP INFORMATION

Siem Reap, literally "Siam Defeated". These days, however, the only rampaging hordes are the tourists heading to Angkor and this once quaint village has become the largest boomtown and construction site in Cambodia. It's quite laid-back and all in all a pleasant place to stay while touring the temples. It's a nice compromise between observing Cambodian life and enjoying the amenities of modern services and entertainment, thanks to the large expatriate community in Siem Reap. As business has increased, so have the numbers of people wanting your custom, and so have the prices, which are often double or more what you would pay elsewhere in Cambodia. Expect to receive almost constant offers for motodop and tuk-tuk rides, along with everything else which drivers may be able to offer to you.

Be sure to pick up your free Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guide and the equally free and useful Siem Reap Pocket Guide from your hotel/guesthouse. It contains lots of info on Siem Reap and Angkor, including hotel/bar/restaurant/shop info, travel info, maps, etc. For the eco-sensitive tourist, check out "Stay Another Day: Cambodia," a detailed guide with local spots that support the environment and community.

By plane

Siem Reap - Angkor International Airport [2] (IATA: REP | ICAO: VDSR) has frequent flights from Phnom Penh. Internationally, there are direct
flightsto/from Korea (Seoul), Laos (Pakse | Vientiane | Luang Prabang), Malaysia (KualaLumpur),China (Guangzhou), Singapore, Taiwan (Kaohsiung | Taipei),Thailand (Bangkok | U-Tapao/Pattaya) and Vietnam (Danang | Hanoi | Ho Chi Minh City). Low-cost carriers Air Asia and Jetstar Asia now fly to Siem Reap from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore respectively, but the popular route to Bangkok is still monopolized by Bangkok Airways, which charges accordingly (around $350 US per person, round-trip for the 1-hour flight). Thai Airways has begun service from Bangkok as of 2009.

The airport is less than 15 minutes from the town centre by car (US$7) or motodop (US$4 or less). If you have an advance booking in a hotel, you can ask them for a free airport pickup (in one of their tuk-tuks). This way you can avoid the monopolistic taxi service in Siem Reap.

There are separate terminals for international and domestic flights. International departure tax is a steep US$25 (children US$13), payable after check-in and before clearing immigration. Often this can only be paid in cash, as the credit card facility is unreliable. Airport fee upon departure on national flights, to Phnom Penh, is US$6

By land

Cambodian highways have improved considerably in the last few years (although there's still plenty of room for further improvement) and some routes that were once epic adventures are now sealed roads. For most routes you have the basic options of chartering or sharing a Toyota Camry taxi, sharing a ride in a pickup truck, or if it's a sealed road, taking the bus.

From Phnom Penh
Roadside Petrol Cambodia-style There are several bus companies that you can take to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. The most popular bus companies with tourists include Capitol Transport, GST, and Mekong Express. Each bus company leaves from a different location, although there are many located around the Central Market. Nearly all of the bus companies have buses leaving at 7:30AM - 2:00PM, and the trip costs US$10-11. Expect to get to Siem Reap in 5-7 hours. In contrast to the Siem Reap-Poipet road, the entire road is paved, making for a much more comfortable ride. If you're driving yourself, watch out for the make-shift patrol petrol stations next to the road, selling petrol in old 2 litre Coke bottles. Much cheaper than the real thing, but who knows what the quality is... Most tour buses stop for a break half way between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh at Kompong Thom.
By boat

Fast, Soviet style Hydrofoils also make the journey from Phnom Penh across the Tonle Sap lake. Asking price for a "foreigner" ticket is typically US$35. There are also services between Siem Reap andBattambang (asking price US$15, pay US$10).

These can be fantastic trips which give travelers the opportunity to view life on the lake, floating houses, fishermen going about their work, and to get a sun tan if you choose to sit on the roof of the boat. However if you travel on a windy day and you have not kept waterproofs and sunscreen out of your luggage you could be in trouble. These journeys take anywhere from five to eight hours and without waterproofs and sunscreen you will become incredibly cold and will be burned by the sun at the same time. As the boat is generally packed with travelers, those on the roof will have to stay up there, and once your bags are in the hold, they stay there.

If you are planning a week long trip in Siem Reap, the boat journey is fine, but if you are only planning two to three days, take the bus. If you are specifically taking the boat to see the floating village, don't. The floating village is at the very end of the boat journey. You could ride the bus from Phnom Penh, get a guest house, take a tuk-tuk to the port, tour the floating village, and be back in Siem Reap before your friends arrive from Phnom Penh by boat.

A word of caution: If you find yourself taking the boat/bus and person asks for your name to have his friend pick you up, he is in actuality selling your name to a tuk-tuk driver in Siem Reap. This is a fairly convenient way to get from the port to Siem Reap, just be prepared for an extremely hard sell to one of his select guest houses, restaurants, etc. If you just "roll with it" he will take you to a guest house and you will quoted US$10 for a normally priced US$6-8 room. Since the tuk-tuk driver has now pinned you for a "sucker", he will try to sell you on his services to the temples for about US$15-20 a day. Be firm, and negotiate, they will bend towards the market rate. You'll never really be ripped off, but keep in mind that if you are staying for longer than four days, that tuk-tuk surplus would be much better served through a charitable donation.

Get around

On foot

Most of the sights in Siem Reap can be seen on foot. But be aware that most of the streets around town degrade into small swamps of muddy water and potholes of unknown depth following rain (almost daily in the wet season), making the roads a challenge to navigate.

By bicycle

Many guesthouses provide bicycles free for "round town" use, or US$1/day (single speed) and from US$2/day (with gears). It's also a good way to see Angkor on your own - the terrain is flat and most roads are decent - but leave early to avoid the mid-day heat. As of 2008, the electric bicycle renting agency is no longer in business.

By motorbike

For the foot-sore and sun-weary, you'll have plenty of offers from locals on motorbikes. Only the longest rides (within town) should be more than US$1 though prices go up at night. Simply agree a price and hop on the back.

You can also hire a motodop (motorbike taxi with driver) for a full day for US$8-10 or so. Some motodops may be able to provide you with a helmet if you request one in advance.

The rental of motorbikes to tourists in Siem Reap is prohibited. However, foreigners can ride motorbikes they've rented elsewhere (e.g. Phnom Penh).

By tuk-tuk

Tuk-tuk drivers can be hired for US$13 - $15/day for temples within the main part of the archaeological park. For temples or sights further afield, such as Banteay Srei, Beng Mealea or Kbal Spean, there will be an additional surcharge. The driver will arrange meeting places with you or wait where you tell them to. They are a great way to see the surroundings without the barrier of a car window. It should not be hard to find a tuk-tuk, as the service is offered anywhere you walk on the streets, especially in the touristy areas such as Pub Street. A word of advice: pay them for their services only after everything you have arranged is completed. For example, if you arrange for a later trip to the airport and pay them beforehand, chances are that you will have to find another ride. Although you can also bargain on the fees in advance please think of the fact that an extra dollar or couple of dollars is a great deal of money for your driver and his family.

By car

Guesthouses can usually arrange a driver and car for you; this works out at about US$25-30 per day and is a good way to visit the temples if time is short.

An additional and very convenient way to get around the area, and also get to and from the airport, is to use an 'official taxi', which are available at the airport for the fee of US$7 to the city and payable to the counter at the airport. Whilst in the taxi you will be offered the services of the car and the driver for US$25-30/day, which is very good value if you want to visit several temples in one day. They also have the added luxury of air conditioning, which you will be craving after walking around temples for a couple of hours The fee is payable directly to the driver, who will normally speak good English, have had training, and will have a proper driving license along with a good knowledge of the temples and surrounding area.

The Tourist Transport Association [3] also has an office just behind the tourist information office in Siem Reap, which you can contact if you have any questions or queries. All other services and prices are listed on the back of the receipt you receive when you pay the US$5 at the airport for the trip into town.