Is it necessary to get a guide for Angkor?
30th December, 2008
I understand that it's beneficial to get a guide for Angkor Wat. Any ideas on how and where to get an English speaking guide?
Are there any websites or travel agents to go to?
#1 Posted: 1/1/2009 - 14:15
19th June, 2008
Total reviews: 14
When I was there in 2007, I hired a tuk tuk driver who spoke English. He may not have been an "official" guide, but he had grown up around Siem Reap and knew Angkor like the back of his hand. Not only did he take me to unexpected parts of the extended Angkor complex, he also taught me the history as we went (and talked about Cambodian life/culture in general). He even stopped at a country home in the area so I could see what life was like for Cambodians there! His name was Tong and I found him right outside of the Dead Fish restaurant/guesthouse.
Now, not all drivers are going to be so good, so you really need to feel someone out before you commit... How good is their English? How willing are they to go "off the beaten path"? Are they nice, patient, smiling, talkative, etc.? My feeling is that finding a good driver is not only cheaper than paying for a guided tour, it may be a more genuine experience too.
Of course, this is just my opinion and I've never done the guided tour thing so I can't compare. I can say, though, that my experience at Angkor was among the most unforgettable in my life, thanks in large part to Tong.
#2 Posted: 2/1/2009 - 00:01
2nd January, 2009
My daughter and I travelled to Siem reap in 2008 and want to return for at least two weeks. Can we get a guide that will take us out to some of the lesser visited ruins that most tourists go to?
Where would we find a guide that speaks good english and that has a knowledge of these other ruins?
We have heard there are lots of these ruins that we can get access to.
Where can we get a map of ruins that are acccessable by some type of track?
#3 Posted: 2/1/2009 - 03:42
Simple answer: Don't worry, your hotel will organise a guide for you. There are so many guides with major language fluency available.
Complex answer: do you really want/need a guide?
Unless you are flying in, doing a day, and flying out, a guide may not be your best option.
Let's assume you have more time available, and you really want to digest the enormity of the Angkor complex.
May I suggest an alternate option...
I spent time at Siem Reap 'temple-ing' last October. I didn't use a guide, and as I travelled around the area according to my own plan, I'm glad I didn't. As I wandered around the temple sites, I often encountered a group with a guide. What I heard from the guide, I'd read in a text before arriving in Cambodia. Simply, the 'audience' paid a guide to save themselves from doing background research.
Let me explain an alternative option...
I had 4 days in Siem Reap . I spent only 3 touring the area. Reason: even with a prepared plan, I got 'templed out'. Lesson? Be careful how you plan to 'do' Angkor .
I talked to tourists who just went to the best preserved (4-star) temple sites, and those who tried to see as much as possible. I noted that aside from world heritage 'status', few had any comprehension of the significance of the Angkor complex, the reason why there are so many 'temples', or the purpose of the building 'programme'.
I conjunction with my own 'experience', I deduced that the sheer complexity of the area requires one to (1) have a basic idea of the Khmer 'purpose' and (2) have a 'plan' to 'discover' the Khmer 'purpose'.
I read Lonely Planet, and adopted one of their suggestions: view the complex according to the development time line. I found this to be helpful (but I still got 'templed out' after 3 days). In hindsight, if I'd known, I'd have spent the 1st 2 days 'doing' up to 1100AD, then spent a day doing something else, then returning for post 1100AD.
This would rest on you doing some homework before you go. There are so many 'guide-books' to assist. And, the guide-books can generally be put into 3 categories:
Those that provide a summary of Angkor as part of the broader travel 'discussion'. For example, Lonely Planet. These are good to learn some basics before you begin.
Guide books specific to Angkor . Each hotel offers a free 'Visitors Guide'. This includes maps, a time horizon, a brief description of the sites (as well as other tourist attractions). This is what thew tuk-tuk drivers use, so its in your interests to utilise this 'guide'.
Specific texts that address the complexities of the Angkor 'civilisation', and the temple building programme. You can buy these outside Cambodia (around $30 per text), or buy at Angkor . If you choose the latter, touts at the major tuk-tuk parking spots will offer you a $30 text for about $5 (plus much more).
The spatial layout of the Angkor area necessitates you hiring a tuk-tuk. Every tuk-tuk driver will lobby you to secure him (never saw a her) for your daily tour program.
If you develop a 'plan' - that is, identify where you want to go, what you want to see, when you want to start each day, and when you want to finish - you can discuss this with tuk-tuk drivers to obtain a reasonable price (as everywhere in Asia, locals will try and get you to spend your money at 'top dollar' rates: so bargain).
The 'price' you decide upon will include fuel, and any fines (he incurs). Budget to buy the tuk-tuk driver coffee & lunch (expected): you will get much more information/support (to stop being ripped off, don't go to the cafe that he chooses - select your own).
Most tuk-tuk drivers will surprise you with their English skills. But, they won't act as a guide. There appears to be a code wherein guides do their 'thing', and tuk-tuk drivers don't impose. That said, most will know all the 'usual' sites as well as the obscure places. The 'problem' with the 'obscure' places is that the tuk-tuk driver doesn't want to spend the fuel cost to take you too far from Siem Reap . It is for that reason I suggest you discuss the 'plan' before you begin.
I suggest that as a result of 'doing it yourself', you'll get much more out of the visit than listening to a 'guide' rattling on (and rattling on, and rattling on ...) to the point of you 'switching off'.
#4 Posted: 2/1/2009 - 19:27
30th December, 2008
Thanks to all for the advice.
Now I can make a more informed decision about getting a guide.
#5 Posted: 2/1/2009 - 21:26
I just came across the most detailed website about Angkor ever. I wish I had known about it before I went.
The only comment I would add is that with the current 'credit crisis', tourists are thin on the ground and so prices are more negotiable.
#6 Posted: 3/1/2009 - 09:29
2nd January, 2009
GREAT INFO THANKS ALL.
WE REALISE WE NEED A TUK TUK DRIVER SO WILL GET ONE FROM AROUND THE PLACE WHEN WE GET THERE OR AT VILLA SIEM REAP ( WHERE WE INTEND TO STAY).
DON'T NEED A GUIDE BUT ONLY NEED A MAP OF ACCESSIBLE RUINS OTHER THAN THE MAIN ONES THAT WE HAVE ALREADY VISITED.
WE ARE TOLD THERE ARE HEAPS OF RUINS THAT WE CAN GO TO NOT OFTEN VISITED BY TOURISTS BUT KNOWN BY LOCALS.
I GUESS WE NEED A PASS TO GO TO ANY OF THESE RUINS AS WELL AS THE MAIN ONES?
WE WOULD REVISIT THE MAIN ANGKOR WAT RUINS, BUT THIS TIME WOULD NOT NEED A GUIDE WITH US AS THE ONE WE HAD EXPLAINED ALL THE HISTORY WHEN WE WENT THERE LAST YEAR.
WILL ALSO LOOK ON THAT TALESOF ASIA SITE.
THANKS FOR ALL INFO
#7 Posted: 4/1/2009 - 03:22
2nd January, 2009
have decided to do the day trip from Siem Reap to:
Bantaey Srey, Banteay Samer, Kbal Spean and Beng mealea.
Can anyone advise whicj oreder these temples go from siem reap.
I would assume that we would arrive at banteay Srey first. In relation to here, how far to the other three temple complexes and in which direction. Can't seem to find much mapping for this area.
#8 Posted: 6/1/2009 - 06:50
Banteay Samre is on the way to Banteay Srey (about 3km from the main Angkor complex).
And, Banteay Samre is to the right past the village of Pradak.
Bantaey Srey is about 40 kn from Siem Reap, and takes about 25 mins from the main Angkor complex.
Kbal Spean is a further 12km from Banteay Srey.
If you look at:
You will see that Kbal Spean is another 12 km past Banteay Srey.
The ruins at Beng Mealea are some 75km from Siem Reap, and apparently requires a separate day 'trip'.
This site begins with:
"A trip to Beng Mealea, which in itself demands an entire day, can be combined with a hunting party, since the region is rich in both small and large game and wild animals; - tigers, panthers and elephants, herds of oxen and wild buffalo inhabit the forest as far as Prah Khan of Kompong Svay in the east...."
Also check out:
If you go to:
and move the + - marker to about half way along, you'll see two dialogue boxes - 1 to the north, and 1 to the east (a long way east).
The one to the north appears to be Banteay Srey, while the one to the east looks like Beng Mealea.
#9 Posted: 6/1/2009 - 07:24
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