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Cambodia forum

Siem Reap. Angkor & Tonle Sap

Posted by BruceMoon on 7/8/2009 at 06:28

Over months, several prospective travellers have sought feedback on their itinerary, and when it comes to the Angkor ian Temples, it's sort of we must see them, but I'm planning only a day or two.

The tragedy of this statement is that the prospective traveller is spending more time getting to/from Siem Reap than actually looking at this World Heritage masterpiece.

I suggest people ought spend at a minimum, 4 FULL days at Siem Reap.

The pass to get into the Angkorian Temples is issued as either a 1 day pass, a 3 day day pass (but you can use over any 7 days) and a 7 day pass.

Most travellers that have not read books detailing the Angkorian temples are amazed at the sheer scale of area and number of temples. The entire Khmer Kingdom covered some 3000 square Km (1150 sq miles). The central Angkorian temple complexe at Siem Reap covers some 200 sq Km (or 75 sq miles).

Without doubt, 200 sq Km is a vast area. Even the centrepiece - Angkor Wat - covers some 2 sq Km! Think about how you would embrace walking around/through a building complex covering that area. And, this building is only one of hundreds.

To my mind, even three days hardly scratches the surface - but a traveller gets a reasonable idea of the scale, majesty and power of the Khmer Kingdom after about 3 days.

For a brief background idea of the Khmer Kingdom go look here.

I suggest the traveller go read a text on the Angkorian Temples before they visit. For example, the large section in Lonely Planet Cambodia is one of many good offerings. The reason? Because there is so much to see, the traveller needs to hire a tuk-tuk or similar to be carried around. While the tuk-tuk drivers are good, to get the best out of the visit the traveller needs to have a game-plan of what building they wish to visit. And, give the game-plan to the tuk-tuk driver to save time and money. But, reading up before hand also allows you to better grasp the fundamentals of the Kingdom's rulers (and why they built so many temples).

But there is also another reason. For most visitors without a game-plan, many say It's just a lot of buildings, I can't make sense of it. A game-plan allows you to make sense of the scale, size, and meaning complexity of the buildings.

Again, most travellers get tired of seeing ancient buildings for 3 days in a row.

I suggest a visit to Tonle Sap. This is a huge lake just south of the Angkorian temple complex. The Khmer Kingdom needed food and water; Tonle Sap provided this.

Another reason to visit Tonle Sap is because it is under threat of being removed. Tonle Sap is a huge backwater of the Mekong River (which begins in the Himalaya). During the wet season, Tonle Sap more than doubles in size. And, this huge freshwater inflow facilitates a massive increase in fishstock, and water for agriculture. Without doubt, it is one of the last largely undisturbed iconic ecological lake systems left in the world.

The Chinese are building several dams on the Mekong River. Environmentalists say that the effect of the dams will be that Tonle Sap will disappear. If this becomes the outcome, a visit to Tonle Sap is worth the effort merely to say "I went there before humans killed it".

Many visit Tonle Sap and get taken by a speedboat around the edge, only to see a few floating houses. The lake supports much more.

If you can, try and visit Kompong Khleang. Go here to see more detail about Kompong Khleang.

By taking 2 days to visit temples, the third day at Kompong Khleang on Tonle Sap provides a welcome respite.

The third day at the temples can be used to finish the game-plan and/or revisit temples that hold special appeal.

Hope this helps.


#1 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by BruceMoon on 7/8/2009 at 06:42


To other Travelfish contributors, please don't criticise aspects of what I have written. I am trying to help those seeking to enjoy the amazing wonder of the Angkorian Temples by allocating enough time to enjoy and understand this wonder.

If you can make positive suggestions that add to this post, please feel free.

On this post, criticisms merely denigrate the intention.


#2 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

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Posted by Jon_Mak_Mak on 9/8/2009 at 22:15

"To other Travelfish contributors, please don't criticise aspects of what I have written."

BrueMoon - Please don't take offence at what I'm about to say but.....

Are you joking????

I'm sorry but you pick apart every ones posts and then YOU TELL people not to do it to yours? I know I've been away for a little while but when did you start running the show? lol

You have posted on a public forum where ANYONE can disagree or criticise anything you or I write, after all, no one has asked you to write this guide have they?

In your posts I have noticed that you suggest everything but I don't think you have ever said anything based on your own 'actual experience'. Have you been to Thailand Bruce? I'm not taking the piss here mate but I would like to know because anyone can use GOOGLE and get answers to peoples questions and link to other sites/threads but I think people come on here to get info based on peoples experience and knowledge etc..

Please tell me, how many days did YOU stay in Seam Reap and what hotels have YOU stayed in. This would be more useful (IMHO) I read your comments on the Thai Food Thread but I didn't comment inti because I don't feel the need to comment on every signle thing posted but I noticed that you didn't actually say what your fav and not so fav Thai foods are. You just listed aload of exotic/strange thai food that i expect not even my wife has eaten. So, whats your favourite Thai food? (a one word anwser shall suffice)

Not having a go here mate, just feel that asking people here not to criticise your post is a bit hypocritical.

Shame we still don't have and EDIT BUTTON otherwise you could go back and edit that bit out of an otherwise helpful thread.

I've only responded to this as you have included me by saying "To other Travelfish contributors” Hey, that's me init!


(again no offence but just wanted to get that off my chest)

Feel free to criticise this post especially my “eglish grammer?

#3 Jon_Mak_Mak has been a member since 21/2/2007. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 464

Posted by Missis on 10/8/2009 at 05:50


I have recently been doing some research into Angkor as we will be visiting in December, I knew it was big, but didn't realise quite how big!

One of our party has difficulty walking great distances, but is OK for short spells. Does anyone have suggestions for the more physically challenged among us?! We have the time but some are more able than others.

Many thanks

#4 Missis has been a member since 6/8/2009. Posts: 30

Posted by somtam2000 on 10/8/2009 at 07:31 admin

It's a matter of opinion. If you have more than passing interest in the ruins, then Bruce's suggestions are good.

However, if you siply don't have the time for four days, don't feel bad, instead consider what we say in the Travelfish Guide to SiemReap and just make do with a one-day pass:

"Buy your temple pass after 16:00 the previous day and you're allowed to visit the monuments that afternoon, so start off with a late afternoon visit to Angkor then hustle up the Bakheng with every other soul in town for the sunset views. The next morning, be out of your guesthouse by 04:30 for dawn at Angkor, then skedaddle over to the Bayon before the hordes get there. Once you're done with Bayon, decamp somewhere for some noodles and coffee, then head back to Angkor Thom to take in the main sites -- Baphuon, the Palace enclosure and the terraces.

By now the day will be warming up, so get your picnic lunch out and have a leisurely meal beside Srah Srei (Women's Bath) in the Royal Palace enclosure -- well-shaded with comfy steps to relax on, this is a gem of a place to while away a few hours, and certainly beats heading back into dusty Siem Reap. Once you're recharged, pack up and head out at a very leisurely pace to Ta Phrom, continuing on through Bantaey Srei to Srah Srang, where there are more food and drink stalls. Take your time in these sites. As the sun starts to dip, you can head to the far end of Srah Srang for some great pictures, or perhaps back to Angkor Wat for another visit."

Yes it is a rush, but you're getting the highlights under your belt. If you've got very limited time in Cambodia, then I'd lean towards suggesting something like this which then allows you time to see some of the rest of the country, rather than eating up all your time seeing the ruins and leaving nothing for the attractions of modern day Cambodia.

@Missis -- there is plenty of transport available -- would sugegst taxi or tuk tuk to get between the monuments.

#5 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,943
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Posted by BruceMoon on 10/8/2009 at 08:19


Your post is inflammatory and unnecessary.

You've not been contributing for a while - fathering, perhaps.

In recent months, several 'new' contributors have asked for feedback on their itinerary. In all too many cases, the itinerary allocates heaps of time at the beaches, and a race through iconic places elsewhere in SE Asia. That's their call. However, when I've suggested 3 or 4 days minimum to them, they don't understand.

My 'post' was a way of limiting the continued explanation needed to explain the enormity of Angkor.

Whether a prospective traveller changes their mind once reading is anyone's guess. That they are better informed from Travelfish is beneficial.

And, that I don't have to repeat myself is good for me.


As helpful as your contribution is, you could have easily put your view as a Travelfish Story rather than as a (sellable) TravelFish guide.


#6 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by BruceMoon on 10/8/2009 at 08:21


When wandering around Angkor Wat, I noticed a western person in a wheelchair being pushed by what appeared a local person.

You don't say when you are going, but if reasonably soon, you may like to contact many of the hotels / Guest Houses in the area and ask whether one can hire a wheelchair and pushing person. Or, just a wheelchair.


#7 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by somtam2000 on 10/8/2009 at 08:52 admin

Got to have some value adding!

#8 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,943
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Posted by Jon_Mak_Mak on 10/8/2009 at 16:52

"Your post is inflammatory and unnecessary."

Again, are you joking?


As helpful as your contribution is, you could have easily put your view as a Travelfish Story rather than as a (sellable) TravelFish guide."

Can't even believe you wrote that!!

#9 Jon_Mak_Mak has been a member since 21/2/2007. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 464

Posted by Missis on 10/8/2009 at 17:18

Thanks BruceMoon and Somtam.

We couldn't get him into a wheelchair, although if you saw one being pushed I guess that means it is fairly flat terrain, which would be OK. It is mainly rough ground and distance that causes a problem so if we can take it slow and take a seat occasionally it would be OK. We would love to see somewhere like Kompong Khleang too.

If anyone has any ideas I would love to hear them, we don't want to leave anyone behind!!

#10 Missis has been a member since 6/8/2009. Posts: 30

Posted by BruceMoon on 10/8/2009 at 19:57


The terrain around Siem Reap is as flat as a table.

In fact, to get the fill (soil) to erect some temples, they had to dig great lakes (as moats).

The only difficulty I see is that much of the enjoyment that is Angkor is clambering up/down/over the ruins. That said, nearly all the iconic temples will be amenable to this person.

Perhaps the only other difficulty is that the Remorque Moto (the apparently proper name for the vehicles that are covered trailers pulled by a motorbike - and called tuk-tuk) may present a difficulty for getting in/out all day. You can hire sedan cars to get around, if that's better.


#11 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by SBE on 10/8/2009 at 20:22


As helpful as your contribution is, you could have easily put your view as a Travelfish Story rather than as a (sellable) TravelFish guide."

*Cough splutter*!!!! Have you any idea how patronizing that remark sounds Bruce?

Incredible as it may seem to you, the TF site and this forum managed to gain widespread recognition as an outstanding travel resource before you ever appeared on the scene!

Stuart has amply proved he knows what he's doing ...who are you to wade in now and tell him how to run things?? You apparently consider you are in a position to dictate to him how should run his own site but personally I think he's doing a great job already and there's nothing to stop you creating your own travel site if you think your way of doing things would be better.

"To other Travelfish contributors, please don't criticise aspects of what I have written"


Your post is inflammatory and unnecessary.

You've not been contributing for a while "

You know what? Although you may not like them, I suspect that #3's comments reflect rather well what a lot of other members of this forum are thinking ... ie Who the hell does this guy think he is?!!

Jon_mak_mak has been a regular TF member for much longer than you have and yet here you are making disparaging remarks about his contributions? You have certainly made a huge number of posts on TF but I can't recall seeing any posts by you before I left on my trip last Autumn. How long have you actually been a member of this forum Bruce?

Anyway, like it or not, us lesser mortals have just as much right to freely express opinions as you do. Regardless of the content value of your OP here, it is not up to YOU to decide who can reply, nor what kind of replies these should be. Trying to impose conditions the way you did was just asking for trouble. As you can see, I don't feel like complying to your wishes either!

BTW, there's a whole thread devoted to you which you inexplicably seem to have missed Bruce ... people have been eagerly awaiting your input for days now. Go on, say something! Here's the link for you.

PS. Sorry about the interruption Missis ... sometimes I get this irrepressible urge to kick Bruce's shins and bite his nose when he goes all pompous and pedantic and starts lecturing people about HIS travel philosophy. As jon pointed out, whenever anyone else makes a suggestion old Bruce seems to feel obliged to nitpick and criticize it, so I just couldn't resist!

I expect a scud missile bearing bold italic caps in angry red will be arriving to shout at me shortly about my "denigration of the intention" etc ... best duck and cover so I think I'll go and have a nice long swim now ----> whoooosh! ;-)

#12 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,053
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Posted by Nokka on 10/8/2009 at 21:26

Thanks, guys; best laugh I've had all day.

Bruce, you don't half set yourself up sometimes, you know.

#13 Nokka has been a member since 6/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 259
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Posted by Missis on 10/8/2009 at 22:16

That's great, thank you. As long as some of the temples can be seen at close quarters. It would be horrible if someone made it to 78, visiting Cambodia and couldn't get to enjoy the atmosphere of the temples.

#14 Missis has been a member since 6/8/2009. Posts: 30

Posted by mlr on 11/8/2009 at 00:00

To Jon_Mak_Mak and go guys!! You are both totally spot on with all your comments!

Being a "newcomer" to the Travelfish forum i have been totally offended and some times totally put off using the forum by BruceMoons so called feedback!

#15 mlr has been a member since 3/5/2009. Posts: 31

Posted by Sparts on 19/8/2009 at 00:15

I couldn't bear 4 days at Angkor ;p

Well worth a visit, but only consider more than two days unless you are really, REALLY into this stuff.

Siem Reap has a bit to offer, there are always the floating vilages and the military museums to pass the time. The food is good, its safe and some bars get pretty lively.

I think you are all being a bit harsh on Bruce, we know what his opinions are and like the rest of us he is merely stating his preferences. This is why its called a discussion. I find many of Bruces posts very helpful,...and some not so ;) He is afterall tryin to be helpful and gives a differing view from others.

#16 Sparts has been a member since 5/6/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 169
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Posted by rosenfried2 on 23/8/2009 at 08:03

I just have to chime in about Siem Reap as my friend and I went there July 8-9-10. For one, our hotel was just awesome.. Kunn at Jasmine Lodge right on the main road was extremely welcoming, the rooms were clean, the staff was very helpful and caring.

Next, know that in Cambodia they use US DOLLARS! Everything is very expensive compared to Thailand. We ran out of money and had to return to Thailand one day earlier than we wanted to. We were unsure of taking money out of the ATM... The gifts are nice there at the night markets, but again---all using the US dollar. The food is also a bit expensive and the sodas are all $1.. that's even more than more parts of the USA.

Now, onto Angkor Wat. It was majestic. It was amazing. It was awe-inspiring!! We purchased the one day pass... we hired an english speaking guide and tuk-tuk transport all provided from Jasmine Lodge and Kunn really hooked us up! Siya was great and thorough, and our tuk-tuk driver even took care of my painting that I purchased at a market there.

The town is small, but you can get around very easily with a tuk-tuk. Those rides are $1 around town. The guide was $20 US and the transport was $10 I think.

Just wanted you all to know about the US dollar because we didn't find any info about it while researching and thus was surprised that they don't like to use the RIEL...

have fun--it's totally worth it!! oh.. go to the night market and spend the $3.00 on the FEET FOOT MASSAGE! It is so fun and works very nicely on callused feet!

#17 rosenfried2 has been a member since 15/6/2009. Posts: 1

Posted by exacto on 23/8/2009 at 09:39

there's heaps of great ideas in this thread and good suggestions for anyone to get their angkor wat plans sorted.

during my first trip to angkor in 1999, i did largely what bruce suggested, studied up on the temples and the history and the layout, and spend pretty much dawn to dusk at the temples for three days. it was great.

but on the second trip in 2006, my travel companions weren't as excited about the temples. they were done in one and a half days. had we followed somtam's advice, we'd have saved quite a bit of money. that tip about picking up your next day ticket after 16:00 is a real gem by the way.

so, different strategies for different levels of interest. everyone wins.

even though we only spent the two days at angkor, we still have a wonderful six days in siem reap, doing some light shopping but mostly enjoying the full range of restaurants, bars, etc. that had cropped up in the seven years since my first visit. we also enjoyed getting a massage and just walking all over town. it was night and day from my first trip. i imagine it is even more varied in siem reap now.

the one thing that we didn't enjoy, however, was our trip out to tonle sap. i thought bruce's suggestion to visit it now before it disappears was a good one, but unfortunately, we didn't have the positive experience he did. our trip was overpriced, short, rushed, and we felt like voyeurs in a people zoo for most of the journey out and back through the village. worst of all, our boatman refused to go more than a few hundred meters out into the lake past the village. VBR.

#18 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,764
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Posted by BruceMoon on 23/8/2009 at 10:53

exacto, sounds like your Tonle Sap trip was the usual 'run of the mill' quick flit around Chong Khneas.

I agree with you, that really wouldn't be an enjoyable experience.

This is what Tales of Asia say about Chong Khneas...

"This is the village most people visit and the one most often touted by tour guides, guesthouses, etc "you go see floating village?" and a quick boat trip around the village will not only show you people in conical hats, which usually makes them Vietnamese, going about their daily lives, but you'll also bump into a dozen other small boats ferrying camera-toting tourists going about their daily tourist lives. In a nutshell, I think this village is a cruddy tourist trap and not surprisingly, many of the locals are either thoroughly tired of all the tourists floating around their neighborhood or have devised ingenious ways of separating you from your money.

It is for this reason I suggest pax go to Kompong Khleang - go here, to look in more detail .


#19 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

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