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Best Boutique and Hotel also tour/ driver options Siem reap

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Cali Sun
posts: 650
reviews: 94
Best Boutique and Hotel also tour/ driver options Siem reap

We land in Siem reap November 3 and leave November 6- would like to know about the best hotels in the area based on location and cost, which are clean and safe that everyone would recommend for our 3 nights/. 4 day visit.

Also we like to arrange a guided tour or driver during the stay to see all the major attractions during our visit: would appreciate some good valued options including airport transfers, etc.

Lastly, recommendations on where to go and what to do to maximize our visit are much appreciated..

Thank you for all the help and patience with our questions being first time visitors

Amsterdam, The...
posts: 3,405
reviews: 32
1. Re: Best Boutique and Hotel also tour/ driver options Siem reap

Seeing as you were going to stay at Le Meridien, I think Shinta Mani - http://shintamani.com/club/ - would perfectly fit your bill. It is a gorgeous recently totally renovated boutique design hotel with excellent spa, good location, obviously safe and clean and in the same price range as Le Meridien.

Arranging transport and guide if desired: Easiest way is to ask your lodging to arrange it all. Every hotel and guesthouse has a network of drivers and guides that they use for their guests. Airport transfers can be a bit pricey from the more upper end hotels but more close to regular price from most mid-market or budget hotels. For airport transfer you can simply step outside the terminal where you exit and there will be plenty of tuk tuk and car drivers waiting for arriving passengers. A tuk tuk from the airport is around $5 and a car from the airport is around $8 if I am not mistaken.

You do not need a "guided tour" if you are referring to some kind of package or group deal. Siem Reap to the surprise of many is one of the easiest places in the developing or even developed world to be a do-it-yourself tourist. All you need is a good driver actually and you're good to go. A good driver (or guide of course also) will help you plan your itinerary to get the most out of your stay. After all, you've got the temples, the great lake Tonle Sap with three main lokales for visiting and a whole bunch of non-temple stuff, and an experienced driver (or guide of course) will know all about that stuff. If you want to know how the system of drivers and guides works in Siem Reap, you can read the article on my blog on that subject which is not so surprisingly called "Driver or Guide?" - http://www.angkortuktuk.org/driverorguide.htm

Cali Sun
posts: 650
reviews: 94
2. Re: Best Boutique and Hotel also tour/ driver options Siem reap

This is terrific information, thanks so much!

Turns out the Le Meridien contacted us and accommodated our stays for all nights in their best room as SPG platinum guests so we' ll be staying there.

Really appreciate the info for airport transfers and tuk tuks, we just didn't want to land and be "taken for a ride" like most taxis do to tourists. Are there certain cars / cabs marked as legitimate and others to avoid in Siem ?


I assume we'd need to exchange to local currency for payment? Any suggestions where the best dollar exchange is at?

We will be there for a full 3 days and want to make the most of our days

Amsterdam, The...
posts: 3,405
reviews: 32
3. Re: Best Boutique and Hotel also tour/ driver options Siem reap

No need for local currency! Everything in major tourist Cambodia is priced and paid in $US. On this subject this is what I write to people who contact me here or via my Siem Reap weblog:

"$US is the currency of pretty much all of tourist Cambodia. Everything is priced and paid in $US. Unless you are traveling to remote places where few tourists go, you will never have any real need for exchanging money into Cambodian riel (which by the way are no good for exchange outside the county). If you bring $US with you keep in mind that the bills have to be good quality, meaning no tears at all and not even tiny bits of missing corners. Some wrinkling is okay if the rest of the bill is okay. You will pay for everything in $s and get your change in $s unless the change has some part under $1, then you get riel at a fixed exchange rate of $1 = R4,000. You can use the riel for tips and if and when you have enough can use them as part of paying for something. Siem Reap has plenty of ATM machines that dispense $US so in that sense its not even necessary to bring $US with you if that is not handy for whatever reason. I can't recall what the fee is from the local bank but there is generally a few dollar fee per withdrawal. When it comes to credit cards, many places accept them (larger hotels, some smaller ones, larger restaurants, some smaller ones, fine boutiques and some other shops) and you should assume every place will charge 3% - 5% for using a credit card in order to recover their merchant fees."

Amsterdam, The...
posts: 3,405
reviews: 32
4. Re: Best Boutique and Hotel also tour/ driver options Siem reap

On the subject of drivers at the airport. I have never heard of arriving tourists being taken for a ride except to their hotel or guesthouse. Its not a metered situation so driving all around in detours and such has no point. if you know that for a tuk tuk you should be paying around $5 - $6 or for a car around $8 - 10 then you won't be ripped off. If a car driver were to ask for $10 you could say "My friend told me it should only be $8" then the driver will say okay. But once you learn that most drivers live on the edge of or in what we consider poverty (no consistent food, health or shelter security), given the prices and amount of work an average driver gets, then you won't mind paying $1 or $2 extra here or there. Once you get to know the beautiful Cambodian people you'll be happy and even anxious to pay $1 or $2 extras.

The most "pressured" thing you can expect by a tout driver at the airport is a determined effort to get your subsequent touring business which is why most drivers will be making the investment to wait for arriving passengers at the airport. Its not really for the small fare itself that they get for one ride. If your touring transport is arranged you can be clear and firm that your transport has been arranged but thank the driver for his asking. If your transport has not been arranged and you like the driver you can consider engaging him as your driver. Or if you particularly get a good feeling from the driver but have already arranged your transport you can ask him if he has a card just in case or if in the future you have friends who may follow in your footsteps.

Occasionally a driver will also try and steer a picked up passenger to lodging where they get commission. So if your driver starts with a story that he knows a much better place than where you are staying, etc, its just a bit of a game to see if he gets a bite. Its how many survive. Again a tiny "nuisance" (I myself wouldn't even place it on the nuisance scale) that is understandable given the conditions.

I want to re-emphasize that in general this is not a place where you need to be worried about being taken advantage of.

Edited: 7:18 am, September 26, 2013
Cali Sun
posts: 650
reviews: 94
5. Re: Best Boutique and Hotel also tour/ driver options Siem reap

Lenny- many thanks for the information on the drivers and USD -dollar use in Cambodia. This is really great info for our trip.

As I work on the itinerary, new questions will arise and hope you and many experts here will kindly help and allow me some more of your patience with my questions =)



Gosport, United...
posts: 5,491
reviews: 34
6. Re: Best Boutique and Hotel also tour/ driver options Siem reap


Not trying to put you off asking questions.

But it's also very easy to help yourself on the forum by using the 'Search' facility at the top of this page.

Just type in a keyword, eg. 'currency' or 'guide' and press <<Return>>

The results of the Search will appear in random order.

To get the Search results into a more useful date order, with all the recent stuff at the top, simply change the drop-down box at the right hand side of the results screen from 'Relevance' to 'Date', and the order will automatically change.

You will often find that a Search will not only answer your query, but will also answer a lot of things that you'd never ever thought about asking.

It really is a useful and satisfying tool, and if the answer isn't there just revert back to asking the question on the forum.

7. Re: Best Boutique and Hotel also tour/ driver options Siem reap

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