My husband and I had an amazing visit to Siem Reap. We stayed at Le Meridien Hotel, which was certainly more than we needed, but we had points that allowed us to stay there for a deep discount. If we go back, which we are sincerely considering one day, we would want to solicit help from our tour guide John Teng who said he could set us up at a "guest house" which would have much more authentic amenities and be less isolated from the character of the city. In addition to his recommendation, John gave us many great experiences. His own story is a great one where he was sponsored by a western tourist to attend school to learn English, and now he sponsors a student like himself. The downtown area has a wonderful nightlife, with so many original and artistic cafes, bars and restaurants. It was very surprising to us that such a poor country would have a bohemian like nightlife with internet cafes, French bakeries, and other unique spots worth checking out if we had more time. The most meaningful part of our trip was when John took us to the floating villages. Before we left, John helped us purchase pens and notebooks for some of the poorest schoolchildren on the planet. Instead of the more common donations, he enabled us to give our gifts directly into the hands of those in need, instead of the frequent losses that can occur with bureaucracies and corruption. Angkor Wat was also phenomenal. John encouraged us to get up before dawn to see the sun rise over the central spires of the temple, which was majestic.
Another great site John took us to was a small private land mine museum which was off the beaten path. Since we were only in Siem Reap for under 48 hours we had so little time to stay and absorb all of these eye-opening experiences. Without John hand-picking the most important attractions, we would have missed Siem Reap.