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Any beginner's guide to Guides ( and drivers) ?

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Any beginner's guide to Guides ( and drivers) ?

I've read through all the posts on this forum and from what I understand there are guides in beige shirts who, for 20 USD a day, will take you through the temple ruins. But I've also been reading about guides ( like Soryar and his 'brothers' :-) who will drive you upto the ruins and give you the lowdown on them before you get off, but will not go into the ruins with you.

Are the beige shirted guides affiliated with the Tourist sector of the government? And are the others private entrepreneurs? Are the former available at the entrances to Angkor Wat and other temples or do they need to be booked beforehand, and if so, how? And are the latter among the people who wait at the airport and/or hotels to get customers?

When a hotel arranges a guide for you, is it the 'official' guide or the 'entrepreneur'?

Do the beige shirted guides double as drivers too? What are the current prices for a car driver for the day and/or a guide for a day - if you get then on your own and if you get them through your hotel?

Sorry, sorry, sorry for bugging you all with so many questions :-(

Thank you!!!!

Yorkshire
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1. Re: Any beginner's guide to Guides ( and drivers) ?

The beige shirted guides are the official government guides and the only ones authorised to act as such within the temples. In order to act as a guide they attend a dedicated school in order to learn not only about the temples but also about the persons that they will be guiding. This includes language and culture of the main types of travellers. Whilst we were there the majority were Korean and Chinese. Some but not all official guides have also attended "Hotel School". This is on the outskirts of SR and completing a course here is a requirement of the larger multinational hotels.

As far as I am aware it is not possible to turn up at the entrance and engage the services of an official guide. As a small aside as well the issue of temple passes is handled by one of the larger comercial hotels on behalf of the government rather than by the Ministry of tourism.

The unofficial guides such as Soryar and his associates are anything from interested locals with a bit of business accumen to people such as Soryar working there way up to being an official guide.

From the research I did before travelling and from conversations with others whilst we were there it is much cheaper to organise a guide before going and you are more likely to get a reliable knowledgable person than just asking the first taxi driver that you see.

If you organise it through your hotel you will be charged an extortionate rate - The Hotel DeLa Paix wanted US100$ a day for use of their driver and Lexus 4x4 plus another 30$ for an official guide.

I contacted the ministry of tourism www.mot.gov.kh before I went and got a whole host of information about guides and SR and their contact details - for free. I chose Soryar and Sony in the end because of the glowing feedback on here. It was a good choice.

If you want a list of guides and their numbers I found this whilst doing my research. Not sure how current it is.

aangkortourguide.com/english/tourguidelist.h…

but some of the links explain the system.

Have a good trip.

Willy

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2. Re: Any beginner's guide to Guides ( and drivers) ?

Willy, thank you so very much for your comprehensive answer and for the helpful link. Much appreciated, indeed - you have answered all my questions and made my planning that much easier.

Thank you!!!

Yorkshire
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3. Re: Any beginner's guide to Guides ( and drivers) ?

No problem - forgot to add that the driver is @$25 a day for A/C car plus another 10$ if you go to Banteay Srey, which everyone does. The guide was 20$ a day, a 4 day temple pass was 40$ each person and a ticket for a boat ride on Tonle Sap was 18$ each.

You can do the driver part cheaper if you dont want A/C using a TukTuk or if you have a bigger party you can get a mini bus and spread the 30$ cost.

The costs soon add up but are offset a little by the low cost of lunch etc near to th temples 8$ - 10$ for a meal for two persons including drinks.

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4. Re: Any beginner's guide to Guides ( and drivers) ?

Willy, you're the best! Thank you so very much - knowing costs helps us to budget accordingly.

Sorry for the delayed thanks - was away for the weekend and have been reading posts this morning.

I have printed out this thread :-)

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: Any beginner's guide to Guides ( and drivers) ?

A Company actually has a 99 year lease on the Ankor Temples site. So that is why the pass is so expensive.

I would recommend engaging a "beige" shirted official guide before you arrive. All the best guides are booked solidly well in advance.

The temples are spread over great distances and it can rain a lot there. Personally I wouldn't use a tuk tuk as they are slower, hotter, les comforatble ride and can't guide you on site to tell you all the wonderful stories of the rich history.

We booked John Teng months in advance and worked out a custom made tour to our preferences. He was perfect. You only get what you pay for and John is the best in the business. My suggestion is to pay the extra and go in style. At the end of the trip and extra $15US is nothing but the experience will last a lifetime.

Singapore
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6. Re: Any beginner's guide to Guides ( and drivers) ?

I second the comments posted here about getting a reliable and official guide, ie, the beige shirted ones. Apart from the fact that they are the only ones really allowed to function as guides, they are also the ones who invested time and effort to get the qualification, so I think your money should go to them. In any case, there are so many of them to choose from. Suggest you contact a local guide directly instead of going through the hotel, just because a hotel adds another layer that would either mean you paying more, or the guide getting less, than if you hire direct. I would recommend the guide I had, Leng TEK (cell 855.12.714.790 or lengtek@yahoo.com), who was a courteous, friendly and very knowledgeable young man. Most importantly, he speaks English well, something which is really important since there are a lot of facts and figures surrounding the history of the temples and it's hard enough to absorb it all without a guide's fractured English making things worse! He timed our tour well and got us around the temples using some side routes, such that we had plenty of moments when we felt like we were blissfully and peacefully alone in the ruins. We paid 25USD, and he provided a driver for the standard rate of 25USD.

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7. Re: Any beginner's guide to Guides ( and drivers) ?

Handysmith and Paperpower, thank you very much for your individual inputs.

Paperpower, since it says Singapore on your profile, could you tell me the best way to get from Singapore to Cambodia and then from Cambodia to Chennai in India? On another thread, I've posted about my difficulty getting multi-city flights on the same airline for the dates and times we want. We've looked at Silk Air and Thai. The problem is leaving Phnom Penh ( or SR) after our trip there, and going on to Chennai - all flights seem to go via Dubai or like destinations which means a simple 2-3 hour flight takes 20-30 hours including stopover!! Any advice or suggestions?

Thanks!

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: Any beginner's guide to Guides ( and drivers) ?

I suggest sending John Teng an email at johnangkor@yahoo.com. Tell him how long you have in Siem Reap, how old you are, how many in your group, how energentic you are, your interests eg. history, shopping, photo taking, nightclubs, favourite foods, etc.

He will assist you to develop a tour suited to you. John has excellent knowledge of Siem Reap, fully licenced and importantly is very honest. Check to ensure the dates you are there he is available as good guides are booked a long way in advance.

Have a great trip. Cambodia is a fantastic place and wonderful people.

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9. Re: Any beginner's guide to Guides ( and drivers) ?

Thank you, Handysmith :-)

Singapore
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10. Re: Any beginner's guide to Guides ( and drivers) ?

Livinglife:

Neither SR nor PP is much of an air hub, so I doubt you're likely to find an airline that can take you from Singapore to Cambodia to India without re-routing at some point along the way. This is just a guess; I haven't actually done the research. Most probably, if you fly Thai you'll need to do SR/PP - Bangkok - Chennai, or with SQ, SR/PP-Changi-Chennai, or if you fly Malaysia, stop in KL, fly Vietnam stop in Hanoi etc. Sorry if I'm stating the obvious! I did a quick search of the SilkAir website and you can fly SilkAir in to Changi, then Changi to Chennai on SQ, in 11h 10 min, including a roughly 5 hr layover in Changi. I suppose still far from ideal, but better than the 20h you mentioned. And you could do worse than spend 5 hrs in Changi... If not obvious by now, I am Singaporean ;)

Just wanted to add a further remark on the guide I recommended earlier. Having read glowing and effusive praise by Handysmith and others of John Teng, I thought I should perhaps add the qualifier that the chap we hired, Leng Tek, might not be of the same calibre. I was pleased with his service but he would not measure up to the superlatives used for John Teng! For one, Tek is young and only been in the business for a few years, and therefore lacks the experience of some of the more seasoned guides. However, he is hardworking, honest, polite, intelligent and eager to learn. He was recommended to me by friends who were pleased with his services, as I was. I have no vested interest in his success but was impressed enough with his keenness to do a good job that I thought he deserved some good publicity.