I was recommended to use Tom from a friend of mine who used his services last year with her sister. In turn, my friend's sister had used Tom's brother based on a recommendation from the year before that. So I had a pretty good comfort level even before contacting Tom that I was getting a decent guide.
Turned out Tom was more than just decent for my 2 days with him as my driver and guide. He was very knowledgeable about everything I saw, so much so that other random people asked him questions and had some people even follow us around for interpretations. From his many years of being a guide, he could explain the mythology behind the reliefs in the various temples in the Angkor Wat Park. Not only was he knowledgeable about the mythology but from a practical perspective, he knew how to make the most of my limited time without unnecessarily rushing things so as to pack in more sightseeing. As a result, I got to see another temple, Beng Melea, that was well worth the visit, along with Angkor Wat (including a visit at sunrise), Angkor Thom (including Bayon, Baphuon, Elephant Terrace, Terrace of Leper King), Phnom Pakheng (for sunset view), Ta Prohm and Kompong Pluk.
Plus he's an amateur camera buff with his own Canon DSLR so he was able to take some great shots for me to keep, given many people carry around point-and-shoots, which aren't as good for taking pictures. And given his experience, he also knew the great places to take pictures along great poses, especially where the crowds are not there. I just love looking at the shots he took.
Food-wise, he always took me to places for lunch that weren't expensive but clean and tasty as the last thing you want to do is get sick. Plus he had bottled cold water on hand if needed. And after walking around in the heat and humidity, sitting a nice airconditioned SUV sure beats cycling the long distances by bicycle or breathing the dust & fumes from a tuk-tuk (especially in the morning and night when it gets freezing cold). And he drives very safely too.
On top of this, he even helped me secure a better place to stay at the last minute at the height of busy season in a 3-4 star hotel for a reasonable rate. Which on top of this, he got me upgraded to a better room at no extra charge - ie he uses his connections to help his clients as he's born & raised in Siem Reap. He even helped with negotiating a purchase of last minute camera equipment that I needed at the end of a very long day for him, especially when he has to wake up early the next day - ie he goes the extra distance for his clients.
Most importantly, he's a genuinely nice guy. He helped with the donation of goods to needy children in the floating stilt village Kompong Pluk, donating alms to the local Buddhist monks for temple building and buying goods from locals to help them out.
Given all this, one might think he might be expensive but his prices are extremely reasonable and extremely good value for money. And he explains all of his rates upfront so there were no surprises. I've traveled to many countries & thus used many guides. Not many stand out, but Tom does. If you use him, you won't be disappointed.
Only catch with someone this good is you need to book him in advance!
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