Siem Reap, Cambodia: Ten Tips for the First-Time Visitor (Frugal Travel Guy)
Le Meridian, SPG Category 3 hotel available for 7K points a night is a nice property with a stunning, albeit shallow, pool. As a Gold, I was upgraded to their “deluxe” room and received two free drinks and free internet. The internet was very choppy at first, but then the IT guy came over, tweaked something and gave me a different home page. After that, it started to fly. Hence the conclusion: when you’re experiencing crappy service do not presume that there is nothing that can be done. Complain. Those who don’t complain get nothing.
Other than the room upgrade, a couple of drinking coupons, and free internet, SPG golds get nothing else at this hotel. Platinum guests receive a free buffet breakfast, which was only so-so, IMHO ($15 otherwise) and access to the lounge with evening snacks and drinks. Hence another conclusion: if you are not a Platinum, there are plenty of game in town that will cost you $30-70 with breakfast. And while Le Meridian might be the closest to Angkor Wat, it’s the farthest from trendy and touristy Pub Street, where you will inevitably flock for your nightly entertainment. Nothing too bad, though, by farthest I mean a whopping 15-minute tuk-tuk ride.
Like I said in my previous post, I spent my first day by exploring the outer circuit of Siem Reap temples. It was half a day, actually, and I did hire a car with a driver, but not a guide. That was fine, as I left the best for the second day. I decided to reserve the car and the guide through the hotel because my research had told me that the price difference was not that much to begin with. In this post, I will try to recap the experience of the day one (please see the first map in this post). I visited six temples: Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon, Pre Rup, and Banteay Kdei.
A beautiful temple complex. I ended up hiring a guy who was hanging out inside and introduced himself to me as a history student. He showed me a few things I wouldn’t have been found on my own. Gave him $7 for an hour of his time and he was quite happy with that.
The best part of this temple is the walk over the long wooden pathway across the baray. Very peaceful but no guard rails, so do not try that in the dark (although you won’t want to anyway). The temple itself stands in the middle of the pond. It looks nice, but it is cordoned off, so you can only watch from a distance.
Albeit quite small, this temple is absolutely worth visiting if only for the view of the Eastern entrance taken over by a huge tree. Well, that and, of course, beautiful carvings in great condition don’t hurt either.
Would’ve been peaceful too, however, merchants at this temple are allowed to freely ply their wares, which they do quite aggressively! Merchants at the temple… Hmm, I remember reading about the guy who knew how to deal with a similar situation.
A relatively small mountain temple that has four beautiful elephant statues guarding the place, not as many carvings as in other temples.
This is a mountain temple too, and it looked like a bigger version of East Mebon. The steps are quite steep but it means the view is fantastic. A lot of people come there for a sunset. And that beautiful couple came there to explore some photo opportunities..
That was the last temple I visited on the Day One. If you start in the afternoon, make sure you have enough time to see Banteay Kdei during the daylight. Do not miss it! The carvings are fantastic and in a very good condition. Start with this one if you have to.
That was the last temple I saw on the first day. It took me about 4.5 hours to do the circuit with about 30-minute lunch break. So it was back to the hotel afterwards for a couple of drinks at the pool. Although, there were problems at the pool in the evening. Mosquitoes. They had no respect for me, a weary traveler…