We were there June 29 – July 1, 2007Where did we go?
- FCC Angkor – This hotel is the least expensive of the fancy hotels in Siem Reap. The facilities are acceptable, but the service is not commensurate with the prices. All of the additional services are charged as if this is a 5 star hotel, which it is not. 2 stars.
- Shinta Mani – This is a beautiful hotel with nearly identical facilities to the FCC Angkor except that this is less expensive and the service could not be nicer. In addition, this hotel is dedicated to giving back to the people of Cambodia. (Most hotels are foreign owned meaning, unfortunately, the money you spend is leaving the country.) This hotel has a training program for poor youth to prepare them for jobs in hospitality and has numerous community outreach programs. 3.5 stars. (They also have a 5-star sister hotel called Hotel de la Paix, which is also community minded)
The restaurants at the hotels are notably more expensive than the local restaurants. For better or worse, they also offer a standard of service more familiar to western guests.
- Khmer Kitchen – Near Pub Street. This informal restaurant serves many different Khmer dishes. The curry dishes are particularly tasty and the prices are low – mains are USD2.50. 2.5 stars.
- Restaurant at FCC – The menu is Khmer and western. Breakfasts were good, but lunch felt a bit overpriced and not as tasty as Khmer Kitchen. 2 stars.
- Restaurant at Shinta Mani – This also has Khmer and western food. The Khmer curry was delicious and the ambience of the restaurant is also very nice. 3 stars.
- Visiting the temple complex – We chose to hire a guide knowing ourselves. We knew we would miss too much of the detail of the temples without a guide. Our guides were both recommended by our hotel, which meant that we had to pay up for their services, but we were also confident that they would be able to speak English sufficiently and were well trained in the history of Angkor. The commentary was invaluable for our visit. We visiting Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Angkor Thom, Banteay Srei, Banteay Samre and Pre Rup over two days. When visiting temples, there are many children that approach you in an effort to sell you handicrafts and postcards. It is difficult because it is impossible to buy from everyone. However, if you are going to buy any of these items, buy them at the temples, so the money goes directly to the people rather than at a store in town.
- Cooking Khmer Cuisine – We took a cooking class at Shinta Mani and learned a few traditional dishes including Khmer curry which is distinct from curries from other areas. The staff was terrific and we both enjoyed the class.
- Boat trip to the Floating Village of Chong Kneas – There is a village of 6,000 people living entirely on water on Tonle Sap Lake. Since all of the villagers live on the water, there is a floating church, stores, health clinic and school. The people in the area are very poor and the water in the lake is very polluted. We felt like voyeurs on the boat and were frustrated that the money we spent on the trip was not going to the local people. Having said that, it is an intimate view of a community that has been living in these waters for over a thousand years.