|Subject: Bangkok to Angkor|
Have to say that I wouldn't miss Angkor Wat if there's a chance you won't
be back in this direction for a long while. It is absolutely an incredible
site and, sadly, the more tourists that see it, the less spectacular it
will become. The cost of preserving it is so high - they are trying there
utmost but ... I'm afraid that my grandchildren will not see the same
thing that we have seen.
There is a great deal to see in Thailand and Malaysia - the history and natural beauty of this part of the world is awe-inspiring and it is difficult to appreciate it all on a rushed trip.
We looked into the overland trip from Bangkok to Angkor and it takes quite a bit of time on very rough road (you also change vehicles at the border still, I think). Haven't got the fare readily available but it is really cheap by bus. But - if you purchase an air ticket in Bangkok - it is relatively inexpensive (MUCH cheaper than if you book it from the US or Europe).
There is very inexpensive accommodation in Siem Reap - seems to me that we paid about $45US per night in a medium priced hotel - and you can certainly get cheaper. The Freedom Hotel is where a lot of backpackers stay (check that out through a search engine - I think you'll find lots of references to it). The entrance to the main temples of Angkor is about $20 and it's best to hire a motorcycle or a taxi guide to take you in and drive you around. We thought we'd save $$ and just get a cab to the Bayon (you HAVE to see the sun rise over the Bayon!) and then walk. Well - that was quite stupid because the temples are often 6km apart - so we ended up hiring a motorcycle between each temple and paid much more than the $20-25 it would have cost us for hiring someone (with a taxi) for the whole day (the motorcycle guide is, of course, cheaper)! A guide would also take you to the temples that are not part of the main complex (and definitely worth a visit).
We took the speed boat between Pnom Penh and Siem Reap and it was very interesting (well... the first 3 of 5 hours were!). Most people sit on top - which is great for those first few hours but you do get tired of the wind and sitting in the same place and you can't decide half way to go below.
We really enjoyed Phnom Penh - but only had a day there. It is a fascinating city to wander through - especially with some of its history under your belt. The people are incredibly friendly throughout Cambodia and, despite what they so recently have been through, are optimistic for the future.
I highly recommend that you read The River of Time by Jon Swain - a foreign correspondent who, with Dith Pran (of the Killing Fields) lived through the nightmare of the Khmer Rouge invading Phnom Penh amongst other frightening experiences.
Regards, Judy Hong Kong