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“Challenging with a few minor pitfalls which wake you up.”

Best Travel Cambodia
Reviewed 5 May 2017

On my trip to Cambodia April 26-May 3, 2017

note: I travel solo without a cell-phone.

Cambodia is not so cheap:

It's easy to go way over budget. First is the mindset that everything doesn't cost so much so you don't have to worry about what you spend. No, it actually is more difficult to budget because the temptation to spend is far greater.

Secondly, the government of Cambodia wants your tourist dollar. The immigration fee of $30 US comes right from the top. If you want to go to a museum or royal palace, you must pay the tourist price which in the case of the latter is 40 times greater than what a Cambodian would pay: the sign at the Royal Palace, "Cambodian citizen 1000 riat, Foreign passport holder 40,000 riat" was priceless. In sum, going back to any of these places is not a temptation.

Oh, the park of Angkor Wat. The government is squeezing that one big time. Latest fees are one day: $37, 3 day $62 and one week $72. The hidden extra cost will be transportation. There is no bus from town. A tuk-tuk for the day will cost you anywhere from $15 to $20 depending on the season and your negotiating skills. If you take a tour, then expect to be put in an overpriced restaurant for lunch or breakfast though the cost of the tour itself isn't bad $13 to $18 depending on what you do. Being a history guy, I bought a 3 day pass.

Weirdest experience: During my first tour of Angkor Wat, the 20 something Millenial crowd all ordered a milk shake for lunch as a protest against the tourist-trap prices at the restaurant we were 'delivered' to. I was the only person that ordered some food: spring rolls. What caught me off guard was the water cost a lot of money; small bottle $1, large bottle $2 (4 times the price in a store). My protest came the next day on another tour as I didn't order anything to drink with my meal.

My good deed: Helping out this young (26) Frenchman from the Carribean whom I encountered at six am outside Central Market in Phnom Penh. He had been thrown out of the place he was staying, was a little lost and hadn't slept. I got him up to Siem Reap where he either got a hold of his contact or went to the airport to get out of Cambodia ASAP. My strongest recollection of him was his complaining to a tuk-tuk driver why it was so cheap to go to the airport ($5). His look of embarassment when I scolded him 'Don't say that!'. was remarkable.

Best deal: hotel at Siem Reap which because of the hot season cost me only $8 a night (fan only). I complained the room was too large having two twin beds.

Must have souvenir: T-shirt with logo "No tuk-tuk, No massage, No money."

Last day: I was dropped off in Phnom Penh in an area I was unfamiliar with and had to find where the bus to the airport was, but I was too late. So, I hired a motorbike (5$) to get me there. It was a little unusual for me hanging on with one hand to my driver's shoulder and with my other firmly cradling my bag of porcelain gifts on my lap while wearing my backpack. The real downside was breathing in the pollution at intersections produced my massed motorcycles and tuk-tuks.

On tuk-tuks, park fees and seasons: The lady who ran my hotel in Siem Reap let the cat out of the bag when she confessed to me that business has not been so good after the government raised the fees at Angkor Wat. Tourists are staying for shorter periods. And it was not just the hot weather season that was causing the tuk-tuk drivers to incessantly come at me every three minutes or less. Even after I had entered the park area, they kept chasing me. So, in raising the park fees, the hotel business is down, and the tuk-tuk drivers are starving, maybe literally. I suspect when the weather improves the recovery in business will not be as robust as expected. On top of this, it is possible that hotels have been overbuilt in the Siam Reap area.

Other tips:

Sometimes the free commercial glossy tourist maps are not so accurate. It is better to trust the plain paper ones that are given at the information office at the Angkor Wat ticket office.

The riat is used as change for US dollars. Beware of damaged Riat bills in the Siem Reap area though there is less superstition about this in Phnom Penh where damaged or perforated riat bills will be accepted; this was my experience.

Bring lots of $5 and $1 US bills as they are most useful for purchasing things and meals. The riat that is given in change can be used for buying a bottle of water or as the 50 cents on your next purchase. Before making a large purchase insist on $US in change. The excuse they don't have any US dollars is common. The street rate is 4000 riat to one US dollar, thus 1000 riat is 25 cents (May 2017).

Solo travelers; The biggest challenge will be finding your way from where a bus drops you off. Depending on Google maps is not always helpful. Be ready to change plans or have a back-up plan.

Phnom Penh airport bus: This is a closely guarded secret. But from 5:30 am to 7:30 pm there is a bus (03) that runs from the airport to central market for 1500 riat. They don't give change. It is marked at the stops that the bus runs until 8:30 pm, but I didn't see one around central market after 7:30 which is why I had to rent a motorbike (see above.)

If you use a real camera for pictures, bring an extra battery especially if you think your old one is on the downward slope.I didn't try to find one in the Siem Reap area, but I suspect it would not be easy.

Conclusion:

It was a trip with its ups and downs. I would not recommend this country to unseasoned or novice travelers to attempt solo. This was my first time in Cambodia.

Bottom Line:
I would be more keen to return to Cambodia, if the government was more reasonable with its fee structure.

take care
rwmccoy

7  Thank turboelec
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1 - 5 of 11 reviews

Reviewed 18 July 2016

Great value, excellent tours. Hotels in Hoi An and Cambodia were first class. Halong Bay cruise and vessel .... wonderful ! Service was reliable and safe.
Definitely would use Best Travel Cambodia again.
I would however look closely at hotels used in Hanoi and HCM and also would ask to tip myself (not in bulk as suggested)
It was a fabulous trip!!!

4  Thank Megsy333
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 18 March 2016 via mobile

Best Travel Cambodia aka Asia Vacation advertises as Best Travel Cambodia on multiple deal sites such as Groupon, Scoopon, Webjet Exclusive to name a few.
They have an interesting marketing plan which has them advertise on these various sites for multiple trips of different variations with different lengths of time and different inclusions.
I completed the 10 day vietnam and Cambodia trip with no upgrade in hotels. The tour it's self was good and all hotel except 1 were great. The 1 that wasn't amazing was still clean and in a good location. The hotels originally mentioned on the website weren't the hotels we stayed in but the voucher does say or similar hotels. We were sent a list of the confirmed hotels a fortnight before leaving.
All the tour guides were lovely and helpful. The group was quiet large with approx 25 - 30 people which was a fair bit for the to handle.
The main problem raised regularly was the differences in tour and different inclusions depending on the time the voucher was purchased and which site. This would have been a logistical nightmare for the tour guides and often left people confused on what was included for them and what wasn't. The group of 30 reduces throughout the tour as people left after 7 days on that particular voucher or change to a different variance.
If your happy to go with the flow the tour is reasonably priced and includes a lot in a short amount of time.

7  Thank shezj
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 25 January 2016

I have just completed an 11 day tour of Vietnam and Cambodia with Best Travel. Even getting to Vietnam was a trauma. I booked this trip in May and was given travel dates. I was informed in December around two weeks before I was to fly out that these dates were not available and that I would have to travel one day later and then two days later as the plane was booked out and the airline did not honour group bookings. I had already booked other tours with another company. After 30 emails and complaining to Webjet they finally flew us out on the promised dates. When we got to Vietnam our tour guides were knowledgeable and wonderful. The company had not however communicated our tour options, movements, flights etc and many on our trips had to justify motel choice, that they had paid for tours and even that we had flights to Cambodia. Our tour guide had been told to take us to the border of Vietnam and Cambodia on a bus and we were to be met by the Cambodian tour guide!!!!!
Also Best Travel has a hidden charge - a tipping charge of for us $110 a trip, $10 per day. Considering there was 32 people on our tour this amounts to $320 a day extra for supposed tips. Only trouble was none of the people servicing us received any of this money. Not the guides, the crew on the boat that sailed us around Halong bay or the villagers. I have asked the company where this money went but have not received a reply yet. We were actually presented with envelopes to tip the crew of the Halong boat cruise and asked for tips for poor villages who rowed us along the Mekong.
So therefore the people on the ground were wonderful - guides, hotel staff, villagers etc. The people doing the organisation were terrible.

4  Thank 222alexander2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed 14 January 2016 via mobile

My time with Best Travel Cambodia was definitely one I will never forget. I loved every part of this tour and everywhere the tour guides took us. Admin were lovely to deal with and went out of their way to accommodate all of our requests to the best of their abilities. Throughout the trip we had a total of 4 tour guides and each one had outstanding knowledge of the town/city/tourist attraction and excellent English skills. They were all friendly, happy and had great stories to tell. My time travelling through Vietnam and Cambodia was one that I will never forget and I know if I hadn't gone with a tour guide, I wouldn't have seen everything I did. Seeing those beautiful places just makes me want to keep coming back again and again. I highly recommend Best Travel Cambodia!

1  Thank holidaylover1414
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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