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Worth Knowing, Siem Reap

Author: Anothertravelguide.com

- The best time to visit Cambodia is from the second half of November through February when the monsoon season is over and the weather is relatively cool (which means from 21º C at night to 33º C during the day. It is, of course, the peak of the tourist season; however, if you are clever enough to schedule your trip for the first week of December when most visitors have returned to their respective countries to deal with the final jobs of the outgoing year and the boom of the Christmas travel season has not started yet, you will find Siem Reap comparatively deserted. You may even be lucky enough to be offered bargain rates by quite a few hotels. The mill of the tourist industry resumes its usual pace around 10 December, and that's impossible not to notice. The dry season in Cambodia lasts through May, the monsoon season - from June till October.

- The flight from Bangkok to Siem Reap lasts about an hour; Bangkok Airways (www.bangkokair.com) offers several flights a day. Flights from Luang Prabang to Siem Reap are likewise offered by Bangkok Airways (on set days) and Lao Airlines.

- The Cambodian visa can be obtained on your arrival (USD 20) but during the heat of the tourist season there may be considerable queues. The easiest option is booking your visa online for USD 25 (log on to www.mfaic.gov.kh); there is a separate counter for owners of an e-visa at the airport.

- The 12th century temple city of Angkor, included into the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1992, is the main tourist attraction of the country. Last year the temples were visited by over 1.7 million tourists; 3 million visitors are expected in 2010. You would be naïve to hope that you can avoid other visitors to Angkor; still, there are always a way of making it easier for yourselves. The rule is simple: the organised stream of tourists flows in certain directions at certain times; you just have to move in the opposite direction. For instance, at a time when most tourist groups head for Angkor Wat, your destination must be Angkor Thom. Another option is getting up early enough to reach the temple shortly before sunrise. Admittedly, a twenty-minute walk is enough to get away from the throng and find yourself in a completely silent part of the temple city: most tourists tend to keep to the same old beaten path. You can also choose to visit some of the more remote temples in a 20 or 60 kilometre distance from the city: none of them are included in the traditional tourist itineraries.

- Visitors are admitted into the temples of Angkor from sunrise to sunset: from 5:30 am to 5:30 pm. When planning your trip, keep in mind that you will need at least a three day pass (USD 40): the total area of Angkor is 85 x 50 km; even three days are enough only for the absolute minimum. Besides, it would be wise not to visit too many temples in one day; it is quite easy to start to feel jaded.

- Although the national currency of Cambodia is Riel (USD 1 fluctuates around KHR 4000), all payments are settled in US dollars. You will find an ATM on every step so laying your hands on some cash should pose no problems. However, make sure you don't run out of small notes for tuk-tuk rides and tips.

- A ride on a tuk-tuk costs USD 1-2; if you want to rent it for the day, it will set you back USD 10-20, depending on the distances. A very simple taxi costs USD 25 a day. You can rent a bicycle for USD 1-2 a day.

- The Khmer cuisine is one of the most special Oriental kitchens. It is seasonal, stands out among the rest with its unique bouquet of flavours and uses exclusively ingredients historically available in Cambodia. You can sample it at its most authentic and sophisticated at Viroth's (Wat Bo Rd) and The Sugar Palm (Taphul Rd), a charming and traditional Khmer home restaurant.

- The population of Siem Reap is 90 000, the province of Siem Reap - 800 000.

- There are some 90 bars, 200 restaurants and 100 hotels in Siem Reap; the numbers are approximate - new accommodations and eateries spring up like weeds. Needless to say - most of the clients are foreign travellers.

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Keywords: Siemreap

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Una un Andrejs
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