My first and previous visit to Siem Reap was almost 6 years the date of my previous trip. The difference between what I experienced 6 years ago and now were staggering. I should start out by saying that I truly love Cambodia. I have had great experience in both of my trips. I find the people there refreshing and honest to who they are as Cambodian. Since Vietnam and Thailand have had more practice with tourism locals have changed their ways of life and in my experience Cambodia has yet to be changed but is beginning to change fast.
- Last time the trip from the airport was lengthy and not much to look at, but this time there were huge resorts practically the entire trip. Siem Reap is an exciting place to be right now. You can get a lot of bang for your buck. I urge you to try to stay at a guest house or hotel owned or managed by Cambodian people. The guest house I stayed at both times supports local children by providing uniforms and school supplies so that they may attend school.
- There are a lot more motor bikes this time and Cambodia has yet to figure out how to deal with this. While there I saw two horrific accidents that resulted in 1 confirmed death and 1 unconfirmed death both in my opinion were due to user error motorbike accidents. When I asked our guide about this he stated that there is no license required to drive a motor bike. The lesson here is rent a tuktuk from your hotel. They should be able to guide you to reputable drivers.
- The fees for going to Ankor Wat are much much higher. We paid $64/person for a 3 day pass. I justified the expense by saying that I’m okay with spending the money because it will go to the Cambodian people and restoring the temples. My guide informed me that this is incorrect information. Apparently the Cambodian government doesn’t like people to talk about this but the money goes to the Vietnamese government. From my understanding, a back room deal was made for Vietnamese support of Cambodia in the form of military at some point and in exchange Cambodia was required to give most of the profits from the Ankor Wat complex to Vietnam. I’m not sure if this is just a rumor or what kind of truth this holds but I did confirm this data with at least one other Cambodian person.