a VirtualTourist member from Reseda
Where can we find a good guide? How much should we pay him?
You really don't need a guide. Perhaps all you really need is a good guidebook and they can be readily bought in Siem Reap. Among the better guidebooks are those by Dawn Rooney, or Michael Freeman. If you're solo, you will need a motobike driver to take you to the temples since they are about 7 kilometers or more north of the town and that will cost U$6/day [you determine the places you want to visit]. But the driver is only a transport person and not a guide.
If you're two or more, then you'll need a motobike driver that hithces a trailer to it's back which costs more, around U$8-9/day but you divide the cost between all passengers.
Depending on the standard of hotel you stay in, if you are staying more local than hotel type accomodation you can expect to payUS20 for an air con vehicle and the same for a guide. This is pretty good if there are 3 or 4 people sharing the cost. If you stay at one of the bigger hotels expect to pay more. I am pretty sure all guides come from the Cambodian Govt?? We were chatting to a guide who told us that no matter how big the group is they still get paid the same and large tourist groups typically do not tip if you can afford a few extra$ (they do not exepct it) to give to the guide directly we have done this as they are very knowledgable and friendly. Of course if you are unfortunate enough to get a guide who is neither do not give him any extra tip. Another way to support the local economy is to have a massage at Seeing Hands these people are all blind and have been taught Japanese massage it costUS3( we giveUS5) for 1 hour very good value doesnt look like much be warned. SR is a beautiful town rates as my favourite along with Luang Prabang enjoy.
Guides run about 25-30 per day for eight hours and drivers are about the same. Your hotel can almost certianly arrange this for you. You can do the temples on your own via motorbike/tuk-tuk for cheaper, but if you don't have much time, a guide is a good way to go. Our guide did an excellent job of efficiently getting us to all of the major temples, providing us with information, and perhaps most importantly, helping us to avoid the crowds! We still had plenty of time to wander around on our own.
Normally I agree with the previous poster and try to 'go it alone' -- if I had more time, I probably would have done this. But the Angkor complex is really huge and the sites are spread out, so it is a bit difficult to plan on your own if you are not familiar with the place. I also wanted to learn the history, so having a guide worked out for us. If you have a few days, you may want a guide for the first day to get a good feel for the place, and then go on your own after that.
All of the official guides must go to the same training and be certified by the government, and (I think?) they must charge the going rate for the day, so you may not have any luck getting a cheaper price by checking around. (note: I am not positive of this fact, but I think that it is the case.) Some guides are better than others though, and if you do get a guide ask him/her to try to avoid the crowds. They can usually get you to see the same sights at slightly different times than the big tour buses.
I have used the same guide for 5 previous visits. As a frequent visitor she has arranged trips to many parts of Cambodia but she is based in Siem Reap and will take you to all the local sites. Contrary to one of the previous replies although the guides are registered through a central agency she operates as a freelance and will vary her programme to meet your personal requirements. Costs are55-$60 per day for her services including air conditioned car with driver. I almost forgot to mention that her english is absolutely brilliant.
If you are interested I can put you in touch with her