Certificate of Excellence 2014 Winner Cambodian Angkor Tour
Certificate of Excellence 2015 Winner Cambodian Angkor Tour Certificate of Excellence 2016 Cambodian Angkor Tour Certificate of Excellence 2017 Mr Kol Chhen Highly recommend by Los Angeles Times Margaret Bock &KoL Chhen It gives me great pleasure to recommend Kol Chhen as a dedicated Cambodian tour guide with excellent English skills. I found him through visiting his website at http://www.cambodianangkortour.com, and then corresponded with him via his email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.Out of four enquiries, he was the only guide who consistently kept in touch,
Patiently offering suggestions and changes to my itinerary .His thoughfulness and thoroughness resulted in a memorable and most enjoyable holiday. His knowledge of Cambodian history and architecture, its people and culture is remarkable. He is very passionate about his job and his country which was portrayed by his enthusiasm to ensure that I experienced and enjoyed every moment.Some trips turned into 13 hour days and at no time did I feel rushed.
It was on these days that we had a compentent and experienced driver so that Chhen could dedicate the day to solely being my guide, whilst on shorter days he would drive. His car was comfortable, clean and airconditioned with a ready supply of cold water and refreshing towels. I was particularly interested in interacting with the people and visiting places that were not on the usual tourist itinery as I had visited Cambodia previously. I was certainly not disappointed. He was reliable, well organised and punctual, courteous and caring and loved offering photo opportunities for my snap happy fingers. I have no hesitation in recommending Chhen as a dedicated guide, I wish him well and thank him for making my return trip to Cambodia so special.
Danielle en Bram & Kol Chhen We found our guide Kol Chhen through another post on Tripadvisor. After a phone call we met a couple of minutes later on and sat down to discuss the tour.
We had some demands concerning the sites we'd like to visit. Kol Chhen
was able to squeeze all the sites in the 2 days we had planned with a
guide (we wanted to explore the surrounding for ourselves on the last
day). We enjoyed his enthusiastic way of guiding us. His stories were very
elaborate and whatever question you'll ask him, I'm sure he knows the
answer (related to Angkor of course)
A nice extra was the supply of cold water during the (very hot) afternoons. We chose to go with a tuktuk, but he also offers the luxury of a car (air-con) if you'd like. We enjoyed our trip to Siem Reap (Angkor) and we thought it was well worth our money to have a guide with us for two days.
Janakiraman , Prema & Kol Chhen http://picasaweb.google.com/janakiraman/OurTripToCambodiaFeb2010Volumes12#1. Before you start out to Siem Reap, try to read up about the attractions in Siem Reap and select some 15 or 20 of them as 'MUST SEE'. If you do not do this, you will be wasting your time following the guide. There are 100s of temples to be seen in this area.2 .Read up on Hindu Epics like RAMAYANA and MAHABHARATHA from Internet.
Because most of the sculptures that you will see are from these epics.you need to be knowledgeable to enjoy these attractions. 3.Select a very good Guide. I will recommend Chhen Kol. He is simply the best in Cambodia. He answers your E mails very promptly. He is available at : email@example.com
We found him very patient,kind, helpful,honest and very hard working. On all the 5 days we stayed in Siem Reap, he was at our hotel at the appointed hours(Most of the days it was at 6.00am) promptly and worked the sites with us till 8pm in the night. He is very knowledgeable in all the sculptures.
He is very knowledgeable in the
Hindu Epics and he narrates them nicely to the visitors and makes your
visit more meaningful and enjoyable. Chhen Kol takes you to
correct restaurant and gets you the best deals. In five days we became
so close that even now I correspond with him. I intend sending lots of
tourists from my country to Chhen Kol as he is very reliable.
4. My another tip is try to stay for 7 days in Siem Reap. We felt that 5 days is not enough for this place.5.Besides Angkor Wat, definitely see Angkor Thom and its many attractions like Bayon, Leper terrace and the palace etc, Beng Mealea, Bantey Srei and Bantey Samrei and Preah Vihear which is about 180 KMs at the Thai border. It is almost a one day trip.Chhen Kol will organise all these conveniently for you. Sun set at Tonle Sap lake is a 'MUST'I am sure you will feel like going back there again. We are going there in 2011 once again. Janakiraman
Dwight and Nancy Dunlap & Kol Chhen On our recent visit to Siem Reap, Cambodia, we were fortunate to haveChhen for our tour guide as we visited the historical sites of AngkorWat and the surrounding area.exploring this archaeological park can be quite overwhelming as it includes countless sites and covers many square miles.
Using Chhen as our guide, we were able to make the most of our time and learn about the history of the area and just enjoy ourselves. His engaging personality, knowledge of the area and its history, and mastery of the English language helped make our trip to Cambodia a very rewarding experience.
Ian&Naomi from the UK with Chhen I ended up staying in Siem Reap for a year and a half after coming to town and seeing the temples. I don't think I would have been moved to do so if it weren't for the mystery I felt when my tour guide took me to some of the out-of-the-way temples. I lucked into meeting Chhen when the original guide I had contacted flaked out, and in retrospect I'm so glad the guy did.
Chhen is a consummate gentleman and his English is fantastic. More importantly, though, when he shares the current and ancient history of the temples, I felt like he was very invested in them as a creation of his fellow Khmer. So many locals I knew in Cambodia cared about the temples as a necessary economic engine, but few seemed to dwell on the fact that their own ancestors built them. Chhen does focus on that and it makes the experience of seeing them much more engrossing.
And he took us off the path to other temples; I couldn't begin to spell the names of most of them, but there were fantastic nonetheless. Sunset at Preah Rup is an excellent alternative to the mass tourist freakout that is sunset at the temple most tour companies use for sunset. And ask Chhen to take you to the once-upon-a-time water temple, a now dry pool with a fantastic horse statue in the center. This was once, apparently, a hospital. Chhen is awesome because he doesn't treat his customers like means to an end. He likes people and that made me like him. Do yourself a favor and check out his site: http://www.cambodianangkortour.com
Ciao!Stefania&Matteo Kol Chhen
Chhen was an excellent guide: friendly, patient, professional.He unveiled to us the gems of the complex of Ankor Wat with professionalism and sympathy. But above all, he was a friend who has accompanied us on this adventure: without him on our trip would not be so good. Thanks Chhen, let's stay in touch! a big hug, ciao! Stefania & Matteo.
Mr Ross,Mr Erich Kol Chhen
If you've ever considered going to Cambodia, GO! Following is a review of a temple trip I made. My brother and I had only a few days to spend in Cambodia but we knew we did not want to miss being so close to Angkor Wat without seeing it. Joining a group tour is not our usual style and we also wanted to see other, less well traveled, temples. We decided on hiring a guide, as Cambodia is still relatively inexpensive and without one, we would run out of time.
I found Chhen Kol through an internet search and his reviews were great, so I emailed him about availability and cost about six weeks before our trip. He responded back promptly and was able to accommodate our tight schedule at a very reasonable price. He arranged to pick us up and reserved lodging for us in Siem Reap. When we missed our connection, he found us and took us to an excellent (as in great food) restaurant to discuss the trip in more detail.
liked Chhen right away. He was friendly, professional, knowledgeable, a great listener and, as I was to discover later, a great reader of people. He had a concise, positive answer or suggestion to every question. With his cousin Kim, an excellent driver, the four of us embarked on a two day trip into northern Cambodia, visiting a number of temples on the way to Preah Vihear. I was surprised at the number of obscure places Chhen knew. Each temple was in a different style, and, although I am no history buff, I thoroughly enjoyed them all. Chhen knew the history of each one. Our third day was spent in and around Angkor Wat. Although it is the best known temple and I enjoyed it, there were others I actually liked much better and was glad to have made the effort to see with Chhen. What makes Chhen a great guide goes far beyond knowing all about the temples and the geography. He choreographs everything with such finesse. He knows what to see and when. Heâ€™s never in a rush, but knows when itâ€™s time to move on so we donâ€™t miss other fabulous sights. He allows you to experience the wonder, but heâ€™s right there to tell you whatâ€™s going on in as much detail as you like. He knows when youâ€™ve had enough and itâ€™s time for a cold drink. I donâ€™t see how my experience could have been better. I found what I liked most about Chhen was his exceptional understanding of human nature and the depth of his appreciation for being Cambodian. I have to thank the folks who took the time to write reviews which led me to Chhen. Check him out yourself at http://www.cambodianangkortour.com.
Jason Stockman & Kol Chhen
Me and 2 of my friends in our twenties decided one day to visit the legendary temples of Angkor Wat - but we didn't want a cookie cutter group tour.
Being computer whizzes, we spent a few days looking for a trustworthy, experienced, and highly recommended guide. We ultimately found Chhen and we are so glad we did. We communicated via email to arrange our meeting, and when the day finally came, he picked us up from our hotel in his air conditioned car. Air conditioning in Siem Reap is priceless, but that was just the start of good things to come.
Chhen showed us around the best temples in Angkor, filled us in on the history behind each temple and helped us communicate with the locals. Chhen exemplifies the best parts of Cambodia - friendly service, a calming demeanor, and a sincere interest in having a good time. If you are looking for the best way to see the temples, why not commission a personal guide for the day? You'll be so glad you did.
Jojerjosh & Kol Chhen
I came across Chenn Kol through recommendations by travelers on tripadvisor, and I am very pleased that I picked him out of many to be our tour guide. I was impressed when he responded to my emails promptly. Sure enough he was at our hotel even earlier than our 5:30am meet-up for a sunrise start. at Angkor Wat
Chhen enthusiastically imparted to us a lot of fascinating historical and religious background on the temples. It was good to have him tell us what the bas-reliefs on the temple walls are trying to depict. We gained a great appreciation of the richness of Cambodian history and the brilliance of Cambodian craftsmen/carvers because of Chhen.
Chhen was also happy to answer our many questions about Cambodian life, government, his and his parentsâ€™ experiences during the Khmer Rouge period, etc. His airconditioned car and stock of ice cold water were very welcome bonuses on what was an extremely hot day. He haggled with vendors for us if he thought we were getting charged too much. I could strongly sense his sincerity and integrity, and his desire for his fellow Cambodians to become progressive through education, hard work and honesty. Thank you Chhen for your excellent service. Itâ€™s been a real pleasure.
Finn Bobby & Kol Chhen
Book this man as your guide for Angkor Wat! Before leaving for our trip I researched a number of options for Siem Reap guides and once I discovered Chen Kol's website I knew he was right for us. He was so helpful, Chen booked us a beautiful hotel in Siem Reap, he arranged a ride for us from the Cambodian border to Siem Reap.
He picked us up on time and made our long days at Angkor Wat fly by with his enthusiasm and true passion for his native country. Before leaving for our trip and while travelling he always replied to my emails within hours (generally within minutes). He not only guides you through the temples but explains, in detail, the history surrounding each one. His knowledge of Angkor Wat and Cambodia is second to none.
You will be so grateful for the cold water and face cloths he provides for you on the hot dusty Cambodian days. He has truly thought of everything. Despite how great he was as a professional, you will appreciate him as a person even more. You can't help but develop a connection with him because of how deeply he cares about the well being of his customers. I still look forward to receiving emails from him several months after our trip. He is absolutely worth the money.
Sawming & Kol Chhen
I just came back from 5days Siem Reap trip last 2days. Planned the whole trip almost 6 months. At first, I just planned to do the whole trip on my own but i had my mind after read through the reviews about this tour guide, Mr. Chenn Kol. I straight away contacted him through the email. He so efficient that he called me immediately to inform me that he'll reply to my mail once he get back home as he's doing some tour still. He emailed me the whole itinerary and also the price which is surprisingly very cheap!!!The price that he quote is really beyond my expectation.I booked him without thinking much.The whole dealing processed is just through emailed.I even did some changes for the itinerary he suggested to me & he happily accepted it.
Once I arrived at Siem Reap, Mr. Chenn Kol came to my hotel to fetch me & he brought me to the Pub Street & Old Market. He even booked me a buffet dinner with Apsara Show. Of cause, I had to pay on my own which cost me only for USD12 not including in the tour package.The show is very interesting and it is a must for everyone to watch it as it is a Cambodia traditional dance.
The food was good, International Buffet. For the next 4days, I spent my whole day in Angkor Wat compound. With the warm and friendly tour guide, Mr. Chenn Kol, my days in Siem Reap were so perfect. I never felt boring with Mr. Chenn Kol around. He became my personal cameraman too. He's more to my brother than a tour guide as he is so friendly. Mr. Chenn Kol even offer me a cold drink and cold tower as he knows that the weather is so hot and we sweat a lot. One thing I like about Mr. Chenn Kol is that he knows how to lead me to the places which is less crowded. He knows exactly what is the time when the particular place will full with tourist. He try to avoid it as he wants me to get the greatest view of the ancient city. I would highly recommend Mr. Chenn Kol to anyone who wish to get a private tour guide. Mr. Chenn Kol is the best!!
Anthonyandkathy& Kolthonya Chhen
My wife and I recently toured Cambodia.Having read the reviews about Mr Kol Chenn guide service in Siem Reap on trip advisor we arranged through e-mail to have Chenn as our guide around the Angkor temples for 3 days.
Chenn's knowledge of the history of the Khmer empire and Cambodia and his ability to explain it to us was great.His knowledge of the Angkor area and beyond put us at the right temple at the right time,sometimes on our own.With great photo oportunities as well. We were provided with cold water and cold towels throughout the day,
Which were gratefully accepted.Chenn's personallity made us feel very relaxed and not pressured to do anything we felt uncomfortable with. We would highly recommend Chenn services and if fortunate enough to return to SiemReap would love to meet up with Chenn again.
Chhen Kol -The Best Way to See Siem Reap
Chhen Kol is an excellent guide that is a pleasure to spend time with. He will communicate with you via email with very quick responses and makes the whole experience in Siem Reap very simple.From the moment I emailed him asking if he would be our guide and asking about his pricing (which is very reasonable)
there was excellent communication and answering of questions. We had specific hotel room requirements travelling with a 10month old baby and Chhen found us a hotel and negotiated a great rate for us. We also had a special requirement for a particular type of baby food (allergies...) and he found us a place to purchase that before we even left for Cambodia!!
His local knowledge and history of the incredible sites around Siem Reap is excellent! If you ask, he will put together an itinerary for you. This of course, is as flexible as you would like it to be. We moved a couple of things around and he had no trouble accommodating those changes, making recommendations as we went. He will assist you when moving around the sites and was great at helping us lift the baby stroller up and down stairs where we needed it. Thanks for the great time Chhen Kol.
Davidockey with KolChhen
I went to Siem Reap for two days for a tour of the Angkor area temples. I am not an experienced traveler, (and I was traveling alone) so I was nervous about my trip. I came across land into Cambodia and Chhen gave me advice the whole way. (By the way, I flew back to Bangkok for the trip back. I don't recommend the overland way.) Chhen met me at my hotel and we talked about the plans for the tour. Chhen was always on time, had cold bottled water to drink and his knowledge of Cambodia and the temples is wonderful. I really enjoyed my self. I highly recommend Chhen's services. He helped put my mind at ease and allowed me to have a great vacation.
Bellamy and Darren Taywith Kol Chhen
Visited Siem Reap over the 1st week of november. While planning for the holiday, I engaged Mr Kol Chhen after reading his website and the great reviews from his former clients. He had great recommendations for where to go depending on your individual likes and dislikes and catered his tour program accordingly.
Stayed a total for 4 days but only went around on the first 3 days cos I wanted to chill on the last day.. I had stated up front that I would like to see the not so touristy side of siem reap and that is exactly what MR Kol Chhen planned for us. During the city tour, we skipped the typical tonle sap lake tour that most tourists take and instead, he drove us around in the siem reap countryside to take a look at the life there in the villages.
The vast expanse of rice paddies was breathtaking and the poverty but yet simple life of the villages makes you appreciate what you have.Toured Angkor Wat and some of the other surrounding temples on day 2 and Chhen impressed us greatly with his knowledge of history. He knew how to navigate the tour away from the main crowds and also changed the itinerary whenever we requested for something.
The 3rd day was the real highlight of the trip when he brought us to Preah Vihear temple at the cambodian/Thai border. This is one temple where most tourists do not tread as there is still a fear of fierce fighting over this temple. Built on top of a mountain, the view and intricate details of the temple are simply breathtaking. Chhen's experience made us feel safe despite the many armed soldiers patrolling the site. If you have a vest for a bit of adventure, this temple is definately a must go.
Would highly recommend our guide Mr Kol Chhen for those intending to make the trip to siem reap.
Chhen took us to his home villages and it was amazing with KolChhen
Chhen took us to Palm Tree Village, his home town, and it was the perfect supplement to our visit to the temples. Chhen has obviously put a lot of time and energy into creating a day trip that vastly broadens the experience of the tourist who takes the time to break away from the pack, and one that also helps his fellow villagers immensely, I am sure. Everyone was so friendly, just really psyched to see us and demonstrate their talents in relation to their culture. We were lucky to be there at rice planting season, and got to spend an hour or so in the shallows of the baray â€“ one of the huge reservoirs of ancient Angkor â€“ planting â€œbaby riceâ€ with some teenage girls. We also had the opportunity to talk with some very old women who showed us how they prepare and chew betel nut. I tried some myself, and though it was a bit like crunching on twigs and bark (I guess thatâ€™s what it is, actually,
now that I think about it) Iâ€™m glad I got to experience it. Thereâ€™s a whole ritual, a kind of white paste smeared on leaves that are then wrapped up around the betel in little pouches. Super, super cool. Chhen also arranged for us to listen to two different village bands play, and that experience was the high point. We first were able to watch a performance of a trio of older men play wedding music, and then a band of maybe eight teenage boys play funeral music.
The difference between the two is profound, and talking to the musicians really gave me insight into a part of Khmer culture that I wouldnâ€™t have gotten anywhere else. I enjoyed the Khmer pop music we heard at the discos in Siem Reap, but this felt much older and organic. The wedding music was twangy and zipped along and the funeral music was lush and absolutely beautiful. These folks have made serious sacrifices to spend their lives restoring and preserving the music traditions almost lost, and watching them play felt like an opportunity to experience a part of the human tradition that is still very much endangered. Chhen said something about hoping to create a way for his tourists to learn to play the instruments. I donâ€™t know if he has yet or not, but you should definitely ask if thatâ€™s something youâ€™d like.
Elise,Tony,Paul,Paula,Andrew,Robert and David from Australia
Our party of 7 from Australia recruited Mr Kol Chen as our guide for our 6 days in Siem Reap, March 2011. We first researched guides on Tripadvisor, reading reviews and then looking at web sites. We arranged for him to pick us up at the airport and during our stay he impressed us with his professionalism and he certainly met all our expectations of a great guide.
After checking in at the hotel he took us on a tour of Siem Reap to orientate ourselves to the hotel and surroundings. Mr Chen was always smiling and punctual and tailored our tours to our requests. He provided a 15-seat mini-van for the 7 of us for extra comfort and the cold bottles of water and cold towels during the day were much appreciated. His driver was excellent. Mr Chenâ€™s English is great and he is very knowledgeable about the Temples and Cambodian history.
Every day was an experience we will never forget. The Temples are amazing.Through his web site we read about the Clean Water Project and for $180usd Mr Chen organized a well for a poor family in his home village. We traveled to the village over a lake, visiting a temple on the way. After meeting his family members we went to the house to meet the family who would receive our gift of a well. We watched and helped the start of the well being dug, all the while surrounded by smiling friendly children. The day was finished with village musicians playing for us, who then let us have a play too. There was much fun and laughter had by all. What a magnificent day, one that will live with us all forever. We intend to visit Siem Reap again as there is much more we want to see and look forward to Mr Chenâ€™s company again. Fun, friendly, knowledgeable, speaks good English, everything a great guide should be. We thoroughly recommend his services.
Kol Chhen is knowledgeable,flexible and resourceful
My wife and I went to Angkor Wat on our honeymoon last month. We researched a few guides and Kol Chhen had been quite favorably reviewed, so we called him up and told him we needed a guide for two days in Angkor Wat. We booked him for a weekend (he's available any day of the week) and he showed up on time at 9am on the first day of the tour. His car was well-kept and air-conditioned, plus he provided enough bottled water at no extra charge, which he keeps cold in a cooler in the trunk of his car, for the entire duration of the tour.
Once you're in the heat, you'll be greatful. Before we set off, he recommended that we bring a hat, sunscreen, and repellent (although we didn't think that there were many bugs), and he reminded us not to forget our camera. He even asked if it was charged. (He carries a multiple outlet charger in his car so that you may charge your camera, but it is not compatible with all models, so I suggest you have it charged before.)
On our way to Angkor Wat, he asked us if we had any preferences per specific sights to see, types of thing to see, and at what pace we wanted to go. Based on what we told him and the time we had, he suggested a couple of options. We chose the more leisurly-paced/less sights option and we set out on the tour. In the afternoon, we decided that we wanted to change the tour to a one day affair, and Kol Chhen had no problem with the sudden change of plans. He helped reduce the number of sights and the time allotted per each so that we didn't feel compromised, and we were able to see most of what we wanted. When we threw him the curveball, he maintained a great attitude and adjusted smoothly. He was very knowledgeable about all the sights we visited and was able to communicate the information well. He even recommended a romantic restaurant in Siem Reap, Tuoich, that we we really enjoyed. In short, I would recommend Kol Chhen for a tour of Angkor Wat, he's good.
Angkor Wat - a truly awesome experience with a knowledgeable guideâ€ and Khmer food expert
What are the ingredient that make a holiday to become unforgettable? Well first of all a good hotel and than I guess when you decide to go in a country like Cambodia you need a good guide with a good knowledge of the temples, Khmer history and Khmer food :-). As I was traveling alone he was a great help taking pictures of me but knowing exactly where and what to put in front of my objective, thank you Kol Chhen for the 3 superb days and the many good moments we spent together in your fantastic country. If you go to Siem Reap look him up, he is just great.
Nothing was too much trouble for Chhen and with his knowledge of the temples, we got some very interesting and unique photos that I wouldn't have got by if I would have been alone. Second but not least I never had a guide that was that flexible, waiting for me 1 hour so that I could get a picture from the sunset and changing the schedule just to please me..... thanks again Chhen.
Thanks to Chhen I managed to overcome my fear in front of a snake and I touched a snake for the time in my life a snake and more I liked it, thanks to Chhen! I can definitely recommend Chhen to anyone wishing to tour Siem Reap. Thanks to the great hotel and the great guide my Cambodia trip was more than a success it was just an unforgettable trip for me. Chhen do not worry I will be back and we do the Cambodia tour together.
Professional, friendly and informative. The Best guide in Siem Reap
We had hired Mr. Chhen Kol for the 10 days we were in Cambodia. And what can i say , Chhen was simply Amazing as tour guide and as a friend. He is very professional, smart, friendly, hard working and very flexible with the tour timing. The main thing about Chhen is that he knows his way about Siem Reap and has helpful contacts too. Ask him anything about the temples, history, mythology, shopping or anything else, Chhen will definitely have an answer for it.
Chhen's knowledge about the temples and the history behind it is simply terrific . Also he knows the best timing to visit the temples so as to avoid the crowd, this was one of the best experience. You want the best shopping deals? Ask Chhen. He knows the best shops across the city. And the best part is that the prices he bargains for are the local prices and not the tourist prices.
Chhen has a lovely personality and has a good command over English. He gets along very well with some nice jokes and interesting facts. He also has a very well maintained Camry and a very friendly brother in law who drives it. To summarize everything , Chhen Kol is the best tour guide in Cambodia.
Thankyou Chhen for the amazing time we spent with you. Good luck to you and your family .Most memorable : Koh Kher, Bantey Sarei, Bang Mealea, Bantey Kdei, the Roulous group temples, Both the Angkor Wat as well as Thom, Pre Rup, Ta Phrom, floating village, the trip to your village and many many more during our 10 day stay.
Chhen Kol is a great guide to show you Siem Reap
We selected Chhen after reading reviews here and are glad we did. First
of all he met us at the airport on our arrival and drove us to the
hotel. He was very experienced in how to get us around the crowds at the
temples. Sometimes he suggested that we just sit for a few minutes and
that the crowds would clear. Sure enough the crowds cleared, and he took
photos of us as if we were the only visitors at the temples
He had an excellent knowledge of the history of the sites and of
Cambodia. We especially appreciated his insight about the war and the
hardships experienced by the Cambodians. It is hard to believe that
minefields are still being discovered today, and with the help of other
nations the minefields are being cleared. Chhen was very astute when
driving to allow us photo opportunities to capture the unique way of
We saw a convoy of small motor bikes transporting mattresses across the
country and even a live pig being transported feet up on the back of a
motorcycle! He also drove us to Tonle Sap Lake where we took a boat ride
to observe the way of life of the residents. It was the dry season, so
we were able to take photos of the elevated homes. There was a wedding
occurring while we were there, and it was being broadcast on
loudspeakers throughout the town. Had we been on a group tour we would
never have had these amazing experiences which are so often overlooked.
When he picked us up for our trip to the airport, we had the privilege
of meeting his wife and son.
â€œEnjoy Angkor with Chhen Kol, the King amongst private tour guidesâ€
I and Sumathi hail from India. We are well versed on Hindu epics and are
keen enthusiasts of ancient sculptures as well as history. We chanced
to see an article in July 2013 on Angkor Wat at Fremont, San Francisco,
which triggered our desire to visit Angkor because the episodes from
Hindu epics on stone were delivered in our own classical Dravidian
architecture â€“ Pallava style. Once we made up our mind, we did due
diligence on making this trip on the net. One thing we were sure was
that we would have a quality private tour guide to provide us with all
in-depth authentic historical and architectural facts and not the
cookie-cut group tour. After our search and enquiry with a few, we
zeroed on Chhen Kol about 45 days ahead of the tour. He helped us to
shape our tour itinerary and time window to fit the itinerary. He also
helped us with suggestions on hotel booking too. When I was worried
about the possibility of rain spoiling the visits during October, he
encouraged to visit during the fag end of wet season as the monuments
will be clean and photogenic after the rain with the added bonus of less
rush. Thus he started his service much before our landing in Angkor.
When we landed in Angkor, he was present at the airport with his Pajero
welcoming us with his trade mark beaming smile. He was with us for the
next 5 days guiding us through many historical treasures of Angkor â€“
some well known, others less known. We visited Baksei Chamkrong (Sacred
Bird monument), Angkor Thom â€“ Bayon temple and other interests in the
compound like Elephant Terrace,
Leper King Terrace, Phimeanakas (Royal temple), the big Baphuon etc. He
drew our attention to the minute details and nuances and was thorough in
his explanation â€“ be it in the bas reliefs displaying war scenes
between Khmers and Chams or the enigmatic faces on the towers or
anything connected with the monuments or the moat and the feeding
canals. His tales and historical facts on King Jayavarman 7 (called
affectionately by him as King J7) highlighting the kingâ€™s religional
tolerance (patronizing Buddhism, but allowing freedom to follow the
faiths of choice), his benevolence in building hospitals and
Dharmasalas, military strategy to recapture Angkor from the clutches of
Chams, naval training on Srah Srang to hone and tone Khmerâ€™s naval
expertise etc. Enthused by Chhenâ€™s narrations, now I am embarking on a
closer study of King J7 who had tried modern governance principles in
12th Century. For example, contrast the free hospitals of J7 with the
struggles with Obamacare ïŠ King J7â€™s concentration on water conservation
and irrigation which helped the country to have 4 crops an year and
become one of the richest countries of that time, is another example.
This is just a sample of Chhenâ€™s expertise on Khmer history, art and
civilization and mastery over story telling. His expertise over Hindu
mythology comes very handy in providing the context and content to the
sculptural marvels of Angkor which narrate episodes from Hindu epics and
ancient texts. We enjoyed the archaeological sites as we visited the
famed Angkor Wat, Rolous group (Preah Ko, Bakong, LoLei island), the
lovely Bantey Srei, Bantey Samre (with remarkable resemblance to the
Dravidian â€“ Pallava and Pandya styles), Pre Rup, Beng melea ruins,
Prasat Kravan, Srah Srang (in rain), Ta Prohm (Tomb raider fame) with
the supportive and destructive alliances between the stones and the
trees, Thommanon, Chao Se Thevada, Preah Kan etc. His geographical
expertise came out on our tour to Tanle Sap lake where the wonder of a
river (Tanle Sap river) reversing the direction of its flow twice an
year. The floating villages with their colonies, fishing and farming
during wet and dry seasons respectively were well explained by Chhen. We
even witnessed a floating wedding hall with guests arriving on their
boats ïŠ I can go on and on; for brevity sake let me stop here.
Why I like and recommend Chhen Kol? 1) He is very genuine 2) Very knowledgeable in Khmer history, art, civilization, geography Hindu mythology 3) Passionate about his job and country 4)
Excellent customer care : Arranges tour schedule in such a way that the
customers are taken to the interests when it is less crowded and
provides plenty of good photo opportunities.
We clicked more than 1500
photos in four days, 5) More than the excellent professional
relationship, Chhen is affectionate and caring. I am 63 years old; he
took care to guide my steps in the ruins and rains (provided umbrellas
to us). He supplied cold water which was like nectar after tiring
climbs. He took care of us from the moment we landed in Cambodia to our
He also helped us to get good vegetarian Khmer food in a
country which is predominantly non-vegetarian. We enjoyed Khmer cuisine
which is quite healthy.
In short Chhen is a dedicated
professional and a loving human being. He wanted me to tell my circle
that Cambodia is safe; civil wars are over and there are lots of things
to visit and enjoy. I endorse his view and recommend to my readers and
friends to visit Siem Reap at least once. In my opinion 4 days are the
barest minimum while a week is reasonable.
We intend to visit
Siem Reap again. My two sons, currently in US, also evinced keen
interest to visit along with their families. God willing, we may all
have a family outing there if we could synchronize our vacations.
No prizes for guessing our private guide. He will be the one and only Chhen Kol
I visited the Angkor temples in early November and organised for Chhen
to show me around. Chhen is extremely knowledgeable on all things Angkor
and delivers a personalised tour that ensured I got the best experience
I was picked up each day from the hotel in an air conditioned car which
does cost a little more than the tuk-tuk but I would recommend as Chhen
always made sure the car was waiting at the exit with air-con on and
cold bottled water which gives some respite from the heat between temple
Chhen would patiently answer any questions and would also provide
detailed information on each of the specific temples we visited. I look
back on my Angkor experience and believe that one of my best choices was
to get a guide to show me around as there is so much I would have
missed otherwise. Right from the beginning of the tour it was as if I
was being shown around by a good friend. If you would like to get the
most out of your Angkor experience then I would recommend a Cambodian