Posted: 5/1/2019 | Might 1st, 2019
Cambodia: it’s filled with warm and pleasant individuals, lovely coastlines, a energetic nightlife, and it has a rising foodie scene. It’s also one of many least expensive nations in the world.
I didn’t have excessive expectations once I first visited in 2006. Back then, all I knew about Cambodia was its awful history involving the Khmer Rouge and that it was house to Angkor Wat.
But I was blown away by the individuals and their heat, spirit, and hospitality; the gorgeous natural surroundings; and the country’s lengthy historical past. It was fantastic, and I ended up staying weeks longer than I assumed I might (I especially beloved Phnom Penh). I returned typically, including spending over a month there once I was writing my first ebook. (It made for an awesome base of operations.)
Within the final decade or so, Cambodia has grown by leaps and bounds. Sleepy little towns I visited earlier than at the moment are megacities, vacationers (particularly Russians and Chinese language) visit en masse, there are extra ATMs (there was precisely one in the country once I first went), and there’s a growing expat and foodie scene.
Cambodia still has issues, nevertheless it’s a lot more cosmopolitan immediately than once I first went.
What do you have to do once you go to Cambodia?
How do you have to plan your journey?
Under are some itineraries that embrace the most effective destinations in Cambodia. You need to use them as a suggestion that will help you take advantage of your journey!
What to See and Do in Cambodia: A One-Week Itinerary
Day 1 – Phnom Penh
The capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh has a Wild West ambiance, with dusty streets and a “devil may care” environment. It has a number of good points of interest and an up-and-coming foodie scene.
The primary attraction is the Royal Palace. Start there, and don’t miss the gorgeous flower gardens and the Silver Pagoda, whose flooring is made up of greater than 5,000 silver tiles; inside is an emerald-covered Buddha and a diamond-covered Maitreya Buddha. It additionally has murals round its outer wall that tell the story of the Ramayana.
On the palace grounds are five stupas, with the 2 largest to the east containing the ashes of King Norodom and King Udung (the two most well-known kings of recent Cambodia) and a statue of King Norodom on horseback. Admission is $10 USD for foreigners.
After seeing the palace, study concerning the nation’s tragic, not-too-distant historical past. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a former faculty where the Khmer Rouge interrogated and tortured individuals in the 1970s. You’ll see rusty beds and torture units, in sharp contrast to the gorgeous timber and wonderful jasmine odor in the gardens. Admission is $5 USD for adults and $3 USD for anybody underneath 18.
Afterward, head to the Killing Fields, about 14km from Tuol Sleng. Although a go to to Choeung Ek (the best-known website) will not be probably the most cheerful strategy to spend an afternoon, it makes for a hallowed and memorable expertise, a testament to the risks of uncontested energy. You gained’t consider the memorial building in the center that’s full of skulls. Admission is just $3 USD; anticipate to pay at the very least $15 USD for a return-trip tuk-tuk experience.
(Tip: Go to the museum before heading to the Killing Fields, as it should open your eyes to the atrocities that happened here.)
The place to Stay in Phnom Penh: Sla Boutique Hostel – This can be a fairly good hostel not removed from eating places, bars, and points of interest. It’s clear, and the beds are cozy and have privateness curtains. The employees (particularly Mr. Star) are super pleasant, they usually can really show you how to plan your journey.
Day 2 – Phnom Penh
Spend your second day wandering across the city, and start by seeing the Independence Monument, designed by architect Vann Molyvann and inaugurated in 1958. It was created to mark Cambodia’s independence from French rule, though it also serves as a de facto warfare memorial. It’s one of many largest landmarks in the town and a very good place to start out your day.
Should you’re in the town on a weekend, try to catch an architectural strolling tour with KA Excursions, which has wonderful guides who are students or specialists in architecture, plus they’re not very expensive at around $15.
Take a look at the Cambodian Dwelling Arts Middle, a standard dance faculty and efficiency middle where you’ll be able to watch college students in training and see conventional reside theatre. This can be a enjoyable approach to spend a couple of hours while learning concerning the inventive traditions of the nation. You may as well take part in a workshop, which final round 90 minutes and price $15 USD per individual.
Be sure to stroll alongside Sisowath Quay on the Mekong River. The 3km walkway is busy and filled with restaurants, bars, cafés, and outlets.
Day 3 – Sihanoukville
Get an early begin and take a five-hour bus journey to Sihanoukville, named after the ruling prince of Cambodia in 1964. It was a lazy seashore town till about 2010, when it took off with travelers (and tons of Chinese language and Russian vacationers on package deal excursions) due to its white-sand beaches, nearby deserted islands, wonderful diving, and scrumptious seafood. Its diversified nightlife crammed with low cost booze makes it the premier backpacker get together city in Cambodia.
Should you’re wanting to take in some sun, Independence Seashore and Otres Seashore are in all probability your greatest bets. Serendipity Seashore was an incredible get together spot, however there’s a number of Chinese language improvement happening now, so I wouldn’t keep there.
Where to Keep in Sihanoukville: Monkey Republic – This hostel is superior. It’s a occurring place, with a bar, restaurant, and pool. The employees is absolutely pleasant, they usually host lots of events. (Say hi to Aaron for me!) They will also manage numerous day journeys for you too.
Day four – Sihanoukville
At this time is a day for day trips.
From Sihanoukville, hop on a ship and take a 45-minute experience to Koh Rong. When you can keep overnight, should you’re pressed for time, you are able to do it in a day journey. The seashores listed here are method better than on the mainland (and quite a bit much less polluted). Snorkeling day trips value approximately $21 USD and embrace lunch and gear; there are PADI-certified faculties in the world that provide quite a lot of totally different dive trips for a number of days.
In case you don’t feel like heading to Koh Rong, you can guide motorcycle journey into Bokor Nationwide Park (as well as longer, multiday journeys in the event you’re ). There, you’ll be able to hike by way of an awesome rainforest or see the atmospheric ruins of the French aristocracy for whom Bokor was an enormous draw again in the day. You’ll have some superb views and find ruins, waterfalls, and temples throughout.
You might additionally do a day journey to Kampot and the pepper fields in that area too.
Day 5 – Siem Reap
It’s gonna be a busy travel day. From Sihanoukville, you’ll have to return to Phnom Penh after which get on one other bus to Siem Reap. I like to recommend Capitol Excursions. It’s a 12-hour journey, so it’ll be night by the point you get to Siem Reap.
(Observe: It’s higher to take the night time bus in order to not waste a day. You gained’t sleep properly, however you also gained’t lose a day!)
Siem Reap is situated on the northeastern aspect of Tonle Sap Lake and is the primary access to Angkor Wat. The middle stays a rural previous town, with French-style houses and outlets. The world across the Previous Market is crowded with locals and foreigners all day lengthy.
Where to Stay in Siem Reap: Topsky Hostel – This hostel gives primary lodging in a reasonably quiet area that’s not far from the action. Try to get a decrease bunk with a privateness curtain. The friendly employees will assist you to organize a tuk-tuk and activities too.
Day 6 – Siem Reap
Spend your day at Angkor Wat, the ancient metropolis that was the middle of the Khmer Empire that when dominated most of Southeast Asia. The temple was built in the 12th century and covers over 500 acres.
The preferred temples are Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Phrom, and Angkor Thom. I might advocate getting a multiday cross so you’ll be able to go to a few of the outer temples where there are fewer guests. You’ll be able to rent a tuk-tuk for the day for around $20-25 USD or lease bicycles and explore by yourself.
Angkor Wat is open every day from 5am to 6pm. Admission is $37 USD per individual for a day cross, $62 USD for a three-day cross, and $72 USD for a seven-day move.
Day 7 – Siem Reap
Take pleasure in your final day in Cambodia by exploring extra of the Siem Reap space. Head over to the Angkor Wat complicated for several more hours in the morning and then head over to astonishing Banteay Srei.
Referred to as “the city of women,” this temple was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and features numerous outstanding purple sandstone statues. (You need an Angkor Wat Move to visit.)
In case you have time, visit Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake. It’s 52km (32 miles) from Siem Reap. Sailing down the river and across the lake provides you a take a look at how intently Cambodian life is tied to this main waterway. Tours start around $2.50 USD per individual.
What to See and Do in Cambodia: A Two-Week itinerary
Need to spend more time in Cambodia? Great! It is best to! There are tons of different places to visit. Listed here are my recommendations:
Days 1 & 2 – Phnom Penh
Comply with the Phnom Penh itinerary from above.
Day 3 & 4 – Sihanoukville
Comply with the Sihanoukville itinerary from above.
Day 5 & 6 – Koh Rong
Head out to Koh Rong, which acquired its identify after the legend of an enormous King Kong–like ape that when referred to as the island house. It’s a 45-minute journey from Sihanoukville and an ideal place to chill out on the seashore or go snorkeling. There are a whole lot of lodging choices, and it’s a well-liked spot with backpackers.
Day journeys prices round $25 USD and embrace lunch and snorkeling gear, but since you’ve got the time, spend a couple of nights right here enjoyable and having fun with seashore life.
There are also other islands nearby if you want to keep longer and discover, including Koh Rong Samloem, which is turning into one thing of a backpacker paradise (there’s even a Full Moon Celebration there now).
Days 7 & eight – Kep
In the morning, travel by bus to Kep, which is about two hours from Sihanoukville. This quaint seashore town and fishing village is the quiet model of Sihanoukville: a nice place to loosen up close to the ocean however and not using a social gathering environment. It’s famous for its pepper crab and empty seashores.
Think about taking two full days right here. Positive, it’s quite sleepy and there’s not rather a lot to do, nevertheless it’s the right place to chill out, eat all of the delicious crabs the town is legendary for, and skim a guide. You may also spend some time on nearby Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) too, a secluded and charming escape from the world when you’re trying to disconnect. Primary bungalows might be rented for beneath $10 USD per night time.
The place to Stay in Kep: Khmer House Hostel – Kep is fairly unfold out, so wherever you stay, be sure to lease a motorcycle or scooter. This hostel is an effective choice because it’s not far from the Crab Market.
Day 9 – Kampot
The southern area of Cambodia is full of pepper farms where you possibly can study concerning the historical past of the spice, see how it is grown, and decide up what is considered a number of the best pepper in the world.
I’d spend one night time in Kampot. It’s one other quiet town on the coast. Most people come here to enjoy the scenic riverside views in addition to the rolling hills that surround the town. The world was a getaway for the French, so that you’ll see previous French structure round.
At night time, the street close to the previous bridge is lined with fruit shake vendors. Attempt one million. The town is legendary for them.
Additionally, should you solely do one thing in this complete itinerary, ensure that it’s eating the ribs at The Rusty Keyhole. They are a number of the greatest ribs I’ve ever had in my whole life. You need to get them organized the day earlier than. You’ll additionally get wholesome aspect of mashed potatoes and coleslaw too. It’s probably the greatest meals I’ve ever had. I still dream of it.
The place to Keep in Kampot: The Magic Sponge – That is one in every of my favourite hostels in Cambodia. Ensure you guide early, as it tends to promote out. It’s a very nice, relaxed guesthouse where you’ll get your personal bed (not a bunk). You’ll really feel at residence here, and it’s a brief stroll to the middle of city. The dorm rooms are very clear. Additionally they have a bit of mini-golf course too.
Day 10 – Kampot
At this time, rent hire a tuk-tuk driver to explore the Kampot area. The Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple has a spiritual shrine inside, or you possibly can head out and spend the day in Bokor, as Kampot is comparatively close to the park.
Days 11, 12, & 13 – Siem Reap
Comply with the Siem Reap itinerary from above. Angkor Wat is greatest seen slowly, so use your days to discover it as a lot as potential. There are a whole lot of out-of-the-way temples to visit which might be free of crowds.
Day 14 – Siem Reap
In your final day in Cambodia, why not take a cooking class? The category sizes are typically round six individuals, and you will study to organize three totally different meals, in addition to get recipe cards on the end. Costs begin round $20 USD per individual; native guesthouses will help organize a class.
What to See and Do in Cambodia: A Three-Week Itinerary
Have much more time for Cambodia? Good! Cambodia has a lot more to it than the main spots on the backpacker trail.
Days 1, 2, & 3 – Phnom Penh and Kirirom Nationwide Park
Comply with the above ideas, but in addition head out to Kirirom Nationwide Park for a day trip. This park has all types of walking trails, mountain biking trails, waterfalls, and some lakes. It’s an excellent place to go to take a break from the town.
The park is round a two-hour drive from the town, so that you’ll want to rent a driver for the day. The easiest way to do that is to seek out some travelers to hitch you so you’ll be able to share a journey, which can value around $80 for the day.
Days four, 5, 6, 7, & 8 – Sihanoukville and the Islands
Comply with the above options however at a much slower pace!
Days 9, 10 & 11 – Kep and Rabbit Island
Comply with the above ideas for Kep, but head out to Rabbit Island for a country island getaway.
Days 12 & 13 – Kampot
Comply with the above strategies!
Days 14, 15, & 16 – Siem Reap
Comply with the above recommendations!
Day 17 – Koh Ker
For a fun day trip from Siem Reap, head to Koh Ker, situated round 2.5 hours from city. Koh Ker was briefly the capital of the Khmer Empire, and most of the temples listed here are over 1,000 years previous. It’s an enormous archeological website situated in the jungle, and it sees far fewer tourists than Siem Reap.
There are not any public buses that go there (the roads have been solely paved a number of years ago), so you’ll have to arrange transportation by way of your hostel or lodge.
Day 18 – Phnom Kulen
For an additional fun day trip, head to Phnom Kulen, thought-about the country’s most sacred mountain. It’s situated just 50km from Siem Reap and presents some superb jungles, climbing, and picturesque waterfalls the place you possibly can take dip to beat the heat. You’ll be able to simply spend a day here. In the event you head up to the summit, there are some great views as well as a large reclining Buddha statue. Attempt to arrive early as the park fills up by lunchtime. Admission to the park is $20 USD.
Day 19 – Battambang
From Siem Reap, you’ll be able to take a three-hour bus to Battambang. Or attempt taking a riverboat on Tonle Sap for a singular expertise (there’s one boat per day, with tickets costing round $20 USD per individual).
If you arrive, you’ll discover Cambodia with out the tourism. Get acquainted with Battambang by exploring the town on foot (or by tuk-tuk). Take a look at the Phsar Boeung Choeuk and Phsar Naht markets. You’ll additionally need to go to the beautiful pagodas and temples, similar to Wat Pippitharam (close to the Previous Market), Wat Bovil, Wat Kandal, and Wat Damreay Sar.
Within the night, take a look at the Battambang Circus. The present is placed on by students at a Cambodian nonprofit arts faculty, so your donations go to a very good cause.
Where to Stay in Battambang: Sophea Hostel – This can be a good place to satisfy locals and make some associates. It’s family-run, they usually try to make you are feeling at house. The amenities are pretty primary, however typical, dorms. There’s a pleasant garden and sitting space. Whereas there’s no restaurant on-site, there are many nearby choices.
Day 20 – Battambang
Take it straightforward this morning by touring the city a bit extra on foot. Take a look at the colonial structure along the waterfront and the governor’s residence. This constructing from the early 1900s just isn’t open, but you’ll be able to marvel on the exterior.
When you’re wandering, don’t miss the Art Deco central market building and the Victory swimming pool (the place you’ll be able to take a dip when you’re in the temper). You might need to visit the Battambang Museum; admission is simply $1 USD, and also you’ll study so much concerning the historical past of the world.
After lunch, it is best to grab a tuk-tuk and head a bit out of town to take a look at Phnom Sampeu. Take about an hour to climb to the monastery on the hill. You’ll additionally find some caves in the world with Buddhist temples in them. There’s additionally another cave at the foot of Phnom Sampeu; that is where you need to be around dusk, when hundreds of thousands of bats fly out of the cave in search of food. It’s an unimaginable sight!
Day 21 – Siem Reap or Phnom Penh
Make your approach again to one in every of these cities, relying on where your flight is leaving from. Benefit from the bus experience, figuring out it’s your last in Cambodia (no less than for now)!
I all the time love my time in Cambodia. It lacks the polish of Thailand, making travel here somewhat more rustic and challenging.
But more superb than any of the country’s sights and actions are the individuals. I’ve all the time discovered them to be extremely welcoming. Even with so much darkness clouding their current history, Cambodians all the time go above and past, making any journey here a memorable one.
But don’t take my phrase for it. Come and see this extremely nation for your self.
And let these recommended Cambodia itineraries enable you to plan your journey!
Guide Your Trip to Cambodia: Logistical Ideas and Tips
Ebook Your Flight
Find a low cost flight through the use of Skyscanner or Momondo. They’re my two favorite serps as a result of they search web sites and airlines around the globe, so that you all the time know no stone is being left unturned.
E-book Your Accommodation
You’ll be able to e-book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you wish to stay someplace aside from a hostel, use Booking.com as they persistently return the most cost effective rates for guesthouses and low cost lodges. I exploit them on a regular basis. My favorite locations to remain are:
- Sla Boutique Hostel (Phnom Penh) – This can be a stylish hostel not removed from restaurants, bars, and points of interest. It’s clear, and the beds are actually cozy!
- Topsky Hostel (Siem Reap) – This hostel is in a quiet space and provides primary lodging. The employees will provide help to organize a tuk-tuk and actions.
- Monkey Republic (Sihanoukville) – This hostel is a occurring place and all the time good for a aprty. They have a bar, restaurant, and pool making it very easy to realx and meet individuals. The employees is absolutely pleasant, they usually may also arrange some day journeys for you too.
- Sophea Hostel (Battambang) – This can be a family-run hostel they usually doo an excellent job of creating you are feeling at house. The amenities are primary but there’s a pleasant garden and sitting space. Whereas there’s no restaurant on-site, there are plenty of nearby options.
Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Travel insurance will shield you towards illness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete protection in case something goes incorrect. I by no means go on a trip without it, as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions in the previous. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite corporations that provide one of the best service and worth are:
Wanting for the perfect corporations to economize with?
Take a look at my resource web page for the most effective corporations to make use of whenever you journey! I listing all those I exploit to economize, and I feel they may provide help to too!
Need Extra Info on Cambodia?
Be sure you visit our strong vacation spot information on Cambodia for much more planning ideas!
Photograph credit score: 14, 15