Cambodia! What a wonderful country to visit, I’m so grateful to have spent so much time here.
Visas are an easy on arrival, $30USD for 30 days or $35 for a “business” visa, which means you can then extend, while in the country. For up to 12 months, which is what I did, so it become a base country while I was in Asia for a big stint. Also maybe because I just fell in love with the country and truth be told, found it hard to leave! One huge thing you’ll notice with Cambodia, is the spirit of the country. They have an incredibly brutal history, with only recently recovering from the Khmer Rouge. Yet the overwhelming warmth and hospitality you will receive is beautiful.
So here’s the top 5….. I’ve done these in order of North to South.
1. Siem Reap
If you’re coming across from Thailand, after Poi Pet you’ll end up getting the bus to Siem Reap. However as easy as this border crossing is, make sure you have some USD and extra passport photos, because you won’t be getting them there. There’s nothing in Poi Pet so don’t worry if you go straight to Siem Reap, you’ve missed nothing!
And what’s the most famous thing you can do in Cambodia…. Angkor Wat of course! Don’t miss it, you’d be silly if you did! Now I’ve seen some temples and this one, well few, are incredible!
The picture below is the sunrise, which admittedly you start at 4am but worth it!
Where to start with this, there’s a few different ways you can do it. It’s of course out of the city but not to far out that you couldn’t bike to it. I’ve been a few times, as I had horrific food poisoning the first time so couldn’t get through it all. That first time, I was unsure of everything so naturally got a Tuk Tuk to take me up, they’ll charge about $25-$35 USD for the day, but there with you all day, they’ll take you from temple to temple and honestly in the blazing heat is a nice little break! Also being on my own, it’s nice to have a local to talk to, who will usually tell you heaps about not only Siem Reap but also Cambodia!
So the other stinger for this guy is the price…. It’s a whopping $37 USD for 1 day – $62 USD for 3 days and finally $72 for 7 days. Expensive right! Anyway it’s the most expensive thing you’ll do in Cambodia, so suck it up and pay it! If you’re short on time then naturally slam around it in 1 day, which is doable, however if you’ve got the time, I would do the 3 days, take the time to do the sunrise one morning and just chill there, it’s a wonderful place to just be. I took my yoga mat and found some lovely spots.
So outside of Angkok Wat, what else is there to do? There’s a lot of places to eat, drink and enjoy. Heaps of yoga retreats and a lovely little town to walk around. Make sure you check out, ‘Dine In The Dark’ exactly what it says on the tin! It’s a restaurant that supports the blind, with guided blind workers, you’ll eat your entire dinner in the dark! Defiantly one of my favourite places I’ve ever eaten! It’s amazing what you can taste when you can’t see it!
Finally though do not miss the Siem Reap Circus. No animal just a beautiful story told through dance and acrobatics!
Sadly there’s a Killing Fields here too. Which is something you have to learn about, to understand the brutal backbone to this country.
2. Phnom Penh
In my opinion this city is underrated! Yes it is mental and maybe a little rough around the edges, but it’s filled with weird and wonderful adventures!
Most people I’ve ever spoken to about PP, has always just bounced through for the day and then moved on, down south, which isn’t a bad idea as the south is stunning, but give it at least 48 hours here!
So where do you start in Phnom Penh? You’ll find accommodation from as little as $2USD for a dorm bed! Cheap, delicious food, night markets, the big I mean HUGE central market, museums and temples galore! Speaking of which get yourself a Tuk Tuk out to Choeung Ek, the Killing Fields. Here you’ll pay a small fee to go around and listen to, on headphones accounts and all the information you need to know about what happened. Again some people avoid this, but please don’t, it’s the best way to understand everything that has happened. There’s a lot of museums and places to go in PP with regards to the Killing Fields. You can also check out Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum commonly known as S21. Unless you’re not really that emotional, don’t make the mistake I made and do them both in one day!!
Take a day or evening boat ride down the river and admire PP in all of her glory!
Other than that, just enjoy the madness of this city, because life down south is a very, very different vibe!
3. Sihanoukville – Otres Beach
Want a wild night out?? This is the place!! Sihanoukville that is. Otres is a completely different vibe! The reason I’ve put them together though is because I wouldn’t spend so much time in Sihanoukville but also wouldn’t miss it. Plus it’s about 7ks from Otres, so you’ll end up getting a bus into Sihanoukville before getting a Tuk Tuk over to Otres as it’s the next beaches down.
The picture above sums up the feel of Otres. Sadly it does have it’s rubbish parts and it’s devastating to see the actual rubbish on the beach, however there’s still parts that are lush. I find this a problem in a lot of Asia, so if you can do your bit, please do! There’s always volunteer groups you can join, even just for the day to pick up some crap! Right preaching over…. What more to know about Otres! There’s Otres 1, Otres 2 and Otres Village. Otres 2 is my least favourite due it being a little more up market, with some fancy places to stay etc… and then theres the other two which are completely different. The village is tiny, with places to stay on the river, the best donut shop I’ve ever found and a vibe that won’t let you leave your hammock! Ha how could I forget…. Kafufal the best free party, you’ll hit in Asia! This is renowned, with monopoly money you exchange for real dollars for the bar, great music, places to chill oh and a huge ferris wheel, which admittedly doesn’t look or feel so safe but great fun when you’re off your tits! Party all night and feel sorry for yourself in a hammock the next day!
So if you don’t stay in the village, you’ll end up in Otres 1. There’s heaps of places to stay, eat and drink. It’s just one dusty road, covered in palm tress and Tuk Tuks… My paradise!
4. Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem
Ok, Ok so imagine you’ve been at Otres, it’s paradise, you’re coming down, you’ve been glued to your hammock and eaten some of the nicest food ever! Just when you think paradise couldn’t get any better… It does! Head back over to Sihanoukville and jump on the boat over to the islands. This boat ride is super busy and well quite frankly bloody hectic. There’s not really much if any structure to it, which is fine but just brace yourself, as in peak season it’s pretty busy! Easy to go buy a ticket anywhere in the area, so if you want you can most likely buy one from the hostel you’re staying at, however much the same and if not maybe sometimes a little cheaper if you just go there and buy it yourself.
Admittedly I have been to Koh Rong, but I’ve spent the majority of my time on Samloem however, these islands, despite being sister islands, couldn’t get anymore different! Koh Rong being the big sister, is a party island, with a buzzing vibe and an array of places to spend your days and evenings. While Samloem establishments you could count on your fingers and toes! Both islands are run on gennies and Samloem power is cut off at 12pm and turned back on around 7am in the morning. So charge your shit!
But the cherry on the cake for these beautiful slices of paradise, is the bioluminescence plankton that surrounds them! Step out into the ocean at night and watch your feet glow! The darker the better so the less moon the better the experience! I’ve seen it heaps of times now, with going back to these beauties and it still gets me every time.
Be prepared to do nothing on these islands! Total time to chill! You can go on the little walk to the light house on Samloem and at least big Koh Rong offers a few more things to do, if Samloem is to sleepy.
Either way kick back and enjoy the pure, tranquil beauty of these islands.
Kampot is wonderful! Set amongst the Preaek Tuek Chhu River, in southern Cambodia, this place is a slice of pure bliss!
Kampot itself as a small city, is a pleasant and easy place to get about. With everything you need, night markets, good coffee and plenty of places to choose from when it comes to food. However the best accommodation is a couple of Ks out of the city, on the river! Again super easy to get Tuk Tuks or even walk it. There’s heaps to choose from and there all pretty in a line with each other, so if you can be arsed then checking them all out wouldn’t be a problem. I love staying near water and even better this river is beaut to swim in!
But there’s more to this beautiful part of Cambodia, Bokor National Park! This must not be missed!! Get a scooter and drive the 37 or so Ks to the mountain! I’ve been here about 3 times because its wonderful! The first thing you need to see is the old French colonial town, where you’ll find the huge old hotel, commonly known as the “Old Casino” you can wonder around the many, many rooms and on clear days, you’ll see views for days!
But wait there’s more, take the roads down to the water falls and if you want to splash out there is a hotel you can stay at, I’ve not stayed so I can’t comment, however I’ve not heard bad things about it either. Best tip though, take a jumper, as it’s a welcome chill from the humidity of the city.
Bonus place! Kep if you have the scooter and want a day trip out ride the 30Ks there! It’s a lush little sea side town, renowned for it’s wonderful fresh sea food. Kep is an amazing place to get lost for a few days also. Take a little jungle hike while you’re there.
I can’t get enough of Cambodia and if you’ve got time then really get your teeth stuck into this one and embrace it! This country will teach you heaps about yourself and will leave you wanting more!