Backpacking Cambodia: Three Steered Itineraries for Your Journey

A blue sky over the ancient buildings of Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Posted: 5/1/2019 | Could 1st, 2019

Cambodia: it’s filled with heat and pleasant folks, lovely coastlines, a full of life nightlife, and it has a rising foodie scene. It’s additionally one of many most cost-effective international locations on the planet.

I didn’t have excessive expectations once I first visited in 2006. Again then, all I knew about Cambodia was its terrible historical past involving the Khmer Rouge and that it was residence to Angkor Wat.

However I used to be blown away by the folks and their heat, spirit, and hospitality; the gorgeous pure surroundings; and the nation’s lengthy historical past. It was fantastic, and I ended up staying weeks longer than I believed I’d (I particularly beloved Phnom Penh). I returned usually, together with spending over a month there once I was writing my first ebook. (It made for an amazing base of operations.)

Within the final decade or so, Cambodia has grown by leaps and bounds. Sleepy little cities I visited earlier than are actually megacities, vacationers (particularly Russians and Chinese language) go to en masse, there are extra ATMs (there was precisely one within the nation once I first went), and there’s a rising expat and foodie scene.

Cambodia nonetheless has issues, but it surely’s much more cosmopolitan immediately than once I first went.

What do you have to do if you go to Cambodia?

How do you have to plan your journey?

Beneath are some itineraries that embrace one of the best locations in Cambodia. You need to use them as a tenet that can assist you benefit from your journey!

What to See and Do in Cambodia: A One-Week Itinerary

Day 1 – Phnom Penh
The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh has a Wild West ambiance, with dusty streets and a “satan might care” environment. It has a number of good sights and an up-and-coming foodie scene.

The principle attraction is the Royal Palace. Begin 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 inform the story of the Ramayana.

On the palace grounds are 5 stupas, with the 2 largest to the east containing the ashes of King Norodom and King Udung (the 2 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 in regards to the nation’s tragic, not-too-distant historical past. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a former college the place the Khmer Rouge interrogated and tortured folks within the 1970s. You’ll see rusty beds and torture gadgets, in sharp distinction to the gorgeous bushes and beautiful jasmine scent within the gardens. Admission is $5 USD for adults and $Three USD for anybody underneath 18.

Afterward, head to the Killing Fields, about 14km from Tuol Sleng. Though a go to to Choeung Ek (the best-known website) is probably not essentially the most cheerful solution to spend a day, it makes for a hallowed and memorable expertise, a testomony to the risks of uncontested energy. You received’t imagine the memorial constructing within the heart that’s crammed with skulls. Admission is just $Three USD; anticipate to pay at the very least $15 USD for a return-trip tuk-tuk experience.

(Tip: Go to the museum earlier than heading to the Killing Fields, as it would open your eyes to the atrocities that occurred right here.)

The place to Keep in Phnom Penh: Sla Boutique Hostel – This can be a fairly good hostel not removed from eating places, bars, and sights. It’s clear, and the beds are cozy and have privateness curtains. The workers (particularly Mr. Star) are tremendous pleasant, they usually can actually assist you to plan your journey.

Day 2 – Phnom Penh
People visiting one of the many temples in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Spend your second day wandering across the metropolis, and begin 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, although it additionally serves as a de facto conflict memorial. It’s one of many largest landmarks within the metropolis and a great place to start out your day.

For those who’re within the metropolis on a weekend, attempt to catch an architectural strolling tour with KA Excursions, which has glorious guides who’re college students or consultants in structure, plus they’re not very costly at round $15.

Try the Cambodian Residing Arts Middle, a conventional dance college and efficiency heart the place you’ll be able to watch college students in coaching and see conventional dwell theatre. This can be a enjoyable solution to spend a few hours whereas studying in regards to the creative traditions of the nation. You can too participate in a workshop, which final round 90 minutes and value $15 USD per particular person.

Be sure to stroll alongside Sisowath Quay on the Mekong River. The 3km walkway is busy and filled with eating places, bars, cafés, and retailers.

Day 3 – Sihanoukville
Boats floating in the water near Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Get an early begin and take a five-hour bus experience to Sihanoukville, named after the ruling prince of Cambodia in 1964. It was a lazy seaside city till about 2010, when it took off with vacationers (and tons of Chinese language and Russian vacationers on bundle excursions) due to its white-sand seashores, close by abandoned islands, glorious diving, and scrumptious seafood. Its different nightlife crammed with low cost booze makes it the premier backpacker get together metropolis in Cambodia.

For those who’re trying to take in some solar, Independence Seashore and Otres Seashore are in all probability your finest bets. Serendipity Seashore was once an amazing get together spot, however there’s a number of Chinese language growth occurring now, so I wouldn’t keep there.

The place to Keep in Sihanoukville: Monkey Republic – This hostel is superior. It’s a occurring place, with a bar, restaurant, and pool. The workers is admittedly pleasant, they usually host a number of occasions. (Say hello to Aaron for me!) They will additionally manage a number of day journeys for you too.

Day 4 – Sihanoukville
A small boat on the beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia
At the moment is a day for day journeys.

From Sihanoukville, hop on a ship and take a 45-minute experience to Koh Rong. Whilst you can keep in a single day, for those who’re pressed for time, you are able to do it in a day journey. The seashores listed below are approach higher than on the mainland (and lots much less polluted). Snorkeling day journeys price roughly $21 USD and embrace lunch and tools; there are PADI-certified colleges within the space that supply a wide range of completely different dive journeys for a number of days.

For those who don’t really feel like heading to Koh Rong, you possibly can ebook bike journey into Bokor Nationwide Park (in addition to longer, multiday journeys for those who’re ). There, you’ll be able to hike by means of an amazing rainforest or see the atmospheric ruins of the French aristocracy for whom Bokor was an enormous draw again within the day. You’ll have some wonderful views and discover ruins, waterfalls, and temples throughout.

You possibly can additionally do a day journey to Kampot and the pepper fields in that space too.

Day 5 – Siem Reap
The old temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia
It’s gonna be a busy journey day. From Sihanoukville, you’ll must 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 experience, 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 received’t sleep nicely, however you additionally received’t lose a day!)

Siem Reap is situated on the northeastern aspect of Tonle Sap Lake and is the primary entry to Angkor Wat. The middle stays a rural previous city, with French-style homes and retailers. The realm across the Outdated Market is crowded with locals and foreigners all day lengthy.

The place to Keep in Siem Reap: Topsky Hostel – This hostel affords fundamental lodging in a reasonably quiet space that’s not removed from the motion. Attempt to get a decrease bunk with a privateness curtain. The pleasant workers will assist you to prepare a tuk-tuk and actions too.

Day 6 – Siem Reap
A tree growing around a temple at Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Spend your day at Angkor Wat, the traditional metropolis that was the middle of the Khmer Empire that when dominated most of Southeast Asia. The temple was constructed within the 12th century and covers over 500 acres.

The preferred temples are Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Phrom, and Angkor Thom. I’d advocate getting a multiday move so you’ll be able to go to among the outer temples the place there are fewer guests. You possibly can rent a tuk-tuk for the day for round $20-25 USD or hire bicycles and discover by yourself.

Angkor Wat is open day by day from 5am to 6pm. Admission is $37 USD per particular person for a day move, $62 USD for a three-day move, and $72 USD for a seven-day move.

Day 7 – Siem Reap
One of the many ancient temples surrounded by trees at Angkor Wat in Cambodia
Take pleasure in your final day in Cambodia by exploring extra of the Siem Reap space. Head over to the Angkor Wat advanced for a number of extra hours within the morning after which head over to astonishing Banteay Srei.

Often called “town of ladies,” this temple was devoted to the Hindu god Shiva and options a lot of excellent purple sandstone statues. (You want an Angkor Wat Move to go to.)

In case you have time, go to Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake. It’s 52km (32 miles) from Siem Reap. Crusing down the river and across the lake provides you a take a look at how intently Cambodian life is tied to this main waterway. Excursions begin round $2.50 USD per particular person.

What to See and Do in Cambodia: A Two-Week itinerary

Wish to spend extra time in Cambodia? Nice! You must! There are tons of different locations to go to. Listed here are my solutions:

Days 1 & 2 – Phnom Penh
Observe the Phnom Penh itinerary from above.

Day 3 & 4 – Sihanoukville
Observe the Sihanoukville itinerary from above.

Day 5 & 6 – Koh Rong
Head out to Koh Rong, which received its identify after the legend of a large King Kong–like ape that when referred to as the island residence. It’s a 45-minute journey from Sihanoukville and an amazing place to calm down on the seaside or go snorkeling. There are a number of lodging choices, and it’s a preferred spot with backpackers.

Day journeys prices round $25 USD and embrace lunch and snorkeling tools, however since you will have the time, spend a number of nights right here enjoyable and having fun with seaside life.

There are additionally different islands close by if you wish to keep longer and discover, together with Koh Rong Samloem, which is changing into one thing of a backpacker paradise (there’s even a Full Moon Get together there now).

Days 7 & 8 – Kep
Within the morning, journey by bus to Kep, which is about two hours from Sihanoukville. This quaint seaside city and fishing village is the quiet model of Sihanoukville: a pleasant place to calm down close to the ocean however with out a get together environment. It’s well-known for its pepper crab and empty seashores.

Contemplate taking two full days right here. Positive, it’s fairly sleepy and there’s not lots to do, but it surely’s the proper place to calm down, eat all of the scrumptious crabs town is legendary for, and skim a ebook. You can too spend a while on close by Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) too, a secluded and charming escape from the world for those who’re trying to disconnect. Fundamental bungalows could be rented for underneath $10 USD per night time.

The place to Keep in Kep: Khmer Home Hostel – Kep is fairly unfold out, so wherever you keep, ensure you hire a motorcycle or scooter. This hostel is an efficient possibility because it’s not removed from the Crab Market.

Day 9 – Kampot
The brown waters of the river in Kampot, cambodia
The southern area of Cambodia is crammed with pepper farms the place you’ll be able to study in regards to the historical past of the spice, see how it’s grown, and decide up what is taken into account among the best pepper on the planet.

I’d spend one night time in Kampot. It’s one other quiet city on the coast. Most individuals come right here to benefit from the scenic riverside views in addition to the rolling hills that encompass town. The realm was once a getaway for the French, so that you’ll see previous French structure round.

At night time, the road close to the previous bridge is lined with fruit shake distributors. Strive one million. The town is legendary for them.

Additionally, for those who solely do one matter on this total itinerary, make certain it’s consuming the ribs at The Rusty Keyhole. They’re among the finest ribs I’ve ever had in my total life. You must get them organized the day earlier than. You’ll additionally get wholesome aspect of mashed potatoes and coleslaw too. It’s top-of-the-line meals I’ve ever had. I nonetheless dream of it.

The place to Keep in Kampot: The Magic Sponge – That is certainly one of my favourite hostels in Cambodia. Be sure to ebook early, because it tends to promote out. It’s a very nice, relaxed guesthouse the place you’ll get your personal mattress (not a bunk). You’ll really feel at residence right here, and it’s a brief stroll to the middle of city. The dorm rooms are very clear. Additionally they have just a little mini-golf course too.

Day 10 – Kampot
The green fields surrounding Kampot in Cambodia
At the moment, rent rent a tuk-tuk driver to discover the Kampot space. The Phnom Chhngok Cave Temple has a spiritual shrine inside, or you’ll be able to head out and spend the day in Bokor, as Kampot is comparatively near the park.

Days 11, 12, & 13 – Siem Reap
Observe the Siem Reap itinerary from above. Angkor Wat is finest seen slowly, so use your days to discover it as a lot as attainable. There are a number of out-of-the-way temples to go to which might be freed from crowds.

Day 14 – Siem Reap
In your final day in Cambodia, why not take a cooking class? The category sizes are typically round six folks, and you’ll study to arrange three completely different meals, in addition to get recipe playing cards on the finish. Costs begin round $20 USD per particular person; native guesthouses may also help prepare a category.

What to See and Do in Cambodia: A Three-Week Itinerary

Have much more time for Cambodia? Good! Cambodia has much more to it than the key spots on the backpacker path.

Days 1, 2, & 3 – Phnom Penh and Kirirom Nationwide Park
Observe the above solutions, but in addition head out to Kirirom Nationwide Park for a day journey. This park has all kinds of strolling trails, mountain biking trails, waterfalls, and some lakes. It’s a great place to go to take a break from town.

The park is round a two-hour drive from town, so that you’ll want to rent a driver for the day. The easiest way to do that is to seek out some vacationers to affix you so you’ll be able to share a experience, which can price round $80 for the day.

Days 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 – Sihanoukville and the Islands
Observe the above solutions however at a a lot slower tempo!

Days 9, 10 & 11 – Kep and Rabbit Island
Observe the above solutions for Kep, however head out to Rabbit Island for a country island getaway.

Days 12 & 13 – Kampot
Observe the above solutions!

Days 14, 15, & 16 – Siem Reap
Observe the above solutions!

Day 17 – Koh Ker
One of the many ancient temples covered in jungle at Koh Ker in Cambodia
For a enjoyable day journey 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 lots of the temples listed below are over 1,000 years previous. It’s an enormous archeological website situated within the jungle, and it sees far fewer vacationers than Siem Reap.

There are not any public buses that go there (the roads have been solely paved a number of years in the past), so that you’ll have to rearrange transportation through your hostel or resort.

Day 18 – Phnom Kulen
Locals and tourists bathing at the waterfall in Phnom Kulen national park
For one more enjoyable day journey, head to Phnom Kulen, thought-about the nation’s most sacred mountain. It’s situated simply 50km from Siem Reap and affords some wonderful jungles, climbing, and picturesque waterfalls the place you’ll be able to take dip to beat the warmth. You possibly can simply spend a day right here. For those who head as much as the summit, there are some nice views in addition to a big reclining Buddha statue. Attempt to arrive early because 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 novel expertise (there’s one boat per day, with tickets costing round $20 USD per particular person).

Once you arrive, you’ll uncover Cambodia with out the tourism. Get acquainted with Battambang by exploring the city on foot (or by tuk-tuk). Try the Phsar Boeung Choeuk and Phsar Naht markets. You’ll additionally need to go to the attractive pagodas and temples, akin to Wat Pippitharam (close to the Outdated 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 college students at a Cambodian nonprofit arts college, so your donations go to a great trigger.

The place to Keep in Battambang: Sophea Hostel – This can be a good place to fulfill locals and make some mates. It’s family-run, they usually attempt to make you are feeling at residence. The amenities are fairly fundamental, however typical, dorms. There’s a pleasant backyard and sitting space. Whereas there’s no restaurant on-site, there are many close by choices.

Day 20 – Battambang
The green farmlands surrounding Battambang in Cambodia
Take it simple this morning by touring the city a bit extra on foot. Try the colonial structure alongside the waterfront and the governor’s residence. This constructing from the early 1900s isn’t open, however you’ll be able to marvel on the exterior.

Whilst you’re wandering, don’t miss the Artwork Deco central market constructing and the Victory swimming pool (the place you’ll be able to take a dip for those who’re within the temper). It’s possible you’ll need to go to the Battambang Museum; admission is simply $1 USD, and also you’ll study lots in regards to the historical past of the realm.

After lunch, it’s best to seize a tuk-tuk and head a bit out of city to take a look at Phnom Sampeu. Take about an hour to climb to the monastery on the hill. You’ll additionally discover some caves within the space with Buddhist temples in them. There’s additionally one other cave on the foot of Phnom Sampeu; that is the place you need to be round nightfall, when hundreds of thousands of bats fly out of the cave in the hunt for meals. It’s an unimaginable sight!

Day 21 – Siem Reap or Phnom Penh
Two monks in orange robes walking in a temple in Cambodia
Make your approach again to certainly one of these cities, relying on the place your flight is leaving from. Benefit from the bus experience, understanding it’s your final in Cambodia (at the very least for now)!

I at all times love my time in Cambodia. It lacks the polish of Thailand, making journey right here just a little extra rustic and difficult.

However extra wonderful than any of the nation’s sights and actions are the folks. I’ve at all times discovered them to be extremely welcoming. Even with a lot darkness clouding their current historical past, Cambodians at all times go above and past, making any journey right here a memorable one.

However don’t take my phrase for it. Come and see this extremely nation for your self.

And let these urged Cambodia itineraries assist you to plan your journey!

E book Your Journey to Cambodia: Logistical Suggestions and Methods

E book Your Flight
Discover a low cost flight by utilizing Skyscanner or Momondo. They’re my two favourite serps as a result of they search web sites and airways across the globe, so that you at all times know no stone is being left unturned.

E book Your Lodging
You possibly can ebook your hostel with Hostelworld. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use as they constantly return the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and low cost resorts. I take advantage of them on a regular basis. My favourite locations to remain are:

  • Sla Boutique Hostel (Phnom Penh) – This can be a elegant hostel not removed from eating places, bars, and sights. It’s clear, and the beds are actually cozy!
  • Topsky Hostel (Siem Reap) – This hostel is in a quiet space and affords fundamental lodging. The workers will assist you to prepare a tuk-tuk and actions.
  • Monkey Republic (Sihanoukville) – This hostel is a occurring place and at all times good for a aprty. They’ve a bar, restaurant, and pool making it very easy to realx and meet folks. The workers is admittedly pleasant, they usually may also manage some day journeys for you too.
  • Sophea Hostel (Battambang) – This can be a family-run hostel they usually doo a great job of constructing you are feeling at residence. The amenities are fundamental however there’s a pleasant backyard and sitting space. Whereas there’s no restaurant on-site, there are many close by choices.

Don’t Neglect Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you towards sickness, harm, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes unsuitable. I by no means go on a visit with out it, as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions previously. I’ve been utilizing World Nomads for ten years. My favourite firms that supply one of the best service and worth are:

On the lookout for one of the best firms to economize with?
Try my useful resource web page for one of the best firms to make use of if you journey! I checklist all these I take advantage of to economize, and I believe they are going to assist you to too!

Need Extra Info on Cambodia?
Remember to go to our sturdy vacation spot information on Cambodia for much more planning suggestions!

Photograph credit score: 14, 15

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