When people talk about Cambodia they probably instantly name up Angkor Wat. All tough visiting the temples of Angkor should be on the top of your list when traveling to Cambodia, there is so much more to explore in this authentic country. We loved the diversity that it brings, name it and Cambodia will deliver. Jungle, beaches, culture, temples, islands to relax or party and a lovely countryside. In 18 days we managed to enjoy all those lovely things. With this guide we hope to help you enjoy authentic Cambodia just as we did.
where to start?
When planning your itinerary, it’s good
to know where you wanna start.
Our adventures through Cambodia started off in Siem Reap. In our cause a ticket to Bangkok was way cheaper than a flight directly to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. So we choose to have a 2-day city trip in Bangkok before heading to Siem Reap with AirAsia. To see how we spent our 48 hours in Bangkok click here. In this itinerary we show you which places we visited and tell you all about our favorite sites.
BTW don’t forget to bring some dollars, when entering Cambodia you have to pay $20 for a 30-day visa. Also keep in mind that you need some extra passport photographs for your visa and Angkor pass.
Traveling through Cambodia with public transport
Going from place to place in Cambodia is best done by bus. We used Camboticket to get our tickets for the bus, ferry or taxi. With the code CTAPP you can get 10% off when booking tickets with their app. An other easy option is that you can get your tickets at almost any hotel or hostel. If that isn’t the case try visiting a Mekong Express office nearby or book online. It can happen that they sell too much tickets and if that's the case the bus can be really packed. Also keep in mind that your bus driver usually tries to drop you off at the edge of the city center, it looks like they are working together with the tuk tuk drivers. They usually drop you at a place where you pay way too much for short distance tuk tuk rides. We used an app called Maps.me to pin a marker at the place where the bus driver should have dropped us. So when they were planning to drop us at the wrong place, we could show them the bus station. This app is a perfect offline alternative for Google maps.
For short distances in the cities or just outside of them, a tuk tuk is perfect. The price can vary between $1 to $3, never pay more. And don’t get fooled by the trick that the price is per person instead of per tuk tuk. And always try to get a deal, it’s really common to do this in Cambodia.
Booking your hotel or hostel in cambodia
When traveling through Cambodia there are enough options to get an accommodation. We booked our accommodation one day in advance and that worked out pretty well. It gives you a lot of freedom and opportunities to change your itinerary. We always use booking.com and if you use this link you get a $15 discount. In some cases you can even cancel your booking, if done on time, without being charged.
Our 3-WEEK itinerary
DAY 1-4 SIEM REAP / DAY 5-6 BATTAMBANg / DAY 7-11 KOH RONg
DAY 12-14 KAMPOT / DAY 15-16 KEp / DAY 17-18 PHNOM PENH
When travelers talk about Siem Reap they see it as a start point to visit the world’s largest religious monument named Angkor Wat. If you are thinking about visiting Angkor and we know you do! You can have a look at our Temple running guide below. Beside the temples of Angkor, Siem Reap is a place rich in culture and history. It’s easy to spend 3 to 4 days here, including your visit to the temples. Enjoy the many lovely restaurants, the exciting nightlife and have a visit at the night market. If you take Siem Reap as a home base you can take a trip to, Phnom Kulen also known as the ‘‘Mountain of Lychees’’. It’s one of the best waterfalls of Cambodia and totally worth a visit.
The city that’s most famous for their Bamboo train. Driving through the rice fields with an traditional train is a fun thing to do. You can combine it with a visit to the killing caves of Phnom Sampeau that was used as an execution site. During the red Khmer regime they used this cave to kill their victims and threw the bodies into the cave afterwards. On the other side of the tragic cave you have the Bat Cave. Every day around sunset thousands of bats leave the cave, an amazing show by Mother Nature. In the city center of Battambang you can see the French colonial influences. You can say that Battambang has something special, although there isn’t much to do in the city, the cozy restaurants and laid back cafes make it worth your stay. We really enjoyed eating tapas at The Lonely Tree Cafe or getting lunch at About The World.
⫸ Read more: 6 things to do in Battambang
Once a sleepy beach town but it’s rapidly transforming due the Chinese investments. You can see this with casinos popping up on every corner. Not our favorite town, but that was no problem for us. We went straight to the ferry that brought us to Koh Rong. Sihanoukville is the best known harbor city and you have to go here when you are going to visit Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloem.
If you like to have some time off at the white beaches or take a relaxing swim in the clear blue sea. Koh Rong is your place to go. When on the island you can choose to stay at the busy side to visit the bars and go partying. Or just pick a quiet beach on the other side of the island. We really liked our stay at the island and planned it in the middle of our itinerary. We even stayed a few days longer as planned.
⫸ Read more: Cambodian paradise named Koh Rong
Kampot is a small city at the coast with a lovely relaxing vibe. One of the charms of Kampot is that life feels slow over here. We ended up staying here a bit longer because of the nice atmosphere and good restaurants. We had some awesome Khmer food at Rikitikitava and enjoyed some good burgers at Pepe and the Viking. A must do when in Kampot is driving to the top of Bokor Hill, you can easily rent a motor bike and explore the mountain by yourself. On top of the 1,080 meters high mountain you have a viewpoint that gives you the most amazing views of the region. Take a visit at the famous Catholic Church or just restored Bokor Hill Hotel, which is now a hotel. If you own a drone you should definitely take it with you to the top, the bird eye view is just mesmerizing!
⫸ Read more: Kampot: slow travel in Cambodia
If you love seafood make your way to Kep. This small coastal city is well known for its ‘’Crab Market’’. You can easily spend a day in Kep to rent a motor bike and explore the surrounding countryside. Take a look at La Plantation which is one of Cambodia’s famous pepper plantation. They provide you a free guided tour and let you taste all different kind of peppers. The dusty road along brings you through local villages, lovely rice fields and you can even have a stop at Kampot’s “Secret Lake”.
The capital of Cambodia is really overwhelming and definitely not our favorite place in Cambodia. But if you don’t know anything about what happened during the Khmer Rouge regime, then this is where you should go. Have a visit at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and take a look at the tragic Killing Fields just outside of Phnom Penh. Keep in mind that visiting those places can be shocking and may need some time to settle. If you want to see some other cultural things in Phnom Penh pay a visit at What Preah Keo better known as The Silver Pagoda. Or maybe even try a traditional Khmer cooking lesson. At night you can have dinner or a drink at one of the many restaurants or rooftop bars.
⫸ Read more: Visiting the s21 prison and killing fields