Cambodia guide 2019 – our journey to Cambodia in January. We had 3 weeks between visiting Myanmar and Cambodia, we allocated 12 days to Cambodia. For the first time on our journey we were happy with the time to see all we wanted to see. As you would imagine from an ex French colony you will be treated to good food (western and local), great seaside and wild inland. Along with one of the cultural sights of Asia Angkor wat. Coming over from Myanmar we got a bit of a shock in terms of number of Tourists and prices which are in some respects higher than in most SE Asia.
- Paying with local curency is possible but USD is the official curency. Generaly ATMs dispurs only USD. Local curency is only give as spare little change under 1 USD. That is also the reason why Cambodia is more exspensive then the rest of SE Asia.
- Buy local SIM on your arrival from. WE bought it from SMART but were not happy as it worked purley.
- Traveling with sleeper buses is the best way to save time. Distances between the cities are long. You can book the bus tickets at every accommodation with provided pickup from it. We used Virak Buntham Express 3 times with no bad experiences. Make sure to book Luxury Bus in 2+1 set up. You can resserv the trip from their web site to get the lowest fare. Giant ibis is popular but at 2x the price.
12 Day See it All Cambodia Guide
Siem Reap – 2 nights
Welcome to Cambodia
We landed in Siem reap in the evening hours. If you are coming over from Bangkok you could take an overnight bus to save on the plane ticket. Since we were coming over from Mandalay we opted for a plane ticket. Ride from the airport to downtown is fixed at 10 USD per cab. Be vary that accommodations offer free transport which never shows up.
For the evenign you should visit the Old market/Pub street area for some local beer, food and night life.
Tonle Sap lake and Kampong Phluk
After late morning start, we suggest a trip to Kampong Phluk floating village. You can go there on your own or with the tour which is a half cheaper option. Whichever option you choose a dusty ride awaits on your way to the lake. If you go on your own, you will have a private boat otherwise a shared one. During the dry season the villages will not be as impressive as in the wet due to the low water level.
At the beginning of the lake you will make a stop on a floating restaurant. From here you should switch to the canoe for additional 5 USD per person to go around the maze of trees and bushes on the lake. The highglight of the trip. After that it’s time to head back to the town.
Ticets for Angkor Wat
The ticket office for Angkor Archaeological Park is located in the town itself. Make sure you get them before you go on the site. The tickets are available for 1, 3 or 7 days. As they are quite expensive, and we were happy with what we have seen we recommend 1-day pass for 37 USD. The good thing is that you can buy passes the day before in the afternoon and be able to visit the park after 17.00 for one more sunset.
Sunset in Angkor park
Motorbikes are widely available and used all over Cambodia. But as far as we are aware it may be forbidden for foreigners in Siem Reap area. Most people hire a rickshaw, bicycle or electric mopeds for exploring. We found that very inconvenient as we like to stop at the sites we like as we go along. That’s why we decided to find the motorbike rental and rented the bike for the afternoon and next day. It costed us 12 USD for 24 hours. Also we were told in the shop that we are allowed to drive it… Just in case we have avoided the party area and bridges east of Siam Reap river including it
We decided to go for the sunset on Phnom Bakheng tempel. It has a limited number of persons that can be on it so be there as soon as the park is open for free at 17.00.
Angkor Wat sunrise and Bayon temple
Angkor wat is the most famous on the tempes. It is also the only one officialy open for sunrise so exspct quite a bit of people in the area. Take the time to visit the indors and climb up before the ques get bigger as soon as the sun gets fully up.
After the sunrise most tour buses fo back to hotels for breakfast. If you are on motorbike go first to Bayon temple. It is very beatuful and great to explor when still empty. After wich we also headed back for breakfast and packed up.
Exploring Angkor park
After some rest and pool time go explore the park. We first went by Angkor wat and Bayon and were just stopping as we please while heading on the roads towards east. A definite must is a stop at Ta Prohm Temple (three temple). That along with Bayon and Angkor wat are our favourites.
For sunset head to Pre Rup temple. You will have to hurry to get back in time for the night buss as we had to. ?
If you have more days left some people chose to visit the nearby Battambang. We instead opted for a night bus to Sihanoukville.
EAT: 1$BBQ located next to Jasmin lodge. This is only a dinner place but they have great local and international bbq food for the lowest prices we had. Really recommended.
SLEEP: Jasmine lodge, at 12 USD per night fan room with modest breakfast well priced for Siam reap. We would in hindsight rather take the AC room for extra money as its really hot in January.
Koh Rong 3-4 nights
We arrived to the dirty city of Sihanoukville at 4 am. This is definitely the most polluted city we have ever seen so we were happy to not be staying in it. From the station we paid 3USD for tuktuk to the port.
Where to stay on Koh Rong?
If you like to party the main port city is the answer. The beaches are average, the town is crowded so take this in mind. Long beach is nice but has only premium accommodation and no infrastructure so it’s great for a day’s visit. In our eyes only 4K beach (left side) or Coconut beach were the options.
Coconut beach – Koh Rong
Coconut beach was our choice as we found a perfect accommodation for us – a tent on the beach. Only ferry operator to Coconut beach is Buva Sea Cambodia at 25USD open return with first service at 8.00. The ride may be bumpy if there is wind just so you are warned. ?
We were very happy with our selected beach. It was not overcrowded and it had just enough restaurants to eat. Coconut Beach Bungalows was the perfect location to be. The tents are next to the sea and are very comfortable with proper mattress in them. We were never hot with light breeze in the night so for 6USD it’s the best accommodation on Koh Rong. The property is managed by Louis who is the best host. he and his family organise sea food BBQ nights in the camp, fire show, marshmallows BBQ, plankton viewing and 1-day boat trips. Also playing board games in the restaurant is a good passing of time that is not spent on the beach.
In the end we stayed here for 4 nights and enjoyed some easy life on the beach
Every other day camp organises full day boat trip around the island for 10USD per person. The trip starts with snorkleing in the nearby bay wich doesn’t offer taht much. Next stop is in the main ferry village for lunch. we eat a great pizza at Bamboo Pizza Restaurant.
After its time to head to the Long beach. On the way there is a short stop for fishing, better catch some or there will be no dinner. 🙂 We had almost 2 hours to have funn on the shore of Long beach wich is prety before heading back to the boat and sunset dinner on it and some drinking on the way back.
Walk to 4K beach
As we wanted to see also 4K beach we decided to take a nice 1hour walk to it. The walk is nice, and it takes you after a while along the two smaller beaches. After you arrive to the start of the beach continue throe it as the left side is much nicer. Do mind that it’s 4 km long as the name suggests. 🙂
EAT: All restaurant on the beach are in the same price range and similar taste, so rotate around. If we had to choose one was the favourite was The CocoHut and their Chicken cashew nuts.
SLEEP: Coconut Beach Bungalows as said the best accomodation on the Island for 6USD per night. Book ahead if you stay for a longer period of time as they get quite full.
Otres beach 2. – 1 night
This is not a mandatory stop but as Anabelle wanted to have a nice sunset on the ocean we decided to stop here. To get of the island you must confirm you seat the day before.
Otres beach is divided in 3 segments. The best is Otres beach 2 which is where we spent our afternoon. A tuktuk costs 8 USD to get to your accommodation. Mind that behind Otres 1 a massive Chinese building project is going on so it’s an area we advise against staying or being around.
Our afternoon was spent walking the beach and chilling at Columbus bar and Bungalows. They have a nice location and happy hour in the afternoon.
Otres beach sunset pictures.
Kompot – 2 nights
Kompot is 3 hours bus ride away from Sihanouk. It is a foodie stop on Cambodia itinerary as there are many expats leaving in the area it has some great western restaurants available. The region is also very nice for sightseeing so is a must on any itinerary. The city around the riverbank has also a nice vibe to it so don’t forget to explore it on foot or Motorbike.
Firefly boat tour
The first afternoon we decided to go on a Firefly bout tour. They depart at 17.00 and 19.00 at a price of 4USD and included in the price are 2 beers. 🙂 We didn’t expect much but were pleasantly surprised on the nice boat ride as the views along the river are pleasant. The fireflies itself are the least of the attraction for us as we have them in Slovenia in June everywhere. ?
Climbodia is the name of the company that offers rock climbing, via Ferratas, abseiling and subterranean cave exploration . As we never before had been rock climbing, we have decided to give it a go. Make sure to book your tour the day before in their Kampot office. The half day tour costs 40USD and starts at 9.00 till around 13.00. Make sure to follow this location pin to the start point of the climbing.
After you should make way to Secret lake which is located some 20 minutes further from the climbing spot. We recommend stopping for delicious red curry in Secret Lake Cafe.
Kep and crab market
Most people go to Kep and stay the night but we found that an afternoon was enougf. As we were quite late we decided not to stop in Kep National park, but rather first checked out the center of the village and main beach. We then headed to the famous Crab market, make sure to be ther during the day light time before they close. We bought 1kg of fresh crab for 7USD and 0,5USD to get them steamed.
Bokor hill station
As our bus onwards departed at 13.00 we had to start the day early to be back in time. That’s why we started the trip just before 8.00. It takes 1,5 hours to get to the station itself if you make a few stops even there the road is brand new and you can have some fun on it 😉
The entrance to the Park is surprisingly free. At the top you will notice strange Chinese hotels that are empty and abandoned old colonial houses. Bring a jacket as it gets cold at the top. On the way down the hordes just started to make their way up so definitely go for an early morning start to be alone at the top.
Before leaving head to the Durian Roundabout, which one of the more famous site of the town. 🙂 🙂
EAT: French breakfast: Douceurs du Cambodge et de France – Delicious! Burger: Pepe And The Viking and many others.
SLEEP: Marany Guesthouse, basic rooms at a good location for 15USD.
Ratanakiri (Banlung) – 2 nights
To reach Banlung there is no direct bus. First take a 4 hours bus to Phnom Penh. Mind that the traffic is crazy jammed in the capital so have enough time. We have booked a sleeper bus Virak Buntam Express online for 13USD as there is no office in Kampot. In Phnom Penh we used grab to get a tuktuk from the first bus to the Japan hospital bus office to confirm our tickets. For dinner we found an excellent Lebanese restaurant called Hummus House. As we still had enough time we decided a massage for 6USD and it was one of better ones we had in Asia. The exact location of the saloon is this as there are 3 saloons next to each other.
We still had enough time we decided a massage for 6USD and it was one of better ones we had in Asia. The exact location of the saloon is this as there are 3 saloons next to each other.
You will arrive around 6.00-7.00 to the town of Banlung. The region is off the path of tourists. The village itself is the base for many surrounding waterfalls in the region.
Lake Yeak Laom
Is a great spot for some swimming and relaxation near the village. It has a small entry fee. We found it so refreshing that we went there both days. 🙂
The region is known for many waterfalls. We visited Cha Ong Waterfall, Kachanh Waterfall, Katieng Waterfall and 7 Steps Waterfall. The last is almost 2 hours away on dusty roads and is a bit over hyped so not a must stop. Mind that all other roads are also dusty and bumpy but much more manageable than 7 Steps.
Elephant Spa – Airavata
We wanted to get close to the Elephants as we admire them. Airavata offers experiences with Elephants that were rescued from labour life. That’s why we booked a spa program for around 50€. They are located at the Katieng waterfall. The most fun of the experience for us and for the elephant was when they took her down the bank to the waterfall base. She was so happy to be in the water and spent half the time fully emerged in the water. 🙂
SLEEP: Tree Top Ecolodge, the best accomodation we had in Cambodia at a price of 13USD. The bugalows are wooden and spaced apart ower the hill so you feel alone in the jungle.
EAT: The Green Carrot, Bok Ma Em Restaurant and Tree Top Ecolodge.
We again booked a sleeper bus back to the capital where we had a 10.00 flight to Bangkok. As we again had time to kill, we went for a 5.00 massage to the same place to stretch our limbs before the flights back home.