CAMBODIA TRAVEL ITINERARY
Cambodia requires a tourist visa to travel through the country. You can either get the visa at the border if you are crossing by land, or before using the internet or the Cambodian Embassy if you are flying in from another country. The Cambodian visa costs roughly $25 (as of 2017) and is good for one month.
We took the bus from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam to Siem Reap using “ The Sinh Tourist” Bus company. It cost $17 and took about 12 hours including border crossings. You can also fly to Siem Reap from nearby countries using a number of different airlines such as Air Asia.
We stayed at the ‘New Bequest Hotel’ , located near the center of all the action. It was only $10 a night, nice clean rooms and a private bathroom. The staff was very friendly. Our first night we stayed at the Garden Village hotel, which had large hostel rooms, some as low at $1. It was absolutely disgusting, I don’t recommend it unless you want to stay in a really filthy hotel room.
I have also stayed at the ‘Mingalar Inn’ which cost $15 for a fan room and $18 for an AC room. They have a rooftop gym and are located close to the New Bequest Hotel. The rooms were comfortable and clean, the staff extremely helpful and polite.
Must See and Do:
Angkor Wat: We chose the 3 day pass for $40 each. A one day pass is $20 but you really need at least 2 days to see everything unless you want to be rushing from one site to the next all day. If you buy your tickets after 5pm, you can enter the park that night for the sunset for free and your tickets won’t actually be activated until the next day. I recommend doing that. We rode a bicycle around instead of paying for a tour. Our hotel let us rent one for $1 a day. It was tiring especially in the heat but well worth it. You can ride there around 4am in the morning to make it in time for sunrise and beat the tour packages with hundreds of people. It took us about 45min to ride our bikes there from the center of town. The good sunrise started around 5am. You want to see all the major sites inside the park, they are all amazing in their own way. We did the large loop one day and the small loop the next. As of 2017 you can now rent a motorbike in Siem Reap, which we did on our second trip there, and was a much easier experience for tackling all of Angkor Wat in just 2 days.
If you are short on time, MUST SEE temples include: Angkor Wat (sunrise), Bayon, Royal Palace, Prah Khan, Ta Keo, Ta Prohm, and Pr. Prerup (for sunset)
Maharaja Indian Restaurant: Absolutely delicious and incredibly cheap. We ate here on three separate occasions. Get a set meal for $4.
The Peace Café: Delicious Vegetarian food priced from $2-$10. Try the Vegetarian Amok and the Indonesian Salad. Located on the other side of the river from the main tourist section, but only about a 5 minute walk.
Khmer Grill Restuarant: Located on Watdamnak Road, grab some authentic Cambodian coffee and food.
Vivas Mexican: Located down in the action near Pub Street with great margaritas and cheap beer.
Cafe Central: Located down in the action near Pub Street, choose from fresh juice, Mediterranean food, contemporary fusions, vegan dishes, burgers, pizzas, pastas, and of course coffee.
Taj Mahal: Located on Sok San Road, authentic Indian food served with 4 delicious homemade sauces.
Pub Street: This is where all the action is at night. Get cheap Angkor drafts for 50 cents and lounge on comfortable chairs while eating popcorn. We didn’t go to any of the more packed clubs but there were plenty.
The Little Red Fox Espresso: This adorable cafe has unique coffee drinks such as a Lemongrass & Ginger Latte. Try the sweet potato toast with chickpea topping.
Nai Khmer Food Restaurant: One of the largest menus for Cambodian food in Siem Reap, lots of vegetarian options, dishes cost around $2.00
You can take the VIP Gold Bus Company or the Mekong Express from Siem Reap overnight to Sihanoukville. You will read bad reviews of both companies, but from my two trips, one with each company, the ride has always been nothing but smooth and comfortable. The buses provide you with a completely flat bed, blanket, and pillow. Be aware – if you are traveling alone it is almost a guarantee that you will be placed sleeping next to someone else, and sharing one large bed. Both companies are located on Sivatha Boulevard next to the Maharajah restaurant and across from the Elephant Hotel (Not sure of the exact name, it was a fancier hotel that had the word elephant in it and a few elephant statues out front).
Sihanoukville has several different beaches. Serendipity Beach is known as the “party beach” while the others are much more quiet. We opted for the more quiet of the beaches, which was recommended as Otres 2 Beach. The beaches start from Serendipity, then Otres 1, then Otres 2. It takes about 30 minutes walking along the beach to reach Otres 1 from Otres 2.
Castaways: This was our guesthouse on Otres Beach 2. We absolutely loved Otres 2 and Castaways Beach Resort. It was so quiet (although we went during the rainy and low season, we heard the high season in Sihanoukville can get absolutely crazy with people). We were located directly on top of the beach, our room was $8 for a double with a private bathroom. Bungalows ran as cheap as $5 with a shared bathroom. The bungalows are very basic.We chose this place because it had excellent reviews on trip advisor and some of the other places had not so great reviews. It is run by a Cambodian family, not foreigners like many of the other places. Mr. Ox who owns the place is the nicest man, and his wife is an EXCELLENT cook. The prices in Sihanoukville are more to begin with for food, ranging from $2-$5 per plate everywhere. We stayed here for 7 days relaxing in hammocks on the beach. Tell Mr. Ox Dan and Tara sent you and that we said hello! Try the ginger dish his wife makes and her noodle soup! Delicious Amok curry and Loklak as well! He has motorbikes for rent, we actually used his bike 3x and he never charged us once! His tuk tuk driver is very friendly and he will pick you up from the bus station. The whole feel of this guesthouse is one big happy family.
You can walk down 2 guesthouses to the left of Castaways to a fancier guesthouse that has delicious food as well for reasonable prices. They even serve Absinthe there, the alcohol made from wormwood (illegal in the states), made on an island nearby.
Walk to Otres 1 if you want to do daytime partying, for nighttime you will have to go to Serendipity. There are good bars and restaurants at Otres 1, and if you want quiet from Serendipity but not quite as quiet as Otres 2, stay at Otres 1 instead.
Must See and Do:
The Spaghetti House: A restaurant located in Sihanoukville city center, next to the Pizza Company. AMAZING! Run by an Italian man, the food is incredible. You can get a $4 set meal, which includes bruschetta, pasta or meat dish of your choice, enormous salad, large warm baguette, and espresso coffee at the end. Its almost unbelievable. His large glasses of wine are $1.50. He is very friendly and likes to talk to you and asks you to write about him in tripadvisor. His pizzas are incredible as well.
Casinos: Sihanoukville is filled with casinos which were fun for an afternoon. You get free drinks and food while you play. Some are a little sketchy but others at 5 star resorts. It poured all day one day so we spent the afternoon at one and even won a little money!
Koh Rong Samloem Island
From Sihanoukville you can catch a speed boat to either Koh Rong Samloem or Koh Rong. I recommend Buva Sea Company which gave us round trip tickets for only $12.
We stayed at ‘The Beach Island Resort‘ located on Saracen Bay, the longest beach on Koh Rong Samloem. Deluxe and Superior bungalows located directly on the beach are available for as little as $30. You can also stay in their open air hostel, which consists of a number of beds with mosquito nets in a building with three walls, the front wall missing so you can wake up to the views of the ocean and sunrise. Saracen Bay has a variety of accommodations, including hostels and luxury resorts.
Restaurants on Saracen Bay:
Most of the guesthouses have their own restaurants attached, and none are all that fantastic, but you can find delcious, authentic Italian food at Citas Restaurant at the far end of the bay. Saracen Bay Resort Restaurant is one of the only ones that opens early, and you can find fantastic breakfast options at affordable prices.
What to Do:
Two day trips across to the other side of the island are excellent ways to spend some of your time and take a break from Saracen Bay. Both of the beaches, Sunset Beach and Lazy Beach, offer accommodation and dining options, and if you choose to stay there you will find a completely secluded setting, much different from that of Saracen Bay.
Lazy Beach is a private beach, with only one option for accommodation and dining. The restaurant/bar is very chill and relax, and the beach with beautiful white sand. You can take an easy walk from Saracen Bay to Lazy Beach which follows a flat path and takes roughly 30 minutes. Make sure you take a flashlight with you if you plan to be there after dark, there is absolutely no lighting for you to follow the path home. If you’re visiting in the rainy season, make sure you watch the ground for leeches. Always be aware of snakes, as there are several poisonous species on both of the Koh Rong islands including cobras and pit vipers.
Sunset Beach requires you to hike up and down a mountain for about 45 minutes. Follow the same rules as for Lazy Beach with flashlights and awareness of snakes. When you reach the other side you will have a few accommodation options and Huba Huba restuarant which serves local and Western dishes, including vegetarian.
Koh Rong Island
Koh Rong Island is the more well-known of the two, and much more of a party scene than Koh Rong Samloem. Instead of staying on Koh Touch beach where most of the action is, we decided to be more secluded and stay on Coconut Beach at Coconut Beach Bungalows. I highly recommend this experience. The beach is small and private, with crystal clear waters and bio-luminescent plankton that come out at night. Coconut Beach has only 3-4 accommodation and dining options, but Coconut Beach Bungalows is by far the best option. Run by Robbie and his family, this small guesthouse which offers bungalows and beach side tents, has a restaurant serving amazing food overlooking the bay. Robbie will make sure that your holiday is complete and that you have everything you need. At night he will turn off all the lights so that he can take you out swimming in the bio-luminescent plankton. A once in a lifetime experience. We rented a tent directly on the beach which was comfortable, clean, complete with a soft mattress, sheets and pillows. You can use community showers that are always kept clean. Our tent had a hammock outside so it was perfect for lounging, reading, and being lazy all day.
We visited the other guesthouses and restaurants on the beach and were not as blown away, although each offers their own unique dishes.
We were lucky enough to have a unique trip from Sihanoukville to Takeo. A local politician, who also acts as the tuk tuk driver for Castaways guesthouse agreed to take us on the 4 hour trip via his private tuk tuk. We thought that would be the best way to see the countryside so we agreed on a price of $30 USD. The trip ended up taking roughly 9 hours, getting into Takeo in dark, but what an incredible journey!
We went to Takeo and skipped other touristy places to stay at the New Futures Organisation volunteer home. We spent a week volunteering at an orphanage of 45 children and working at local schools and teaching the monks and local police officers. We cannot recommend this place enough.
If your looking for an incredible experience that you wont get anywhere else, please come here and you wont be sorry. Teaching at “Little Po” school was one of the most rewarding things we have ever done.
We came here to see the very rare river “Irrawaddy” dolphins, with less than 80 left in the Mekong river. We stayed at the Odom Sambath Hotel, which was $7 a night and very comfortable. Their restaurant had a good breakfast. Kratie is a small town and there are plenty of places to stay. We got a tuk tuk driver to take us to the docks to rent a boat to see the dolphins but you can ride a motorbike there as well. The ride out there is beautiful and if your lucky you will get some amazing shots of the dolphins. Go early around 9am. Your boat ride will be about 2 hours and you don’t want to do it in the heat of the day. Overall we didn’t find the food to be that fantastic in Kratie but there are a couple places catering to tourists and even have good drink specials. From Kratie we took the bus into Laos and headed to the 4000 Islands.
Several years ago I had visited Phnom Penh and was not very impressed. This time around we decided to give it a second chance and we surprisingly loved it. You just need to know where to stay and what to do. Some areas of town are not that exciting, so learn from my mistakes and follow the guide below!
The best area of town to stay is by far the riverside, which follows along Sisowath Quay Road. There are a number of accommodation options, from hostel to luxury, located along this road. If you turn down one of the side streets you will find even more options. I recommend looking at Trip Adviser for the latest reviews of the hotels before choosing one. Along the riverside you can find historical restaurants and cute cafes.
What to Do:
Toul Sleng Genocide Museum: If you’re up for a depressing yet eye opening view of the Khmer Rouge and Cambodian genocide, take the afternoon to visit Toul Sleng. Originally a high school that was converted into a secret torture center that imprisoned between 12,000 and 20,000 people. When you arrive you have the option of renting an audio headset, and definitely do that option. It will guide you through the museum with stories of each section and the people that were imprisoned there.
Russian Market: Where to go if you want to buy anything in Phnom Penh. Here you can find clothes, jewelry, and handicrafts, practically anything that you could imagine. Located on road 444.
Street 308: This small, winding street contains a number of artsy themed bars, some of which can only hold about 12 people inside. Bar hop to see all this street has to offer. Definitely one of the most unique areas of Phnom Penh.
Piccola Italia’s Restaurant: Located on Street 308, this Italian restaurant has some of the best Italian food I’ve had in Asia, with crispy pizzas, fantastic pastas, and cheap beer and wine.
Hope you found all the information you need in this Cambodia Travel Itinerary, please feel free to ask any questions.