It’s always when I get home and look at photos that I really appreciate my travels. I often say to myself when I’m somewhere to… ‘take it all in whilst you’re here’ and trust me I do. But as always you don’t really appreciate what you’ve seen until you’ve left. Like all my other trips, Cambodia was no different. Here I sit at home over a month after returning home and wish I was still on that beautiful island. Barefoot, drinking Angkor beer and drooling over new-born puppies whilst watching people play fire limbo! Or that I was still wandering around temples that were being suffocated with huge tree roots.
A lot of people have said ‘hmmm interesting choice’ when I said that I was going to Cambodia. I assume because Cambodia is often overlooked by it’s overbearing neighbours Thailand and Vietnam. Cambodia is, as I have already mentioned, often seen as a bypass to either side not a destination in itself. Which is why I want to share with you 5 reasons why I think Cambodia should be your next destination.
Number 1: A Mix of Modern and Ancient Worlds
Cambodia can provide you with a trip that is a beautiful blend of modern and ancient worlds. You can start off in the capital city Phnom Penh, to towns like Siem Reap the gateway to the city of ancient temples built-in the Khmer Empire. Moving to the more culturally rich places like Tonle Sap Lake and Battambang. For our cultural piece of Cambodia we opted for the riverside town of Kampot. Even though this town is becoming more popular it still has a quieter vibe. If it’s the beach life you desire then guess what Cambodia has this too! There are various islands off the south coast some better for wildlife whilst others are better for partying! Cambodia is fairly small in size compared to Thailand and Vietnam, making it totally possible to visit all these places within a two or three week trip.
Number 2: The Wats
The temples of Angkor Wat are the main reason why people visit Cambodia, and I cannot not put them on my list as they are simply stunning! Starting with the Angkor Wat complex to the temples further out on the grand circuit. Or even those much further out of Siem Reap such as Banteay Srei. Imagine being sat in a tuk tuk, with the sun blazing down on your legs, and the wind rushing past your face. Whilst you’re driven around twisty roads lined with trees. Suddenly you turn a corner and in front of you out of the trees appears a huge stone temple. Perfectly sitting right next to the road as you drive past in awe of this beautiful and vastly unusual site to a European’s eye.
Number 3: Up and coming Urban Scene
Cambodia hosts so much more than just the temples including an increasingly lively urban scene which can be easily found in Phnom Penh. A variety of swanky coffee shops, vegan friendly cafes and rooftop bars can be found all over the capital which will surprise you with their sophistication.
Tried and tested: Enso Cafe – Le Moon Rooftop Bar – Feel Good Cafe II.
Not personally tried but have heard good things: Backyard Cafe – Vibe Cafe – Java Cafe and Gallery.
Number 4: An Abundance of Adventures
If it’s an adventure that you want then Cambodia can provide a range of choices.
The Countryside – experience rural life and stunning landscapes filled with rice paddies in towns like Kampot. Visit Pepper plantations to see how the famous Kampot Pepper is grown, and how the local communities benefit from the farm.
Hidden Paradise Islands – Yes Cambodia has a slice of paradise too…sit between swaying palm trees on islands off the south coast. Get involved in the party lifestyle or explore more remote islands. Here you can spend your days snorkelling, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking, swimming with plankton, boat trips, lying in a hammock, exploring the jungle, hiking to lighthouses.
Inland Country – The Cardamon Mountains lie inland close to the South Coast. They are part of a vast wilderness and the last of untouched rainforests in South East Asia. Home to some of Cambodia’s elusive wildlife and a gateway to emerging ecotourism adventures.
The Mekong River – the river cuts through Cambodia, and provides a home to some of the rarest animals in the world. The Mekong River Irrawaddy Dolphins. Various scenic tours can be taken from Kratie to help you try to spot one of these species.
The Northeast – the northeast of Cambodia is a world in itself, barely touched, wild and mountainous. Home to Cambodia’s ethic minorities and wildlife.
Number 5: Transport
Another great reason to visit Cambodia is because the transport is actually pretty damn good! Varying from long distance overland journeys to hopping on the back of a tuk-tuk around town. The abundance of tuk tuk’s in Cambodia is insane and overwhelming as well as the constant yell of ‘you want tuk-tuk?’ Nevertheless, they are so convenient to get from A – B to in town, especially when you download the Passapp app, much like Uber but in Cambodia! Hurtling down roads in the back of a tuk-tuk can be a thrilling ride, especially once you get off the beaten track!
Long distance journeys vary in quality, but you can get between the main cities and towns with a company called Giant Ibis. They provided a great service from Phnom Penh to Kampot. They include onboard WiFi, breakfast and aircon. However their service from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh was a tad disappointing as we had an older bus with no WiFi or chargers. Their overnight service from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh again was great. The bus was fitted with almost horizontal beds which were actually pretty comfy and felt safe. A great way to travel long distances and not waste your daylight hours. However, the journeys we had to take that weren’t with Giant Ibis are something not to talked about, luckily we only had one between Kampot and Sihanoukville!