Having just returned from a two week trip in Cambodia, there was one question that we got asked more than anything. ‘Why Cambodia?’, our answer was ‘why not?’. The majority of people who we met during our trip were simply using Cambodia as a highway, albeit a long one to either Vietnam or Thailand. Those who wanted to stop off and see the famous temples whilst on their grand tour of Asia. However, for us Cambodia was the one and only destination. We had planned to travel around it as much as we could in our two weeks. Here is our Cambodia itinerary to inspire you how on how to spend our two weeks. Including time at the magnificent temples whilst also exploring the culture and of course leaving some time to chill on the beach!
Days 1 – 4 Fly into Siem Reap
Spend at least two days exploring Angkor Wat and the other temples!
Temples – There are two circuits, the small one takes in the main temples like Angkor Wat and Bayon. Whilst the big circuit includes further out temples. I’d recommend doing both, you can either hire a tuk tuk to take you around or join a group tour via minibus. The usual is to visit Angkor Wat for sunrise but you can see the temples in a different order to avoid the crowds.
Plus there is a zipline park here if you fancy something a bit different but it’s fairly expensive.
Phnom Kulen National Park – I have to be honest and this is personal taste but visiting this national park was very disappointing. Of course it isn’t like anything you see in Europe. Although I didn’t expect it to be filled with rubbish, cars and motorbikes. The waterfall which is what we mainly went there to see was beautiful, but there was nowhere to just sit and enjoy the surroundings. Only a thin wooden walkway which was crammed with people getting changed to get in the water. There were safety boxes that you could rent for $1 if you wanted to go for a swim. However, there was everything else getting sold too!
Cooking Class – we wanted to do a cooking class whilst in Siem Reap, but you can do them all over Cambodia. We chose Lily’s Secret Garden cookery class which was great for $24pp. This included a trip to the local market to buy the ingredients.
Angkor Wat Mini Golf – we didn’t have time for this but would have done this instead of the national park!
Pub Street – it’s touristy yes, but just embrace it! Indulge on the $0.50 beer…
—- Travel to Phnom Penh on a Giant Ibis overnight bus $15pp —-
Day 5 Phnom Penh
We stopped off in Phnom Penh as we didn’t want to be travelling for a whole night and day. We chilled out in the capital and visited the S21 prison, followed by taking in the river views at the sky bar (Le Moon). After which we finally heading back to our hotel, which was unfortunately situated in the red light district. It was better than the bed bug ridden room we had quickly left 6 hours earlier…I thought Phnom Penh was going to be very busy and dirty like any city. However I was pleasantly surprised and a early morning walk revealed its peaceful side of the city.
Days 6 – 8 Head South to Kampot
— Giant Ibis bus from Phnom Penh to Kampot $10pp —
We caught a Giant Ibis bus at 8am, they are an amazing bus company (in Cambodian terms) although their services vary. On this route however we got wifi onboard and breakfast! (FYI – Cambodia’s are a bit like the Spanish, mañana mañana, not one of our pick ups, buses or ferries left on time!). You can also catch the train to Kampot from Phnom Penh but only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (https://www.seat61.com/Cambodia.htm#Train)
Explore this beautiful riverside town, with it’s more relaxed vibe and quieter pace of life. A lot of the hotels are out of town up along the river, (with a lot more hotels being built here too). However, head to town in the late afternoon to watch the sun setting behind the Bokor National Park.
Departing from opposite Rikitikitavi restaurant great little attraction. After the short cruise up the river head to a local restaurant for dinner. Although if your taste buds are screaming out for a taste of simple ingredients, then you must check out Divino’s Pizzeria. Run by an Italian couple this was just what I needed to reset my palette.
Banteay Srey Womens only Spa $5pp for a yoga class. I was dripping with sweat when the hour was up. Even Cambodia at 9am is too hot for any kind of exercise!
You cannot leave Kampot without visiting a pepper farm and especially La Plantation, home to yes you guessed it – Kampot Pepper! La Plantation does complimentary free tours of the farm. The farm has two restaurants where you can indulge in pepper in all kinds of forms. You can buy a guided tour to the pepper farm, which include other sights like the Secret Lake and the Salt Fields (when in season – check this!). The road up to La Plantation is bumpy, to say the least and most tuk tuk’s will charge extra to drive up there.
Bokor National Park
We didn’t make it here but I really wanted to, you either need a scooter or join a guided tour.
Relax by the river
There are various choices of water sports to do on the river. We did kayaking in the early morning up to the mangroves, a good 3 hour paddle. You can also do SUP either from many of the river side hotels or SUP ASIA do slightly more expensive but guided lessons and tours departing from Kampot town.
Days 9 – 11 Kong Rong Island
—- Catch a bus from Kampot to Sihanoukville booked through your hotel —
It’s beach time! But be prepared for a long and bumpy ride though, the bus from Kampot to Sihanoukville is bad! Don’t expect any Giant Ibis quality here but being squished in like sardines, luckily the journey is only about 2.5 hrs.
FYI the bus we got didn’t drop us off at the pier as you would expect, no, it dropped us at a tour agency selling ferry tickets to the islands. However, they only sell selected ferry companies (for example if you wanted to get the Buva Sea ferry like us you can’t as this ‘random’ company didn’t sell them) but being stuck just outside of town they annoyingly had us, the price was the same as we expected though $22pp return and you can go to one island and return from the other island. The ferry ride was okay, the first stop is Koh Rong Sanloem, then Mai Pai Beach and finally Koh Rong island.
Party and beach time is all you need to do on this island. The main town Koah Touch is party central and it shows in it’s visual aspects. There are various beaches on the island though so check where you want to stay first. We stayed on Longest Beach (4K Beach) about a 20 minute walk from Koah Touch Pier where you get dropped off. As soon as you step off the ferry you’ll be harassed to get a longboat to Longest Beach (for example), but you can walk it and the trail is well trodden, it just depends whether you want to walk and save your cash for beer pong.
Other activities on the island:-
High rope Zip Line
Walks to Long Beach
Island hopping boat trip
Days 11 – 13 Koh Rong Sanloem
—— Hop on a inter island ferry to Koh Rong Sanloem $5pp ——
Koh Rong Sanloem is a stunning island, all you need to do here is relax, chill out in a hammock and enjoy the views! Plus:-
Walk to Sunset or Lazy Beach
See the plankton at night (but not when there’s a full moon)
Day 14 Fly home from Phnom Penh
—- Giant Ibis bus from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh $13pp —-
Relax in a nice hotel as you spend your last night in this amazing country.