Planning Your Trip
Best Time to VisitChoosing the right time to explore Cambodia is crucial. The dry season, from November to April, offers pleasant weather, making it ideal for temple exploration and beach hopping. However, the wet season, from May to October, paints the landscapes in lush greenery.
Visa RequirementsObtaining a visa on arrival is a straightforward process. Ensure your passport has at least six months’ validity and check the latest travel regulations.
Transportation OptionsFly into international airports in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap for convenience. Public transport and car rentals are available, but for a local touch, consider scooter rentals.
Currency and PaymentsThe local currency is the Cambodian Riel (KHR), but US dollars are widely accepted. While credit cards are accepted in major establishments, having cash is handy for local markets.
Phnom Penh (Day 1-3)
Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, is a vibrant and dynamic metropolis with a rich history and cultural tapestry. Its name, translated as “Penh’s Hill,” is derived from the legend of Lady Penh, who discovered Buddha statues on a hill and built a temple, giving rise to the city.
One of the city’s key historical landmarks is the Royal Palace, a stunning complex that houses the official residence of the King of Cambodia. Adjacent to the palace is the Silver Pagoda, known for its floor adorned with over 5,000 silver tiles. Another significant site is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a stark reminder of Cambodia’s tragic past during the Khmer Rouge regime.
Phnom Penh’s cultural landscape is also reflected in its markets, such as the bustling Central Market (Psar Thmei) and the Russian Market (Psar Toul Tom Poung), where locals and tourists alike engage in a vibrant exchange of goods. The city’s riverside area, with its lively atmosphere, is a hub for entertainment and dining.
Why You Should Spend Time Here
Historical Insight: Phnom Penh offers a unique opportunity to delve into Cambodia’s history, from its ancient roots to the more recent and tumultuous events of the Khmer Rouge era. Museums and historical sites provide a poignant look into the country’s past.
Cultural Diversity: The city is a melting pot of Cambodian traditions and international influences, making it a fascinating place to explore diverse customs, arts, and cuisine. From traditional dance performances to contemporary art galleries, Phnom Penh showcases the country’s cultural richness.
Architectural Marvels: The Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, and other architectural wonders are a testament to Cambodia’s architectural grandeur. Exploring these structures provides insight into the country’s royal heritage and artistic achievements.
Riverfront Charm: The Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers converge in Phnom Penh, offering a picturesque setting for leisurely strolls along the waterfront. The area is dotted with cafes, restaurants, and shops, creating a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere.
Culinary Adventures: Phnom Penh’s food scene is diverse, with street food stalls, local markets, and upscale restaurants serving traditional Cambodian dishes and international cuisine. Trying local delicacies is a delightful culinary adventure.
Warm Hospitality: Cambodians are known for their warm and welcoming nature. Engaging with locals provides an authentic experience and a chance to appreciate the friendliness of the people.
Tuk-Tuks: These three-wheeled, open-air vehicles are a common sight. They’re affordable, navigate traffic well, and are perfect for short trips around the city.
- Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum: A solemn reminder of Cambodia’s past.
- Royal Palace: A dazzling display of Khmer architecture.
- Riverside Park: Perfect for a leisurely stroll by the rivers.
- Explore local crafts at the Central Market.
- Attend traditional performances for a taste of Cambodian arts.
Best Luxury Hotels:
- Located in the iconic Vattanac Capital Tower.
- Offers panoramic views of the city and Mekong River.
- Features luxurious accommodations and world-class amenities.
- Known for its sophisticated design and top-notch service.
- A historic landmark with French colonial architecture.
- Boasts elegant rooms, suites, and lush gardens.
- Renowned for its timeless charm and exceptional service.
- Houses fine dining restaurants and a relaxing spa.
- Situated near the Independence Monument.
- Offers opulent rooms with a blend of French and Khmer aesthetics.
- Features a stunning pool, multiple dining options, and a spa.
- Known for its French-inspired hospitality.
Best Mid-Range Hotels
- Nestled in the historic district on 43 Street 240.
- eatures a boutique design with modern aesthetics.
- Boasts a rooftop pool and restaurant with a fusion of local and international cuisine.
- Offers stylish rooms, providing a comfortable and unique stay.
- Blending modern comfort with Khmer hospitality.
- Located in Sangkat Chaktomuk on 18 Street 258.
- Features a rooftop pool, well-furnished rooms, and an onsite restaurant.
- Offers a convenient and stylish base for exploring the vibrant city.
Best Hostels/Guest Houses
- Popular among budget travelers and backpackers.
- Known for its vibrant social atmosphere and events.
- Offers dormitory-style and private rooms.
- Central location for easy exploration.
- Hostel with a modern and clean design.
- Provides dormitory and private rooms.
- Emphasizes security and comfort for guests.
- Social spaces for interaction among travelers.
- Budget-friendly hostel in a lively area.
- Offers dormitory-style accommodations.
- Known for its laid-back atmosphere.
- Close to various attractions and entertainment options.
Koh Rong Islands (Day 4-8)
Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, the jewels of Cambodia’s coast, are tropical paradise with pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters. The Koh Rong Islands are a group of islands located off the coast of Sihanoukville in southwestern Cambodia. The two main islands, Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem, are known for their pristine white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant coral reefs.
The trip from Phnom Penh to Koh Rong involves a two-part journey. Initially, you travel from Phnom Penh to the coastal city of Sihanoukville by bus or van, where the ferries depart. The subsequent step is boarding the ferry from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong.
It is advisable to depart from Phnom Penh early in the day to ensure that you do not miss the afternoon ferry departures. This ensures a smoother and timely travel experience to Koh Rong.
Koh Rong Samloem
Koh Rong Samloem, the smaller sibling of Koh Rong, is situated just 4 kilometres away. However, its smaller size in no way diminishes its spectacular beauty.
A decade or so ago, Koh Rong Samloem was the less-explored counterpart to Koh Rong. In recent years, the island has witnessed a substantial increase in resorts, hostels, and more affordable accommodation choices, attracting a new wave of travellers.
The primary tourist hub on Koh Rong Samloem is Saracen Bay, the point of arrival for ferries from Sihanoukville. Notably, there are no roads on the island, making Saracen Bay a convenient choice for accommodation due to its proximity to the ferry pier. However, for those seeking a more secluded experience, various accommodations require an additional boat ride or a jungle trek to access.
In essence, Koh Rong Samloem is a true paradise! Prepare to be astonished by its crystal-clear waters, pristine white sand, and serene lapping waves. This island is undeniably one of my favorite spots, boasting beautiful beaches, a relaxed atmosphere, and an undeniable charm that becomes evident as soon as you set foot on its shores.
Koh Rong Samloem offers a diverse range of accommodations catering to various preferences and budgets. Whether you seek luxury, mid-range comfort, or a budget-friendly stay, the island has options to suit every traveler.
Best Luxury Hotels
- A luxurious overwater resort with private villas.
- Exclusive and secluded, providing an intimate island escape.
- Features world-class amenities and personalized services.
- Secluded resort on the northeastern coast.
- Elegant overwater bungalows.
- Infinity pool with panoramic ocean views.
- Eco-friendly practices and commitment to sustainability
- Luxurious beachfront property.
- Well-appointed villas with contemporary design.
- Infinity pool with views of the pristine beach.
- Offers a range of water activities and spa services
Best Mid-Range Hotels
- Nestled along the pristine shores of Koh Rong Samloem.
- Offers comfortable amenities at a moderate price.
- Ideal for guests seeking a laid-back atmosphere and a retreat into nature.
- Offers an intimate setting for a tranquil and romantic escape.
- Each villa designed for comfort, privacy, and a connection to the natural surroundings.
- Provides a peaceful ambiance for guests to unwind and enjoy the island atmosphere.
- Offers guests a peaceful and private escape away from the hustle and bustle.
- Accommodations designed to enhance the natural island experience.
- deal for those seeking relaxation, surrounded by the beauty of nature.
Best Hostels/Guest Houses
- Hostel with a mix of dormitory and private rooms.
- Offers a clean and modern environment.
- Known for its social spaces and budget-friendly options.
- Budget accommodation with dormitory-style lodgings.
- Centrally located in Saracen Bay for easy access.
- Provides a basic yet comfortable stay for backpackers.
Sihanoukville (Day 9)
We spent a quick day here, exploring its beaches and vibrant atmosphere before catching an early morning flight to Siem Reap. When spending more than a day in Sihanoukville, indulge in the diverse offerings of this coastal gem:
- Embark on a beach-hopping journey, starting with the lively vibes of Ochheuteal Beach and transitioning to the more relaxed atmosphere of Otres Beach.
- Discover cultural landmarks such as Wat Leu, offering panoramic views, and Independence Square, a symbol of Cambodia’s history.
- Experience the lively ambiance of Serendipity Beach Pier, dotted with restaurants, bars, and shops.
- Immerse yourself in local markets like Otres Market, showcasing arts, crafts, and delectable street food.
Siem Reap (Day 10-14)
While we personally opted for the convenience of flying from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap, there are various transportation options catering to different preferences and travel styles:
Domestic Flights: Flying is the quickest option. Several airlines operate flights from Sihanoukville International Airport to Siem Reap International Airport. It offers a time-efficient solution for those prioritizing speed and comfort.
Overland Bus: A more budget-friendly choice is to take a bus from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap. Numerous companies provide daily services, offering a chance to witness Cambodia’s landscapes. However, this option entails a longer travel time.
Private Car or Taxi: For a more personalized and comfortable journey, hiring a private car or taxi is an option. This choice provides flexibility and the opportunity to stop and explore places along the way.
Siem Reap, a city nestled in northwestern Cambodia, is renowned for being the gateway to the world-famous Angkor Wat temple complex. While its historical and cultural significance is undeniable, Siem Reap has evolved into a vibrant destination with a unique charm. Visitors are drawn to Siem Reap for a myriad of reasons:
- Angkor Wat and Beyond: The primary allure is undoubtedly the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, Siem Reap offers more than just ancient temples, with various Angkor-era ruins waiting to be explored.
- Cultural Tapestry: Beyond the archaeological wonders, Siem Reap is a city rich in Khmer culture. Traditional dance performances, local markets, and authentic cuisine provide a genuine Cambodian experience.
- Lively Atmosphere: The bustling Pub Street and Night Market create a lively and entertaining atmosphere. Visitors can immerse themselves in the local nightlife, sampling street food, exploring markets, and enjoying the vibrant ambiance.
- Gateway to Adventure: Siem Reap serves as a launching pad for exploring the nearby floating villages, Tonle Sap Lake, and the countryside, offering a diverse range of experiences beyond temple exploration.
- Warm Hospitality: Cambodian hospitality shines through in Siem Reap. The friendly locals contribute to the city’s welcoming atmosphere, making visitors feel at home as they navigate its streets and attractions.
Beyond its renowned status as the gateway to Angkor Wat, Siem Reap unfolds a tapestry of experiences that captivate and enchant visitors. Here are some top attractions that make Siem Reap a multifaceted destination:
Angkor Archaeological Park:
- Explore the extensive Angkor Wat complex, including iconic temples like Bayon and Ta Prohm.
- Witness the sunrise or sunset over the ancient structures, creating breathtaking vistas.
Angkor National Museum:
- Gain a deeper understanding of Khmer history and culture through an extensive collection of artifacts and multimedia exhibits.
Pub Street and Night Market:
- Immerse yourself in the vibrant nightlife on Pub Street, lined with bars, restaurants, and lively street performances.
- Navigate the bustling Night Market for unique souvenirs, local crafts, and a taste of Cambodian street food.
Tonle Sap Lake and Floating Villages:
- Embark on a boat trip to Tonle Sap, the largest lake in Southeast Asia.
- Visit floating villages like Kampong Phluk or Chong Khneas to witness daily life on the water.
Cambodian Cultural Village:
- Experience a showcase of Cambodia’s diverse cultures and traditions through traditional performances, exhibits, and interactive displays.
Siem Reap, a city brimming with cultural wonders, offers diverse transportation options to suit every traveler’s preference. Here are some ways to get around, and we’ve opted for the flexibility of a scooter rental:
Tuk-Tuks:Ideal for short distances, offering an open-air experience.
Moto (Motorcycle Taxis): Navigate through traffic swiftly, perfect for short to medium distances.
Bicycle Rentals: Eco-friendly option, great for short distances and exploring local neighborhoods.
Remorks (Cambodian Taxis): Combine the charm of a tuk-tuk with the flexibility of a motorbike.
Scooter Rental: Explore Siem Reap at your own pace, reaching both popular sites and hidden gems with ease.
Siem Reap, the gateway to the stunning Angkor temples, offers a diverse range of accommodations to suit various preferences and budgets. From luxurious retreats to budget-friendly guesthouses, the city caters to the needs of every traveler.
Best Luxury Hotels
- Boutique hotel set along the Siem Reap River.
- Stylish rooms with a focus on sustainable and eco-friendly practices.
- Features a lush garden, saltwater pool, and personalized service.
- Colonial-era charm with luxurious rooms and lush gardens.
- Iconic Elephant Bar and Apsara Dance performances.
- Reflects refined elegance and historical significance.
- Stylish and sophisticated hotel in the city center.
- Elegant rooms, rooftop pool, and exceptional dining options.
- Offers a contemporary take on Cambodian hospitality.
Best Mid-Range Hotels
- Boutique hotel with warm hospitality.
- Comfortable rooms, refreshing pool, and rooftop terrace.
- Located in the vibrant Pub Street area.
- Mid-range resort with modern amenities and Khmer design.
- Spacious rooms, beautiful pool, and a relaxing spa.
- Tranquil escape accessible to the city center.
- Contemporary resort with artistic flair along the Siem Reap River.
- Stylish rooms, rooftop pool, and a spa.
- Blends modern comforts with local culture.
Best Hostels/Guest Houses
- Vibrant and social hostel for budget travelers.
- Dormitory-style accommodations and lively atmosphere.
- Known for social events and a convenient location.
- Well-designed hostel with dormitory and private rooms.
- Emphasizes cleanliness, modern facilities, and a social environment.
- Ideal for solo travelers and those seeking a balance of comfort and budget.
- Trendy and budget-friendly guesthouse with a youthful vibe.
- Mix of dorms and private rooms.
- Features a pool, a lively bar, and a laid-back atmosphere.
From the bustling streets of Phnom Penh to the serene beaches of Koh Rong, and the ancient wonders of Angkor in Siem Reap, Cambodia has left an indelible mark on our hearts. We encourage you to embark on this adventure, savouring every moment and creating your own unforgettable memories in the Kingdom of Wonder. Safe travels!
You Might Be Interested In
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