Seven Days in Cambodia
Cambodia is an amazing country but many people don’t realize this until they see it first-hand! In fact, it’s usually not a main destination when traveling to Southeast Asia but is added on as a side-trip from Vietnam, Laos or Thailand.
Here is a short itinerary for those that are interested in a quick trip. Cambodia should not be missed if you are already on that side of the world.
Phnom Penh: 2-3 days
Battambang: 2 days
Siem Reap: 2-3 days
Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city in Cambodia. It was once known as the “Pearl of Asia” and considered one of the most beautiful cities of French Indochina. The dark history of Phnom Penh during the years of the Pol-Pot reign resulted in a decline in tourism but now it’s on its way to recovery, has a lot to offer and is considered a highlight on the tourist circuit.If your time is limited, 2-3 days is all you need to explore all that this fantastic city has to offer. You can fill your days by visiting the infamous Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Museum also known as S-21 and by enjoying a memorable dinner on the bank of the Tonlé Sap and Mekong River.
The best way to get around is to hire a tuk-tuk driver for a full day which costs anywhere from $15-$20. This is usually for 6-8 hours and they will take you wherever you want to go so make sure not to miss the night market and dinining like a local on street-food eats such as fried crickets, worms and beetles to name a few!
The Cambodians use these as a snack when drinking and playing cards- kind of like our version of nuts! They are pretty tasty if you can get over the looks of them.
Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest city and worth a visit to get a little off the beaten track without going too far. I took a 4-hour private van here for about $15 bucks and it was quite comfortable with wifi and bottled water provided. Even though Battambang is a large city you will also see rural country-sides surrounded by lush greenery, rivers and villages. There are multiple temples to be explored as well as the famous Bamboo Train which is definitely an experience in and of itself. The train is a bamboo platform set atop four wheels. It zooms down the track and is controlled by the conductor consisting of a one-handle crane.There is only one track and when another train is coming in the opposite direction whichever train has the least amount of people has to get off and dissemble their train so that the others may pass. Our driver had to break down our train about 4 times that day so make sure you tip even if it’s only $2 bucks (which is considered a lot in Cambodia). At the end of the train line there are a few small shops selling scarves, t-shirts and handy-crafts. Tuk-tuk is the best way to get around and you can hire your driver for a day rate of around $20.
From Battambang I took a $30 cab to Siem Reap about 3 hours away. Yes you heard me correctly, $30 for a 3-hour cab ride- Cambodia is so cheap! Siem Reap is one of the most popular cities in Cambodia since it is home to the Ankor Wat temples. In addition to the temples there are loads of cute restaurants, markets, shops and of course, $5 dollar an hour massages! It could take up to a week to visit the hundreds of temples within the park and the Cambodians aren’t afraid to show you all of them. To be able to enjoy the temples for what they are, I highly suggest that you take a few days to visit the ones of interest to you. If you try to see too many in one day it becomes a bit overwhelming and they will all start to look the same and you may get confused as to what you’re looking at. It’s important to take note that depending on what time of year you go, it gets insanely warm so it’s advisable to visit the temples at sunrise so you are finished around 11AM. Some of the most famous temples are: Angkor Wat, Bayon, Angkor Thom, Preah Khan, Ta Prohm just to name a few.
Out of all of my travels Cambodia is one of my favorites. The people are gentle and kind, the country is steeped in history and it is so cheap! If you are staying at mid-range hotels of about $30 a night which will feel like you are in a 4-star hotel; a week in Cambodia won’t cost you more than $350 bucks. So it’s definitely worth a visit, you won’t be disappointed!
*If anyone reading this article is interested in visiting Cambodia, let me know and I will set you up with the drivers I used in each city. They were fantastic and will take good care of you!