I have been traveling in Cambodia for a 12 days trip with friends in February 2017. I enjoyed so much this destination because of a real chock culture and I have found the authenticity that I have missed in Bali or Thaïlande. That is why this destination is in my favorites one. As the country is large choices have to be made to see as many as possible in a short period of time. My itinerary for a 12 days trip in Cambodia combines discovering the capital, visiting the incredible temples of Angkor and finally relaxing on the fabulous white sandy beaches of the south.
Phnom Penh: 3 days- 2 nights
We first arrived in Phnom Penh in the afternoon and we joined our hostel situated in the center of the city by tuk-tuk. What struck me, at first sight, was that the road from the airport to the city was not paved. I didn’t feel like we were in the Capital compared to my previous destinations (Bali, Malaysia, and Thaïlande) and I realized the country’s poverty. This does not detract from the beauty of the country and the kindness of its inhabitants. However, this does not make it a cheaper destination than
I didn’t enjoy the capital so much because I found it polluted and suffocating. I was looking forward to the next step in our journey: Siem Reap. We caught a bus on the morning of our third day for a 5h30 hours journey.
- To visit the Royal Palace and the Cambodian national museum. As the museum is located just next to the Palace, it is easy to visit both in the same day. Pay attention to the schedules of visiting.
- We didn’t have the time of visiting the Genocide
Museum butit is a must-see place if you want to have a better understanding of the Cambodian history.
- To enjoy the vibrant nightlife of the capital. It is pretty developed and there is a large choice of bars, restaurants, and club.
- To visit the famous open-air markets that the city is famous for.
- To eat at the night market. It is interesting because it is small and has a part dedicated to street food in which you can eat on the ground sitting on mats.
Siem Reap: 3 days- 2 nights
Siem Reap is a city located in northern Cambodia just at the entrance to the famous ruins of Angkor: the seat of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to 15th centuries. I liked the quieter and greener atmosphere of the city which is located in the heart of the Cambodian countryside. Upon our arrival, we went to our hotel Okay guesthouse which offered us a superb roof-top terrace with swimming pool on which we could relax and admire the magnificent sunset over the valley. As we didn’t have much time in the city (and that’s a pity), we focused on visiting the temples. And we have booked a tuk-tuk driver for the day we will be passing through Angkor.
I really enjoyed Siem Reap and we had a good time there. We didn’t stay much for lack of time but one or two more days would not be too much. We caught a night bus at the end of our third day to go to the southwest part of Cambodia: Sihanoukville
- The visit to the Angkor temples. We went to the site early at 5h in the morning to admire the sunrise over the Angkor Wat temple. This temple is the most famous and the crowd is huge waiting for the first rays of sunlight. It was a beautiful spectacle. Then, we visited the temples of Ta Prohm, Bayon, Baphûon, Angkor Thom and the elephant’s terrace. We finally came back to the hotel at the end of the day totally exhausted.
If you wish to visit the temples in more depth, I recommend that you do so in several stages. 1 day is definitely not enough given the size of the Angkor site. Moreover, my little regret is that we didn’t take a guide and we missed the history of these temples.
- To eat and to get lost in the huge central market. We spent the next day wandering between the local food and street food stands, jewelry and clothing stand. There is also a large choice of bars where we could quench our thirst. We had fun and really enjoyed this part of the city.
- To relax and enjoy massages and cares. In Asia, we can enjoy a large choice of beauty and massage offers for nothing. However, do not expect care as we can have in Europe. Indeed, we tried facial care in the salon of our hotel and it was an epic moment. Between the yogurt on the skin and the cucumbers on the
eyeswe had the products from the fridge as a treatment. To finish with a non-delicate massage that is almost like slapping, we didn’t really relax but kept a funny memory.
Sihanoukville: 3 days-2 nights
We arrived in the seaside city early in the morning and everything was closed. So, we took a tuk-tuk that drove us to our accommodation. We chose a nice bungalow just a stone’s throw from the sea in Otres Long Beach Bungalow II. It was situated up to 15-20 minutes from Sihanoukville like we didn’t want to stay directly in the city. The place was quiet and offers a clean sea as well as several bars and restaurants along the sea. So nice!
I was happy with my choice to stay away from the city, which is much dirtier and noisier. Indeed, we could enjoy clean beaches not totally full of tourists. And after these three days of relaxation, we finally took a boat to heaven on earth: Koh Rong Island
- To enjoy the clear blue water and the fine sand.
- To have a brunch just in front of the sea in one of the coffee shop or restaurant.
- To book a tour to visit the small islands and snorkeling spots for a day.
- To go party on Serendipity beach. Sihanoukville is known to be the Cambodian’s party capital. A lot of bars and club are situated along the main beach and it is the animated part of the city if you want to party.
- To be threading on the beach. Many Cambodians women walk the beach from one end of the beach to the other, offering their hair removal services by threading. So I tried it on my calves and it’s without a doubt the best hair removal I’ve ever had in my life.
- To book a fishing tour. A Cambodian fisherman made us get on his boat and helped us to catch fishes with a reel of fishing thread and a hook. He even offered us a wonderful sunset at sea on his boat before returning to land. The tour also included to cook our daily catch. We enjoyed the fruit of our efforts grilled with a sauce and it was a really great moment shared with locals.
Koh Rong island: 3 days- 2 nights
The paradise! When we arrived near the island, the turquoise blue color of the water reinforced my choice of our last stage. We once again chose not to stay in the island’s tourist center and moved away by taking a taxi boat to Sok San village. Instead, we stayed in a beach bungalow of Sok San beach Bungalow. We clearly did not choose the most comfortable accommodation possible, but we felt totally out of place. As an example, we could hear the sound of the sea and the night cry of the geckos from our bed. It was part of the charm of the place. Moreover, the terrace of our hotel was perfect for enjoying the breakfast or our dinner during the sunset.
Our stay on Koh Rong was regenerating after this long trip. To choose, I would have preferred to spend one more day on the paradisiac island of Kho Rong and one less day in Sihanoukville which is less exotic. In conclusion, it is with stars full of eyes that we left for the airport of the capital to return to Australia.
- To relax and enjoy the serenity of the place.
- To book a boat tour to go around the island and see the plankton fluorescent at the sunset.
- To continue your trip to Koh Samloem island. We didn’t have the time to visit this island but if you have, it could be a wonderful stop.