I'll be touring Cambodia for 9 days in August.
In brief, it is a 3-day stay in Siem Reap upon arrival, 1 day Phnom Penh (PP) , 3 nights at Sihanoukville and PP again for 2 nights before flying back.
Any suggestion on the must-see/go in those places?
I know Angkor Wat must not be missed, but are 3 days too much?
Still hesitating whether to opt for the 3-day pass.
What about the transportation between places?
I need to know more options to reach PP from SR, and also from PP - Sihanoukville - PP.
Just wondering if rip-off situations is common in Cambodia?
Thanks in advance for your inputs.
Transport between the places is easy and cheap, as numerous buses go between those routes (mainly aimed at tourists). I went Phnom Penh-Siem Reap-Sihanoukville(via Phnom Penh)-Phnom Penh so pretty much the same as you. I did this by getting the cheap bus from Phnom Penh- Siem Reap, then getting the bus from Siem Reap-Sihanoukville (in one long day but goes via Phnom Penh where you have to change bus). Then I got a bus from Sihanoukville-Phnom Penh. At least a couple of buses a day do all of these routes and they were cheap. The cheaper bus option for the Phnom Penh-Siem Reap was perfectly good enough quality, so don't feel the need to pay that extra money for the more expensive bus. I booked the buses through guesthouses, but in Siem Reap I booked through a tourist shop.
Most people who will comment about Siem Reap on this post will say that 3 days is just right for Siem Reap, but I personally thought two days was plenty and I walked from Siem Reap to the temples around all the temples and then back to Siem Reap which is about 40km in one very long and tiring day there seeing all the temples in the circular route (I'd certainly had enough of walking by the end of that day!). If I could do it walking the distances between the temples, hiring a tuc tuc driver for the day like most people would do should be even easier to fit them all in one day. I got the 3 day pass because of what others on this and other travel forums said, but would have been quite satisfied with just the one day. I did go back the next day just so that I didn't completely waste the extra days of the pass.
Must see's well just walk about Phnom Penh and you'll come across plenty of nice things but make sure you stay in the Lakeside region. The place I stayed at had rooms for as low as $2US a night and was a very nice place. Places like the Killing Fields, S21 Museum, Royal Palace etc are all places to go. The Killing Fields will possibly the most gruesome place you will ever visit and will probably make you feel sick with what you will see, but is an interesting experience to see first hand the dark past of Cambodian rule.
[ Edit: Edited on Jul 23, 2007, at 6:32 AM by aharrold45 ]
Hi, just my two cents since Allan has already given so much useful information.... personally i think u can never spend too much time in and around Angkor, i felt even after spending a week there that even a week was not enough for me to fully take in angkor's wonders. Theres a lot more to see beside Angkor Wat- Phnom Bakheng, Ta Phrom ( aka the tomb raider temple), and Angkor Thom are more popular destinations.
Try not to miss Bantaey Srei, the temple of women where the monuments are more intricate and carved with pinkish limestone, and Beng Mealea as well, though these two are a bit far off from the main Angkor compound and you will need to charter a moto there (you will still need the pass though)
Bus tickets from PP can also be bought near the petrol station outside Psar Thmei, the big yellowy domed structure. Shared taxis also depart from here to Sihanoukville. The bus is comfortable enough, and most are bought second hand from Malaysia, as i could deduce from the ubiquitous "jangan berdiri di tangga" signs so i think you should have a rough idea of how they are like.... In Khmer bus station is "stah-ni lahn-krong" if im not wrong.... it could come in handy....
Thanks aharrold45 and itenerant for your suggestions. The information provided will definitely add values to my travel itinerary. I guess I wont have to worry too much on the transportation part having heard positive feedbacks from your side on the all-time availability of public transports at reasonable cost.
Accomodation-wise, we actually thought it would be worthwhile perhaps to 'splurge' abit to stay comfortably. Most of the reviews I read on the budget guesthouses / hotels are probably shabby as compatible for the price you pay, but of coz like ahharold45 mentioned earlier, guess there could be some exceptions. I have made reservations in Scandanavia Hotel in PP (45USD per night) as well as Orchidee in Sihanoukville (25USD per night). In Siem Reap, we opt for Baca Villa stay. These choices were made based on several good reviews on the services as well as facilities, with location being considered as well. Not sure if anyone has actually stayed in those lodges before that probably could earn me another few feedbacks to determine, maybe I can go for better options than these. Reservations were made but payments were only expected upon checking in. Thus, I guess I can still manage to go for better options, if any..
aharrold45: The Killing Fields will possibly the most gruesome place you will ever visit and will probably make you feel sick with what you will see, but is an interesting experience to see first hand the dark past of Cambodian rule.
Seriously, I looked up quite some information about this place. This is so going to be included in my travel plan, it does sound very interesting. Can't wait to learn more 'bout the history thru' the real site.
I have also heard that Angkor Wat is a huge area and it's imaginable when itenerant said
i felt even after spending a week there that even a week was not enough for me to fully take in angkor's wonders.
It reminded me of the many temples I visited in Bangkok last year, where you basically get to savor more or less the similar sights of Buddhist temples, unless you really have the zest to explore the history/folklore of each and every temple you see. But least to say, it is definitely an eye-opening experience..
I hope all the places highlighted doesnt require too much transfer from one to another, or else would we end up spending most of the time on transportation..??
On the other hand, are 3 days at Sihanoukville slightly over expectations? I heard alot about nice beaches around this area but but but....it will be rainy season as well in Augus, this is quite worrying, unless there are nice places to throng around Sihanoukville area or anywhere adjacent, or we would probably have to stay in and undoubtedly relaxxxxing for that 3 days stay... Hmmmmz..
[ Edit: Edited on Jul 24, 2007, at 8:14 AM by Gemi9bear ]
Fastest and most comfortable way of transport around the temples will be by tuk tuk, which costs around USD 10-15 per day depending on how good you are at bargaining. Generally speaking you should be able to finish the Grand Circuit, ie see most of the temples in one day this way, and catch the sunset at Phnom Bakheng.... If you take it slow you could take in Angkor and Bayon (the few major temples) the first day, which is what i did as Angkor really takes your breath away, and do the grand circuit the next day....
Some nice places to go to at Sihanoukville:
The Preah Sihanouk/ Ream national park is worth a day trip, most guesthouses arrange this for 15 USD
Snorkelling at the nearby islets and having a nice relaxing picnic lunch at Koh Russei, also arranged by most ghs, at USD 10
Some nice places near Sville:
Kampot, if you enjoy Cameron highlands, you might want to see Bokor national park, hosting a casino and a huge eerie hotel, from French colonial days. The "road" if i may call it so, is bad to say the least.
Kep, if you like limestone caves
Have a good trip. Im looking forward to going back to Cambodia myself, this time focusing on Mondulkiri and Rattanakiri....