Hi everyone! I've backpacked Southeast Asia twice already, but somehow have managed to not go to Cambodia because of the allure of other countries. (this must be fixed!) So on my third SE Asia trip, I definitely want to squeeze in about a week to 10 days in Cambodia. Of course I'll see Angkor Wat, but I want input on some other good places to go. I'm not super interested in Pnomh Penh (unless you can recommend anything REALLY cool to do there?) So there's got to be more to Cambodia than just the big 2 spots. Anybody have any advice on any (hidden or otherwise) gems? I'm thinking Southern Cambodia and the beaches, or any cool nature parks, any tropical islands off the coast??
I would love it if everybody could just make me a little list of their highlights from Cambodia so that I can get some good ideas! Thanks!
The best beach option is Sihanoukville. Plenty of places to stay under $10. I think your best option for room/beach is Serendipity/Ochheuteal beach. Or Victory Hill area. I stayed many times at Marina Hotel and walked down to Hawaii Beach. My blog has photos of all this.
From there you can easily visit Kampot & Kep. Not many tourists at either spot. Kep is the forgotten beach option in Cam. Good luck with your planning.
Thanks Mike- yeah, I was thinking of Sihanoukville- I hear it is a very good beach spot. I also read in Lonely Planet about Kep- sounds like a quiet, relaxing alternative to Sihanoukville, and I really want to go there! Is travel within the Cambodia relatively easy? I know that there was recently a good road built within the country, and I know there's train tracks, but is there a train I can take around (like Thailand?) I'll check out your blog photos!
I agree with Mike - Kampot and Kep are much quieter than Sihanoukville. If you want to escape the crowds at Sihanoukville then head to Otres beach. You can do a trip to Ream national park and the mangrove forests, plus visit a few islands too. You may also think of visiting Kbal Spean and Phnom Kulen - they're places that tourists tend to miss out for some strange reason. If you want to know anything specific give me a shout as i'm in Cambodia now.
It is easy to get around Cambodia, use the bus or a share taxi. Any GH in S'ville can give you info on getting over to Kampot. The train is not on option in Cam. Only runs from PP to Battambang. Use the bus/minibus first, share taxi if no bus available.
Emily, I agree with Vegasmike. It was he who put me on to Marina Hotel at Victory Hill in Sihanoukville and I've stayed there on both my visits. My first trip I also stayed at Serendipity beach. I have visited Kampot (twice) and Kep and enjoyed my time there mostly for the peace and quiet and laidback lifestyle. I did the 1 day tour of Ream National Park and enjoyed it. You have indicated that you are only allowing 7-10 days, therefore taking in Angkor Wat (1-3 days depending on your interest) you will have to decide on how much time you want to spend in the south. I originally planned on visiting the 'memories' of the Khmer Rouge but because of illness I headed south to Sihanoukville. I'm glad I did. There is enough info on websites to turn you off visiting unless that sought of thing interests you. I would have only came away sad and depressed as I did when I visited Dacchau Concentration Camp in Germany in 1986. So for my vote, visit Angkor Wat (what I regard as one of the wonders of the world, hire a tuk tuk), bus to PP then bus to Sihanoukville. Options from Snookyville are Kampot(minibus from G'day Mate Bar), Kep (by moto) and different island options eg Bamboo Island ,Koh Ru Island etc (subject to whether access is possible as some close down during the low season). Plenty of info if you google as I did. Safe travels.
Thanks all for the great info!
Stoneman- I have many friends that have been to the killing fields and the various Khmer massacre sites, and I have seen enough pictures and heard enough stories that I think my visit to Cambodia wouldn't be lacking too much if I didn't go to those places. Same thing as My Lai and War Remnants Museum in Vietnam... I understand the scale and intensity of what they went through, and while I can sympathize, it doesn't help me enjoy the country any more, or even portray the country in a particularly good light. I don't even know where in Cambodia the killing fields etc. are..?
I'm thinking at this point that I will spend 3 days in Siem Riep, then head south right after. (Not sure about Pnomh Penh.. from what I hear, it's just a big city like any other in a developing country. I may just pass through for a day.. plus, as a girl traveling alone, it doesn't seem like the safest place for me.) I will check out the Marina hotel, and I'm so excited to see Kampot and Kep! If I could only do one of those, which would you guys recommend?
My other question is getting there from Bangkok. I've heard and read stories about the "Slow Bus" from Bangkok, that advertises getting to Siem Riep in one day, but purposely drives very slow so you're forced to stay in the crap guesthouse they take you to for a commission. I was hoping just to take the train to the border, and how might I find public transit once across the border? I prefer to push past all the touts with the air-con buses that stop at "Government Emporium" shops, but sometimes that's the only option I can find. What method of transportation do you use to get into the country?
Here is the best source for Cambo info. You have several options on getting from Poipet to Siem Reap. Read all about the scams and your best bet is: bus or train to Aranyaprathet, moto to the border, walk across, bus is $10, leaves when full or take the share taxi. Price is appox. $60 for the taxi, so you need to find others to share costs. In 2 hours you are in SR. Know what GH you want to stay at, tell the driver. Pay when you arrive.
Good luck with your planning.
I got a minibus from bangkok to siem reap and had no problems, rep met us at border waited for visas to be processed them showed us which bus to get on on cambodian side. cant remember the exact cost but think it was around the 800baht mark. it took about 12hrs in all, the one thing i would say is tht at the border some buses stop at agents to do ur visa, these totally try n rip u off! dont use them! visa should be $20 or if payin in baht they normally round it up to 1000, these agencies were chargin people $35! plus there is alot of the usual scams at the border, pay extra to go to front, pay extra for taxi, etc..
places i liked in cambodia were kampot, kep, krek, n kratie was ok
hope it helps