After spending a few hours in this country, one can see why so many fall in love with its beauty. The country itself is pretty, but the people are what makes the country beautiful. Over the past fifty years, Cambodia has experiences immense struggle, but their joy for life is unparalleled with many countries. They have nothing, but it seems they have it all. The political aspect of this country is extremely interesting to learn about and to see how the people are overcoming the obstacles of their past.
Cambodia is home to some of the most ancient temple sights, historically sad events, and amazing beaches. Some say Cambodia is Thailand 40 years ago. It has yet to be over touristic, but I have heard this is starting to change in Siem Reap. When traveling to this destination, make sure you respect all their local customs and show respect for all their ancient marvels.
Top Things to Do
- Angkor Wat – This is a UNESCO world heritage site and one can see why. You can rent a car or taxi and explore all the ancient temples. It should take about a day or two to see everything you want to see. Make sure not to miss the sunrise rising of the ancient ruins.
- Explore the Beaches – Head to Sihanouk or Koh Rong (island) to explore some beaches. Over the past five years, it has developed more to cater tourists than locals. These beautiful beaches are changing every year. Make sure you check it out before they become too mainstream and overpopulated with resorts and hotels. (Be careful of the drugs in the area. There is little regulation and should be avoided).
- Phnom Penh – Everybody says this is the new Bangkok. It is the large metropolitan capital of the country. You can dine on amazing Cambodian dishes along with many fusion restaurants. The market here is amazing to score great deals on just about anything.
- Killing Fields and S-21 Prison – This is in and just outside of Phnom Penh. These are places of the mass genocide of the Khmer people by the Khmer Rouge. It is an extremely sad historical sight, but a place one must go to fully understand where the country is. Before you go, you can watch some great documentaries on the subject. Some the bars in Phnom Penh also have showings of the documentary. In order to succeed in the future, one must know your past.
- Floating Villages – This is an amazing sight to see. Entire villages are floating on stilts over lakes. Their communities thrive on the wealth of the water. It can be touristy with many boats floating through. Do not expect to have a secluded experience with only locals, as this will not happen. There are some close to Siem Reap.
- Rent a bike – This is always my favorite thing to do and especially in Cambodia. This is a great way to see little villages and life on the farm. I loved this experience. Everybody you passed gave you a real smile. Not a smile because they have to or want to sell you something. This smile came from the heart. You can even hire a guide to take you around by bike.
Food can be extremely cheap in Cambodia if you avoid the main touristic restaurants. They eat many different style curries and rice dishes. I would explain it is closely related to Thai food, except without the spiciness. My favorite dish was fish amok which is a coconut milk fish curry. Also try Samah Machou Khmae which is amazing soup that you can get in a restaurant or in the street.
Overall Country Cost – $ (1/4)
Hostels – $8 – $20 USD per person
3 Star Hotel – $30- $70 USD
Breakfast – $2 – $6
Lunch – $3 – $9
Dinner – $3 – $12
Many people visit Cambodia on a Southeast Asia backpacking trip. If doing this. The most common thing for people to do is come in through Thailand and out through Vietnam. If coming from Bangkok, there are multiple bus companies that will take you Siem Reap. Below is an outline of itineraries:
3 Days – Siem Reap – Explore the ancient temples of Angkor Wat.
4 Days – Sihanouk and Koh Rong – Relax on some of the worlds best beaches.
2 days Phnom Penh – Learn about the history of the country in the capital.