Cambodia Travel Tips
Cambodia is an all time favorite destination of mine. It’s very rural but the people are friendly, the atmosphere lively, and a place rich in history. I spent double the amount of time there than I had planned on. Cambodia is a country with a long and sometimes violent past but is shaking off the shackles of the Khmer Rouge and trying to find its own way. Development hasn’t been that great as corruption has hindered growth as much of the country has been sold off. Despite that, it’s still beautiful, the people super nice, the food delicious, and still a bargain.
City Guides for Cambodia
Typical Costs in Cambodia
- Accommodation: Most guesthouses have room for between $2-4 dollars. You can get higher end hotels for $10 dollars with air con, tv, and other amenities. After that, the sky is the limit.
- Food: Food is very cheap in Cambodia. Street food will cost you about $1-2 USD per meal and restaurant food will cost between $3-5 USD per meal. Western meals at nice restaurants cost more, from $5-10 and upwards.
- Transportation: Local transportation is cheap, costing only a few dollars. Renting a driver for the day will cost you between $15-20 USD.
- Activities: Tours activities cost between $10-20 USD depending on the length and popularity of the activity.
Money Saving Tips for Cambodia
Cambodia is one of the cheaper countries in Southeast Asia. There really isn’t any big money saving tips here because just by being here, you are saving money. The big tip, though, would be to pay in the local currency. Usually, everything is priced in dollars but a dollar here and a dollar there really adds up. Paying in the local currency can save you more money since everything is not just “one dollar.” Negotiating on prices with market merchants and drivers will also save you money.
Top Things to See in Cambodia
- Angkor Wat – This huge temple complex is the reason most people come to Cambodia. The temple ruins are massive and you’ll need a few days to explore. WHile there’s a lot more to the country than this UNESCO site (too many people only come to visit Angkor), no trip is complete without satisfying your inner Tomb Raider exploring these ruins.
- Tongle Sap – Sailing down this river allows you to get a look at how closely Cambodian life is tied to this major waterway. You can take a boat all the way down to the capital or just cruise around for the day.
- Sihanoukville – Empty white sand beaches, great diving, amazing seafood, and a heavy nightlife make this spot a favorite among travelers. This was once a very seedy spot and while its past is still around, the arrival of lots of backpackers has cleaned it up a bit.
- Phnom Phen – The capital of Cambodia, this place has a wild west atmosphere with dusty streets and a devil may care atmosphere. There are few good sites to see and the lake is a wonderful place to relax. What keeps people here is usually a relaxed way of life and a crazy night life (take a visit to “The Heart of Darkness” if you want crazy).
- Kep – This beautiful beach town is the quiet version of Sihanoukville. There’s also great seafood here is a nice place to relax on near the ocean without the party atmosphere that is Sihanoukville.
- Bokor National Park – Wander among the atmospheric French ruins while hiking a great rainforest. Bokor was a big destination for the French aristocracy in Cambodia and you can see the ruins of their homes. It is a day trip from Sihanoukville.
- Battambang – Known as a farming area, and famous for its fading French colonial architecture, this is the place to get a real taste of Cambodian life. There are great temples, a bamboo train, and stunning architecture from long past here. This destination sees few tourists except for those who like to get off the beaten path and off the Siem Reap-Phnom Phen trail. It’s Cambodia without the tourism.
- Prasat Preah Vihear – This breathtaking mountain temple is source of conflict with its neighbor Thailand who also claims this place as its own. The trip here is not pleasant but the nothing worth going to is ever easy.
- Volunteer – One of the best ways you can give back to Cambodia is by helping the many orphans in the country. Many hostels and hotels will organize trips where you volunteer at orphanages for a few days to help with the children. It really does brighten their day to have someone to play with.
- Visit a river village – There are 3 floating villages to choose from—all of which are interesting to see. The houses are built on bamboo stilts and there are always boats filled with people selling things and hanging out. The Chong Khneas is the most highly visited.
- The sunset from Phnom Bakheng temple – This temple is considered a ‘default choice’ for sunset viewing in Angkor Wat—but rightfully so. The view is unobstructed, as the village resides in the peripheral of your sight.