Monday, November 6

Where to go in Cambodia | Our 2 week itinerary

I have finally returned from 11 weeks in South East Asia. I actually got back over a month ago but have been manically applying for jobs and just generally trying to sort my life out. It already feels like none of this ever happened so it was really good to refresh my memory by looking back at my pictures and chatting to my travel buddy about all the crazy things that happened but only we understand. But enough about that, here is my 2 week itinerary for Cambodia...

After arriving into Bangkok and spending a couple of days adjusting to the time and culture change, we crossed the border (very smooth, much to our surprise - honestly, cannot recommend Giant Ibis bus company enough!), we arrived into a very hot and sweaty Siem Reap.

Siem Reap: 3 nights
Day One: Explore Angkor Wat Temples by Tuk Tuk
Hire a Tuk Tuk driver (try not to get ripped off, like we did). They will take you via the ticket office to purchase your ticket - we chose the 3 day ($62) ticket option but there are also 1 day ($37) or 5 day ($72) options. Your driver should then take you to a selection of temples for around $20 for the whole day. There are two routes they can take you round, a long and short one. Don't make the mistake we did, do the long route with the taxi driver and don't cycle over 40km like we did on day two. Make sure to check out Bayon (temple of Buddha's faces), Ta Prohm (Tomb Raider) & Banteay Kdei.
Day Two: Explore Angkor Wat Temples by bike
Bikes are extremely cheap to rent - $1-2 a day and are therefore a very economical way to make to utilise your three day ticket to the temples.
Day Three: Sunrise at Angkor Wat
A very early wake up call awaits you. Unfortunately we had a very cloudy day and our sunrise wasn't as spectacular as others but it was still amazing to see through our bleary eyes. Be careful of the monkeys(!) This was our first up close encounter and they stole all our bananas.
Travel to Battambang
We booked a mini bus online to take us on to Battambang in the Northwest of Cambodia. This was our first experience of the cram-as-much-as-possible into a tiny 12 seater mini bus.

Battambang: 3 nights
Day One: Bamboo train, a local village visit and the killing/bat caves
Once again we hired a Tuk Tuk driver with a couple of guys from our hostel who took us an entire day trip around Battambang. It involved a ride on the bamboo train (so much fun!), a trip to a local village to sample home brewed cobra rice wine and bamboo sticky rice, and finally, the killing caves where over 10,000 bats emerge at sunset.
Day Two: Full day cooking class
Our cheapest cooking class of our entire trip, cost us only $10 each for 4 dishes. At Nary's Kitchen, we donned our pink hats and got to work making, Fish Amok, Beef Rendang, Vegetable Spring Rolls and a coconut milk dessert. I thoroughly recommend this cooking class, it was really good to make some of the most popular dishes and learn a bit more about the cuisine. Fish Amok is my No. 1 dish from Cambodia.
Day Three: Travel to Kampot 
We spent a full day travelling from Battambang to Kampot (via Phnom Penh), I think you could also do this overnight if you were short on time. Unfortunately I was ill so can't quite remember what the journeys were like.
Kampot: 2 nights
Day One: Rent a bike and head to Bokor National Park
Most of my day was actually spent in bed trying to recover from my first bout of illness. Luckily, on route to Kampot we had picked up one of Liv's friends from Phnom Penh. After handing over our washing to the lady across from our hostel, they rented scooters and headed out into the torrential rain. From what I hear, Bokor National Park is beautiful and the road up the hill is very well maintained so easy to drive if you are a scooter novice.
Day Two: Hire a Tuk Tuk to take you to the Pepper Plantation
The rain finally let up and we were able to hire a tuk tuk driver to take us to a local pepper plantation to see how the different types of pepper are grown. Kampot Pepper is a very popular ingredient across Cambodia and we both bought a bag to take home as a souvenir.
In the afternoon we had booked our transport to Sihanoukville, this was our first experience of Cambodian timing, where they really don't pay attention to the time you are meant to leave and your journey ends up taking double the amount of time it should. Alas, we made it eventually.

Note: If you have time and the weather is clear and bright, Kampot would be beautiful to hang around in for a couple more days.

Sihanoukville: 1 night
Spend as little time as you can in Sihanoukville as it is very much like a tacky beach town with overpriced food. We had booked our transport from here to the islands which pretty much took half the day but if you are able to combine it with arriving into Sihanoukville from elsewhere, do it. Our arrival to Koh Rong Samloem was interesting to say the least, the speed boat was extremely bumpy but that was most likely related to the storm brewing, and the mooring of the boat (or lack thereof) left a little to be desired. Two out of three of us actually ended up having to walk from another pier, 20 minutes from our accommodation.

Koh Rong Samloem: 2 nights
Day One: Snorkelling and beach time
We spent two nights on the island and it was absolute bliss. Our first night involved a torrential rain storm and we had a sinking feeling that we might be stuck on the island with not a whole lot to do. Luckily, the rain cleared in the morning and we had the most perfect day (aside from the raw omelette) lazing around on the beach and attempting to snorkel. Liv also did a makeshift yoga class with us on the beach - you cannot make this stuff up.
Day Two: Travel to Phnom Penh
After breakfast, we decided to get a boat off the island pretty swiftly as another storm was on its way. Once we got back to Sihanoukville we grabbed some lunch and managed to book an afternoon bus to take us to Phnom Penh.

Phnom Penh: 2 nights
Day One: S21 Genocide Museum and Killing Fields
Your trip to Cambodia would not be complete without visiting the harrowing S21 Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh. It was honestly, one of the most horrific things I have ever experienced but just so, so, important if you are visiting a new country to learn about their history. This pretty much took up the whole day and we purchased the audio tours for both which were so worth the money for the personal accounts and detail.
Day Two: Travel to your next destination
Well, that was our plan anyway. We set aside one day to do Phnom Penh and ended up being there for 4. If you're heading to Vietnam after Cambodia, my biggest tip - GET YOUR VISAS SORTED IN ADVANCE. We unfortunately left it too late and ended up having to stay in Phnom Penh A LOT longer than we planned. It's all good though, I got to see Dunkirk on the big screen for $4...
So that's the first two weeks of our trip covered, now onto the next 5 countries....
Any questions, let me know below! Have you been to Cambodia? What was your highlight?

Have you seen these posts?

A Guide to Interrailing
Travel | Trek America Days 1 - 3
Travel | My 2016 Travel Lust List
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