This Cambodia Travel Guide is all you need to know what to see there, how to travel, how much to spend and more…
Cambodia is wild and raw. But there’s something about it that draws you in. Even though it is widely recovering from a long ripping past, its people are always found sharing smiles.
The cost of travelling in Cambodia is low and budget backpackers can survive a day for under USD 10. The country’s tourism – across its three major tourist towns, namely Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville – revolves around a rich history, delicious food, beautiful coastline, and a rocking nightlife.
So before wasting any time, let’s get started with…
Cambodia Travel Guide
If you want to explore a southeast Asian country that is still raw and real, Cambodia is the place to be. Unlike countries like Thailand and Malaysia, Cambodia is still at an early stage of development. Most people live off farming and other menial jobs.
If you love rural life and the kind of warmth and simplicity you get there, you are going to love Cambodia.
Here are a few useful tips, however, that I want to discuss in this Cambodia Travel Guide first:
- Bag snatching and looting are rampant in Cambodia, particularly in big cities like Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, make sure you place your bag in a safe place while on a tuk-tuk or a Bike Taxi. Never wear them on your back.
- Avoid night buses in the country. While I was travelling in the country, many tourists shared their stories about how they lost their valuable items on the night buses in Cambodia.
- Do not forget to bargain with a tuk-tuk and bike taxi driver before you take a ride. The first price you’re quoted should come down by at least a third.
- The same thing (for bargaining) applies while shopping at local and open markets.
- People in Cambodia are very welcoming.
- It is a very safe place, despite the internet often talking about various mishaps with tourists.
Now, let’s next discuss some top tourist places in Cambodia.
Top Places To See In Cambodia
Temples of Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat temples are the highlight of tourism in Cambodia and the reason why most tourists travel to Cambodia in the first place.
Spread over 400sq. kilometres, the temple ruins in Angkor Archaeological Park breathe history. Though the archaeological park contains a total of 45 different temples, the temples of Angkor Wat are historically the most significant.
It is the Angkor Wat temples where Hollywood legends like Tomb Raider and Indian Jones were originally filmed.
Here’s a detailed guide to the famous Angkor Wat temples you should visit.
If you are visiting the Angkor Wat temples, there is no option but to stay in Siem Reap. But even if you are not visiting the temples, coming to Siem Reap only for Siem Reap is well worth it. Let’s call Siem Reap the smaller and less maddening version of the capital Phnom Penh.
There are backpacker hostels to enjoy, cafe culture to explore and many local markets to enjoy. Here’s a detailed 3-day Siem Reap itinerary you can find on my blog for more suggestions.
A coastal city in the far south of the country, Sihanoukville was my favourite in Cambodia.
The town has a coastline of a number of amazing white-sand beaches, and the options will have you confused about where to see and what to miss. Still, if you’re looking for crazy night parties, choose Victory Hill. To experience a solid backpackers’ activity, however, come straight to Serendipity Beach. For quiet and laidback evenings, and a beach comparatively cleaner, look no further than Otres Beach.
Next in our top places to see in Cambodia are the islands.
The island in Cambodia may not have rocking wifi, but this is a small sacrifice for the kind of experience the island Cambodia offers.
Islands in Cambodia are so cheap to stay in that you can expect a bungalow for less than USD 15 a night. They are like the Thai islands of yesteryear that are unspoilt in nature, peaceful, and meant more for bird-watching rather than partying or diving.
Koh Rang, Koh Rang Sanleom, Koh Ta Kiev and Koh Thmei are the four most popular islands in Cambodia.
Visit Battambang to see the beautiful countryside, get more local experiences and explore unspoilt French colonial architecture. The town’s few ancient temples and a bamboo train are the only two major attractions.
Though at the moment, Battambang is not considered one of the top tourist places in Cambodia, it won’t be long before the town’s rapidly growing popularity will have its fate following that of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Hence, an obvious mentioned in our Cambodia travel guide.
As the capital city, the inclusion of Phnom Penh in our top places to see in Cambodia is obvious.
In Phnom Penh, you will find Cambodia in its wildest form. Many tourists find Phnom Penh similar to Bangkok, except that the traffic here does not drive you mentally, and the city is comparatively raw and more unorganised.
There are many things to see and do in Phnom Penh. Here’s a 2 day Phnom Penh travel guide that will help you explore some historic sights and museums. Other than historic sights and museums, however, visit Phnom Penh for its alluring café culture, bustling bars and world-class food scene.
The Killing Fields & Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Located about 8 and 4 kilometres respectively, from the city centre in Phnom Penh, The Killing Fields & Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum are the two dark sites, where the hell broke loose in the country a few decades ago – hence an obvious mention in this Cambodia travel guide.
Although a visit to both places may not be the most cheerful way to spend your holiday in Cambodia, it makes for a learning experience and a testament to the dangers of uncontrolled power.
Visiting The Killing Fields & Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum will moreover help you understand Cambodia better. You can read about my visit to The Killing Fields & Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum for more information.
Now that you know what are the top places to see in Cambodia, let’s next discuss how to travel to Cambodia, what is the best time to travel to Cambodia and what is the cost of travelling in Cambodia.
What Is The Best Time To Travel Cambodia
Since it is a hot country, the best time to travel to Cambodia is between October and March. July, August and September also make a fairly good time to travel, thanks to the monsoons, but high humidity might make things tough to travel, particularly while going around the ruins of Angkor, where you’re required to walk and sweat all the time.
What Is The Cost of Travelling In Cambodia
Bike taxis take about 8000 Riel for a 2 to 3-kilometre ride. Tuktuks can charge double.
Other than bike taxis, tuk-tuks and just a handful of metered taxis there is no other local transport inside the cities.
For long journeys, minivans and buses are the two options, as the country has no railway system. Buses generally cost 40,000 to 55,000 Riel for a 6-7 hour ride (Siem Reap to Phnom Penh; Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville). Night buses and minivans, both cost about 60% more than the fare of a normal day bus.
Accommodation in Phnom Penh is cheap. Cheaper than most of the countries in the world. Hostels in Cambodia (even in the popular coastal towns) charge less than 12,000 Riel a night.
In Phnom Penh a non-A/C dorm is available for 16,000 Riel, pay another dollar (or 5000 Riel) and you get an A/C dorm. Privates (shared between a minimum of two people) can be rented for under 8000 Riel per night per person.
For 60,000 Riel, you can get comfortable hotels with all the basic luxuries you can imagine. Islands can be a little expensive but expect to pay no more than 32,000 Riel per night.
Basic street food is available for 9000 Riel, restaurant meals start at 18,000 Riel. Western meals at nice restaurants can cost 29,000 to 40,000 Riel.
Beers are cheap in the country, and in most of the cities, you can get a pint during happy hours for 1200 Riel. Expect a daily budget of 20,000 to 30,000 Riel on packaged water too.
Also, see these 7 top money-saving tips for Cambodia to save more.
Now next in this Cambodia travel guide is…
How To Travel To Cambodia
You can find flights from across Asia and buses from nearby Southeast Asian towns with good frequency to either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.
Flights from Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Luang Prabang and Hochi Minh are quite regular. If you want to travel on a budget, however, you can also catch a bus from Bangkok, Hochi Manh and other places.
It is possible to do the immigration, and even get a Cambodia Visa on Arrival if you are entering Cambodia by land. It is possible to obtain a visa on arrival at both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh airports.
You can know more about visas on the Cambodia Embassy website.
Unfortunately, there is no railway line in Cambodia.
So yea, if you’re wondering how to travel Cambodia, just think where you’re coming from. If Thailand or Vietnam, you can travel on a bus and save money. If you are coming from some other country that does not share a border with Cambodia, then take a flight to Phnom Penh.
I, however, flew from Bangkok to Siem Reap and it cost me around 70 USD (this was in 2016).
If Bangkok is on your travel list, see my Thailand Travel Guide.
If you have more questions or suggestions to add to this Cambodia travel guide or top places to see in Cambodia, please leave a comment below. If any information sounds outdated, please share that as well.