COSTS OF TRAVEL TO CAMBODIA
Now that you’ve had a taste of Cambodia’s exotic allure, you’ll want to get to this amazing country before everyone else gets there and crowds you out. Sounds like a plan. But you have to be wondering, is Cambodia expensive to travel around?
Once in Cambodia, you will find that food and hotels are very inexpensive, and local street vendors are really affordable. While you can always find places to splurge while on vacation, how much you spend is up to you. Still, you will have an easy time sticking to a budget in Cambodia.
NOW IS THE BEST TIME TO TRAVEL TO CAMBODIA
If you’re interested in cities full of historic architecture and unique cuisine, with picturesque landscapes of mountains, lakes, oceans and deltas, then Cambodia is the place to be. This guide will offer you some Cambodia travel tips and must-see suggestions. Let’s look at what there is to do in this amazing country, consider when the best time to travel to Cambodia is, and get a real picture what a trip there would look like.
THE 5 BEST PLACES TO TRAVEL IN CAMBODIA
What is it about Cambodia that makes it both a tourists’ hotspot while still managing to be an off-the-beaten-path location in Southeast Asia? Cities like Siem Reap and Phnom Penh maintain an active tourism scene, but there are still hidden temples, large swaths of tropical jungle, the largest lake in Southeast Asia. And whether you’re on the lookout for adventurous locales, historically significant sites, or tranquil natural beauty, Cambodia has what you’re looking for. Let’s discover 5 of the best places to travel in Cambodia.
1. ANGKOR WAT
This is the most famous attraction in Cambodia. Seeing the sunrise over Angkor Wat is on many bucket lists for a good reason. The sublime view of the temple, black against the reddening sky, yet reflected crystal-clearly in the pool beneath, is a scene of truly indescribable beauty.
Angkor Wat is a temple complex and one of the largest religious monuments in the world. The Angkor Archaeological Park is over 400 sq km. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Angkor includes the remains of the Khmer Empire, the Temple of Angkor Wat, and the Bayon Temple. You will need more than a single day to really explore these amazing ruins. One day on your trip needs to include the world-famous sunrise over the temples.
You could wander around the complex for days, happily seeing new temples each day, and while that’s certainly a great option, there are a few you shouldn’t miss.
Start at Ta Prohm, built in the Bayon style of the 12th and 13th centuries, with stonework worn and moss-covered, entwined with the roots of kapok trees. This place will fill the part of your heart that wishes to be an explorer, discovering a lost temple hidden in the jungle.
The Bayon is a Khmer temple built in the 12th or 13th century. Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII had The Bayon built as the state temple in the center of his capital city, Angkor Thom. The richly decorated temple has 54 towers and 216 faces. The large faces with their serene expressions really invoke a sense of majesty in the Khmer kingdom. You might not have the time to count them all, but you should find the time to marvel at the light hitting this amazing temple. This is a great one to try to see shortly after sunrise.
Banteay Srei, also known as the Citadel of Women, is a must-see. The pale pink sandstone carvings are a Cambodian find that you won’t see anywhere else. While the Citadel of Women is smaller than some of the other buildings here, the well-preserved and detailed sculptures are some of the best stone carvings in the world.
For a full and rewarding experience, check out the four day Angkor Wat Temples Sightseeing tour package. This is a great option if you’d like someone to iron out all the details and make sure you experience everything you want to on your trip. On the second day of the tour package you will be there for the sunrise over Angkor Wat. The tour also includes a tranquil boat tour of Tonlé Sap.
2. TONLé SAP
The Tonlé Sap is a freshwater lake connected to a river (also called Tonlé Sap) in the heart of Cambodia. And at 120 km long, this is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. The seasonal reversal of the river flow past the capital city of Phnom Penh and into the Mekong River is cause for national celebration to the Cambodians. In this exciting annual Water Festival, colorful boats race up the river. Sailing down the river provides a close look at how Cambodians live along this major waterway as you speed by traditional stilt houses. There are many floating villages along the river that welcome tourists, such as Kampong Phluk Floating village. You can sail from one end of this river to the other, or cruise around on a day trip.
3. PHNOM PENH
Phnom Penh is the Cambodian capital city with a walkable river front and a slew of beautiful parks. Once a hub for the Khmer Empire and then the French colonialists, the city is full of history and that has created a number of attractions for the modern traveler, and enough great eats to keep the foodies happy.
The Royal Palace is a must-see, a small hideaway in the busy city, the manicured grounds and complex of buildings is the home of the king of Cambodia. Once you’re done marveling at the buildings themselves, make your way to the Silver Pagoda, also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. The floor of this pagoda is made of 5,000 silver tiles, which is impressive enough, but there’s also a 90 kg Buddha made of solid gold. These are just two of the treasures waiting inside the palace.
Once you’ve opened yourself up to the culture and history of Phnom Penh, you’ll also want to visit The National Museum of Cambodia and Wat Phnom (also known as Hill Temple). While somber, for a better understanding of the genocide that once happened in this peaceful place, you’ll want to visit The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
It is possible to combine a tour of Phnom Peng with Angkor Wat. If you’d like to join a tour, check out the five day tour of Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat to be sure you see all the Cambodian must-sees.
Are you interested in white sand beaches, diving, seafood, and some nightlife? Sihanoukville is what you’re looking for. This is one of Cambodia’s choice beach towns. This town has plenty of premium resorts, restaurants, and bars.
In Battambang you will find colonial buildings, temples, a bamboo train, and the famous bat caves. The city is in northwest Cambodia on the Sangkae River. It isn’t too popular a destination yet, so it’s not teeming with tourists.
Walking around the city gives you a chance to appreciate the French colonial architecture. You’ll want to check out Sala Khaet, the former Governor’s residence. Though the interior is closed, one may still wander the grounds. North of the city center are the ruins of Wat Ek Phnom, a modern wat that serves as the gateway to an Angkorian temple made of rough-tumbled sandstone blocks, with well-preserved lintel carvings from the 11th-century.
One of the more unique and fun experiences Battambang offers is the bamboo train. It’s called a “norry” or “nori”, and it will zip you around the city at speeds of up to 50 km/h. The open train car can best be described as long, thin planks of smooth bamboo laid across a metal frame, with a hole in the back for a simple motorbike engine. At present, the Battambang line is the only bamboo train in operation, and features short jaunts through thickly forested jungle regions.
And, of course, there are the Battambang bat caves. Every day, as the sun meets the horizon, millions of bats flee the caves and take to the evening sky. This takes place a little over ten kilometers from the city, and a large crowd gathers for the sight every evening. It’s a once in a lifetime experience.
WHEN TO GO TO CAMBODIA
If you are looking for mild weather, the best time to travel to Cambodia is from November to April. This puts you squarely in the dry, cool season where temperatures rarely fall below 20°C and the humidity is lower. Temperatures can still rise to 38°C, especially as you get closer to April. If you are okay with traveling during the rainy season, you can visit from May to the beginning of October and avoid the peak tourist season. You will experience heavy rainfall in the afternoons, but largely have the tourist attractions to yourself.
STAYING HEALTHY ON YOUR TRIP
Checking with your doctor before leaving the country is always a safe plan. For your protection, the Australian government travel website suggests you always purchase travel insurance to cover potential theft and medical problems.
For Cambodia travel health advice, the Australian government suggests you visit your doctor or travel clinic eight weeks before your trip. Get a basic check-up and discuss your travel plans, and they will advise you on any vaccinations you may still need. Their concerns will be different depending on where you’re going in the country, so if you’re going trekking through the jungle, be sure to be specific when you talk to them. Be sure also to prepare precautions against mosquitos.
Always bring your prescriptions with you. Carry a copy of your prescription or a letter from your doctor that says what the medication is, how much you take, and that it is for personal use only.
OFF-BEAT CAMBODIAN SITES TO SEE
If you’re looking for some Cambodia alternative travel destinations, this country is bursting with options.
To experience rural Cambodia, leave the city of Phnom Penh by tuk-tuk and then hop a ferry to Koh Dach, also known as Silk Island. This beautiful, tranquil island is on the Mekong river and is an escape from the busy city life.
In the southwest are the Cardamom Mountains. This lush tropical forest was off limits to visitors not long ago, and many travel guides still recommend caution, and that you stick to the official trails. With improved roads, you can travel to these lush mountains to spend time trekking through the jungle, camping, kayaking, or mountain biking. There are a few villages in the area; consider checking out Chi Phat.
Kampot is a growing town popular with foodies. Stay along the Kampot River, kayak, paddle-board, and enjoy the Cambodian riverside. Head just outside of Kampot to see the Kampot pepper fields. Learn about the history of pepper and buy some of the best pepper in the world. Tours of the farms are usually free.