It’s been a long time since I made a proper travel post so here we go with my brief guide on my trip to Cambodia.
The road into Cambodia wasn’t a pretty one. My first memory of it was the bridge and border crossing from Thailand into Cambodia. The river itself was non-existent and instead it was mainly plastic which was a little heart breaking to see. Nevertheless, it was just another step into a different world for me. I was a part of a tour that took us through Cambodia and Vietnam and it was a wonderful way to see both countries. Thankfully, our guide was there for this initial crossing because without him I’d have been thoroughly lost. I did manage to get across unscathed and upon buying a $20 bottle of 25 year old scotch I knew I was going to have a good time. I thoroughly adored Cambodia from start to finish. It’s a country with a dark history and a friendly and welcoming population. There are beautiful landscapes, eye-opening historical sites, relaxing beaches, bustling cities, and adventures to be found every which way. Cambodia is a fantastic place to visit for a variety of reasons and I think that all types of travellers will enjoy themselves. It’s also incredibly cheap and a wonderful way to travel on a budget. All in all I would recommend it to everyone.
Easily the most famous town in Cambodia is Siem Reap. This is mainly due to its proximity to Angkor Wat one of the ancient wonders of the world and the largest religious complex on earth. Siem Reap is quite a great place on its own although I might be a bit biased as the people I hung out with, and the alcohol we consumed definitely made the place seem like heaven on earth. There is an incredible amount of activities to do and if you are up for a cross country adventure why not follow in my shoes and take an AV tour of the Cambodian countryside. The city has a vibrant market feel and comes alive at night – take it from me … try the local food/drink every chance you get. In one night I tried crickets, snakes, and some random shots offered by some street vendor and to this day I still have no idea what was in them. Accommodation is everywhere (as are laundromats!) and transport is cheap so let your hair down and relax while in town.
The place to visit while in Cambodia. Unfortunately it’s no secret and every man, woman, child and their dog tend to be there to watch the sunrise. That doesn’t mean you should avoid it at all, but I would recommend you get up well before the crack of dawn to find yourself a nice spot before the hoards move in (Bring a torch or risk your shins/toes/necks on boulders strewn about the place).
Aside from sunrise photos there are many sights to see and several amazing temples to investigate and explore throughout the area. This does include the famous Jaguar temple that Angelina Jolie filmed Tomb Raider (I felt the crane left behind kinda ruins things). It’s incredibly cheap to buy a ticket and all in all a nice way to spend the morning/day seeing one of the baffling ancient wonders. Seriously, how they managed to work in so many right angles and the perfect symmetry of the temples is unbelievable. I struggle to put together a desk from Ikea in the 21st century.
One of the hardest capital cities to spell and a place of beauty and colour. I was pleasantly surprised upon arriving to find that it was quite a beautiful place that truly wakes up at night. It was in Phnom Penh that I enjoyed the best meal of my trip, and also cried my eyes out. It was in Phnom Penh that we took late night strolls through streets of light and took in an international kickboxing match. It’s neither bustling nor empty but somewhere comfortably in the middle.
The meal I alluded to was tapas at a restaurant called Friends. You can find their website here and I truly recommend it as it’s not only a wonderful meal but a fantastic cause as well Friends Restaurant. The six of us truly couldn’t stop gushing over the many different dishes. In fact I believe we went in for a second go around. Get yourself there!
The crying my eyes out refers to the heart breaking, but I think necessary trip to the Killing Fields and Museum. It’s one thing to enjoy the wonder of a culture today, but it’s another to appreciate it’s rich and dark history and maybe gain some perspective. Definitely get a guide, I wouldn’t recommend a audio guide, as the emotional nature of the tour coupled with our guide’s personal connections to all of it made for an experience I’ll never forget.
If you need to recover afterwards I would recommend an evening stroll by the water and through the city centre to take in the gorgeous lights. You can watch the children play football, or the parents practice traditional dance all while soaking in the atmosphere.
We were also fortunate that our guide has some ties to Muay Thai/Kickboxing and we saw a live televised event at the national stadium for free and front row. I do believe we appeared on Cambodian TV several times so if you’d like an autograph please do comment below. It was an awesome experience, and it felt somehow naughty sneaking beers in for cheap in plastic bags. Would recommend.
Another bloody difficult one to spell and another place with such an amazing vibe. We arrived just in time to enjoy the beach festivals and we celebrated by lighting lanterns and then trying to shoot down others with fireworks whilst eating fresh caught seafood by the kilo and beer by the tower-full. I loved this place. It kind of reminds me of a slightly busier Australian beach town with laid back restaurants and a place built around enjoying the ocean. We stayed at a great little hotel in town and all in all it was a wonderful place to relax before heading into Vietnam and enduring overnight trains. There are ample ways to explore nearby islands via boat and countless bars and shops along the city centre and the shoreline to fill your bags with trinkets plenty. Enjoy!
That’s my basic rundown of my time in Cambodia. Of course there is way more to do and see and explore. All I can say is don’t be afraid to get out there and give it a go because you’ll be surprised at how wonderful Cambodia really is, and how cheap it is to fall in love.