We arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia by bus from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. We were told this overnight bus would take 5-6 hours and it ended up being almost 11 hours! Torture! Thank God we got on a sleeper bus! So, my first bit of advice, fly into Cambodia if you can. We were unfortunate to have a number of delays along the way. You also get your visa on arrival, so that took some time too.
We got to Phnom Penh after a very long bus journey and made the decision to explore the city for the day and get another overnight bus that night. (What were we thinking?!) We had a busy day taking in the sights here.
Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and a very busy city. You can explore the streets and the Central Markets, see the Royal Palace, walk along the water’s edge and visit the many temples the city boasts. The main attraction in this city are The Killing Fields. Be warned before you go there, it is a bit disturbing. I had no idea who Pol Pot was or who the Khmer Rouge were, or that something like this genocide had taken place not so long ago, and I was not prepared for the tour we took. When you get to the Killing Fields, you get an audio (available in a number of languages) and listen to the tape at your own speed while exploring the fields and the museum. It was an educational experience, but seeing the mass graves of adults and children was very emotional too. I don’t think any of us even spoke to each other during the tour. It really painted a picture for us all. It is something I would definitely recommend doing if you’re in Phnom Penh, just to understand the history of it all.
That night, we made our way to Siem Reap on an overnight bus. The roads are not great quality, so if you want some sleep, a sleep bus is worth the extra money rather than a regular bus.
I loved Siem Reap. We stayed in the Popular Boutique Hotel. It was cheap, clean and had a lovely pool and the food was good. It was just outside the centre and a Tuk-Tuk ride into Pub Street was only $1. (They accept American Dollars here too). Pub Street, is the main street in Siem Reap. As the name says, it is a street full of pubs, clubs and restaurants. It’s the main spot for nightlife. Try the Angkor What Bar. They do great buckets there too! On Pub Street, you will be greeted by people asking for money and little children selling bracelets. Be careful to watch your pockets, especially after a few drinks.
The main attraction in Siem Reap is Angkor Wat. Here is where you explore the Cambodian Temples. Tomb Raider was filmed here too! You could literally spend hours here, exploring all of the different temples. You can look around on your own or pay for a tour guide for around $10-15. For some of the temples, you need to have your shoulders and knees covered, so bring a scarf or a light jacket to throw on incase it’s needed.
When we were there, if you bought your entrance ticket after 5:30 p.m., you could get in the next day with the same ticket, which was good for those looking to come back the next day for sunrise. I’m not sure if they’re still doing this, but it’s worth checking out if you’re interested in sunrise at Angkor Wat or just a second day there. There are monks here too, and you will bump into them as you explore the grounds.
If you’re looking for some chill out time after the madness of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Sihanoukville is the perfect coastal town. This town has loads of different beaches where you can snorkel, enjoy watersports or just chillout at the beach. And of course, it wouldn’t be Cambodia without some temples to see too! It is a one hour flight from Siem Reap or you can get an overnight bus here too. Sunset Lounge Guest House is lovely accommodation right on the beach. Clean, inexpensive and the perfect place to chill out before you move on to the next place or to have some well-needed downtime.
- Travelling to Cambodia is a great addition to a holiday in Vietnam. Check out my Vietnam blog post.
- Carry some US$1 notes helps, as they accept them here. An easy way to pay for Tuk-Tuks and/or give tips.
Top Tip Traveller 🙂