Cambodia is a beautiful country with much to see. The locals are very blunt and funny. They will definitely try to joke around with you. Enjoy listening to them laugh and embrace the banter. Seeing individuals who have close to nothing still remain the happiest of all is one of life's greatest joys.
Quick note: Cambodia uses American dollars for currency as well as their own Cambodian Riel. Be sure you get the right change back if they switch it up on you! ($1 US = 3975 Riel *As of January 2018)
Do not fall for the milk powder scam. Women and children will come up to you with a baby and ask for you to buy them milk powder or their family some milk. They are in business with the shop owners and will end up selling back the milk powder for money. You will be taken advantage of. If any kids came up to me I would let them pick out what they wanted and then open it so they couldn't return it. This is a way to avoid the scam.
Do not fall for the Cambodian drunk girl scam. I have witnessed men getting felt up by what seems like a very drunk Kehmer woman. She acts drunk goes home with you and then robs you once you fall asleep. I know too many people that this has happened to.
I stayed in Siem Reap for more than ten days. I didn't intend to stay for this long, but Funky Flashpackers and my traveling family made it hard to leave. We explored Angkor Wat and the markets and enjoyed relaxing by the pool for a few days. I got a concussion by trying to pop a water balloon on my friend's head which forced me to experience a Cambodian hospital and caused me to miss my bus, but those are just details...
To explore Angkor Wat we were picked up by a tuk tuk around 4:30AM. Our driver drove us to the ticket office where we paid $22 for a full day entrance. You can actually go back for sunset if you wanted to pay the tuk tuk driver again. The driver takes you around to all of the temples and many of them have maps to show you the routes you can take.
First stop was the lake where many people watch the sunrise. Instead of standing in the big crowd of people to get the same shot we watched the sunrise from inside Angkor Wat. We had the temple all to ourselves as the sky lit up cotton candy pink. It was an incredibly unique experience. We found a monk nearby who blessed us and gave us each a bracelet and then watched a monkey attack a poor man who brought in his food. There are monkeys everywhere so please be careful!
What to do:
- Angkor Wat - Sunrise and sunset tour. Take a tuk tuk around all day and climb around the ancient temples.
- Day and night markets - You can find anything and everything at the day markets in Siem Reap.
- Visit Pub Street - Nightlife in Siem Reap is on point! Enjoy the music battles between bars along Pub Street.
- Walk along the river and explore the shops
- Floating villages
- Cambodian Circus - Will not cost you more than $7 for ticket and tuk tuk ride to the circus. It was pretty interesting to see, but my friends did fall asleep almost immediately.
What to eat:
- Go to the dollar street near Funky Flashpackers. Take a right and walk down to the next cross street after Garden Village hostel. Every restaurant on this street sells $1 dishes.
- Mie Restaurant
- Bug's Cafe
- Marum Restaurant
Where to stay:
- Funky Flashpackers - Super nice rooms, big pool, and a 24 hour rooftop bar! This is the place to stay if you want to socialize and eat good food. They do offer private rooms as well! Air conditioned and really nice amenities! Minimum $7/per night
- Mad Monkey - Backpacker hostel galore.
- Garden Village - No air conditioning and big rooms to share. Great budget hostel to meet other travelers.
Stay at the Mad Monkey and visit the Killing Fields. We only stayed one night in Phenom Phen because we didn't hear very good things about the city. Once we arrived we were happy we did, it was a bit dirty for my liking and just another big city. Be careful with your bags and keep an eye out for your friends. The Killing fields was very sad, but educational. I highly recommend doing the audio tour. We spent $10 for the tour and tuk tuk ride.
Koh Rong is a beautiful island off the coast of Sinhoukville. It is a perfect place to chill out by the beach and enjoy the stunning beauty of Cambodian islands. We stayed on Koh Rong for almost a week. We each got our own beach huts and enjoyed exploring the beaches by day.
One day we decided to rent kayaks to paddle over to the small island a couple miles off the coast. They were $6 for the day. I was paired up with my friend Liam. About half way through our paddle out to the island I noticed our boat was beginning to fill with water. It was about an inch away from being fully submerged. We didn't have enough time to turn around and paddle it home because by that time we were almost underwater. In fear of the kayak fully sinking and being charged for it we ended up having to jump out of the kayak and swim back to shore while pulling it behind us. We struggled and swam for about an hour. A massive reef off the coast of Koh Rong ripped up our skin to shreds and by the time we got to shore we were both completely screwed. We ended up getting our money back because we brought the kayak back. Moral of the story, be sure to check your kayak for holes!
One thing you must do in Koh Rong is go for a swim at night. You will have glow in the dark phytoplankton light you up in glitter as you swim through the water. It is such a magical experience and one you don’t want to miss! The water is very warm so you won’t catch a cold or anything while swimming at night. Do not forget to look up as the stars put on a show for you as well at night.
What to do:
- Snorkel and float in the beautiful sea
- Rent a kayak and cruise around the island. Make sure there are no holes in your kayak!
- Visit Police Beach
- Enjoy Sky Bar - Pool tables and beautiful views
- Pub crawl
Where to eat:
- Island Boys BBQ- Fresh BBQ every night.
- Monkey Island- Beautiful view and cool vibes.
- Chai Family Restaurant- great local cuisine.
- Moon Restaurant- Located in the side alley near Green Ocean.
Where to stay:
- Bong's - $5 dorm style rooms
- Green Ocean - $7 for a private room and bathroom
Hariharalaya Yoga and Meditation Retreat
I spent a six days at Hariharalaya's Yoga and Meditation Retreat for the last week of my trip in Cambodia. It was all fresh vegan meals, wonderful company and stunning scenery. Those six days I practiced yoga, meditated, enjoyed bike rides around the area and took heaps of naps in the hammocks. This is the most affordable retreat just outside of Siem Reap costing only $200 in 2015. They arrange a pick up and drop off when you sign up. It was a fabulous detox and a wonderful ending to my time in this beautiful country.
I ended up surprising my parents at home for a Jimmy Buffet Concert and the holidays and didn't get to finish seeing all the places I wanted. Through the grapevine I have heard these three places are also worth checking out:
- Sihanoukville - I actually spent a day here, but do not have any photos. This is where you will catch the ferry over to the islands. I recommend staying at the Big Easy if you're looking for a social hostel and definitely visit Otres Beach.
- Kampot- Stay at Arcadia and rent a motorbike to explore the surrounding areas! Arcadia is located on the river and is simply breathtaking.
- Koh Rong Samloem- Another smaller more quaint and quiet island near Koh Rong.