Cambodia is the successor state to the mighty Khmer empire, which, during the Angkorian period, ruled much of what is now Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The remains of this empire can be seen at the fabled temples of Angkor, monuments unrivalled in scale and grandeur in Southeast Asia. The traveller’s first glimpse of Angkor Wat, the ultimate expression of Khmer genius, is sublime and is matched by only a few select spots on earth, such as Machu Picchu or Petra.
Just as Angkor is more than its wat, so too is Cambodia more than its temples, and its urban areas can surprise with their sophistication. Chaotic yet charismatic capital Phnom Penh is a revitalised city earning plaudits for its sumptuous riverside setting, cultural renaissance, and world-class wining-and-dining scene. Second city Siem Reap, with cafes and a diverse nightlife, is as much a destination as the nearby iconic temples. And up-and-coming Battambang, reminiscent of Siem Reap before the advent of mass tourism, charms with graceful French architecture and a thriving contemporary art scene.
Experience the rhythm of rural life and landscapes of dazzling rice paddies and swaying sugar palms in Cambodia's countryside. The South Coast is fringed by tropical islands dotted with the occasional fishing village. Inland lie the Cardamom Mountains, part of a vast tropical wilderness providing a home to elusive wildlife and a gateway to emerging ecotourism adventures. The mighty Mekong River cuts through the country and hosts some of the region’s last remaining freshwater dolphins. The northeast is a world unto itself, its wild and mountainous landscapes home to Cambodia’s ethnic minorities and an abundance of natural attractions and wildlife.
Despite having the eighth wonder of the world in its backyard, Cambodia’s real treasure is its people. The Khmers have been to hell and back, struggling through years of bloodshed, poverty and political instability. Thanks to an unbreakable spirit and infectious optimism, they have prevailed with their smiles intact. No visitor comes away without a measure of admiration and affection for the inhabitants of this enigmatic kingdom.
“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of gettin' lost.”
We are travelers that like to experience everything a country has to offer. In every country we visit there are also a few basics we value and that is comfortable sleeping and good food. Of course this has to fit within our budget, which isn't a backpacker budget, but we also don't have unlimited financial resources.
What we usually strive for:
Local food which is cheap and most of the time the best food you ever had.
Value for money accommodation where we focus on cleanliness and a comfortable bed.
A mix of must sees which are almost for nothing as it is a hard to reach place or yet unknown and must sees which are pricy as it is very touristy.
To travel through Cambodia you can use the numbers below to set up your daily budget. This budget is based upon traveling by public transport (mini van, bus and boat). Activities mainly consists of the tours to Angkor Wat, several museums and spa's. We stayed mainly at hotels which were decently priced. Food and drinks we usually did outside as cooking ourselves was not an option at the places we stayed.
FOOD & DRINKS
EUR 44,51 per day per person
on the basis of 18 days and excl. fly ticket
You can easily apply for a Cambodia visa when you enter the country. If you arrive via the international airports Siem Reap or Phnom Penh you can arrange a visa on the spot. For 35 US Dollars (EUR 32,-) you get a tourist visa for thirty days. Like all other countries, you also need a passport in Cambodia that is still valid six months after your departure. You must also have two passport photos with you.
Cambodia has a lot to offer. But before you go you need to know what the hotspots of the country are. Beneath, we have selected a few of our finest moments. Of course there is much more to explore and if you want to see more, please click on the button below. You will not only find our highlights, but also from fellow travelers. Are you also one of these travelers that takes the unbeaten path, leave us a message.
GETTIN' HUNGRY or THIRSTY
TIPS & TRICKS
If you only want to see the most important temples in 2 hours with 2 people, you will lose a total of EUR38 per person. The entrance ticket for 1 day costs EUR30 and for 3 days EUR50. We found 1 day sufficient to see the most beautiful places because at a certain moment they all look a bit the same. Yet there are also many people who prefer to take things a little easier and take 3 days for it. For the small tour of 6 hours you pay about EUR10 for a tuktuk. For 8 hours this is EUR13 and for 12 hours EUR20. If you want to see the sunrise, that amount is often EUR4. The tuktuk can be shared with up to 4 people. If you want to change the order of the tour, you may have to pay a little extra. In every hotel or hostel there is a booklet on which you can see exactly which temples, on which tour are included. You can also rent a bicycle or moped to save money but secretly it is very tiring to visit the temples with high temperatures and then a tuktuk is really great. If you would also like to bring a guide, you pay about EUR12 a day for that.
With about 2.5 million visitors a year it can be quite crowded in Angkor and that makes the whole experience a lot less special as far as we are concerned. Fortunately, we have found a very simple yet brilliant solution for this.
Make sure you arrive at the first temple at 6:30 a.m..
The 5 most beautiful temples of Angkor that you have to see are:
Ankor Wat: This is the largest, most famous and most important temple of all. In front of the temple is a pond in which you can see a beautiful reflection of the temple during the sunrise. This is also the most photographed temple of Angkor and during the sunrise it is teeming with tourists. (Best spot, 04:30 a.m. on the leftside of the lake and be on time!) Angkor Wat is very large but not necessarily the most interesting temple inside because it is very symmetrical and well restored. You can go all the way up but for that you will soon be in line for 1 hour.
This temple has never been completely finished and the nice thing is that you can climb up the steep stairs. Usually it is not very crowded here and because it is right next to the Bayon, it is ideal to stop here.
A special temple with 54 towers each containing 4 faces. Bayon has 216 faces! The temple is wonderfully beautiful and you feel as if you ended up in the movie Jungle Book. Bayon certainly belongs in the top 3 of the most beautiful temples of Angkor.
This temple is world famous because the film Tomb Raider is partially included here. This temple is literally taken over by the jungle. The gigantic Ceiba Pentandra trees grow over the temple and provide unique pictures.
Banteay Srei means the 'temple of women' and has been given this name because the many beautiful details would only be made by women's hands. The Banteay Srei also has a beautiful red color which makes this temple extra special. The temple is a bit further from the Angkor area and therefore you will always have to pay extra to the tuktuk to get here.
If you visit a temple in Cambodia, you have to stick to dress code. This makes less for men than for women. Women are expected to wear trousers over their knees and their shoulders are covered. Nowadays they are not very strict at the entrance here because there are simply too many people visiting the temples, but out of respect we advise you to still stay here.
DO NOT BUY ANTYTHING FROM CHILDEREN
Around the temples you see many children who sell bracelets, water or other stuff. These kids are very cute and it is understandable that you want to help them but you certainly do not by buying anything from them. Children should go to school or play when there is no money for school but at least not to work. By buying something from them, you keep it alive that these children are sent out for work.
BEST TIME TO GO
The best travel time for visiting Angkor is from November to February. These are the coolest months when the least rain falls. From March the temperature will rise and April / May are the hottest months. If you visit Angkor in these months, make sure you go early and return to your hotel at around 11 o'clock because in the afternoon it is so hot that you really do not want to do anything anymore. The rainy season is from June to October. That sounds fortunately more dramatic than it really is. Usually you have a heavy shower at the end of the afternoon and because of the humidity it can be stuffy in the afternoon. Nothing to worry about!
Rainfall (mm) Temperature (°C)
The 7th of January Victory Day, 30th of March Cambodian New Year, 9th of November Independence Day, 25-27th of November Bonn Om Touk Water Festival.
For Cambodia a positive travel advice applies, but be vigilant. Check the current travel advice for Cambodia before departure.
If you went to a country seven days before your arrival in Cambodia where yellow fever occurs, you must have a vaccination against it. This yellow fever only occurs in parts of Africa and South America, not in other countries in Asia.
The following vaccinations are recommended if you are traveling to Cambodia. Hepatitis A DTP (Diphtheria, Tetanus and Polio) Typhoid Of these, typhoid fever depends on the length of your tour. If you stay in Cambodia or in other countries in the region for more than two weeks, it is advisable to also have this vaccinated. This applies to the vast majority of backpackers. With a stay of a few months you also need a Hepatitis B.
Since tap water is not safe everywhere to drink, we recommend drinking water from bottles. We advise you to consult your doctor or the National Coordination Center for Travelers Advice (www.lcr.nl) in good time before departure.
TIP! If you already have had a vaccine for yellow fever and rabies they are no longer bound by a certain period, but are valid for life. This has been announced by the World Health Organization (WHO).