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Backpacking in Cambodia: Travel Tips and Experiences

On our big backpacking trip through South East Asia, we spent one month in Cambodia. During this time we got to know the most interesting places and attractions in the country. After a lot of culture in northern Thailand and Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, we longed for some beach and sea. So we spent two of four weeks only on the beautiful islands Koh Rong Sanloem and Ko Ta Kiev. Afterwards, we continued our journey to the northwest of Cambodia before we went on to Vietnam.

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In the following you can read our impressions from our journey through Cambodia:

Siem Reap

Where we stayed in Siem Reap

In Siem Reap, we were looking for a really cheap budget-hotel close to the city center, because the only reason why we came to Siem Reap, was to visit the temples of Angkor Wat.

Angkor Wat temple at sunrise with pink and pruple sky and many people in front of it
The Angkor Wat temple during sunrise

Panda Angkor Inn (double room)

  • nice staff
  • clean room
  • good breakfast included
  • but the hotel is located at a very noisy and busy street with a bad smell in the air from the city sewage

Where we ate in Siem Reap

  • once we ate in the Khmer Restaurant “Phsa Chas” near to the local market in the city center, which we can recommend
  • mostly we ate at one of the numerous street food shops which open in the afternoon at the riverside near the market (very delicious food)

The highlight of our stay in Siem Reap

If you take the “Little Angkor Wat Tourcounterclockwise, you will have the temple “Banteay Kdei” in the early morning just for you alone.

Ancient Bayon Temple with smiling faces in Angkor Wat
The smiling faces of Bayon Temple

The flop of our stay in Siem Reap

We had a stomach disorder and had to spend two extra days in the hotel to recover.

Travel-tips for Siem Reap

  • Peace Café, located a bit outside the center on the way to the Angkor Wat Ticket Office; fair trade, fair prices, awesome location!
  • buy your ticket for the temple of Angkor Wat the day before (between 16.00-17.00). This will save you a lot of time on the day of your visit to Angkor Wat because you don’t have to queue up in the morning.

Battambang

Where we stayed in Battambang

Janory Residence Battambang (double room)

  • good location
  • ok for a small budget

Alternatively, we recommend the Lucky Hostel.

Where we ate in Battambang

Local street food located between the Central Market and the riverside of the Mekong River. The food there was cheap and delicious and the staff is friendly.

The highlight of our stay in Battambang

The highlight of Battambang is definitely the bat cave! Go there two hours before sunset to climb up the hill in a relaxed way before. From the top of the hill, you can enjoy the breathtaking panorama during sunset before witnessing a spectacle where millions of bats swarm out of their cave.

Bats swarming out at the bat cave near Battambang
Bats swarming out at the bat cave near Battambang

The flop of our stay in Battambang

We went to four different bicycle stores but all of them were closed, so we walked around the city (we were too stingy for a Tuk-Tuk).

Travel-tip for Battambang

Enjoy a few hours in the relatively beautiful city park “Sar Kheng Garden” in Battambang. The park is good for a pick-nick, a workout or just relaxing.

Sihanoukville

Where we stayed in Sihanoukville

In the outskirts of Sihanoukville at Otres Beach!

The Boho Hostel has spacious dormitory rooms and a pool.

Where we ate in Sihanoukville

  • BOHO Hostel (international)
  • Pappa Pippo (good Pizzas)
  • cheap street food around the corner

The highlight of our stay in Sihanoukville

The beach at Otres Village was unexpectedly beautiful.

The flop of our stay in Sihanoukville

Nevertheless, Sihanoukville and Otres Village are probably the ugliest places in Cambodia because of big Chinese casinos and hotel constructions everywhere.

Travel-tip for Sihanoukville

Try to stay overnight as rarely (or not at all) as possible in Sihanoukville and get to one of the islands as quickly as possible.

Koh Rong Samloem

Where we stayed on Koh Rong Samloem

The Robinson Bungalows (tent and family bungalow):

  • great accommodations (tents or bungalows)
  • poor bathroom facilities

Where we ate on Koh Rong Sanloem

The restaurant at the Robinson Bungalows:

  • international and local cuisine
  • big portions
  • very delicious

The highlight of our stay on Koh Rong Sanloem

The underwater world was quite beautiful:

  • corals
  • lots of different and colorful fish
  • rays
  • squids, etc.

The flop of our stay on Koh Rong Sanloem

The sanitary rooms were tiny and very dark cabins (but at least clean).

Travel-tip for Koh Rong Sanloem

Prepare for your stay on the islands by buying food/ snacks on the mainland, as food is much more expensive on the islands.

Koh Ta Kiev

Where we stayed on Koh Ta Kiev

The Last Point (26 people dormitory):

  • private bungalows
  • big dormitory (26 persons)
  • sleeping hammocks

Where we ate on Koh Ta Kiev

  • Cactus (a bit more expensive, but worth every penny!)
  • The Last Point

Highlights of our stay on Koh Ta Kiev

  • the food at Cactus
  • sunrise at the beach of The Last Point Hostel
  • sunset at the beach of Cactus Hostel
White beach and turquoise water at Koh Ta Kiev with natural sunshades, two people lying in the sand and jungle from the birds eye view
White beach and turquoise water at Koh Ta Kiev with natural sunshades, two people lyin

Flops of our stay on Koh Ta Kiev

  • many sand fleas
  • many mosquitos
  • probably also lots of bed bugs (most peoples backs looked horrible and were strewn with red spots)

Travel-tip for Koh Ta Kiev

Bring a good and reliable mosquito spray to the island. You probably have to share it with other people, so bring enough 😉

Phnom Penh

Where we stayed in Phnom Penh

The Sla Boutique Hostel (6 double bed dormitory)

Nothing to complain, the Sla Boutique Hostel was one of the best hostels we had in Southeast Asia.

Where we ate in Phnom Penh

We had breakfast in the Sla Boutique Hostel in Phnom Penh only as we continued our journey to Kampong Cham immediately.

Travel-tip for Phnom Penh

There are a couple of things to do at the capital, but we decided to spend more time on the islands and the countryside, so we just stayed at Phnom Penh for one night only.

Kampong Cham

Where we stayed in Kampong Cham

The OBT Homestay Chiro (dormitory room):

  • cheap
  • very basic

Where we ate in Kampong Cham

OBT Restaurant:
The restaurant had a very small menu and served tiny portions because the actual chef cook was not on-site and the young local kitchen assistants were only able to cook three different dishes.

The highlight of our stay in Kampong Cham

The breathtaking views on the Mekong river and Kampong Cham from the bamboo platform near the OBT.

The flop of our stay in Kampong Cham

The restaurant and food poisoning…

Travel-tips for Kampong Cham

  • stay in one of the bungalows of OBT, not at the homestay
  • eat in Kampong Cham, not at the OBT

Kratie

Where we stayed in Kratie

Star Backpackers Hostel (6-bed dormitory)

  • spacy dormitory and private rooms
  • located at a busy street corner
  • was ok but not good

Alternatively, we recommend the Le Tonle Guesthouse

Where we ate in Kratie

  • we bought food at the local market in front of the hostel
  • we ate in the restaurant of the hostel once (modest local and international food)

The highlight of our stay in Kratie

The 2 hours walk around Koh Trong (2-3h trekking or rent a bicycle on the island).

The flop of our stay in Kratie

Unfortunately, the rooftop of the hostel opened very late (at 4 pm), in our opinion this was a waste of potential.

Travel-Tip for Kratie

Enjoy the beautiful sunsets at the riverside of the Mekong River.

Ban Lung

Where we stayed in Ban Lung

The Tree lodge Banlung: Nice bamboo bungalows!

Where we ate in Ban Lung

At the restaurant of the Tree lodge Banlung:

  • big local and international menu
  • very delicious food

The highlight of our stay in Ban Lung

Extremely friendly and English speaking staff, they help you out with everything.

The flop of our stay in Ban Lung

We didn´t visit anything, because of food poisoning again…

Travel-tip for Ban Lung

Wake up early for sunrise, you can watch it directly from the bed of your Bungalow.

Summary of traveling one month in Cambodia

Cambodia was quite different compared to the rest of Southeast Asia. The countryside was mostly dusty and dirty and we had some issues with bus and tuk-tuk drivers. Angkor Wat is super overcrowded but still definitely worth a visit. The part we liked the most of Cambodia, were the islands of Koh Rong Sanloem and Koh Ta Kiev. Nevertheless, we heard that there will be lots of construction in the coming years, especially because of Chinese investors. What a pity for the untouched nature.

More posts on Cambodia on our blog:

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