I just came back from a wonderful trip to Cambodia. I love traveling in South East Asia; the climate is warm, the food is delicious and the culture is so different from Europe. Whilst Thailand is getting too touristic for me and many people are now discovering Vietnam as well, I think Cambodia is a great destination for South East Asia lovers. There’s a touristic infrastructure so you can travel around easily and always have many hotels to choose from, but it’s not so touristic that it isn’t authentic anymore.
We only had a week in Cambodia so we decided to spend some time in the capital city Phnom Pen and to visit Angkor Wat. We didn’t do more as we really wanted to take our time at both spots and we didn’t want to rush it. On this travel blog I’m sharing my tips for Cambodia.
It’s always warm in Cambodia. In general they say that the best time to go to Cambodia is from November to March when the temperature gets a little bit cooler. Although it was still around 35°C when we were there at the end of December, so don’t expect it to be cold. The rain season in Cambodia is from May to October. In these months the temperatures are still pleasant, but there’s a lot of rainfall.
You can buy a tourism visum at the airport of Phnom Penh. It’s not needed to arrange it beforehand, although it is possible for an extra fee. Some websites told me you needed a picture for your visum but we didn’t need to show any. A 30 day tourist visum costs $30 at the airport, and depending on how busy it is will only take 10 to 20 minutes to acquire. Make sure you bring dollars in cash to get your tourism visum for Cambodia.
The official local currency in Cambodia is called Riel. When we were there (December 2019) the exchange rate was 1$ = 4,000R. You don’t really need Riel when you’re traveling in Cambodia as most of the prices are listed in US Dollars and they’re accepted everywhere. Even the local tuk tuk drivers charge you in US Dollars.
You will probably get Riel back in exchange when it’s less than 1 Dollar as they don’t have the US coins.
Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia and you probably arrive in Cambodia via Phnom Penh Airport. Phnom Penh is your typical Asian city and you’ll probably see similarities with cities like Bangkok and Hanoi.
From the airport you can take a taxi to your hotel or the city center. In general it should cost you around 10$.
For transportation within the city, I recommend that you take advantage of the many tuc tucs driving around. In general it’s really warm in Phnom Penh, so walking long distances might wear you out. A tuc tuc ride should cost you between 1 and 3 Dollars, depending on the distance of the ride.
We spend 1.5 days in Phnom Penh and we feel like we got to see all the highlights without rushing through. We still had time for a massage or a nap by the hotel pool.
Click here to read about the top sights in Phnom Penh.
Hotel Phnom Penh
We stayed at Home Chic Hotel during our stay in Phnom Penh. It was a very nice hotel with clean rooms. It’s centrally located, there’s a nice swimming pool and the service is very friendly. Breakfast is included and it’s a wonderful start of the day to have your breakfast with a view like this.
From Phnom Penh to Angkor Wat
You might wondering what would be the best way to get from Phnom Penh to Angkor Wat. From Phnom Penh you can travel to Siem Reap, the city where you’ll stay for your visit to Angkor What. The best way to go is by mini van. There are dozens of them leaving daily, all throughout the day. So you can pick a time that’s convenient for you. We went with Cambotravel. Their mini vans had airconditioning and everyone got a small bottle of water. Another plus is that you cam buy your ticket online beforehand. You can even choose your seat (tip: seats number 3 to 5 have the most leg space). A ticket is around 11$ one way and the ride takes about 5 hours.
The highlight of your trip to Cambodia, and a must-visit if you’re there is Angkor Wat. Officially Angkor Wat is one temple, but it’s now often the name for the whole area with several temples. During your visit to Angkor you’ll see the original Angkor Wat temple as well as several other temples.
Siem Reap is the gateway city to Angkor Wat and the other Angkor temples in Cambodia. It’s the town where you’ll spend the nights before and after your visit to Angkor Wat and the other temples. Siem Reap is the most touristic town in Cambodia. The plus side is that it’s very lively and there are plenty of restaurants, bars and clubs. The downside is that it’s very tacky and lacks authenticity. I fear that Siem Reap’s pub street will become the next Ko Sang Road, the touristic street in Bangkok.
That being said, if you like people watching, entertainment and markets; Siem Reap isn’t bad to spend a few days in.
Click here to read more about Siem Reap.