Busy cities and beautiful beaches
Cambodia is a country still recovering from the brutal rule of the Kamer Rouge. Even so, the majority of everyday Cambodians are extremely pleasant and polite people. It’s known for being a very poor country, however it’s not as cheap here as I thought it was going to be. The reason? They don’t really use their own currancy…
Instead they use the US Dollar. Because of this, the minimum you’ll pay for most things is $1 (70p) So whereas in Thailand you can get a bottle of water for 13 Baht (28p) in Cambodia it’s $1 (70p). It doesn’t stop there. All meals, both Khmer and Western cost minimum $5 (£3.50)…again in Thailand the most I ever spent on food per day was £6, in Cambodia it costs half that just for one meal!, and the food is nowhere near as good as in Thailand either.
The cost of things aside, my first stop was Seim Reap, and right away I noticed another thing I didn’t really like there; the aggressiveness of the massage ladies asking if you want a massage. One time I got stopped by three, all asking if I wanted a massage and why not? When I politely said no. This happen so often that a had a plan. Every time I got asked i’d immediately ask them the same question. “Do you want a massage? You pay me, I give you a massage!?” The confused looks I got were totally worth it.
Before I go on, I’m gonna say now that I didn’t like Seim Reap, it’s a busy, dirty, dust bowl of a city and as far as I can tell the only reason people go there is Angkor Wat.
That being said, I spent two days at the amazing Angkor Wat, and it was totally worth it. I often found myself alone as I explored these ancient temples. At time I felt like Tomb Raider (put a male version, obviously)
After 4 days in Seim Reap (2 days too long in my opinion) I went to Battambang, a small town to the west that has yet to be hit by the tourism as much as other places in Cambodia. There I went on a full day Tuk Tuk Tour that took me to all the sights, including the towns famous bamboo train.
And finished with a trip to a mountain cave to watch millions of bats all leave in the twilight to go hunting. While we waited my Tuk Tuk driver got his guitar out and gave us a few songs in his local language. Good times.
From Battambang I went to the capital Phnom Penh. I only stayed here for 2 nights as I wanted to get down to the coast. The hostel I stayed in there, called 19 Happy House Backpackers, was amazing. The owner, Alex, was unbelievably friendly, helpful and his food there was great…still cost $5 though. I visited the killing fields and S-21 prison, from the 1970’s genocide at the hands of the Kamer Rouge, which was a real eye opener.
After 2 days I got a 7 hour bus ride down to Sihanoukville. I was happy to finally be back by the sea, even though the first 2 days were overcast and rainy. One thing a was looking forward to doing here was going scuba diving again. I’d missed it since leaving Koh Tao. I booked 2 fun dives with Scuba Nation off Koh Rong Island, the visibility wasn’t as good as in Thailand but we did get to see lots of cool fish and crabs, plus a shoal of fish swam right around me. I love scuba diving.
The next few days was spent chilling on the beach as the sun had finally come out. I went to Sokha beach, which is part of a resort, but it being low season, I more or less had it to myself.
After a good week there I moved on to Kampot. I’d read that this small town, famous for its pepper, was a quaint and super happy place. As soon as I got there and saw the waterfront, I knew this was gonna be my favorite place in Cambodia.
The whole town feels like everyone is constantly on holiday. Every night when going for dinner I’d pass groups of Cambodians just sitting on the floor having dinner together, all of which said hello as I walked past. The waterfront itself is stunning. My hostel was about 15 mins walk from the main bars and restaurants but not once did I get tired of the walk. Initially, I booked to stay for 3 days but ended up staying for 5. I couldn’t leave!
I went on 2 tours while there. The first was to Bokor National Park, located highly up on Bokor mountain. It was a strange tour of all the old abandoned buildings, high up in he clouds, where I could actually see the mist moving around in the air. Weird.
The second tour was to near by Kep. A fishing town, 30 mins away right on the cost. I went to Rabbit Island, where I did nothing but swim in the sea and chill on a hammock all day.
If you ever got to Cambodia I would highly recommend visiting Kampot. When it was finally time to leave Kampot, I’d been to everywhere I wanted to go in Cambodia, so I decided to head back to Sihanoukville and spend my last week relaxing by the beach, before I head to the chaos (so I’d been told) of Ho Chi Minh.
This time I decided to stay in a hostel right on Otres Beach. It was in an amazing location, the only problem was the lack of air con. Almost every hostel in South East Asia has it and I’d got so used to it that I just couldn’t sleep without it. I had to check out one day early as I hadn’t slept for two nights. I went back to One Stop hostel in town, which is easily the best hostel I’ve stayed in on my travels, so far. I finish my time in Cambodia with two days back in Phnom Penh as it’s the closest and fastest way to get to Ho Chi Minh, which was my first location in Vietnam.
Some Useful Info:
Country – Cambodia
Language – Khmer (very little English)
Currency – US Doller / Riel
£1 GBP – = 5.350 Riel (at time of writing)
Accommodation – Mad Monkey, Royal Battambang Hotel, 19 Happy House Backpackers, Once Stop Hostel, Kool Kampot, Seagarden.
Main Activities – Angkor Wat, Tuk Tuk tour, bamboo train, the killing fields, scuba diving, chilling on the beach, Bokor National Park tour, rabbit island, even more chilling on the beach
Time Spent Exploring – 30 Days
Average Daily Cost – £ 29.03
Date Explored – July 2016