When you visit Cambodia you should be prepared for a variety of activities and scenery. This itinerary takes you from a bustling city and genocide memorial to one of the ancient wonders of the world and ends up on a stunning beach with crystal clear water.
Stop #1: Phnom Penh
In Phnom Penh, I’d recommend hiring a tuk-tuk driver for the day (about $25-$30 for the full day). If you have a plan of what to see they can plan the trip for you. Most also have a sort of ‘menu’ that you can browse and pick what you want to see and when. Try to use a map to make sure you’re not bouncing from one side of the city to the other. I recommend starting at the Killing Fields Genocide Memorial. This somber experience will help you understand the Cambodian people and their recent history. From there you can head out to visit Wats (temples) and the Royal Palace.
Read our Itinerary for 1 day in Phnom Penh
Stop #2: Kratie
Kratie is a much quieter place in comparison with Phnom Penh. Located along the coast of the Mekong River, most of the hotels are on the main road with a view of the river. Many of the sights to visit are located outside of Kratie proper. The best option is to hire a tuk-tuk driver for the day ($20 – I recommend the driver that I had, Ploy. His English was great and he really explained everything extremely well. You can reach him on WhatsApp at +855 97 719 0001) and you’ll be able to visit the 100 Pillar Pagoda, the Dolphin Habitat to see wild dolphins swim in the river, the Mekong Turtle Conservatory to learn how the locals are saving endangered species and more. Read our Itinerary for 1 Day in Kratie.
Stop #3: Siem Reap
The main attraction in Siem Reap is clearly the temples, in particular, Ankgor Wat. You can hire a tuk-tuk driver to take you there ($20 for the day – I recommend Mr. Lucky, the driver I hired. You can reach him on WhatsApp at +855 70 577 549). The entry fee is $37 per adult. Once inside the Angkor area your driver will take you from temple to temple where you can take your time wandering through each. Be prepared for steps. A lot of steps. A ton of steps. You’ll want to climb to the peaks of these temples to get the full experience. Some drivers even have a guide book that they’ll let you use so that you read about each temple as you visit them. On your second day, if you didn’t make it to all the temples you wanted to visit you can head back to Angkor Wat or visit some of the sights in the city.
Stop #4: Sihanouk
Sihanouk is all about the beach. Go to Otres Beach 2 (the more southern part of Otres Beach). It is beautiful and still not overly developed (this will change soon). Skip Victory Beach if at all possible – I stayed here and was underwhelmed. If you wanted to stay for a month and find something affordable then maybe, but if it is a quick visit head to Otres. From Otres Beach you can take day tours of the nearby islands. For $10 per person you can take a 5 hour boat trip that stops for snorkeling at different islands, includes a simple lunch and gives you the opportunity to go Cliff Diving. What could be better? There are also options for plenty of other water related actives, but they’re not all cheap. One fella wanted $100/hr for a jet ski rental which seemed a bit insane.
More Cambodia options:
If you have more than ten days you can consider adding the following places to your list:
Battambang: a city near to Siem Reap where you can see some of Cambodia’s most significant temples.
Kampot: Close to Sihanouk, in Kampot you can avoid some of the tourism of Sihanouk and get a jolt of culture while staying seaside. Try taking a cooking class or just wander to the temples and through the town.
Koh Rong Samloem Island: Accessible from Sihanouk, this island is world renowned for its beauty. Be prepared to choose between a very simple beach hut or a seriously expensive, fancy hotel.
Mondulkiri Project: A day’s trip from Phnom Penh, you can trek through the jungle and spend time getting to know elephants that have been moved to this sanctuary to escape being used for logging or tourist rides.