The Ultimate Backpacking Cambodia Itinerary (2 weeks or 10 Days)
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This backpacking Cambodia itinerary will help you decide which places to go in Cambodia and what you can see there. We have given you options for a 2 week Cambodia Itinerary and a 10 week Cambodia itinerary. Plus variation options to easily adapt them to suit your trip.
CONTENTS: BACKPACKING CAMBODIA ITINERARY
Cambodia is a magical little country, steeped in a rich culture, but shrouded in the darkness of their past. With glittering temples set amongst the jungle, heavenly beaches, and smiling locals, it is a paradise for the bucolic travel-seeker.
It is also a budget-friendly country to travel, with delicious local street food from as little as 50 cents, and dorm rooms starting at $6 USD. This makes it a popular country for backpackers doing a Southeast Asia route.
As one of those backpackers, I absolutely loved Cambodia, and I ended up spending over 3 months there. Here, I have gathered all of my extensive knowledge of Cambodia and compiled it into an efficient itinerary.
Luckily, the dirt cheap transport prices and frequent buses and vans that connect the country, planning Cambodia is easy and it is not necessary to draw up an hourly itemised itinerary. Accordingly, this budget guide to Cambodia will just be a helpful overview of the country, stuffed with as many useful tips for Cambodia travel that I can think of.
Cambodian CurrencyCambodia accepts USD as legal tender throughout the country. They also use their own currency; Cambodian Riel. Generally, $1 USD equals to ៛4,000 KHR.
Design Your Cambodia Itinerary
We have put together two Cambodia itineraries for you to use and adapt to suit your Cambodia trip. The first one covers 14 days in Cambodia while the second one covers only 10 days in Cambodia. We think anything less than 10 days isn’t enough to see the whole country.
See our section on Cambodia itinerary variations below if you have more or fewer days than the above two itineraries.
|ITINERARY||WHERE YOU’LL GO||BEST FOR|
|Cambodia Itinerary: 14 Days||Siem Reap + Battambang + Phnom Penh + Sihanoukville + one of the Koh Rong Islands + Kampot||Immersing yourself into the entire country, going on and off the beaten path.|
|Cambodia Itinerary: 10 Days||Siem Reap + Phnom Penh + Sihanoukville + one of the Koh Rong Islands + Kampot||A quick trip through Cambodia, getting a taste of all the best places.|
CAMBODIA 2 WEEK ITINERARY
Easily download this map of our Cambodia 2 week itinerary into your phone by pressing the square ⃞ in the top right-hand corner (from your phone). You can even use this map offline throughout Cambodia. Here’s more info about downloading this map onto your phone.
Where to Go in Cambodia in 2 Weeks
This 14-day itinerary for Cambodia takes you on and off the tourist trail. For people who wish to get away from the crowds, you are going to love Kampot for mountains, rivers and coffee plantations and Battambang for its culture and beauty.
The magnificent temples of Angkor Wat cannot be missed, even though they can get busy. They are accessed from Siem Reap, a splendid city with everything you could want out of a tourist destination. Think bars, good cheap restaurants, and bustling markets for shopping.
Phnom Penh; the big, dirty capital city from which you will take a Killing Fields tour. Or Sihanoukville: a party beach town, is popular as well. However, I don’t recommend spending a lot of time in the last two places, instead, use them as a means to transfer to the next place.
For a beach getaway, Koh Rong is a small, established bohemian island and is one of my favourite places on earth. Or you can head to its sister island; Koh Rong Sanloem for a similar feel, just with fewer people. Read on to find out more!
Using the table below, click on the links to be taken to each destination within this guide and find out what to do, eat and how to get around.
|3 Days||Siem Reap||Explore the magical Angkor Wat temples|
|2 Days||Battambang||A city on water and bamboo trains|
|2 Days||Phnom Penh||A day of reflection at the Killing Fields|
|1 Day||Sihanoukville||Parties on the beach|
|3 Days||Koh Rong or Koh Rong Sanloem||Relax on spectacular beaches|
|3 Days||Kampot and Kep||Get away to the mountains and rivers|
CAMBODIA 10 DAYS ITINERARY
Easily download this map of our Cambodia 10 day itinerary into your phone by pressing the square ⃞ in the top right-hand corner (from your phone). You can even use this map offline throughout Cambodia. Here’s more info about downloading this map onto your phone.
Where to Go in Cambodia in 10 Days
This 10-day itinerary for Cambodia takes you from the magical ruins of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap to some pristine beaches in Cambodia. You’ll spend just enough time in Phnom Penh to do the Killing Fields tour and only overnight in Sihanoukville as a means of transport to the islands.
You will have to choose between Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem, and afterwards, you’ll have a small amount of time in Kampot and Kep to do a pepper plantations tour.
To read more about each destination, simply click the link in the table to be taken to that section of the Cambodia guide.
|3 Days||Siem Reap||Revel in the magical Angkor Wat temples|
|2 Days||Phnom Penh||Be educated at the Killing Fields|
|1 Day||Sihanoukville||Beach party for the night|
|2 Days||Koh Rong or Koh Rong Sanloem||Relax on world-class beaches|
|2 Days||Kampot and Kep||A mountain and river refuge|
OTHER CAMBODIA ITINERARY VARIATIONS
I have set up this post so that it will be easy for you to adjust these Cambodia itineraries into the number of days that suit you. You simply need to take out places or add extra destinations to your itinerary. I have suggested the number of days I think you should spend in each location.
If you prefer a 3 week Cambodia itinerary, add more time in Siem Reap and Kampot and visit both Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem.
If you need a 7-day, 4-day or 3-day itinerary for Cambodia, consider only visiting one or two locations near each other. For example; for a 4 day Cambodia itinerary, visit Siem Reap and Battambang. For a 1-week Cambodia itinerary, visit Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Koh Rong island.
Don’t forget to add time for travel if you are going overland because travelling across the country can sometimes take up an entire day.
You can read more about each place in the sections below.
Suggested Stay: 2-4 days
Siem Reap is best known for being the city by which the enchanting Angkor Wat temples are accessed. Siem Reap has become very popular with tourists and is now somewhat of a party city. Other than the temples, there isn’t too much else to do there other than relax by the pool and eat delicious Cambodian food.
Things to Do in Siem Reap
The Angkor Wat Temples
I don’t need to go on too much about how beautiful the Angkor Wat temples are. I’m sure you are here to discover that yourself. Instead, here’s the latest Angkor Wat temple prices: 1-day = $20, 3-day = $40, 7-day = $60.
I personally think you need more than one day to properly explore the temples. We took two days, but I wish we had done three!
The fastest and most cost-effective way to get around the temples is to hire a tuk-tuk driver for the day for a set price. We found one for $30 for two days between three of us, which we personally think is just too cheap!
Phare Circus Show in Siem Reap
A circus show with a great cause. Not only is it a great show and one of the best things to do in Siem Reap at night, but Phare’s performers mostly come from challenging social and economic backgrounds. The organisation also supports vulnerable children and adults in Cambodian society. A hypnotising show with great energy by a talented troupe of acrobats and performers make this show a must-see in Siem Reap!
Other Things to Do in Siem Reap
You could also sit by the pool of a fancy hotel: most hotels will let you use the pool for free if you buy food in their restaurant. Get crazy drinking on a night out on Pub Street, or for a detox go to the yoga and meditation retreat Hariharalaya.
Where to Stay in Siem Reap
Onederz Hostel Siem Reap: Not one, but TWO pools, exceptional staff, very clean rooms and a bunch of beautifully maintained private rooms right in the centre of the happening area. The best option for couples!
The Mad Monkey Hostel: The most popular hostel among backpackers and has its well-deserved name as a party hostel. The rooftop bar is really cool, but you can stay somewhere else and just use the bar if you prefer!
Lovely Family Guesthouse: With private doubles starting at $10 per night and really good reviews this guesthouse is a fantastic budget option. Set within a lovely garden, this place is close to the river and a short walk to the central Pub Street, etc.
Siem Reap Food & Drink
Lok Lak: A Cambodia beef dish that includes succulent marinated pieces of meat draped over a bed of rice with an egg on top. My favourite place to eat this is at Karo Restaurant, but the dish is delectably similar everywhere.
Pub Street: The most famous party street in Cambodia! Head out here late at night for a sprawling menagerie of cheap bars and clubs. My favourite haunt is ‘Angkor What? Bar.’ But anywhere you go you’ll be sure to enjoy and dance the night away!
Viva Mexican: Cheap tacos and $5 mojito buckets. Yum!
BBQ beef skewer place: Where you can delight in five marinated skewers, a traditional pickled salad, bread and an iced tea for 5, 000 Riel ($1.25 USD). It’s crazy tasty and oh-so-cheap!
How to Get To & From Siem Reap
From Thailand: Because this is a backpacking Cambodia itinerary, we will start our journey over in Siem Reap because it is likely you have done the horrible scam-filled border cross from Thailand into Cambodia by land. If this is the case, the bus between the Poipet border and Siem Reap would have been included in your ticket from Thailand.
From Phnom Penh: To get to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville you can use the cheap buses (about $16 for the whole trip) or fast vans (which I do not recommend, here’s why). They take around 6-8 hours to arrive in Phnom Penh, and about 4-7 hours between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, depending on the type of transport. Both can be booked in any of the tourist offices. Shop around and barter for the cheapest prices.
If you are flying into Phnom Penh from your previous country, I suggest you either get another flight straight to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh or take road transport to Siem Reap after a few days exploring the Capital City.
Going to Thailand: To leave Siem Reap and cross the border by land into Thailand is a much more smooth process since there are fewer scams going the opposite way. Buy bus tickets in Siem Reap at any tourist office or hotel reception.
If you are on a 10-day Cambodia itinerary, omit Battambang and skip forward to Phnom Penh. Unfortunately, you won’t have enough time to visit Battambang.
Suggested Stay: 2 days
Cambodia’s second-largest city will surely delight you! No, there’s no Angkor Wat temples or even any beaches, but this laid back city has more to it than first meets the eye.
Things to do in Battambang
The Bamboo Train (Norry)
The bamboo train is mainly for tourists nowadays since it’s been moved. It runs about 4 km from Prasat Banan to Chhoeteal commune and reaches up to speeds of 40 km/hr. This bamboo train is definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
There are two main temples that can be visited on a day tour from Battambang. Wat Banan Temple is about 30 km from Battambang, while the closer Wat Ek Phnom is less than 10 km. Hire a tuk-tuk driver to visit both of them and get your temple fix!
Hire a Bicycle and Explore
The countryside around Battambang is the perfect place to explore by bike. Weave your way through rice paddies to a Buddhist temple, or wind alongside the river. You can even take bicycle tours, where you will visit local families and learn about cottage industries. Ask your hotel about these tours.
Pomme Hostel: This is the BEST rated hostel in Battambang! Everyone says the vibes are great – like a special community. Especially since the staff try to put on activities that get everyone together each night. It’s also in a great location in an old colonial-style building. No dorms here, just single rooms for only $10 a night. It’s the type of hostel you never want to leave!
The Place Hostel & Rooftop Bar: Clean rooms, dorm beds with privacy and friendly staff is what you’ll find in The Place Hostel. Plus it has a beautiful rooftop bar and is right in the centre of everything. Oh, and towels are provided! #Winning.
How to Get to Battambang
From Siem Reap: Battambang is only a 4-hour drive from Siem Reap and it is relatively easy to get between the two. Mekong Express run two minibuses each day in either direction for about $7 USD one way. The bus leaves from either Siem Reap or Battambang at 8 am or 2 pm, crossing paths each way. There are also several bus companies that do the route throughout the day. Tickets for the full-size bus are about $5.
How about by boat? Boats between Battambang and Siem Reap run every day, leaving at 7 am from each direction. The boats have lovely river views of the slow Cambodian local life. Boat tickets to Battambang cost between $20 and $22 per person, one way. Keep in mind, boats can take up to 10 hours to arrive.
Phnom Penh: There are many buses and vans that run between Battambang and Phnom Penh. The trip is fairly straightforward and takes between 4 and 7 hours depending on the mode of transport. Buses are generally slower but cheaper, taking 7 hours. The vans are a bit more expensive costing between $10 and $12 but only takes around 5 hours. The vans also do hotel pickups which is a plus.
Suggested Stay: 2 days max
A big, dirty, busy and disheartening city that a lot of backpackers skip since there isn’t much to go there for. But don’t skip it because there is one dark day trip you really must do in Phnom Penh: the Killing Fields.
Phnom Penh sits on the junction of the Mekong River and Tonle Sap River. In theory, it should be a big and exciting city. Instead, Phnom Penh has a bad reputation as being full of prostitutes and hawkers.
Having said this, however, the Cambodian culture in Phnom Penh is strong and it never ceases to challenge my ideas as to what I think it is to be alive.
What to Do in Phnom Penh
The Killing Fields and S21 Prison
As hard as it is to hear about what happened here, you MUST do a day tour of the Killing Fields and S21 prison. It was what has made Cambodia the country it is today. Most do this by booking a tuk-tuk driver to take you around for the day. Barter with guys on the street for low prices or grab one through your hostel for safety and reliability.
Walk the Promenade
Phnom Penh’s riverfront is lined with parks, restaurants and bars. There is also the ornate Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum, which displays artefacts from around the country.
Other Things to Do in Phnom Penh
Check out the HUGE, crazy Central Market for a mass of art deco ornaments or eat yummy foods until you burst, nom nom nom.
Where to Stay in Phnom Penh
Sla Boutique Hostel: This squeaky clean hostel is for backpackers who like the hostel vibe, prices and amenities, but don’t like the squalor. Each dorm has air conditioning and the beds have a privacy curtain. There is also a communal kitchen, lockers and a whole bunch of other special touches.
Onederz Hostel Phnom Penh: Located right on the Mekong River, this hostel is known for its comfortable beds, new furniture and amazing rooftop views. Just a short walk away from all of the top tourist sights, with a great restaurant on site, Onederz is one of the top rated hostels in Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh Food & Drink
Street Food: With a vast array of delectable street food, I hardly ate anything else in Phnom Penh.
Rooftop Bar: A nice place to have a couple of drinks and meet other travellers is the rooftop bar of 11 Happy Backpackers.
How to Get To & From Phnom Penh
From Siem Reap: Coming to or from Siem Reap you’ll most likely need to take the cheapo 7-hour bus or van from Siem Reap. It costs about $16 USD. Be sure take a look at Skyscanner for the cheap flights if you’re short on time.
Sihanoukville: The bus or van between Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh is even cheaper and easier at only $10 for the 4-hour trip.
Here’s a huge guide on getting around Phnom Penh, by road, rail and river!
Suggested Stay: 1-3 days
Teeming with backpackers and parties, Serendipity closely resembles the beaches in Thailand with fires on the shore, British travellers offering free drink vouchers at bars, and rubbish everywhere. But this is where you get the ferry to Koh Rong Island and organise a Vietnamese visa, so a couple of nights here might be necessary.
Sihanoukville: Things to Do
Sunsets and Beach Parties
Laze, party, laze, repeat. You can choose to have a quiet time in Sihanoukville or rage all night at epic beach parties. Most of the accommodation is going to be right near the beach so laying in deck chairs, sipping cocktails and relaxing while watching the sunset is high on the to-do list.
Two really great beaches to go check out are Serendipity Beach and Otres Beach. Both are lined with a few beach shacks and bars. I prefer Otres, just because it is the quieter of the two.
Sihanoukville is usually only used as the connection point for the more beautiful islands dotted in the surrounding sea. From Sihanoukville, you can get a slow ferry to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem islands, or do a day tour to the islands just to have a look. I suggest you go and stay on the islands, though.
Other Things to do in Sihanoukville
There is also great scuba diving, Phsar Leu Flea Market and Kbal Chhay Waterfall nearby.
Where to Stay in Sihanoukville
If you’re anything like me, you’d rather stay on Otres Beach, a smaller and quieter stretch a couple of kilometres out of town with a laid-back vibe and cooler people. However, if you’re just there for the night to catch the ferry the next day, closer to the port in Sihanoukville may be a better option for you.
Onederz Hostel Sihanoukville: This hostel chain has really stepped up the hostel game in Cambodia in the last couple of years. Onederz Sihanoukville features a pool and seriously clean wood and metal interior. Only 600 m from the beach and right across the road from the best restaurants in Sihanoukville.
Be mindful that the street between the main drag and Otres beach is dangerous for motorbikes at night. I’m not exactly sure why, but I had a scary thing happen where a motorbike driver demanded more money mid-trip because of “danger” and when talking to expats about it, they affirmed that they only take tuk-tuks at night.
How to Get to Sihanoukville
From Phnom Penh: The easiest option of getting to Sihanoukville from Phnom Penh is by bus. It takes 6 hours and costs $10.
From Kampot: Coming from Kampot is easy; catch the van between the two for just $6. Tickets can be bought in any tourist office.
Going to Koh Rong or Koh Rong Sanloem: Going from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Island costs roughly $25 return for a fast ferry and includes transfers to and from the Ochheuteal pier in Sihanoukville.
For more information about the ferries to Koh Rong, see the ‘How to Get to to Koh Rong’ section below.
On both the 10 day and 14-day itineraries, you will need to choose to visit either Koh Rong or Koh Rong Sanloem. You can do both if you want, but this will make it rushed. The islands are quite similar, so there’s no need to do the two. However, if you have 3 weeks in Cambodia, doing the pair would be a superb way to take up more time in your itinerary. Read on for more information.
KOH RONG ISLAND
Suggested Stay: 2-5 days
Koh Rong will always have a special place in my heart as one of my favourite places in Southeast Asia. It’s drop-dead gorgeous, with calm, clear aqua waters, white sandy beaches galore and a few beach huts to rent, this island getaway will be sure to satisfy that need to relax and recharge.
Alas, there are beach bars for those party backpackers, and they even sell hash cookies over the counter too! If you want to get away from that scene, it’s easy, just stay in accommodations away from the main pier.
Koh Rong Island is blessed with 28 beautiful beaches, so walk a couple of kilometres and it’s like you’ll have one all to yourself. There are tree houses, swings and shacks littered around. With local budget food stands, rustic bars and even a dive centre, this is the perfect place to live out those castaway island dreams.
Lots of backpackers usually decide to go to either Koh Rong or Koh Rong Sanloem. The main difference between the two is that Koh Rong Sanloem is much quieter and underdeveloped. Considering how rustic Koh Rong is, this is saying a lot. Travellers usually head to Koh Rong Sanloem if they want to get away from the party vibes (or from the internet).
Things to Do in Koh Rong
Walk to Long Set Beach
If you walk North towards the tree house accommodation, you will find a track that snakes around the headland and pushes you out onto a totally deserted white-sand beach called Long Set Beach. That trek will take you about 15-20 mins from the main pier. There isn’t much here except a little makeshift bar built out of driftwood. So find a shady spot, lay down and drink in that intoxicating salty air.
Trek to Sok San Beach
Trek across the island and through the jungle 90 minutes to Sok San beach. This beach has a few food and drink places, so you can laze there on the beach all day. Watch the sunset then catch the local fishing boat back with all the other backpackers.
Go Scuba Diving
Want to do some awesome diving or snorkelling? This can easily be organised through Koh Rong Dive Centre at Koh Toch pier. PS. If you’re there at the right time of year, you *might* get to see a whale shark!
Where to Stay in Koh Rong
Koh Rong is the type of Island that you don’t really book beforehand. You just rock up there and take a walk along the beach to see which places suit you best. Any places within 600 m of the pier are going to be noisy at night because of the bars, keep this in mind.
Elephant Guesthouse: This is probably the quietest and cleanest of the hotels in Koh Rong main area. The staff are friendly, the place has a nice communal atmosphere AND they have air conditioning! Gasp!
Coconutbeach Bungalows: First thing, this hotel is NOT near the main Koh Toch pier, you will need to take a local fishing boat around the island to get there. However, it will be worth it when you have the whole white-sand beach to yourself, set within a stunning location. Plus their friendly staff will ensure your stay is unforgettable.
With the Locals: I stayed in several places on the small stretch of accommodation. By far the cheapest is any of the local houses to the left of the pier. Just get off the ferry and ask around. But to stay here you must cover up when you go into the area, the locals aren’t cool with anything less than shirts and shorts around their homes.
Koh Rong Food & Drink
Koh Toch Beach Restaurants: There is a lot of great western-style food to be found at any of the popular hostels. The food is good and relatively cheap around here.
Amazing Soup Lady: My favourite eatery was the ridiculously cheap noodle soup shacks that a local woman ran just to the left of the pier. Only $1 USD for a whole delicious bowl of soup, or the same price for a fresh fruit juice next door.
Happy Hour: Drinking alcohol is a different matter since it’s a lot more expensive than eating. Loads of places have happy hours though, so you can get 2 for 1 if you start early. Just look around Koh Toch for the signs.
How to Get to Koh Rong Island
From Sihanoukville: Going from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Island costs roughly $25 return for a fast ferry (there are several different operators) and includes transfers to and from the Ochheuteal (Serendipity) pier in Sihanoukville. Ferries leave every 1-2 hours.
There is also a slow boat that costs $5-$15 return. However, the slow boats are not an official operator and may be more dangerous.
Koh Rong Sanloem: If you plan to head to Koh Rong Sanloem straight after Koh Rong, it is a little bit harder to get between the two than it is from Sihanoukville. Without having to go back to Sihanoukville; one option is to take the slow boat (supply boat) from Koh Toch Pier every day at 8 am. This trip is $5.
Otherwise, you can hire a longtail fishing boat for around $30-$40 one-way. This price is just for the trip, so if you are with more people, you can just split the cost.
KOH RONG SANLOEM
Suggested Stay: 2 days
Koh Rong Sanloem is like a smaller Maldives on a budget. It boasts some of the most spectacular beaches in the whole world! White sand and crystal-clear water galore.
It is said that the accommodations are cheaper and of better quality on this island, as opposed to its sister – Koh Rong Island. Plus there’s literally hardly anyone on Koh Rong Sanloem, so you’ll have ALL the beaches to yourself. I suggest you try both and figure out which one fits your vibe better.
Things to do in Koh Rong Sanloem
There really isn’t that much to do here. No bars, few restaurants. You CAN lay on the beach. All day. Read a book on the beach. Walk to Sunset Beach. Have lunch on the beach. Etc… It’s paradise, and you’re forced to enjoy it!
Go Scuba Diving
Sick of just laying around on the beach? Cambodian Diving Group is based on the island, and you should be able to book them through your hotel.
How about Snorkelling?
Hire a snorkelling mask and fins (or bring your own gear) and ask about the best places to snorkel near you. There are also snorkelling tours that can be organised through your hotel. They take you to a few different bays and inlets around the island.
Koh Rong Samloem Accommodation
Onederz Koh Rong Sanloem: This extremely popular hostel will not only pick you up from the pier on Saracen Bay, but they will also put you in clean rooms with sparkling bathrooms and AC! Backpackers love staying for the friendly community atmosphere (there are loads of places to hang out on the beach) and for the really great dorm prices.
SunBoo Beach Bungalows: Located on its own private beach on Sunset Bay, this is the top rated accommodation in Koh Rong Sanloem. Everything in this hotel is a dream, from the sunbeds and hammocks strewn about, free towels, set in a beautifully wooded paradise. Plus, it’s also on one of the best beaches in Cambodia.
How to get to Koh Rong Sanloem
From Sihanoukville: There are two main areas where your accommodation might be, so make sure you know which one you are headed to. Saracen Bay is a tiny bit more developed than M’phey Bei, but the two are about a 40-minute walk from each other.
All the ferries leave from Sihanoukville going to either Koh Rong, Saracen Bay or M’phey Bei on Koh Rong Sanloem. Trip time is between 35 and 90 minutes depending on how many stops the ferry takes.
From Koh Rong: Getting between Koh Rong Island and Koh Rong Sanloem is not as easy as just getting there. You can take the slow boat (supply boat) from Koh Toch Pier every day at 8 am. The trip is $5.
The supply boat schedule is roughly as follows. It does change though so be sure to check with your hotel. The first supply boat leaves Koh Rong at 8 am, heads to M’phey Bei for 8:30 am then Saracen Bay at 10 am. After that, it goes back to Koh Rong. Another supply boat starts at Saracen Bay at 4 pm, then to M’phey Bei at 5:30 pm and then goes on to Koh Rong Island.
Otherwise, you can hire a longtail fishing boat for around $30-$40 one-way. This price is just for the trip, so if you are with more people, you can split the cost.
KAMPOT AND KEP
Suggested Stay: 2-3 days
Kampot is a lush pepper plantation town at the foot of the Elephant Mountains. It is set on the edge of the Kampot River which you can swim in, kayak on or have sunset cocktails beside. Despite its shabby exterior, Kampot is a surprisingly beautiful town build up by a mix of French Colonial and Chinese architecture.
Kep is a small, sleepy coastal town famous for its delicious crab dishes. Formerly popular by the French as a resort getaway, Kep’s popularity was shattered by the Khmer Rouge. The small town is starting to make a comeback now, though, and you should definitely add Kep to your list of places to visit in Cambodia.
I have Kampot and Kep together since it is only a 40-minute drive between the two. Most people backpacking Cambodia stay in Kampot accommodation, but do day trips to visit Kep.
Things to Do in Kampot & Kep
Motorbike to Bokor National Park
Hire a motorbike and drive to the mountaintop of Bokor National Park. Sit on the edge of the mountain to sip wine and admire the spectacular view all the way to the ocean. Be sure to check out the abandoned church and casino and Bokor Hill Station while you’re there.
Tour the Pepper Plantations
Do a tuk-tuk day tour of the pepper plantations and beautiful areas that surround Kampot and Kep. On this tour, you will discover rice paddies, Phnom Chhnork cave temple and the driver will also take you to eat pepper crab in Kep.
Explore Kep River
If you are staying on Kampot River, there’s a good chance your hotel can hire you a canoe or paddleboard to explore the river. Do this just before sunset for dramatic mountain reflections in the calm waters of the river.
Toek Vil Pagoda
I don’t know why this temple isn’t more popular. When we went there was not a tourist in sight! Only a few giddy Buddhist children peering at us from the doorway. The outside and inside are both dazzling and delicate. A great place to explore and take a few pictures.
Where to Stay in Kampot
Most backpackers opt to stay out of the town centre, instead, staying next to the Kampot River. It will be easy for you to organise tours through your hotel, the tuk-tuk drivers will come to pick you up from your doorstep.
Ganesha: We were highly recommended to stay here and it was absolutely amazing! Settled right on a river just out of town it has waterfront bungalows and tree houses to choose from. We hired their canoe for $5 and took it out on the Kampot River – it was magical!
Samon Village: These rustic jungle bungalows are just heavenly! I visited this place when a friend was staying there and fell in love with it. The common area juts out over the river, there are swimming spots and a very cool bunch of people staying there, it is the ideal backpacker’s hostel in Kampot.
Kampot Night Market: Cheap and delicious local eats in Kampot. This night market can be found next to the Durian Round-a-bout.
Kampot Pepper Crab: If you’re heading to Kep, the Kampot pepper crab from one of the shacks by the water is a must try. Any of them will be fresh, tasty and cheap! You will be taken to these shacks on the Tuk Tuk tour I talked about above.
Hammocks on Kep Beach: There are also cool hammock restaurants in front of Kep Beach where you can order food to be cooked fresh and delivered to your hammock in the shade. Perfection.
How to Get To Kampot (or Vietnam)
From Sihanoukville: The most cost-effective way are the vans that run between Kampot and Sihanoukville. They can be booked at any tour office and cost $5 for the 2-hour trip. If you have a lot of luggage, consider taking a private taxi for about $35 USD.
From Phnom Penh: There is actually a train that runs between Phnom Penh and Kampot. The trip takes 4-5 hours and costs $6 USD. Buy tickets at the train station.
Vietnam Border: You can get between Kampot and the Vietnam border (Ha Tien) in a tourist van for about $8 USD. The journey takes about 2 hours and is 56 km from Ha Tien to Kampot.
Once you have crossed the Cambodian border, you can book buses on the Vietnamese side that will take you to Ho Chi Minh City overnight. It’s an incredibly easy process. Plan the timing so that you don’t have to wait too long for the overnight bus to Ho Chi Minh City.
Kampot to Ho Chi Minh Direct: From your accommodation in Kampot you can also book direct buses to Ho Chi Minh. This will include transport to the border, a guide to help you through the immigration process and another bus on the Vietnam side. The price is about $17 USD for the entire journey.
BEST TIME OF YEAR TO GO TO CAMBODIA
Cambodia is blessed with year-round heat, marked by a wet and dry season. Most people travel to Cambodia during the dry season from November to March. This means increased tourists and busier sights.
🌦 Wet Season
Wet season (from May to October) is referred to locally as the green season. It usually entails just a brief but strong downpour in the afternoons, leaving the rest of the day with sunshine and warmth. This means there is ample time during the day to enjoy sightseeing, you will just need to take a rain jacket or an umbrella for the expected cloudburst.
The wet season, in my opinion, is the best time of year to go to Cambodia. It is the least busy, meaning you’ll often get the tourist sights all to yourself. I did Angkor Wat in the wet season and I particularly loved the photo opportunities produced by the rain. The sparkling water splashed over these impressive temples made for a seriously majestic sight to behold.
☀ Dry Season
Dry season (November to April) has less rainfall, but the humidity is still strong, averaging at around 74%. This is the busiest time of year to travel, meaning temples and other sights can become overcrowded. April to May is the hottest time of year, with temperatures reaching upwards of 40℃ (104℉).
Due to the absence of rainfall, this is the best time of year for scuba divers and beach-lovers because the water is clearer. If the oceans around Cambodia is your main priority, the dry season is ideal.
TRANSPORT AROUND CAMBODIA
Flights domestically within Cambodia are expectedly cheap. If you hate days wasted on road transport or are on a tight schedule, be sure to check the prices of flying between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. You may be pleasantly surprised!
If you don’t mind catching up on some sleep and want to save the money, both buses and tourist vans run between towns and cities frequently. Most routes (even the ones crossing the country) you will pay less than $20 USD. Tourist vans are significantly faster than buses. But after a harrowing trip in one of the vans, I reserved to taking only the slow buses around Cambodia thereafter.
Alternatively, look into buying a motorbike to get around Cambodia; it would definitely be a life-affirming experience driving around this country solo.
Under each section. I explain the best way to get in and out of the city or town, and how often the transport runs.
MY CAMBODIA BUDGET BREAKDOWN
Want to know how much it costs to travel Cambodia for 2 weeks? The following is my daily budget average in each town or city. Just take those numbers (add a little because I was a super budget Cambodia backpacker) and apply them to your own Cambodia itinerary. Easy!
|PLACE||Daily Average in USD|
|Kampot & Kep||$33.83|
|TOTAL Daily Average||$24.74|
I hope this post has helped you build your own Cambodia itinerary and that you are now excited about travelling or backpacking Cambodia. If you have any questions or need help – feel free to ask in the comments below!
Where will you go in Cambodia? Comment Below.
Originally Posted: February 2016. Frequently Updated.
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