Lucy's trip: Backpacking in Cambodia
I started in Siem Reap for a couple of days before heading to Battambang, and then onto Phnom Penh. I then made my way south via Kampot to Koh Rong Sanloem. It was a total for 2 weeks and I spent on average 3 or 4 nights in each place (this trip is more recent). This route is the one most travellers do as everyone loves to finish at the beach.
Highlights included Angkor Wat at sunrise, the history of Battambang, Kampot and Koh Rong Sanloem generally.
Something which stuck out to me and is a very important experience is the S21 Genocide Museum and Killing Fields in Phnom Penh. It is worth doing some research on the Khmer Rouge before you visit so you have some context and you vaguely know what you’re getting yourself into. It was only the 1970s and particularly barbaric, and the people I met really struggled with it.
Where to stay?
Small hotels, usually booked through HostelWorld and the like. Someone I met used booking.com which gave her discounts as she was travelling so long – all the same places are shown at around the same price.
I preferred the quieter ones and the following I loved:
Phnom Penh – Swoon Boutique (double bunk beds!)
Battambang – THE PLACE Hostel & Rooftop Bar (modern and great view with cheap drinks)
Kampot – The Plantation (great bar and awesome owner, really friendly + some free drinks)
Koh Rong Sanloem – Onederz (chilled vibe, perfect beach, and next to great bar – awesome fresh fish BBQ each night)
Nights cost between $6 and $12 per night, depending on what you want to be included.
We pre-booked most things as no one comes to meet you off the bus anymore.
Where to eat & drink?
Waterfront in Phnom Penh there are a few great bars – views are great in the evening when it gets busy. Any of the chilled bars on Koh Rong Sanloem. Again, I didn’t research as I prefer the chilled vibe.
A $5 boat ride in Kampot. Captain Chim’s Guesthouse runs a boat trip at sunset too look for fireflies. You get a can of beer on the boat but that’s it, and if we had known we would’ve brought more with us. The boat is basic and the Captain doesn’t speak but you don’t need it. You head out as the fishing boats come in and it is almost like going into Borneo – it is remote and the scenery is truly incredible. You need to see it to understand.
They deal in USD, but you might get change in the form of Cambodian Riel but you will only get USD from the ATMs. Again, it was be in $100 or $50 notes to break them at your hostel or the a/c supermarkets.
Most places take cards these days but do have cash for the more remote places such as the islands and in case the electricity is down.