Cambodia is one of those mysterious, intriguing countries that seem to have a bit of everything going for it. Not only does it have the world’s number one tourist attraction (according to Trip Advisor voters), beautiful beaches, friendly people, and delicious cuisine, it also has an energetic and intriguing culture despite its dark past.
- Watch the sunrise over the magnificent Angkor Wat
- Pretend to be Lara Croft amongst the ruins at Ta Phrom
- Try a deep fried spider (a Cambodian delicacy!)
- Drink snake blood whisky with the locals
- Count the different types of tropical fish you spot while snorkelling
- Swim with bioluminescent plankton at midnight
- See fireflies dancing along the Preaek Tuek Chhu River
- Learn about the cultural impact of the horrific Khmer Rouge regime
- Make a new friend over brightly coloured cocktails and EDM on Pub Street
Day 1: Siem Reap
As soon as you arrive in Cambodia you’ll be itching to get to the world’s number one tourist attraction: Angkor Wat! So why not hit it first? Start this trip as you mean to carry on – awesome!
Get up early and get to the Angkor UNESCO Park for sunrise! Seeing the sunrise against the silhouette of Angkor Wat is magical. Take the chance to look around in the morning before it gets too hot. The whole complex is massive and you can’t see it all in a day, but make sure you don’t miss Ta Phrom temple, made famous in the movie Tomb Raider, and The Bayon with the giant stone faces.
You’ll probably be quite knackered after a full day playing Lara Croft, so a great evening option is dinner and a circus performance at the unforgettably unique Phare Circus. This isn’t your regular old circus either; this circus tells the story of Cambodia’s history through acrobatics and dance and was created by a locally run non-profit troupe that provides disadvantaged young people from the community with the skills needed to be a professional performing artist. The uplifting energy from the show might give you a second wind, so if you fancy a night cap, head down Pub Street for cocktails and frivolity!
Day 2: Cambodian Village Stay
There’s no better way to get to know the local people than by staying in a family home, learning about their way of life and customs, and playing games with the local kids – you just can’t beat it! Stray Asia exclusively visits a remote village near Battambang. You’ll be able to immerse yourself in this rural community by sitting in on a lesson at the local school and helping the kids with their English lessons. You’ll also enjoy a delicious traditional meal and be offered the local evening drink, home brew whiskey with snake blood! Eek! Try everything once they say…who knows, you may like it! It’s truly a unique and special experience staying overnight with your host family in their home.
Day 3: Travel to Sihanoukville
It takes almost a full day to travel from the Battambang countryside to the popular seaside town of Sihanoukville on the Cambodian coast. Stop en-route to visit the floating markets in the bustling riverside town of Kompong Chhnang. When you arrive in Sihanoukville, after a long day on the road, you’ll want to run straight into the water for refreshing swim, then find the best looking seafood restaurant for a delicious seafood barbeque dinner on the beach!
Day 4: Koh Rong Samloem
After breakfast at one of the beachfront restaurants, head over to the harbour to get a ticket to the beautiful, chilled out island of Koh Rong Samloem. The water is a dazzling blue against the white sand. Enjoy the peace and tranquillity – this is what a holiday is all about! As the sun lowers onto the horizon, find a little bar on the beach for a sun downer and dinner. Around midnight, head down to the beach in the pitch black and paddle in the water, if you’re lucky, thousands of teeny, tiny bioluminescent plankton will light up around your feet! If you’re feeling cheeky, go skinny dipping! You’ll feel like Tinkerbell emitting fairy dust!
Day 5: Koh Rong Samloem, return to Sihanoukville
Head out on a snorkelling trip to see how many types of tropical fish you can spot, or go for a morning hike to Clear Water Bay (about 2 hours return). Enjoy the day at the beach on Koh Rong Samloem before heading back in Sihanoukville early in the evening. You could get a massage or a mani/pedi at one of the reasonably priced spas, enjoy a few beers on the beach or head to Ochheuteal Beach to party with the rest of the backpacker crowd.
Day 6: Kampot
Kampot is a quaint little riverside town in Cambodia, just three hours from Sihanoukville. It’s famous for its salt and pepper production and hiking in Bokor National Park. Head up Bokor Hill for amazing views of the city and ocean below; you can also hike to a beautiful waterfall and see the abandoned relics of an old church and casino that were once occupied by the Khmer Rouge. Tonight, make sure you sample some of Kampot’s famous pepper sauce on your dinner then board a river boat to top off your day with a sunset cruise and watch the sky go technicolour over the Preaek Tuek Chhu River. As it gets dark, see if you can spot some fireflies dancing over the water!
Day 7: Phnom Penh
Cambodia’s capital city is an important place to visit to learn more about Cambodia and its recent harrowing history. The terrible story of the Khmer Rouge is bought to life at the Killing Fields and the S-21 Prison. It’s hard to even imagine the kind of atrocities that went on so recently when you can see how determined the Cambodian people are to progress and develop their country. They seem to be endlessly smiling – a real inspiration to anyone who visits! After visiting these important sites you might feel a bit subdued, so it’s a good time to wander along the riverside, mingle with the locals and watch the sunset on the Mekong River.
From Phnom Penh you can return to Siem Reap for one last memorable night out on Pub Street before connecting to Bangkok (Thailand), or opt to continue from Phnom Penh on to Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam).
Want to spend the week travelling in Cambodia with a local Cambodian Guide and other like-minded backpackers? Stray Asia offers hop-on, hop-off travel passes and flexible tours for adventurous travellers. Our travel mantra is to ‘get further off the beaten track’, explore unique and remote destinations and get immersed in local culture. Come Stray Cambodia with us!