I know I’ve not been active as I promised I would be. It’s been a busy month, and November started on a high note.Me and my boyfriend have been in a long distance relationship for over a year now and we had finally decided to meet up after 7 months of being apart. Since I didn’t have a job and I didn’t have a cash inflow, we decided to go to Cambodia(read cheap).My budget for the whole trip was around 60000 Rs, and fortunately we were able to stay within the budget.Here is how we planned our trip.
Flights and Visa
Our flights were booked 3 months in advance, and were booked separately. He was flying in from Paris,France and I was flying from Bangalore India.The flight from Bangalore to Phnom penh cost me about 220000 Rs. Once that was settled, I got my visa from https://www.evisa.gov.kh/ and the process was super simple, and cost be around 3200 Rs.On landing at the airport,all you have to do is show your e-visa along with your passport and voila, you’re in!
So here’s the deal. We didn’t really plan our trip or have a strict itinerary in mind.The idea was to just go with the flow. The only thing pre booked was our stay for 2 nights at PP. So, on arriving at the airport, we got a local sim for 15 dollars, and then got us a cab( I still had some dollars remaining from my US trip). The cab from the airport to our hotel cost us 12$.
We had booked the okay boutique hotel at PP(33 $ per night). The location is pretty ideal, and was at a walking distance to the royal palace, central market and the riverside. We didn’t have a lot planned the first day, so we just explored the central market(Ben got his currency exchanged), and then had dinner at the riverside.The plan for the next day was to visit the S21 and the killing field museum.We got a half day trip planned courtesy our hotel for about 16$( not inclusive of the entry fee).
We started by visiting the Choeung Ek Genocidal center. On entering, this is the first thing you see.Majestic, isn’t it. I would highly recommend taking the audio tour. The visit was a humbling experience as well as an emotional one and one that should not be missed.
Once we were done with the tour, we headed back to our hotel so as to plan our next destination. But before you leave, make sure you visit the Foreign correspondents club or FCC. Yes, it’s expensive, but we loved the place and the ambiance.
Day 3- Kratie
Ben was hell bent on dolphin watching, so the next thing we did was to catch a bus to Kratie. Again, we booked this from the hotel. We got a Sorya bus at around 7 in the morning, and reached kratie by around 3pm.(cost us 20$) We had booked a hostel the previous night, and I don”t remember the precise name(i think it was dolphin hostel) but boy, it was awful. The rooms, the halls all smelled of toilet water, and the it cost us around 18$. Fortunately, we had booked only for a night,so the plan was to check out as soon as possible once we were done with the dolphin watching.
The next morning, we first went for a trek in the mountainous area with a temple nearby and then headed out to watch the dolphins.Was it worth it? Heck yes! It was fabulous to watch the dolphins in their natural habitat without humans feeding them.
Once that was done, we checked out and headed over to Le Tonle Guesthouse.It was slightly more expensive but the rooms were clean, and comfy and the food was to die for.Don’t forget to try out their Amok!
Day 5-Off to Siem Reap
There isn’t a direct bus to Siem Reap, so we took a bus till Kampong Chang and then took a connecting bus to Siem Reap. The bus ride was arduous and long, and by the time we reached the hotel, it was around 7pm. We had booked 3 nights at the Angkor Orchid Central Hotel. Once again, the location was ideal, and was extremely close to the night market. Since we didn’t have a lot of time, all we did have dinner and call it a night. The temples were beckoning us for an early start next day.
Day 6-Temple Hop and Insect Eating time!
It was finally time to visit the one thing that Cambodia was most famous for. The temples. In order to visit the temples, you have to head to the ticket center first, and get your tickets. You can choose between 1 day ticket, 3 day ticket and a 7 day ticket. We chose a 3 day ticket simply because a two day ticket didn’t exist. It cost us 40$ per person.The temple tours start from 5am and end at 5pm. Once we had our tickets, we headed over to the first stop, which was the most famous Angkor Wat temple.Guides are available for hire at the spot, but we decided to go ahead without a guide.The day was hot and just after an hour we were covered in grime and sweat.Few of the complexes we visited that stood out were Pre Rup, and Preah Khan. The sight of the gigantic tree roots growing through the ruins is definitely a sight that is both stunning and mind boggling and was quite unlike anything we had seen before.
One word of advice:The temple visits can get difficult in bad weather since there is a lot of climbing to do, and by 5pm, we were dead beat. However, ben wanted to hire a bike for the next day, so we walked around and finally managed to rent a bike. (you have t submit your passport in order to rent a bike)
After this we took a break and then headed out to the Siem Reap market to find a cafe where we could try out some bugs. Yes, you heard me right. Bugs! I never thought I’d say this, but it was delicious!! Definitely a must try. The night market is bustling with activity, and pubs are open till late at night. I loved the vibe of the place, and it definitely is a great place to let your hair down.
Day 7: Sunrise at Angkor Wat
I had heard a lot about the sunrise at Angkor Wat, so we decided to wake up at 4am, pack a breakfast, and ride on our rented bike to the complex once again. If you think, you’d be the only one there, well, you are wrong. The place is as packed at 5am as it is at any other time. The key of course is to try and find a good spot to click pics of the sunrise. Unfortunately, lady luck wasn’t on our side, and by 6am the skies were dark and chances of catching a sunrise were bleak.We were pretty disappointed but we still had some temples left to see.
My favorite temple I think had to be Ta Prohm( tomb raider temple). The sounds of the birds chirping, the gigantic trees among st the ruins along with the wet weather gave the temple an amazing feel. One that I am not going to forget for a while. Day two was a bit of a dampner with the rains playing spoil sport, so we ended the temple tour at about 3pm, and headed back to our hotel to return the bike, and to decide the next part of our journey.
Day 8: A visit to the floating village-Kampong Phluk
We had heard quite a lot about the floating villages in Cambodia. As far as I know, there are 3 floating villages. We decided we would go to Kampong Phluk.The tour costs about 18$(per person)and includes pickup and drop. A mini van came and picked us from our hotel by 2 and we reached the entry place by around 2.40. From there, you get into a boat that takes you into the floating village.
Its a 3 hour tour that takes you around the entire village, and then stops for sometime for tea. You can choose to take a small boat and row during this time, if you would like.After this, they stop again for the sunset.
Once we were done with the tour, we headed back quickly as we had a night bus to catch for our next destination. Sihanoukville!
Day 9,10,11-Koh Rong
We reached Sihanoukville by around 5am, and then took bikes that took us to the ferry area. We got tickets from speed ferry cambodia for 10 $(per person). The ferrys leave at 3 times during the day, 9am, 12pm and 3 p,. While we waited to catch the 9am ferry, we had breakfast at Walk Coffee Shop. Word of advice-Please avoid at all costs!
Now one thing to note about Koh rong is that the island does not have any ATMs or hospitals so before you go there, make sure you have withdrawn sufficient money at Sihanoukville.
The speed boat takes around 45 mins to reach the pier. The first thing you do notice is that the beach is dotted with hostels and pubs. Koh rong is still under the process of development, so don’t be surprised if your wake up call in the morning is to the sound of construction drills.
We had booked rooms at the white rose guesthouse and proceeded to walk there. It cost us 28$ for 3 nights. The rooms were horrendous and the toilets were even worse, but like I said, Koh rong isn’t too developed and most of the hostels here are pretty terrible. Of course there are a few expensive ones but around the range of 30$ per night and trust me when I say this.Even those rooms are basic.
Anyhow, the next three days were spent exploring koh touch, 4k beach and long beach. We also did a plankton tour on day 3, which includes, fishing, barbecue on the boat, watching the sunset, snorkeling, followed by looking at the plankton. The tour starts at around 1pm, and end at around 7 pm and is definitely a must do.Also, make sure you try out Da Matti for some authentic Italian treats.
Tip: Before you head back to Sihanoukville, make sure you get the ferry ticket stamped a day in advance, so that you are guaranteed a seat.
Day 12,13-Back to Phnom Pehn
By day 12, we had the sinking realization that our trip was coming to an end, and the rest of the days were spent together not doing much.Cambodia is definitely an amazing place to be, and the two weeks I spent with my boyfriend were amazing in every way with a few ups and downs of course.
He is back to Paris now and I’m back to Bangalore, and I can’t stop imagining where our next trip will take us. If you have any suggestions, do let me know. I’d love to hear from you!
Beer costs around 1 $ here.
Make sure you dress modestly at the temples