9 Day Itinerary: Cambodia

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Bordered by Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, Cambodia is a firm favourite on the South East Asian backpacker route. With cheap, frequent bus services and affordable hostels, Cambodia is easy for travellers to visit. It's a country rich in culture with plenty of history to learn about, and Cambodian beaches and islands could easily rival those of Southern Thailand. If that wasn't enough, it's also home to the eighth wonder of the world - Angkor Wat

It would be impossible to explore an entire country in the space of one month, let alone nine days. However, this itinerary covers most of the highlights including the temples of Angkor, the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, Sihanoukville and Koh Rong Sanloem island. It starts in Siem Reap and finishes off in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.




Siem Reap & Angkor Wat (2 Nights)
Just like a trip to China would be incomplete without visiting The Great Wall, you can't go to Cambodia without exploring the Temples of Angkor. Angkor Wat is the eighth wonder of the world, and the world's most visited UNESCO World Heritage Site. To visit the complex it's best to stay in Siem Reap for a couple of nights. Siem Reap is a popular base town for visitors that's around a twenty minute tuk-tuk journey from the site.

To read more you should check out: Visiting The Temples of Angkor In Cambodia!

However, there's more to Siem Reap than just Angkor Wat, so spend one day exploring the temples and another day in the town itself. We did a cooking class that we really enjoyed and ate some incredible food. We also had $1 foot massages, explored the night market, and experienced Pub Street (a well-known street in Siem Reap for its restaurants, pubs and bars).

You might like: 6 Things To See And Do In Siem Reap Besides Angkor Wat





Phnom Penh (2 Nights)
After spending time in Siem Reap, catch a bus to Phnom Penh - the capital of Cambodia. The buses are frequent and the journey between the two cities only takes a few hours. For me personally, Phnom Penh wasn't my favourite place we visited throughout our trip. However, it's worth spending half a day exploring the Royal Palace, the Royal Palace Park, and taking a walk along the Tonle Sap River.

The best thing I did whilst in Phnom Penh was learn about the tragic history of Cambodia by visiting the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. I must say now though that these places aren't easy to visit. Much like visiting Auschwitz in Poland, it's impossible to comprehend what happened here in Cambodia, and these places are where truly horrific acts of violence took place.

Between 1975-1979 the Khmer Rouge Regime led by a man called Pol Pot killed approximately 25% of the population through the use of mass executions and torture. The regime forced people out of their urban homes and eventually killed anyone with connections to the former government, and almost everyone with an education. If they killed one member of a family, they would kill everyone else in the family so as to avoid any attempt of revenge.

We first visited the Killing Field of Choeung Ek where thousands of people were horrifically killed. The dead were buried in mass graves, many of which still haven't been excavated today. It's not uncommon to see bones and remains of clothes after heavy rainfall, which I can only imagine must be incredibly upsetting to see.

After visiting here we moved onto the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum which used to be the S-21 Prison Camp. This is just one of the prisons used by Pol Pot to torture prisoners before they were sent to the killing fields for execution. This museum was particularly hard to visit as there are graphic images of what happened to prisoners as they were beaten into confessions.

After visiting the museum we made no plans for the remainder of the day. This was mostly because it was so upsetting that such an awful event had happened in the world which we originally knew very little about.




Sihanoukville (1 Night)
Catch a bus in the morning from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, the base town for visiting Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem islands. We only spent one night here before getting on a boat to Koh Rong Sanloem island, but this still gave us enough time to have an afternoon of swimming and relaxing by the pool. Besides having some pool time, we visited Ou Chheuteal Beach (the closest beach to our hostel) for some pre-dinner drinks and a walk whilst the sun was setting.

We stayed at the Monkey Republic Hostel in a private double room with its own bathroom. The hostel had its own pool for guests and a great bar area. Upstairs it also had a quieter area with comfy sofas where you could play card games and watch movies.



Koh Rong Sanloem Island (3 Nights)
There are two main islands that travellers visit from Sihanoukville - Koh Rong Island and Koh Rong Sanloem Island. The former is the largest and most popular island of the two, whereas the latter is less developed and more tranquil. Although it took us two boat journeys, rather than just the one, we opted for the smaller island Koh Rong Sanloem. The island is beautiful and serene, and I would highly recommend visiting here.

Although there are companies that offer scuba diving and kayaking, there aren't many organised activities on the island. Instead we opted for reading books, sunbathing and playing cards. We often found ourselves having the entire beach to ourselves which was amazing. I can't imagine you'd find many beaches to yourself in Thailand anymore!

For somewhere to eat, head to The Fishing Hook Restaurant on the Community Port pier. Most nights they offer an all-you-can-eat buffet for around $6 each, and any leftovers go to the people on the island that can't afford food. The food was so good we visited two nights in a row!



Back to Phnom Penh (1 day)
It would be cheating if I didn't include the time we spent travelling back to Phnom Penh before heading on to our next country. Give yourself a day to travel back to Sihanoukville and then catch a bus to Phnom Penh. There are many travel agencies at the port in Sihanoukville where you can book a bus for the exact same day. In fact, we only spent half an hour between getting off the boat from Koh Rong Sanloem and getting on a bus back to the capital.

Going Elsewhere In South East Asia?
From Phnom Penh you can get a bus to Ho Chi Minh City, the capital of Vietnam. Phnom Penh also has a large international airport so it's easy to fly to other South East Asian countries. We opted to catch a short flight to Kuala Lumpur where we spent a week exploring Peninsular Malaysia.

You Might Like: Three Days In Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

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