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HomeTravel InsuranceA budget friendly destination full of rich history & great food Worldwide Insure

A budget friendly destination full of rich history & great food Worldwide Insure

If you’re looking for a travel destination that has beautiful landscape, nature and rich history without the heavy influx of tourists, then Cambodia is a must-see. Here’s how one traveller explored Cambodia’s lively cities and natural landscapes. 

Royal Palace Cambodia Image © Simran Kabotra

Cambodia – where to stay and why

In Cambodia’s second-largest city, Siem Reap, I stayed at Den Hotel Totonou. I picked this place because I wanted to be close to the main centre such as Pub Street but still be relatively quiet.

In Cambodia’s capital city, Phonm Penh, I stayed at Blue Sky Guest House. This hotel was in a perfect central location at an affordable price. It was near lots of restaurants, museums and night markets.

On one of Cambodia’s islands, Koh Rong Sanloem,  I stayed at Lucky Sun Hostel on Saracen Bay. This was a spot that was in a great location with picturesque blue ocean views and pearly white sand. There are some more sociable hostels on Saracen Bay that were geared towards a younger crowd. But I opted for Lucky Sun as it was away from all the noise if you wanted to sleep but not too far if you did want to join in on the drinking and socialising.

Things to do in Cambodia

In Siem Reap:

Angkor Wat –  the largest religious structure in the world. I did a one-day sunset tour. Depending on your preference, you might want to do a 2 to 4 day tour. One day was enough for me to see the main temples and still appreciate the size and significance of the complex.

Made In Cambodia Market – where all products are made in Cambodia by talented Cambodians. There are some high quality souvenirs available such as jewellery, clothes, paintings and more. It’s a small market but if you’d like to help the local people, this is a great way to do that.

Angkor Wat Image

Angkor Wat Image © Simran Kabotra

In Phnom Penh:

Sosoro Museum – a museum of Cambodia’s currency and economy. This was one of the most informative museums I’ve ever visited about a country’s economy, history, politics and religion. There is no need for an audio guide or tour as all the information boards are so detailed and the videos provide further context. There are two floors which you can complete in 2 to 5 hours, depending on how much information you want to absorb. The bottom floor is the most interesting as it tells you about the political turmoil of the 1970s and the Pol Pot regime. At the end of the museum, there is an opportunity to create your own banknote with your own face which can be printed (for a small fee) for you to take home. Entry to the museum will cost about £4.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prision) & Killing Fields. Whilst incredibly emotional and shocking, the museum and killing fields reveal Cambodia’s tragic history and its dedication to remembering the victims. I did a guided tour of the museum and killing fields where you learn about the Pol Pot regime and how it tortured and killed intellectuals and  ‘enemies’ of the regime. Whilst on the tour, you get to meet some survivors and the books they’ve written.

Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda – which is still used as a place of residence for the Cambodian royal family. I recommend doing a tour as it provides context for the beautiful grounds and history. You can find a tour guide in a blue shirt as you enter the palace, it’ll cost around £8 for an hour tour. Inside the Silver Pagoda you can see the emerald buddha and silver plated floors. Entry to the palace and Silver Pagoda will cost around £8.

On Koh Rong Sanloem:

Enjoy the beaches – Saracen Bay, Lazy beach & Sunset beach. There are 3 main beaches on Koh Rong Sanloem and they’re all slightly different from each other.

  • Saracen Bay – lovely white sand and blue ocean water. A relaxing beach with lots of restaurants and hostels. A great bonus is petting the hostel’s dog, Jenny, who loves a good tummy rub!
  • Lazy beach – soft brown sand and crystal clear water. A very quiet beach with only huts for accommodation but no other shops or restaurants.
  • Sunset beach – soft brown sand and clear blue water. A perfect balance between hostels and picturesque views. This is a great spot to see the sunset glowing orange and if you want to be slightly secluded.

Day trip out to snorkel and see bioluminescent plankton. A fun activity on the island is to snorkel, fish and see bioluminescent plankton. If you’ve snorkelled at the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, then you’ve already seen the best. On Koh Rong Sanloem, the fishes aren’t as vibrant and there aren’t many of them but there are still lots of coral to see. If you haven’t snorkelled before, this would be a great starting place.

What I loved (and didn’t love) about Cambodia

I loved how delicious and accessible vegetarian food was in Cambodia. Everything had a tofu or vegetable alternative and it was so delicious. My favourite food in Cambodia was the Khmer vegetable curry – a must try!

Of all the things not to love I guess this is pretty minor, but browsing at shops is a slightly suffocating experience. Prepare to be closely followed and told about the things you’re looking at whether you want the information or not! Maybe some people would find it attentive, but I found it pushy and uncomfortable.

Beaded vurtain on beach in Cambidoa sea views

Lucky Sun Hostel Image © Simran Kabotra

Top tips for visiting Cambodia

  • Bring US Dollars.  A lot of businesses and shops take US dollars rather than the Cambodian currency, Riels. You will get some change in Riels so it’s best to take a mix of US Dollars and Riels but have more US Dollars on hand.
  • Use the GRAB app for tuktuks. This is a safe way to get around in Cambodia as your location will be tracked and you won’t be overcharged.
  • Bring mosquito repellent equipment, lotions & sprays.I had very bad reactions to the mosquitos in Cambodia.
  • Get travel insurance. Knowing help is at hand if something goes wrong so far away from home is peace of mind worth every penny!

Would I go to Cambodia again?

Absolutely! There is so much to see! I would love to visit the north of Cambodia for its waterfalls and forests. I would also love to go to Koh Rong Sanloem and stay at sunset beach and also visit another island – Koh Rong. I felt very safe in this country and the people were lovely.

Travel Writer Bio

Simran Kabotra is a writer, avid reader & crocheter who loves travel. She is currently travelling across Southeast Asia, searching low and high for new adventures, beautiful landscapes and rich history.   

Big golden dog on beach in Cambodia

Jenny, Hostel Dog Image © Simran Kabotra

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