Cambodia

Cambodia, Travel

5 Reasons Why Cambodia Should Be On Your Bucket List


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Ever wonder what is there really to see in Cambodia? Cambodia gets less spotlight as compared to its neighbours. Whenever people mention they are going to Cambodia, we think that they must be heading to build some houses or doing volunteer work. But this is not the case, there are plenty to explore around Cambodia. It was my first destination for my backpacking trip this summer and I really love it. Here’s 5 reasons from me for you to plan a trip to Cambodia.

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1) Angkor Wat

An UNESCO World Heritage site, Angkor Wat is one of the main attractions of Cambodia. It is located close to the city of Siem Reap. This larger than life complex attracts people from all over the world. Like many ancient sites across the globe, Angkor Wat has its own mystifying allure. The most famous temple complex other than Angkor Wat itself will be the Ta Prohm where the blockbuster ” Tomb Raider ” was filmed at. Ta Prohm is one of my favorite, it is simply a sight to see an ancient temple overrun with trees in the most classical manner. The entire Angkor complex is so vast that you need days to explore the temples, making it the largest religious structure in the world. It’s reputation as one of the 7th Wonder of the World needs no further explanation on the wow factor. While you are in Siem Reap, check out the Pub Street and Night Market for some nightlife entertainment.

P1040917Sunrise at Angkor Wat is one of the must-do

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P1050092Ta Prohm

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2) Koh Rong Islands

Free of paved roads and ATMs, the Koh Rong Islands are the hidden gems of Cambodia beach getaway. Still a backpackers’ spot, they are located 45 minutes via fast ferry from the coast of Sihanouukville . The turquoise waters and white sandy beaches does not need any kind of filter to make your freshly taken pictures look good on Instagram, yes that’s how perfect they are. Development on the islands are speeding up around the corner, plan your visit before the tourism factor sets in. Years ago, travelers flock to Sihanoukville for the beaches but my recent visit there has been disappointing, especially on the main beaches. Thanks to the Koh Rong Islands, Sihanoukville still retains part of its charm. It can be the next big thing in 5 years, till then you can tell your friends that you have visited those paradises in its untouched state.

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P105014310 of these fresh catches for USD 4!

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3) Khmer History

There are no better ways to learn about the history of Cambodia than doing a visit personally. Similar to the Vietnam War, Cambodia has its own share of tragic past due to the Khmer Rouge period in the 1970s. It is one of the main causes of poverty that still plagues Cambodia today. A visit to the Killing Fields can shed some light into what happen during the past. There are cabinets filled with skulls and bones unearthed from the mass graves during the Khmer Rouge period. There are many temples and palaces in Cambodia, check out the Golden Palace located in Phnom Penh to complete your history excursion of Cambodia.

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P1040812Riverside at Phnom Penh

4) Affordability

If you think the standard of living in Thailand is cheap, which is true compared to western standards, Cambodia will be even more gentle to your pockets. Ranging from USD 2 dorms to USD 0.5 draft Angkor beer to USD 1 street food, it is a budget traveler’s paradise. You do not need to think twice before getting a second serving because it is cheap, so eat to your fill. There are no public transport in Cambodia, you can get a motorbike or TukTuk to bring you to places for very reasonable prices. If you are in Phnom Penh, head over to Russian Market or Central Market for shopping. I got offered USD 6 for the signature backpacker pants with elephant prints which I brought it down to USD 2 later. Remember to haggle wherever you go because it is a barter economy in Cambodia.

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5) Food

You will never get enough of Pad Thai or Pho, these are well-known delicious Asian cuisine worldwide. You walk into a Thai restaurant in California, order a plate of Pad Thai and it costs USD 10, ouch! Have it in Bangkok and you can get it for a quarter of that price and it is truly authentic. Although Cambodian food does not have that much of a reach across oceans, I found out that they are equally tasty and special. There are nowhere to taste local food than in Cambodia itself. I was surprised that I have never heard of some of the local Cambodian food despite being totally delicious. My favorite is the Chicken Amok which I really like about its pandan leaves aroma and rich onions taste. Make a trip to Cambodia and have your own share of local food. Give yourself and the dish an opportunity to love one another.

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P1040869Chicken Amok

P1040872Fried crickets. Yes, this is local food too!

Have you decide to travel to Cambodia? I hope you do!

Cambodia, Travel

Koh Rong Islands, Cambodia’s Paradise Off The Coast of Sihanoukville


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Located 25 kilometers of the coast of Sihanoukville lies the two beautiful Koh Rong Islands, the main Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. The French “Survivor” television program Koh Lanta was filmed on Koh Rong, near Soksan village in 2012.. It is largely undeveloped, armed with pristine white beaches and turquoise water, it could be the next big thing in the next 5 years. I have asked Cambodians where are their favorite beach destinations, almost all of them answered Koh Rong Islands. Like I always say, as long as there are no ATMs and foreign fast food chains like Macdonalds around, it is not a touristy hot spot. We have seen Bali in Indonesia being over developed, Boracay in Philippines being very popular among the Koreans right now. Read my post about Boracay here.

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P1050154Main road near the jetty area

Getting to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem

It takes 45 minutes via a fast ferry ride from Sihanouvkville and it costs USD 15 round trip. There’s also a slow ferry which takes up to 2 hours. The departing times are different during periods of the year, so check it out before planning your trip. Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem Islands are 2 similar sized islands, right next to each other, be sure which one you are visiting before buying you ferry ticket and accommodations. During the monsoon season, weather can be bad and so ferry trips might be affected.

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When to visit Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem

My visit there was during the monsoon season, the best time to visit would be from November to April where you get really clear skies and dry weather. It rained everyday during my 4 days in Sihanoukville and Koh Rong. Be prepared for the showers if you are traveling during the monsoon period. I got a poncho wherever i go, it is useful in keeping my bag dry. But at the same time, it is also the period when you can get really good deals and perfect time to haggle because of the low season.

Accommodation

Right now, the visitors to Koh Rong Islands are mainly backpackers from Sihanoukville in search of a secluded paradise, even better than the Otres Beach in Sihanoukville. Most of the accommodations on the islands are owned by foreigners and these accommodations are backpackers standard, which means you might be experiencing encounters with wildlife within your bungalows. WIFI can be shaky at times, most of the time it does not work. It might not be the best place to stay at, but the beauty of the islands made up for it. Most of the accommodations are not found online, even if they are, they are in high demand in the high season. You can try your luck and check it out once you get to the islands. The cheapest dorm can be obtained at USD 3 and up. Check out Agoda for deals and some examples of accommodations.

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P1050179Tree Top Bungalows

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Things to do

There are many activities to do on the islands. Kayaking and snorkeling are some good options when the waters are not choppy and the weather is good. If you prefer non-water activities, you can go trekking or zip lining in the forests. Or you can do something which everyone loves best; laze at the beach all day and get a tropical tan. The prices of water activities are pretty cheap, you can rent a kayak for a day for less than USD 10, depending on your haggling skills. In Bali and Phuket, you will get ripped off from water sports.

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P1050189Heavy rains are common occurrences from June to September

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Drinks and food

There are many backpacker bars around, you can simply chill out and watch the sunset over a glass of cocktail that will set you back for USD 1. Draft Beers starts from USD 0.5 and up, typical Cambodian beers prices. The regular Cambodian dishes can be found easily on the beach. A plate of Cambodian fried rice or noodles costs about USD 2. Western food such as fish and chips might cost USD 3 and up. Generally, food is cheap compared to western standards.

Overall, Koh Rong Islands offer a very good option to travelers looking for secluded beach spot away from the crowds. Make your visit there before ATMs and luxury resorts start popping up on the islands.

Cambodia, Travel

How Safe Is Cambodia for Solo Travelers?


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Many travelers flock to Thailand and Vietnam, they missed out what’s between this two countries, Cambodia. For backpackers, they usually use Cambodia as a transit point to get to Vietnam. Or they probably spend a few days here partying because the beers here are cheaper than neighboring countries, I got beers for around USD 0.5 a glass.

P1040857Pub Street where you get cheap beers and food, a hangout for foreigners

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I came across people asking me if Cambodia is safe to travel, because of numerous stories about snatch thieves on motorbikes and scams going around. I would say things has improved dramatically in the past 5 years. ATMs and western joints have start appearing all over cities and areas where tourists go to. There are tourist polices everywhere, even though I do not know their capabilities to response to bad happenings. But this is a good sign, the government and people are appreciating the increase of foreigners in the country and that means there will be fewer crimes involving foreigners.

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I have never walked the streets feeling dangerous, except for a tuk tuk driver who tried to squeeze money out of me by bringing me to the wrong place. I gave him what he wanted since it was just a couple of dollars more and it’s really late at night, who knows what lurks behind his back. Drugs and guns can be easily obtained on the streets but be smart, avoid these if you do not want to spend any time in the Cambodian jail.

Adopt good practices such as don’t walk into dark alleys at night, don’t hang your expensive camera by the neck wherever you go. In other words, don’t show others what you owned. Don’t be a walking money tree! Crimes happen when people see you as a target and so don’t make yourself a target. This is applies to wherever you go.

P1040876Siem Reap river

P1040869Khmer food, chicken amok

Generally, Cambodia is relatively safe to travel in. I would say that even for solo female travelers, it will be safe to walk around on your own, I have seen many solo female travelers walking around alone and they are doing great. Leave your worries at home if you are a female thinking of traveling alone to Cambodia.

What’s more important is that Cambodia is cheap and interesting to travel to! Generally you can live comfortably on USD 30 a day. A decent meal at a mid range restaurant will cost around USD 3-6, street food can be found for USD 1-2. Transport within city cost USD 1-2 on a motorbike and there are plentiful everywhere. Single room guesthouse range from USD 4-8 for fan rooms, USD 8-12 for air-conditioned ones.

Tell me it’s worth it!