BootsnAll Travel Network

Reflections – Cambodia

I didn’t know too much about Cambodia before I went, and I’m actually really glad that I didn’t do too much reading or preparing for my traveling there, as I was pleasantly surprised by many things there, especially the main tourist sights such as Angkor Wat, Tuol Sleng Museum and the Kratie Irrawaddy dolphins, along with the delicious food and the warm and friendly people. Learning about what a horrible history the country has had, makes travel there even more interesting, especially when you realize their civil war only really ended about 9 years ago. The infrastructure is appalling however, and getting to and from certain places definitely needs patience, and sometimes, buns of steel. First impressions the day or two at the border crossing aside, I found my travels through the country my most rewarding so far. Sometimes, the worst day or event turned into my favorite memory or adventure, which is something that no guidebook can arrange for you.

My favorite things in Cambodia are:

Angkor Wat, and specifically, Pbal Spean and the Bayon temple.

Riding on motos around the countryside, there is no better way to travel, especially the tours around Battambang.

Spotting the Irrawaddy dolphins on the mighty Mekong.

Eating delicious fish amok in Pnomh Penh the day after our crazy drive from the border, in a local restaurant with my traveling companions.

The accomodation was always surprisingly new and clean and efficient.

Least favorite things:

Riding to Pbal Spean on a tuk tuk. Take a moto!

The beggar kids. It becomes mentally exhausting and mind numbing.

The roads in general. Stop building wats already and start on the roads.

Costs were slightly higher in Cambodia than I was expecting, and more than Thailand. The abundance of Western foods makes avoiding your cravings even harder, especially with the quality of restaurants in PP and Siem Reap. Here are the average costs, in US dollars. Keep in mind most places take, and prefer being paid in US$, not Cambodian riel. Some border towns take Thai baht. US$1 = 4000 Cambodian riel

$6-10 Double room with a/c and private bath

1000 riel  can of coke from a street stand

US$1.50 Can of coke on the riverfront in PP

US$10 Tuk tuk for entire day of sightseeing in PP for two people or around Angkor Wat.

$4-6 Western meal in PP or Siem Reap

2000 riel to US$2 hawker stalls, street food, food stalls

US$2-6 Cambodian food in restaurant.

US$9 Moto ride, including entrance fee (US$2) and boat ride to see Irrawaddy dolphins.

US$4 Bus from PP to Sihanoukville

US$5 Share taxi from Kampong Thom to Kompong Cham 4 hours

2000 riel Scarf from hawker kids

2000-US 1.5 Beer in bar, restaurant, depending on where you are, etc.

I encourage anyone traveling to Cambodia to bring clothes that you don’t care about very much, because I don’t remember ever being so dirty everyday, just riding on motos in the dust which sticks to you in the hot sweaty weather, not to mention wading in muddy roads and rivers. Also remember to dress appropriately, as women in Cambodia dress conservatively, so try to at the very least, wear knee length shorts or skirts, and no cleavage. You can find any Western toiletries and things you need in PP and Siem Reap, and even some smaller towns. Bear in mind travel takes longer in the wet season, and having a set schedule will make things very frustrating. Otherwise, have a great adventure in a wonderful country, that hopefully will have a future of peace finally. THe people I spoke with want it, and are willing to work hard to inmprove their country. It’s a great place, and can only get better.


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