CAMBODIA!

Cambodia Travel Itinerary: Two Weeks in the Kingdom

Cambodian Travel Itinerary

 Cambodia is a wonderful place to visit or make an extended stay. Tourist visas are good for 30 days, and can be renewed once for an additional 30 days. Tour operators charge $45-50 dollars to arrange an extension and is worth it to avoid the trip to do so yourself. We also suggest getting a visa on arrival rather than an E-Visa. We have give one itinerary for travelers, assuming you are entering from Bangkok. The suggested time for the intinery below to two weeks.  Beginning at the border in Poipet, you will first go to Sisaphon where you will stay for two nights as you set out for the remote ruins of Bantaey Chmar.  From there, you will travel to the provincial capital of Battambang, and then by boat to Siem Reap where you will take in Angkor Wat and other unique treats.  From here you will go to the bustling capital of Phnom Penh with local markets and glistening malls.

Banteay Chmar and Sisaphon

Two Nights 
Poipet Border Crossing
Most travelers coming from Bangkok will enter enter through the Aranyapathet/Poipet border crossing. You can simply walk up the window and get your tourist visa. There will be touts trying to convince you that you have to get your visa from them. They will charge you $10-20 more than the price of simply doing it yourself. The border crossing is clearly demarcated. Aranyapathet and its acres and acres of market is interesting for a night if so feel like hanging in Thailand another day. The border is an easy walk from the market—they connect. 
 
A tax costs $30-40 all the way to Siem Reap. However, for an adventurous look at Cambodia that you will never forget is breaking up the journey with a dirtbike ride to Banteay Chmar. Don't pay more than $15 or $20 for a shared car. You will need to tell the driver to let you out as Sisaphon (pronounced Sis-a-poon), and as Poipet is a lifeless city, I'd go there immediately. On the other side of the border, though, is There is one decent hotel and two very basic guesthouses. You are actually dropped in front of the main hotel where there are usually a few motorcycle taxis to hire. After a night here—the ride from Bangkok and crossing the border and getting here takes 10 hours—you will come back here to find a moto to take you to Banteay Chmar, a remote temple ruin.

The 12th-13th century temple of Banteay Chmar, built in the Bayon style, if far off the beaten track. It takes more than an hour or an hour and a half to reach. The route is all a red dirt road, and it is all on the back of a Khmer motorcycle. It is not for the faint of heart, but the contrast it provides to the hordes at Angkor is amazing, and it would be appreciated by all who might find Angkor just a little too crowded than they had dreamed.

The temple itself is in disrepair. Most of the jungle has been cleared from it, but the task of putting it back together is still years and years from being complete. There are ancient halls, partially standing, pillars rising up from tumbled down stones, reliefs carved into standing walls and scattered about where other walls have fallen, pushed out of place by roots and time. As such, it provided a glimpse of what Angkor and surrounding temples might have been like before their 40+ year restoration process. There were tumbled down towers, ancient halls.

Battambang

Three Nights
Back in Sisapon, you can easily arrange transportation to Battambang from here. Battambang is an interesting colonial town and in the middle of Cambodia's breadbasket, having some of the most productive rice paddy as anywhere. It is not frequently visited by tourists, but enough that it has ample accommodations available for backpackers and luxury travelers alike—it is actually Cambodia's second largest city. Of it, however, Canby Publications notes that, “unlike more touristed towns, the local economy is truly local, based firmly in rice, wood, sapphires and food crops, and [this] is reflected in the character of the town.” Taking in the colonial architecture of the town, observing the bustling life of the Khmer farmers and business people around you can be a great way to relax after the hustle and bustle of Bangkok or the hordes of beach tourists. 

You could make an outing to nearby Ek Phrom, an 11th century ruin. Not often visited by tourists, it is popular as an outing location for locals. Phnom Banan could also be taken in from Battambang. The Provincial Museum (hours: 8AM-11AM/2PM-5PM) is also not to be missed. 
 
Arranging transportation from here to Siem Reap by boat can be arranged. It is much more expensive than bus fare, and takes six to eight hours—about twice that of a bus—but offers a change to glimpse river life as well as exotic birds. Just try to get a seat inside—otherwise, you will sun burn on top of the boat. And also, choose your board wisely. Otherwise, bus transportation is easy to arrange from your guesthouse or on your own.

Siem Reap

Six Nights
Arriving after a six hour boat ride, you are going to want to find a place to relax. Accommodation is readily available—there are literally hundreds of places to stay from the suites only sheiks can afford to two dollar a night dorm beds. 
 
Angkor Wat
The next day, get yourself a tuk-tuk early and hit the temple circuit and see Angkor Wat. Three days to do the temple circuit here is perfect. While it may be almost too many temples to take in, if you just see Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat, you will be missing a lot of amazing art and architecture. There are other things to see and do around Siem Reap. For your next two full days in Siem Reap, we recommend you take in some other activities besides just temple exploring.

We suggest spending a morning learning to cook a Khmer dish at the Le Tigre de Papier. Usually classes cover a unique Khmer dish, like amok, and a side like fresh spring rolls. The cost is under $12 at time of press, and the proceeds benefit students at a local hotelier school. It begins with a guided trip to the psar (market) at 10 AM, and then you return to the kitchen to cook. Exploring Cambodian food is a true adventure in itself! You get to make your own lunch!If you are a bigger spender, helicopter rides over Angkor Wat begin at $90 for 8 minutes up to $300 for 30 minutes. Or perhaps hot air balloon ride would be more to your taste—your tuk-tuk driver can take you there. 
 
Have a bike ride to take in the country scenery
at your own place

Renting a bike in Siem Reap or morning or afternoon for a leisurely bike ride through the Cambodian countryside is also a great way to get exercise if climbing around in temples wasn't enough. It costs about $2 a day to rent a bicycle. An evening massage before having drinks on Pub Street is wonderful. Most massage parlors really are just massage parlors, and massages cost $5-7 per hour, but you should always tip your masseuse. There are also some excellent spas, and thirty dollars will go a long way towards getting you pampered. 

You could go to the Western Baray, about thirty minutes outside of town. This Angkor-era man-made reservoir is popular with Khmer families and is also visited by the occasional bus of Korean tourists. While we don't recommend swimming in fresh water in Southeast Asia, it is up to you if you'd like to get your feet wet or take a boat to the Linga Island in its center.

Phnom Penh

Three Nights
Phnom Penh is the last stop on our itinerary, and is 30 minutes by air and six hours by bus. From here, you can arrange transportation to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam or Chau Duc in Vietnam or transportation on to Laos as well as the needed onward visas. The international airport here also offers flights linking Cambodia to regional travel hubs as well as to major international carriers. That includes Bangkok Airlines and Thai Airways to Bangkok, Lao Airlines to Vientiane, Vietnam Airlines to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, Dragon Airlines to Hong Kong, Silk Air to Singapore, Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines to Kuala Lumpur, EVA Air to Taipei, Asiana Airlines to Seoul and multiple Chinese airlines flying to Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai. It can also serve as the next logical jumping off point to other Cambodian destinations like Sihanoukville or Krati. 
 
Central Market Before Its Make-Over
We suggest you begin your journey in the recently remodeled Central Market, a structure that was emptied by the Khmer Rouge but stands as a testament—the market will survive. It is a contrast both in goods and in price from the sleek Western-inspired mall just a hop, skip and a jump away. Sorya Mall, the largest mall in the country and a place to see happening Khmers hanging out. It also featured a very hygenic and really quite spectacular food court and is a great way to go street fare in a clean albeit more pricy establishment. Starting in the Central Market in the morning and then having lunch in the air conditioned mall can be a wonderful way to beat the heat for a little while. 
 
The riverfront area along Sisowath Quay is an excellent place for fine Western cuisine, although a few of the establishments are overpriced due to the cost of rent in an expensive real estate area. Places to avoid include McPaddy's and the Green Vespa. French cuisine is predominant, but Thai and other Western dishes are well prepared all along the riverfront. More cultural sites in the area include the Royal Place, also in the riverfront area. The huge compound is a full city block and features the Silver Pagoda. The temple's official name is Preah Vihear Preah Keo Morakot but is commonly referred to as Wat Preah Keo in Khmer. It houses Cambodia's Emerald Buddha and is the official temple of the King of Cambodia. Nearby the National Museum houses Angkorian artifacts and other exhibits mostly about Cambodia's glorious past and not the more recent, darker days of the Khmer Rouge. For that, many tourists find themselves at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, also known as S-21. 
 
Photo © Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocide
Tuol Sleng, the former torture/prison death camp, is a grim reminder of just how recently the genocidal Khmer Rouge terrorized this nation. The Khmer Rouge's surviving leadership is only being prosecuted today with the leader of S-21, the notorious Comrade Dutch, Khang Khek Ieu, already convicted of crimes against humanity. The Khmer Rouge obsessively documented their killing machine, and haunting photos of the 10,000 victims who came through these walls now line them. Choeung Ek, the infamous "Killing Fields," are located 15km south of Phnom Penh. Visitors walk between excavated mass graves, the land still littered with pieces of clothing and bone shards. It also houses a three story stupa filled with human skulls, a mound of clothing at its bottom. It is a chilling and emotional tolling experience to visit, and sensitive tourists often tear up when confronted with the enormity of human suffering the Khmer had endured in the last forty years. 
 
Three nights or two full days is enough to take in many of the prime sites of Phnom Pehn, but an extra day can make your visit more leisurely. It costs about $7-10 for a tuk-tuk to the airport from about anywhere in the city, and there is an airport departure fee of $25 for foreigners that will have to be paid in cash. Transportation on to Ho Chi Minh is $12-15. To other Cambodian destinations, the price varies accordingly. 
 
Safe travels, and enjoy your time in the wonderful Kingdom of Cambodia.

0 comments:

Post a Comment

 

Our Privacy Policy Southeast Asia Travel Advice: Cambodia Copyright © 2009 WoodMag is Designed by Ipietoon

We wanted to be sure everyone knows that we are now paying for original content or to republish content that you own (such as that awesome blog entry you wrote). Click on "Submit" in the Navigation Bar for more information.