Backpacking Cambodia in 5 days under $550
Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.
— Timothy Ferriss
“Who goes to Cambodia?” the immigration officer sarcastically asked us at DAC airport on the night of 10th April, even before started our journey. With equal parts adrenaline and serotonin running through our veins, we were about to embark on an offbeat trip through 4 cities in 5 days.
I’m writing this post sitting at Cafe Amazon, in Sihanoukville, reflecting on this epic, grueling and fulfilling trip we’ve been lucky to experience.
Disclaimer: I’ve taken a ‘jot-down’ approach and will try to point you to useful links and tips — this is by NO means ‘A total guide to Cambodia’.
Below you’ll see more-or-less our itinerary. With a less fancy meal or a better deal on air tickets, doing this under $550 should be possible.
Also, we took 6 days, but if you take an overnight bus from Sihanoukville to Phnom Penh — you’ll be able to get done in five. (We didn’t get tickets for overnight)
- Every business accepts (read prefers) US Dollars here. Don’t change more than $50 to Riel, for the occasional small shops that can’t provide change.
- Overnight buses help save time and money — Backed by science, time goes faster when you’re traveling. Take overnight buses to travel between cities to save time and also accommodation costs for the night.
- Hostels > Hotels — Hostels are, more than a bed and shower access to a community of travelers, services and local information. It also costs a lot less. Whenever you have the chance, choose the former, not the latter.
- Carry towels, body wash, shampoo, and all other amenities — when you’re staying at hostels, be prepared to have nothing provided.
- It’s incredibly hot — Pack light clothes and take sunscreen. Drink lots of water.
- If at any point, someone is rude to you — don’t react. Generally speaking, while people at Phenom Penh and Siem Reap are generally friendly — folks on Sihanoukville don’t show as much mannerism.
Places to Visit
All of these places are quite scenic. Not having the luxury of time right now, I’ll refrain from posting my own photos from these places.
- Royal Palace + Royal Palace Park
- Central Market
- Night Market
- Bayon Temple + Angkor Wat + Leper King Palace
Tip: Start at Bayon, not Angkor Wat — because of the mammoth crowds who storm the Angkor Wat complex from the time of opening. Go to Bayon first to experience both the serenity and beauty of this ancient temple.
- Pub Street: Epic parties. Expect to be approached by at least a dozen pimps.
- Floating Village: We didn’t make time to do this but it came highly recommended.
- Water Falls
- Chilling by the beach
- Party it up
- Casinos — if you’re into that. We didn’t make time for it.
Where to Stay
- Onederz: Chill place. Has a pool. Offers tours and activities. If you don’t want to take the trouble of planning yourself, could easily join one of their Angkor Wat / Sunrise / etc tours.
- Reef on the Beach: They are literally on the beach.
- The bungalows/tents are also on / super close to the beach — quite an experience. Especially at night.
- Consider getting a Tent by the beach.
- Tents are $25 per night
- Onederz: Again, decent atmosphere, amenities, and rooms.
- Alternatively, you could try The Big Easy: Also, a chill place.
Apps / Websites to use
- Google Maps