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In November 2018 we backpacked through Cambodia, which sounds so long ago that I really don’t know how that time has gone so fast. We are still travelling as I write this, and finally journey back home next month. After spending so long travelling, the places we have been to and the things we have done can sometimes get lost as we are constantly seeing new things everyday.
Because of this, every so often, I like to look back at our photos to remind myself of these places. It makes me so glad that we took so many photos! I have a pretty awful long term memory, and looking at these photos reminds me of a particular time or place. So I have compiled our month in Cambodia into a travel photo diary blog post for you, so here are our highlights, hope you enjoy!
I have also previously written a complete Cambodia Travel Itinerary, which includes all the details of where we stayed, the transport we took and all of my tips and tricks to make your travels go a little bit smoother.
Day 1: Cross the border from Laos to Cambodia
Days 2-4: Siem Reap
Day 5: Bus from Siem Reap to Battambang
Day 6: Battambang
Day 7: Bus from Battambang to Phnom Penh
Days 8-10: Phnom Penh
Day 11: Bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, Otres Beach
Days 12-13: Otres Beach, Sihanoukville
Day 14: Speedboat from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong
Days 15-17: Koh Rong
Day 18: Ferry from Koh Rong to Koh Rong Sanloem
Days 19-20: Koh Rong Sanloem
Day 21: Speedboat from Koh Rong Sanloem to Sihanoukville
Day 22: Bus from Sihanoukville to Kampot
Days 23-28: Kampot
Day 29: Crossed border to Vietnam
So after a long day spent crossing the border from Laos to Cambodia we finally made it to the city of Siem Reap! Home to the world famous ancient temples of Angkor Wat! This was of course on our agenda whilst in the city, so after a day of rest we arranged with a tuk tuk driver to take us around the temples for half a day. This day started at the awful time of 4.45am to make it to Angkor Wat for sunrise. If you do this, please don’t expect to be rewarded for your early wake up with a smaller crowd. This is probably the busiest time to see the main temple, but it is still definitely worth it! Our half day was more than enough for us to see the temples, but you can buy a seven day pass if you so wish.
Siem Reap does have more to offer than temple roaming, make sure to wander around the local markets taking in all the interesting smells! Pub Street is the place to grab a cheap drink in the evening, whilst enjoying some people-watching of the busy pedestrian road. If you have time, make sure to take a tuk tuk to the beautiful Lotus Fields as pictured below. The ideal place for sunset! Every evening seems to bring with it a colourful, gorgeous sunset so you are pretty much guaranteed to get one if you head here at 5.30pm!
After our four nights in Siem Reap, we decided to make a short stop in the smaller city of Battambang. Since speaking to the receptionist at our previous hotel we had a few things we wanted to do here, but only having booked two nights we had to squeeze them all in! Our first night took us to the Phare Circus, a smaller version of the one in Siem Reap. And here we had one of our best nights in Southeast Asia! The students enrolled in the performance school put together a show a few nights a week to raise money. After they have learnt all the skills at the school they can then go onto perform at the larger circus in Siem Reap. There were kids playing instruments, dancers, jugglers and all sorts. And they pulled off every single trick! It was really entertaining, and something you should definitely do if you ever find yourself in Battambang.
For our one full day here we went on a tour around the city with a local tuk tuk driver/ tour guide. We had arranged this the day before with him, and he picked us up early in the morning for a jam-packed day enjoying the local sights. We had a ride on the bamboo train, visited a crocodile farm and the local market. He also took us to the killing caves of Phnom Sampeau, our guide was actually a young boy at the time of the Khmer Rouge and could tell us first hand what had happened to him. The day ended with watching all of the bats fly out of the cave at sunset. We had really learnt a lot about the history of Battambang and Cambodia by the end of the tour, it was a great way to discover the area in a short amount of time.
Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia, and as soon as you arrive you are thrown into the frantic craziness of the city. Although you can find more peaceful areas walking along the river! If you are going to Phnom Penh, you should try and make a visit to both the Choeung Ek killing fields and the S-21 Genocide Museum to learn about the horrific recent history of Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge. I would recommend doing these on seperate days if you can, but it will be emotionally draining either way. It is also worth paying the few extra dollars for the audio guide, as without it you won’t be able to get a full idea of what went on here.
OTRES BEACH, SIHANOUKVILLE
By this point in our backpacking adventures, we were yearning for some beach time. We spent our three days here swimming, reading and not doing a whole lot else. The actual town of Sihanoukville is probably not a place you will want to make a stop in. It has unfortunately become a construction site for casinos and hotels. And sadly even most of the hostels that were on the beach when we visited are no longer there. I am so glad we were able to sleep in a hut on the beach, wake up in the morning and walk out onto warm sand before all the hostels closed!
After a few days spent on Otres Beach, we were ready for some more, even prettier beaches! And where better find them than on a island?! Just a short boat ride from Sihanoukville will get you to Koh Rong, an island home to peaceful beaches and lively nightlife if you want it. We spent our days here in the sea, and also booked onto a half day boat tour. It took us to some great snorkelling spots, we had dinner onboard and ended the day off by seeing glowing plankton when it was dark.
We stayed in a bungalow just a few minutes walk from the main street of the town, but there are also so many more options on the island. You can even spend the night in a tent right on the beach if you want to spend all your waking hours in the sea! We then of course had to also visit the smaller island of Koh Rong Sanloem, another short boat ride away…
KOH RONG SANLOEM
After just a few days on this small island, I found myself imagining how amazing it would be to spend weeks on end here. We stayed in the backpacker area of M’Pai Bay, where there are no motorbikes and only a small amount of cafes and restaurants. So the only thing to do is relax, whether that be by reading a book, drinking the delicious iced coffee or floating around in the ocean. We were so sad to leave this island, and a place that I will keep in mind for any return visits to Cambodia!
If you need any more persuading to visit these islands make sure to read my travel guide on them here!
It came as a surprise to us how much we loved Kampot! We actually ended up spending a week here as we were waiting for our Vietnam Visas to be approved. We had a couple of chilled days in this time, but there was also so much to see in and around Kampot. The best way to see the area is to hire a moped, this way you can drive up Bokor Mountain to walk around the abandoned buildings there.
There are also so many great restaurants here, with such a selection of different cuisines! We enjoyed great coffee, burgers, Mediterranean, pizzas, and every meal was impressive. Kampot is such a surprisingly beautiful town, and a great stop off before making your way to Vietnam. I have put together a blog post on The Top Things To Do in Kampot, so make sure to check that out!
I hope you have enjoyed looking through our travel photos from Cambodia! I have loved compiling this selection that I think show the highlights of our trip. I believe Cambodia should be a country everyone should try and visit!
WHAT’S IN MY BACKPACK
Did you enjoy this post? Then why not pin my Cambodia Travel Photo Diary blog post to Pinterest to take a look at again later!