Making one of the spontaneous choices I’ve made in a very long time turned out to be top-of-the-line!
My quest for a vacation spot providing a visa on arrival (from India) and pleasant to the finances led me to Southeast Asia. Whereas Thailand’s island hopping and social gathering scene didn’t fairly match the invoice for me, backpacking in Cambodia emerged as the proper alternative.
Though Cambodia is primarily famend for the awe-inspiring ruins of Angkor Wat, the world’s largest Hindu temple complicated, this nation has a lot extra to supply intrepid vacationers. Whether or not it’s the warm-hearted locals, the delectable delicacies, the colourful nightlife, the wealthy historical past, the pristine seashores, or the mesmerizing temples, Cambodia captivated me with its multifaceted magnificence.
So, if you happen to’re considering a journey to this enchanting land, I’ve put collectively an itinerary that can information you thru an unforgettable journey for backpacking in Cambodia!
Backpacking in Cambodia: 10 day itinerary
Right here’s our itinerary for backpacking in Cambodia for 10 days.
Day 1: Arrival in Siem Reap
My journey started in Siem Reap, also known as the cultural coronary heart of Cambodia. I selected to remain in an Airbnb, which, in my view, was the easiest way to totally immerse myself within the genuine Khmer lifestyle. To my shock, my Airbnb host went above and past by arranging for a tuk-tuk to choose me up from the airport. Little did I do know that this tuk-tuk driver would quickly develop into my most distinctive information for the following three days, leaving an indelible mark on my coronary heart by way of his boundless generosity.
Day 2: Exploring Angkor Wat
It was time for me to embark on a journey again in time, strolling by way of the enchanting pathways of Angkor Wat, nestled on the outskirts of Siem Reap.
Professional-Tip: I opted for the 3-Day Ticket, a sensible alternative that ensured I had ample time to completely discover all of the temples with out feeling rushed. Take a look at this Angkor Wat 3-day itinerary.
On my first day, I devoted my time to a leisurely exploration of the first temple, Angkor Wat, in addition to a few of the smaller gems like Banteay Kdei and Sa Srang.
Within the night, I ventured out to find the Night time Market and Pub Road, an altogether distinctive expertise! The environment was electrical, with avenue meals distributors dishing up a various array of delights, from succulent steaks to scorching grills, and even insect roasts! Numerous outlets supplied quirky actions like ‘fish pedicures’ amongst different intriguing choices. It was really an expertise to not be missed.
See additionally: Information to Microlighting Over Angkor Wat
Day 3: Witnessing the fantastic thing about Bayon and the favored Ta Phrom
Whereas Angkor Wat might steal the highlight for a lot of, I personally discovered the Bayon Temple much more charming. The mesmerizing stone-carved faces took on an virtually surreal high quality from a distance, and the nearer I received, the extra their magnificence unfolded. I couldn’t assist however ponder on the immense talent and dedication of the sculptors who created this masterpiece over 1,000 years in the past.
As for Ta Phrom, it’s undoubtedly one of the well-known temples after Angkor Wat, partly as a result of it served because the backdrop for the Hollywood film Tomb Raider. But, its architectural grandeur goes far past its cinematic fame. Right here, I witnessed the exceptional spectacle of nature triumphing over man’s endeavors, as timber gracefully intertwined with and grew over the temple’s historical constructions.
Day 4: Journey to Banteay Srei and go to the Kbal Spean
I discovered myself at a substantial distance from Siem Reap, standing earlier than Banteay Srei, also referred to as the Citadel of Ladies, and it was a temple that left me totally spellbound. Constructed primarily from pink sandstone, this medium offered the proper canvas for the intricate and fantastically preserved wall carvings that also graced the temple immediately. The constructions themselves had been remarkably petite, a stark distinction to the standard grandeur of Angkorian structure.
Persevering with on my journey, I made my approach to Kbal Spean, famend because the ‘River of 1000 Lingas.’ Nestled on the southwest slopes of the Kulen Hills, this web site featured a exceptional collection of stone rock reduction carvings throughout the sandstone formations of the riverbed and its banks. The sight was virtually surreal at first look!
Be aware: A little bit of mountain climbing was required to succeed in this spot, so I made certain to put on snug footwear.
Upon returning to Siem Reap within the night, I couldn’t resist indulging in a Khmer barbecue – an absolute should on my record! You merely can’t miss this expertise. Siem Reap’s native market is residence to some genuinely genuine Khmer eating places that serve up limitless meat in your barbecue delight. Brace your self since you’ll have the chance to prepare dinner and savor one of the distinctive meals ever!
Day 5: Boarding a bus for Phnom Penh, the capital metropolis
It was time for me to bid farewell to Siem Reap! I hopped on the native intercity bus, which departed from the town heart in Siem Reap, with the promise of reaching Phnom Penh in roughly 4 hours (although it did take about 5 and a half hours, factoring in a lunch cease).
Phnom Penh, being the bustling capital metropolis, had a livelier vibe. That night, I immersed myself within the native market scene, strolled alongside the riverside, and loved a pleasant dinner. For the reason that Independence Monument was near my lodging, I couldn’t resist catching a glimpse of it as nicely.
Day 6: Exploring The Killing Fields & S-21 Museum
You possibly can go about visiting the Killing Fields & S-21 Tour in just a few alternative ways: e book tickets on-line, ask your Airbnb or resort workers to rearrange it for you, or do what I did – negotiate with a tuk-tuk driver for a day’s experience, which turned out to be essentially the most budget-friendly choice! (For your complete day, my tuk-tuk driver charged me about 15 USD).
Each of those websites will transport you again in time and make clear the darkish days that Cambodians endured throughout the Khmer Rouge period. The Killing Fields are solemn locations the place over 1,000,000 folks misplaced their lives and had been buried by the Khmer regime below Pol Pot’s management. This tragic chapter unfolded throughout his rule from 1975 to 1979, instantly following the conclusion of the Cambodian Civil Struggle (1970–1975). The mass killings are well known as a part of a broader state-sponsored genocide.
As I walked by way of the location, I couldn’t assist however shiver whereas listening to the audio information (accessible on the entrance for a minimal payment and supplied in varied languages). It vividly recounted the brutal assaults and killings that passed off there. There’s additionally a museum tower that homes quite a few skulls, serving as a haunting reminder of the lives misplaced at that very spot.
S21, also referred to as the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, was initially a college however has now remodeled right into a harrowing witness to brutal killings. From 1976 to 1979, roughly 20,000 folks had been imprisoned at Tuol Sleng (although the precise quantity stays unknown). Inside the lecture rooms, you’ll encounter pictures of the prisoners who endured torture and met their tragic finish, together with the devices used for his or her horrifying demise. As you traverse the corridors, you’ll hear chilling tales that function a grim reminder of the atrocities that occurred right here. (I need to emphasize that this place shouldn’t be for the faint of coronary heart, and imagine me once I say this, I witnessed folks breaking down in tears.)
It had been an exhausting day, so I made a decision to return to my lodgings and get some much-needed relaxation. Within the night, I ventured out for a leisurely stroll alongside the riverside, a spot that was near my coronary heart.
Day 7: Exploring the Royal Palace, the Nationwide Museum, and the Silver Pagoda, earlier than boarding the evening bus to Sihanoukville
The Royal Palace, because the identify suggests, is a fancy of buildings that function the royal residence of the king of Cambodia. It’s a exceptional instance of Khmer structure with a delicate French affect evident in its format, that includes a defensive wall, throne corridor, Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Preah Keo Morakot), stupas, towering spires, and mural work. The distinctive structure and pristine great thing about this place will really depart you in awe.
My subsequent cease was the Nationwide Museum, Cambodia’s largest museum of cultural historical past and the main historic and archaeological museum within the nation.
The museum boasts one of many world’s most intensive collections of Khmer artwork, together with sculptures, Khmer ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects. Its assortment contains over 14,000 objects, spanning from prehistoric occasions to durations earlier than, throughout, and after the Khmer Empire’s peak, which as soon as prolonged from Thailand, throughout present-day Cambodia, to southern Vietnam.
Within the night, I boarded the bus sure for Sihanoukville and arrived there late at evening. My plan was to move to the close by island the following day, so I secured ferry tickets for an early morning departure from the bus station.
Day 8: Journey to Koh Rong Sanleom – Cambodia’s seashore paradise!
I caught the 7:30 a.m. ferry the following day and journeyed to Koh Rong Sanloem! (For those who’ve all the time been enthralled by Thai islands, let me let you know – Cambodian islands are equally gorgeous, and also you’ll encounter fewer crowds right here!)
This island is actually one of many extra secluded ones, with solely a handful of resorts that may make your keep fairly costly. Nonetheless, since I had been diligently managing my bills by staying at Airbnbs for many of my journey, I made a decision to deal with myself a bit and booked a keep at The One (now closed) – one of many fanciest resorts on the island, full with personal boats, a secluded seashore, and an infinity pool! (It was excessive time for a bit staycation in any case that backpacking!)
Day 9: Exploring Koh Rong, earlier than heading again to the mainland!
My morning started with the soothing sound of waves and a pleasant breakfast at The One’s restaurant, adopted by some leisurely seashore time!
Whereas there have been tempting choices for snorkeling and kayaking, I made a decision to totally unwind and remained on the resort, soaking within the breathtaking views and calming my senses.
As I had talked about earlier, Koh Rong isn’t as frequented by vacationers, which turned evident throughout my keep on the resort when a waiter mistook me for somebody from Sri Lanka. He excitedly confirmed me a forex notice and stated, “Somebody out of your nation gave me this!” I corrected him, mentioning that I used to be from India, and he responded that they not often obtained Indian guests; as an alternative, they largely welcomed Australians and Japanese.
Indisputably, Koh Rong stands out as one of the unimaginable locations I’ve ever had the privilege to go to in my 27 years of life!
Within the late afternoon, I caught the 4 PM ferry to return to Sihanoukville, and from there, I launched into an evening bus journey again to Phnom Penh!
Day 10: A journey again residence
They are saying that you simply’re by no means fairly the identical after witnessing the sundown in one other nook of the world. As I boarded the flight again to India, I couldn’t assist however replicate on what an extremely lovely journey it had been. Whereas my preliminary intention was to discover the oldest temple complicated on this planet, my journey to Cambodia unfolded as a profound expertise, introducing me to a novel tradition and revealing a historical past that tugged at my heartstrings.
My journey in Cambodia taught me that no quantity of studying can really seize the essence of a spot; you must be there, immerse your self, and expertise it firsthand. Whether or not you’re drawn to backpacking amidst historical ruins, collaborating in volunteer work to contribute meaningfully to Cambodian society, or delving deep into the wealthy historical past of the land, a visit to Cambodia has the ability to rework you right into a extra compassionate and understanding human being.