So you have searched for the places you want to see and what you want to do during your trip to Cambodia. But what does it really look like to travel around Cambodia? Whether you leave for a few days or weeks, with a suitcase or backpack, for a trip to one country or as part of a trip to several countries, this article will prepare you for the crazy adventure of Cambodia.
Pack the right clothes for the weather and culture. Cambodia is very hot, and moisture will deplete your energy faster than you think. Unless you are in the capital, Phnom Penh, you will rarely, if ever, see people dressed in sleeveless clothes or above the knee. If you dress poorly, you may be denied entry to religious sites and this will be a more obvious tourist objective for fraudsters. Wear loose, air-tight clothing, such as linen pants or cotton blouses.
Decide if time or money is more important to you. Land travel in Cambodia allows you to see more countries and get closer to Cambodians, but it will always take longer than expected due to the poor condition of the roads and the risk of vehicle breakdown. Traveling by plane does not have to be expensive, but you lose the experience of watching the country.
By plane: Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) are well connected internationally. If money is not a problem, you can consider going to these destinations, as the road between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh is in poor condition. Therefore, flying abroad to Siem Reap avoids the hassle of obtaining a Cambodian visa at the border.
By bus: public buses connect all parts of Cambodia. Here are 2 “categories” of buses, “local” and “visitor”. In the “local” buses, there are more Cambodians than foreigners, buses are generally older, there may be more people, Cambodian music or TV games throughout the trip, there are more ‘stops, tickets are cheaper (and they are bought directly from the bus company), and have a better chance to make local friends. In the “tourist” buses, foreigners are more numerous than Cambodians, the bus feels more spacious and tickets (bought from travel agencies or bed and breakfasts) are a bit more expensive. Regarding this, the buses are similar, so it depends on the type of experience you want to have.
For land travel, look for your options and buy your ticket the day before. For transportation tips, contact hotel / hostel / hostel staff, travel agents and other travelers. Each accommodation location can help you buy travel tickets at a slightly inflated price. For the most economical option, buy your ticket directly at the bus station or at the bus company office.
Protect your bag from the elements. Cambodian roads are notoriously unpaved. During the dry season, red road dust infiltrates the frame and adheres to your bag. Escape this difficulty by using a bag cover. It can be an integrated rain cover, a suitcase cover or even a garbage bag. During the rainy season, keep your bag dry with a cover or with garbage bags securely tied around your bag.
Save more time than expected. The duration of the bus journey may be twice that required due to poor road conditions, vehicle breakdowns, traffic, etc. If you want to transfer between modes of transportation, allow yourself a few hours of amortization.
Be flexible and relaxed. Cambodia is not known for its punctuality and abundance of Western services, but its people are wonderfully friendly and energetic. Do not be angry if things do not go exactly as planned. After all, misadventures are the best stories at home!