Phnom Penh is the perfect gateway for short getaways – here are a few i’ve enjoyed!
Saigon – Vietnam
It is possible to go to Saigon for the weekend and it is really easy to arrange. Here are some details:
Cost – Overnight bus USD14, this bus had beds!
Duration – 12 hours
Cost – Mekong Express – USD13
Duration – 5-6 hours
Cost – Check out Trip Advisor for the latest fares
Duration – 1 hour
Vietnam Visa – Cost USD58 per person for a 14 day visa and was arranged through a travel agent in 2 days
TIP – Go to the Intercontinental for the Sunday Brunch! It is $60 but so worth it!
Check out some of their entertainment here:
You can also do weekend trips down to the Mekong Delta around Chau Doc or Can Tho. Again this can be arranged through your travel agent.
Located on the south coast not far from the Vietnam border, Kep is a sleepy fishing village and a personal favourite!
There are currently no mini vans that go to Kep – the big bus will cost you $6 each way and takes around 4 hours from Phnom Penh.
A lot of options for your accommodation here. My pick is Vanna Hill Resort – I found that it was amazing! The pool area was to die for and it had a real relaxed feel to it. Check out prices on Agoda HERE or Booking.com
You can check out my blog on Kep HERE
Kep is super sleepy so if you are in need of some rest and relaxation this is the perfect place! There is not a great deal to do in town but I would recommend the following:
Walk around the point between the crab market and the beach. Check out some of the old art deco ruins – spooky! Rabbit Island is worth a day trip also.
TIP – Be sure to try the crab! Kimly’s is the most famous but my favourite was the crab in Green Peppercorn at Sunrise which is one of the first restaurants near the crab market. Also try the fish wraps at Breezes restaurant. Finally, be sure to be at the Sailing Club for the happy hour between 5-7pm – $2 amazing cocktails!
Known as Cambodia’s premier beach destination, Sihanoukville is growing rapidly and is a popular weekend getaway for many Phnom Penh Expats.
A bus will cost you $10 one way – I recommend booking in advance and getting on a mini bus as opposed to the big buses as this can cut hours off your trip!
The main beaches are Serendipity and Ochheuteal beaches (party beaches), Sokha Beach (private beach owned by the Sokha Beach Hotel), Independence beach (a little further out) and Otres beach (popular among the elder backpacker crowd – my favourite).
Here are some places I have stayed and recommend:
2 Star – Sea Garden – Otres Beach. Otres is by far the nicest beach in Sihanoukville and Sea Garden is my choice – you can read about my very first trip to Snooky (Sihanoukville’s cute nickname!) HERE!
2.5 Star – Mick and Craig’s – Recently had a fire through the restaurant but they are busy rebuilding. Accommodation is clean and fairly basic, aircon and fan rooms available. Walking distance to all the nightlife and friendly helpful staff!
3 star – Coolibah Hotel – Just back from Serendipity beach, clean and comfy with air-con. They have family rooms available as well as ‘suites’. The restaurant here is great for a night in! Check rates HERE
4 star – OC Boutique Hotel – Just back from Ochheuteal Beach – a really lovely hotel with a fantastic pool area (sun lounges IN the pool!!!). Check rates HERE.
5 star – Sokha Beach Resort- Sokha Beach Resort is located on its own private beach and is great if you are after a resort-style holiday, about 10 minutes away from the party beaches of Ochheuteal and Serendipity. Check rates HERE
You can check out my Sihanoukville blog HERE
TIP – If you are staying at Otres Beach, head out for a night swim to try and spot some phosphorescence in the water – spacey!!!
Siem Reap is the most visited area in Cambodia and is home to the country’s ‘crown jewel,’ Angkor Wat – I believe that visiting these temples is a must do for everyone in their lifetime!
You are able to fly from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap or you can catch the bus. Flight prices vary and bus prices are currently $10 and the bus takes about 6 hours.
You are spoilt for choice in Siem Reap – here are a couple of hotels I have stayed in or that have been recommended to me:
3 star – Siem Reap Hostel – “Hotel luxury on a backpack budget’” I haven’t stayed here yet, however a friend of mine did and raved about it, and judging from the hostel’s website they have an awesome pad!
4 Star – Prince D’Angkor – I stayed here in 2012 and found it quite pleasant. There was a great pool area, the staff were great, and it was in a great location within walking distance of the town and pub street. Check it out HERE
5 Star – Shinta Mani – This is the cream of the crop in Siem Reap as far as I am concerned (and the price reflects this) – great hotel, great facilities, and beautiful staff… oh take me back please! Check it out HERE
TIP: Try and get out for a half day tour on Lake Tonle Sap – see the floating villages, quite poverty stricken but a real eye opener into rural Cambodian life!
Off Cambodia’s south coast you will find some real hidden paradises! I have been lucky enough to visit Rabbit Island, Koh Ta Kiev, Koh Rong, and Koh Rong Samloem. Hands down my favourite was Koh Rong Samloem – it was postcard picture perfect!
Boats out to the islands are easily organised from the mainland. For example, to get to Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloem, and Koh Ta Kiev, you book through any one of hundreds of travel agents in Sihanoukville. To get to Rabbit Island you are able to book boat tickets on the day from Kep – even the tuk tuk drivers will sell you one!! For Rabbit Island you are also able to organise your own private boat which will cost $20-25, so if there is a bunch of you going this option is worth looking into!
Most of the islands have rustic bungalows with a thatched roof, only a generator for electricity, and shared bathrooms although this is quickly changing! Check out your options at Agoda or through Booking.com
This grass roots experience is about to die as a lot of the islands have been bought up by overseas investors with talks of Casinos and bridges to the mainland drifting around – a real shame…
If you are after the ULTIMATE Cambodian luxury experience then you can find it at Song Saa Private Island Resort – luxury that treads lightly. Think honeymoon, once in a lifetime experience!!! Check it out HERE
TIP: Get over to see the islands as soon as you can before it all disappears…
Check out my blog on Koh Rong Samloem HERE
For Travel Insurance check out World Nomads Inside Phnom Penh: A Guide to Moving to the Kingdom’s Capital.
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