Cambodia is a relatively small country, but that does not mean that there is not much to do. It is perfectly possible to make a tour of three to four weeks. The country has a beautiful coastline with many beaches, beautiful landscapes and an interesting culture to discover. Read here how you can best travel through the country and which route will allow you to see the most of the country. It is important to apply for a visabefore you travel to Cambodia.
Planning a trip to Cambodia
There are many elements to consider when planning to travel through a country. The length of your trip is important, but also where you want to go and especially which route is best; that way you will get to see the best of the country. How you decide to travel depends on what you prefer. Public transport such as buses and tuktuks are widely available in Cambodia. The train and boat are also a good option, but these are less frequent than buses. It is also possible to hire a moped or a scooter for shorter distances. For most, this will be the ideal way to travel; it is cheap and easy. However, to be more adventurous, renting a car is also an option. The larger roads are easily accessible, but it can still be difficult to drive in the remote parts as a tourist; so take care.
A visa allows you to stay in Cambodia for 30 days, which gives you enough time for a relaxing, yet active trip. However, if you have less time, you can also do a round trip in 2 or 3 weeks. This is ideal if you are a backpacker and want to combine Cambodia with the neighbouring countries like Thailand, Laos or Vietnam.
The best tour of Cambodia
There are many places in Cambodia that are worth visiting, and below you will find the best route to see the whole country. It is of course also possible to skip places for shorter stays, or if you prefer to stay longer in one place. This is the route that will show you the most of Cambodia at a comfortable pace, without missing out on important Cambodian sights.
Most people will arrive in the capital, which is not to be missed in this itinerary. However, because of its gruesome history, it can be a harrowing visit. There are traces of Khmer Rouge history everywhere. Many sights give you more insight into the country‘s history, such as the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum or the Killing Fields. Nevertheless, it also has beautiful temples and a royal palace that are worth visiting.
This city is located on the Mekong and is an authentic Cambodian city. It is less than 3 hours drive from Phnom Penh. Here you can admire the temple Wat Nokor in the Banteay Prey Nokor complex that lies just outside Kampong Cham. This temple was built in the 10th century and has been preserved in good condition. The island of Koh Paen is also fun to explore, located just outside Kampong Cham.
Kratie & Sen Monorom
If you have a little more time, and want to get the most out of your Cambodia visa, Kratie is the perfect place to visit. This town is about 3 hours from Kampong Cham and gives you the chance to discover the nature and animals of Cambodia. Here you can relax and take a boat trip along the Mekong to admire the Irrawaddy dolphins. In the city, you can visit temples and taste the local food. If you want to go even further, you can go to Sen Monorom to see elephants and discover even more beautiful nature.
Siem Reap & Angkor Wat
Not only is this the second largest city in Cambodia, it is also the perfect place to see one of the most popular sights in the world: the Angkor Wat temples. Siem Reap is only 5 kilometres from the temple complex. But besides this must-see attraction, the city itself has a lot to offer. It has several markets and museums, and in Pub Street you can find delicious Cambodian food.
From Siem Reap it is about a 3 hour drive to Battambang. Battambang is mainly known for its bamboo train (Norry) which you can ride for a while. However, the city also offers temples and a beautiful view from the top of the Phnom Sampeau. You can also visit the Killing Caves of the Khmer Rouge or climb the Phnom Banan, where you will find ancient temple ruins.
After Battambang, you can go further south and visit Kampot. This will be the longest bus ride of the trip, but it is worth it, because now you have reached the coast and you get to see a different side of Cambodia. Kampot is not yet overrun by tourists. It has a relaxed atmosphere and has much to offer. You can climb the Bokor Mountain in the Bokor National Park, but also the beaches of Kep are not far. The city itself is not large, so you can stroll around and see the French colonial buildings. There is also a pepper plantation where you can learn how pepper is cultivated. There is no need to spend much time here. However, it is the perfect starting point for a visit to the Cambodian coast.
Sihanoukville & Koh Rong
Sihanoukville is one of the most famous coastal towns in the world, but it is also an important port in Cambodia. Here you can fully relax on the white beaches, and it has a great nightlife. You can also practice water sports, such as surfing, kite surfing. Koh Rong is an island just off the coast of Sihanoukville, where you can go by boat. This is for ultimate relaxation, as there are of course many beaches on this island. There is also a good nightlife. It is a perfect way to end a great trip in Cambodia.
Apply for a Cambodia visa before departure
When obtaining a Cambodia visa it is important to distinguish between the validity period of the visa and the maximum duration of stay. The visa is valid for 90 days from the moment it is approved. Within that period you can stay up to 30 days in Cambodia. This means that you must leave the country after the 30 days, and this must be within the 90 days of the validity period. During the application you have to indicate an expected arrival date. The actual arrival date may be different, as the validity period is longer than the maximum duration of stay.
Additional requirements for the visa are: your passport must be valid for 6 months after your arrival in Cambodia and you must arrive at one of the Cambodian government designated arrival locations. Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are on the list of permitted arrival locations. Once you have established that you meet all the requirements, you can apply for a visa. Once it has been approved, your trip can begin. Remember to take two printed copies with you on your trip.