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Visit the home of Angkor Wat
Cambodia is now well established as an unmissable stop on the classic, South East Asia backpacker loop. It is very easy to see why as the country has plenty to offer visitors.
First and foremost, Cambodia is home to one of the world’s absolute wonders, the mighty temple of Angkor Wat. This alone could easily be reason enough for any traveler to make sure that Cambodia is high up on their “most wanted” list of destinations to discover.
However, Angkor Wat is merely the tip of it and Cambodia is filled to the brim with other majestic sites and spectacular wonders to discover. There are amazing glowing sea plankton, elephant sanctuaries and of course the delicious local cuisine. For a more somber experience, visitors should head to the Killing Fields to learn about the countries troubled recent history. So yeah, Cambodia sure has a little something for everyone.
There are a few downsides to backpacking Cambodia such as finding a decent place to stay and finding good accommodation can prove to be a little bit tricky sometimes. During my time there I stayed in dodgy, dingey, dirty flophouses (they were cheap enough mind…).
That’s why some suggestions as to where to stay in Cambodia might come in handy to spare you the horror of making my mistakes. Oh and whilst we’re at it lets throw in some useful info about applying for a Tourist Visa for Cambodia.
Whilst the paperwork and bureaucracy is boring, it is all l practical and quite necessary stuff to take into consideration before booking your ticket.
Cambodia Tourist Visa
Before traveling to Cambodia it is quite possible that you will need to apply for a Cambodia Tourist Visa.
The good news though is that in an attempt to facilitate travel to the country it is possible to apply for a tourist visa online. As such, it is no longer necessary to waste precious hours in frustration waiting in lines at embassies or consulates and now, travelers can complete the online application process in a matter of minutes.
The process is really quite simple, you answer a few questions, state some personal information and then pay for the visa with a debit or credit card. Some additional documentation might be requested such as a passport-style photo and this will then be stated on the online application.
Once the visa has been approved, you will be sent the travel documentation via email within 3 working days. This is then to be printed and brought with you alongside your passport when visiting Cambodia. The visa is valid for short-term stays of up to 30 consecutive days.
Do you need a visit Visit Cambodia?
For a full exhaustive list of citizens that need to apply for a Cambodia tourist visa, visit official sites online.
Where to stay in Cambodia
OK so now you have your Visa you need to sort out where your gonna sleep. The list below is a quick run down on some of the best digs we found in Cambodia.
- Nita by Vo Hotel, Siem Reap, this extravagant boutique hotel offers guests a phenomenal view of Angkor Wat. As if this wasn’t reason enough to book a stay, the hotel has impeccable service, access to spa facilitates and elegantly designed rooms with a high comfort level.
- Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra Hotel, Phnom Penh, offers guests the possibility to wake up alongside the Mekong River. World-class accommodation with spectacular food as well as access to sauna, pool and spa facilities.
- Sokha Beach Resort, Sihanoukville, here guests can make use of the private beach while staying in comfortable rustic style rooms. The hotel is perfect for bringing the family and there is a multitude of organised activities for everyone.
- Boutique Kampot Hotel, Kampot, this hotel is located in the centre of the city granting access to the busy city life with much to explore. Accommodations are excellent and no guest shall be missing anything in terms of services such as free Wi-Fi and taxi.
- Delux Villa, Battambang, have this comfortable hotel as your base when exploring the different historical sites located in the vicinity of the hotel.
- Veranda Natural Resort, Kep, this hotel is for the honeymooners or the stressed out traveller in need of relaxation. Ocean breeze in combination with serene spa treatments makes this a sought after alternative.
Flights to Cambodia
The flight hubs of Cambodia are Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat. Direct flights are available and relatively cheap from across Europe & even cheaper from Australia (yay!). Another option is to transit in Bangkok, which serves as a transport hub for the whole region.
Entering by land from Thailand or Vietnam is also very popular. However, if you intend to do this, check that you Visa is valid for land crossings.
To find cheap flights, check out this awesome post.
Other Useful Info About Cambodia
Safety in Cambodia
Now a word on Safety in Cambodia! Generally, it is very safe for backpackers but there are some mild dangers and nuisances to be aware of. Firstly, traffic is pretty heavy and driving standards lower than you may be used to. Take care when crossing the road. If you rent a bike or scooter be very cautious of other drivers and do not drive while high or drunk.
Tourists are a target of petty criminals and pickpockets sometimes operate in tourist areas and on public transport. Stay alert, keep your bag or wallet at your front and invest in a money belt for extra security.
My friend was mugged in Siam Reap at a cash point whilst drunk. Take care after dark and keep your wits about you.
Voluntourism is pretty well established in Cambodia and you may wish to do a spot of volunteering at some point during your stay. However, please try to avoid orphanages as these have acquired a very bad reputation for child exploitation. If you are absolutely certain about the reputation of the establishment, then go for it but otherwise give it a wide berth.
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Freeborn Aiden. Senior Editor, resident travel insurance expert and 2nd longest-serving member of team Broke Backpacker. Can’t resist a colourful shirt, ideally one with no buttons. Rampant Psytrance addict and seriel cat fancier. Aiden recently realised that his entire reality is little more than a badly written 90’s sitcom.