Need to know before you go…
- You can’t get into Cambodia without a VISA. You will need to buy one online before you go, which you can do here: Cambodia Visa Online
- Peak seasons and off peak seasons. Off peak season is quite, but cheaper
Phnom Penh reminded me a bit of Bangkok if you’ve ever been. I didn’t get to explore at all because I was only there for one night. But it’s your typical Asia capital city, busy and crowded.
Don’t overpay for tuk tuks like I did in the beginning. I walked straight out of the airport and was approached by a driver. I showed him where I wanted to go, he quoted $10 USD (everything in this article will be in US dollars) and I stupidly agreed. Looking back I should have paid around $4. Tuk tuks should only cost you $1-2 around town, or a bit more depending on the distance. By the end of my trip I learnt I could get a tuk tuk from town to well out of town (8km) for $3.
So because I was silly and agreed to this drivers price he of course asked if I needed to be taken back to the airport at all. And in fact I had another flight the next day, so he also organised to pick me up for another $10. My tip for avoiding tuk tuk drivers bothering you about being picked up is just don’t tell them your plans, say you’re doing whatever and don’t really know how long you’re staying or when you’re leaving.
The poverty here is quite obvious, my first tuk tuk ride to my hotel, I saw a few kids sitting on the side of the road, very young, one was only a toddler and still wore a diaper. One boy spotted me looking and his face lit up with a smile and he ran over to my tuk tuk and begged for money. Feeling sorry for him, I handed over a couple of dollars. However, if this happens to you, don’t feel obliged to.
Siem Reap was probably my favourite place out of the 3 cities I went. It seems to be more tourist orientated, and obviously brings in more tourists due to Angkor Wat.
Just for the record, I don’t do drugs – Never have and never will. But I can tell you it seems extremely easy to get your hands on almost any drug here (and Cambodia in general). I got asked this series of questions from tuk tuk drivers a hundred times: tuk tuk sir? Weed? Cocaine? Lady? Even heroin was offered a few times. Whether all of these are legitimate or a set up, I couldn’t tell you. I’m not sure whether marijuana is actually legal in Cambodia, but it seems like it is because people were smoking it at the bar at my resort and nobody seemed to mind. I got offered it by waiters at some restaurants, and I also heard it is available to buy from shop shelves on some of the islands. I’m not encouraging taking drugs or smoking marijuana, just stating the face that it’s very easy to get your hands on it.
I don’t think I need to go into much detail about Angkor Wat and the other temples as you’ve probably already researched it. All I’ll say is it was great and definitely worth checking out. I didn’t realise there’s a lot more temples and Angkor Wat is just the largest one. All tours include Angkor Wat. I did the small tour which was $37 and included 4 other temples and took me about 3-4 hours.
Alcohol is cheap in Cambodia. Most places charge 50c for a glass of beer. Sometimes even 25c if its happy hour or a special. Massages are also extremely cheap. Cheaper than Thailand and Bali. I got a 1 hour foot massage for $2.
I definitely recommend checking out Pub Street and the night market. I didn’t get to explore too much, but it seems to be the main area of Siem Reap. It’s basically a long street full of pubs, clubs and restaurants, and right around the corner is the night market. There are also some escape rooms, which are becoming more and more popular everywhere.
Sihanoukville was very nice, especially if you like a beach vibe. I stayed on Otres Beach, which is a bit of a hike out of the main town area, but is apparently a bit quieter from the party scene and beach salesman. I was getting $3 tuk tuks in and out of the main town area from Otres Beach.
When I first arrived at the airport, there were only taxi services for a whopping $20 no matter how close you were. I was told it wasn’t negotiable either, and apparently tuk tuks weren’t allowed to pick up passengers to take away the taxis business, but you’re allowed to walk outside the airport grounds as get one. They also told me the tuk tuk wouldn’t be able to go on the roads I needed to go on to get to my hotel. I knew that wasn’t true though, I just politely said no thanks, and proceeded to walk out when interestingly they dropped the price. I don’t blame the guys though, they aren’t crooks by any means, so don’t feel intimidated. They are just trying to make a living and they will often see how much they can make from you, especially if you’re a westerner. Same goes with tuk tuk drivers, they will often set the bar high to begin with.
Sihanoukville has around 10 casinos if you like to gamble. They are all fairly small hotel casinos, and you won’t find many games traditional to westerners, but they do have blackjack and roulette and obviously pokie machines. It seemed to be quite reasonable, you could bet $2 per hand in blackjack. You can also play Texas Holdem poker against other people at some of the casinos if you fancy a game.
The main area of Sihanoukville seemed to be Pub Street, which leads onto Ochheuteal Beach. Here you will find numerous pubs/clubs all along the beach front. It was quite large and there were many to choose from. Many of them offer “mushroom shakes” (milkshakes with the psychedelic mushroom drug) and “happy shakes” and “happy pizzas” etc (marijuana)
There is also Sihanoukville Square. Just down from the golden lion roundabout, these are where your girly bars are located. It’s basically an area just full of bars that are full of prostitutes. You can enjoy a drink, play pool and watch live sport here if you don’t mind the hassle.
As for shopping/markets, there is one large one called Psar leu, and there is also Otres market (only open Saturdays).
I was also offered a massage along the beach. Tip here is to always know what you’ll get and what the price is before you start. Don’t let them start without negotiating a price. I however, did not. I just agreed to a massage, which then turned into her saying I have rough feet and needed them scrubbed, then my toenails cut then my fingernails cut. I knew I’d be in for a surprise at the end and I was. I paid $30 because I gave her the power to make the price at the end of everything.
Overall, Cambodia was awesome and I highly recommend going, especially if you’re young. It would have to be one of the cheapest countries to drink and party in. I spent 2 weeks there and my trip cost me less than $1,500 AUD in total. The only downfall is the off season (wet season) can be quiet and not much tourists, but this may be a blessing for some people.