7 Reasons Why I Love Cambodia

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor March 17th, 2015 Posted in Asia, Travel Blog, Travel Guides 7 Comments

Speak to any traveler who has been to Cambodia, and I will guarantee you if it is not their favorite South East Asian country, it will be very near the top of there list.

Friendly and far from being a tourist trap, Cambodia is a perfect place for any traveler, from first timers to the experienced. I love Cambodia. I visited the country on my first solo backpacking trip and immediately fell in love with primary culture and ease of the country.

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Here are seven reasons why I love Cambodia and you will too

1. It is easy to get too

7 Reasons Why I Love Cambodia
Photo by Clay Gilliland CC BY-SA 2.0

You can cross the border from Thailand by land or plane. I flew as the flight from Phuket to Siem Reap was surprisingly similar to the cost of making the journey by bus or train and a fraction of the time. It is visa on arrival so have a passport photo and USD20 with you (There is a cash machine at the airport).

2. The weather is perfect

7 Reasons Why I Love Cambodia
Photo by David Russo CC BY 2.0

Just like Thailand November to February is the peak time to visit Cambodia. The monsoons are over, and the temperatures are at their lowest 27-32 degrees Celsius (any hotter is too hot, trust me).

3. There is so much to do

7 Reasons Why I Love Cambodia
Photo by Jos Dielis CC BY 2.0

Just outside Siem Reap, this is without a doubt the highlight of this country and source of immense national pride. I am not going to lie; I am not huge temple fan, I like to have a look around but get bored after a while. He thought of getting up at 4 am to see the sunrise and then look around a temple was not my first choice of morning activity, but I could not come all the way to Cambodia and not do this. I am glad I did, they are incredible. Not just Angkor Wat itself but the many other temples. The movie, Lara Croft Tomb Raider, was filmed at Ta Prohm (The jungle temple famous for the trees growing through the architecture) and Bayon. Famous for the multiple stone faces built into the temple.  Angkor Wat is the most touristy part of the country but not overwhelmingly so.
The Genocide Museum and the killing fields
Capital Phnom Penh a good place to learn about the horrific genocide that took place in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 in which one and a half to three million people were killed. This is very educational but be prepared to cry and leaving with a lot to think about.

Markets and floating villages

7 Reasons Why I Love Cambodia
Photo by James Antrobus CC BY 2.0

Kompong Khleang is home to about 1800 families, about 6000 people altogether. Stilt houses as far as the eye can see. Including schools, clinics and everything the community needs. The village moves along the river to Tonlé Sap lake during the dry season.

Shooting things

If you have the, money the Cambodian Military will let you loose on some of their weapons including machine guns to rocket launchers.

Relaxing on beautiful beaches

7 Reasons Why I Love Cambodia
Photo by Damien @ Flickr CC BY 2.0

To find the best beaches in Cambodia head on down to Sihanoukville and its islands, Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloen (I love these places). Cambodia has some of the most amazing beaches I have seen.

4. Epic nightlife

7 Reasons Why I Love Cambodia
Photo by Crystian Cruz CC BY-ND 2.0

The nightlife in Phnom Penh, Siam Reap and Sihanoukville is fantastic. Beers can be as cheap as $0.25! Serendipity Beach, Sihanoukville is a backpackers party paradise. Along with the famous Pub street in Siam Reap. You will lose your flip flops, and you will feel awful the next day, but the parties are amazing!

5. The Cambodian people

7 Reasons Why I Love Cambodia
Photo by Juan Antonio Segal CC BY 2.0

The Cambodian people are so friendly and welcoming. Unlike tourist weary Thailand, these people are genuinely interested in the visitors to their country. Practically every day a young Khmer boy or girl to come to sit and talk to me, to practice their English ask about where I was from. We had amazing conversations about One Direction and Nicki Minaj. The 10-year-olds definitely had the same taste in music as me! They thought I was cool. YAY.

Poverty and the scars and landmines left behind from the 1970’s creates enormous hardship for these people, but they shine through with hope, kindness and humility. It truly is awesome!

6. It is cheap and easy to get around

7 Reasons Why I Love Cambodia
Photo by tajai CC BY 2.0

Food is cheap. Alcohol is cheap. Accommodation is cheap. Massages are cheap. The markets are cheap. It makes Thailand feel expensive.

Buses are cheap. I did an over night bus from Siam Reap to Sihnoukville for 10USD. Beware though; the buses rarely leave before they are full. Our 8 pm departure did not leave until 11 pm!
You can get around on foot in the towns, but Tuk tuks and motor bike taxis are everywhere if you need them.

7. Cambodia is still Cambodia.

The best this about Cambodia is that it has not been ruined but visitors or westernisation, however the feel you are in a third world country is slowly fading with the amount of tourists, especially Americans.

7 Reasons Why I Love Cambodia
Photo by Balint Földesi CC BY 2.0

They even use the US Dollar as the main currency in Cambodia. It is dispensed by all the ATMs (be sure to call them ATMs, no one will understand you if you are sure English like me and call them ‘cash machines’).

So there you have it. Easy, cheap, friendly and fun. Now you have no excuse not to go and fall in love with Cambodia!

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Monkey DividersAbout the Author

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In December 2013, 31 year old Brit Sally quit her job as a sales and marketing manager to go off and explore the world. She loves animals, parties getting a good deal or bargain. She writes about her cheap adventures around the world on her blog sallyaroundtheworld.

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7 thoughts on “7 Reasons Why I Love Cambodia

  1. Horrible place my partners drink was spiked, they held him in a guest house for 12hrs unsure if he was sexually assaulted. Missing for 12hrs, nearky ended up in intensive care. He was so sick still not right after 1 week. He was robbed, everyone corrupt. They did the samething to another guy 2 days before.

  2. i feel this article is right on. i’ve been going to Cambodia and Thailand for over two decades now (not every year).

    Thailand, esp. Bangkok have gotten much more commercial. Cambodia, the place and the people, are genuine. I’ve never had any problems and I love the people and their culture. I enjoy their cities, countryside and sights. I’ve been all over the country and as you mentioned it is not yet spoiled by western influence.

    I have heard that Phnom Penh has some scammers but every big city is like that. Still, I have personally not had any problems there.

    To persons above (same person?) who seem to be picked on must be bringing on themselves. I’ve seen these types overseas: super cheap budget, looking to get drunk/laid, disrespectful of local culture.

    I don’t see how anyone could not be charmed by this country and its people.

  3. Hi Im In Phnomn Penn right now and I completely agree with Michal. This place really sucks I cant wait to get out of here. I already had my phone stolen, watch stolen, and 60 bucks stolen from me from 4o+ year old adults. One of witch I witnessed taking 60 USD out of my wallet then swearing over and over again that he didn’t and calling all of his tuk tuk drivers over to help him. And on top of it, this place is not cheap, food is comparable if not more than the states. An Amercano Starbucks coffee is 4 usd in America our reg. coffee is 2 USD.

  4. Dont agree, I did not like it at all.
    1. Is not cheat – its more expensive than back home, and the prices for food and accommodation are comparable with Thailand
    2. Cambodian people are not friendly – they shout, they follow you and they swear if you dont want to buy anything from them. Especially the children
    3. Cambodia is not Cambodia – in otres beach there is only one place where they are selling Cambodian food, all others are just pasta, pizza, sushi, BBQ or burgers
    4. Every local tuk tuk or motorbike is trying to scam you when you ask for ride
    5. Most travel agencies will sell you tickets to non existing buses, or sleeping buses or direct travel to somewhere and will let you wait for connection for hours
    6. if you dont want tuk tuk, drivers are trying to sell you weed or opium
    7. Barely met somebody who actually liked it
    conclusion = hated that country and will never come back

    1. I’m really sorry to hear your bad experiences there…
      I would admit there are always such cases happen but it’s not just in Cambodia. It’s mostly happen in developing countries for those minority that try to rip off from tourists. I hope you had received some of advises of what to do before do your
      touring. A country like Cambodia that went through such a very harsh
      history is not where you can expect the perfect out of it. Nevertheless, there are so many parts of its beauty out there you might have missed.

      1. Even as a local, I always have to bargain things, from foods to transportation. Try to experiences local markets, any things more local than just the restaurants. I am sure there are many tips on the internet suggesting which is the best place to stay with reasonable prices as well.
      2. People are truely friendly if you get to know the local rather than just some part of people on the street like motor taxi or seller at the markets. Those people could not represent Cambodian as a whole. We always welcome tourist and if you ever visited many of the local villages, I’m sure you would get to hear heaps of “hi, hru?” even if it’s the only words they know. That would not count the countless smile from the people as well.
      3. Some part of the very peaks tourist site really become dominated by foreigners especially that beach area, but not all. They serve such foods just to match with market needs. Many of the islands are still very local and super cheap. You can even get to go on the 20$ whole day trip to island on the party boat, tanning on the roof top, dancing all day long to the music n enjoy your swimming far from the peak area.
      4. They do it to us too. It is sadly true and we wish it could be changed too. Again, you would need to bargain and maybe ask for price estimation from other first (maybe from your hotel reception)
      5. You would not need to get ticket from them though. There are so many bus companies you can check online and get the ticket right a way. They are mostly on time and directly.
      6. I have no clue about this part.. but you can always ignore that right?
      7. I’m sure it may not be such a nice place to stay for long like developed countries for its many controversial issues, but as a tourist, they are really so many reasons to fall for the country if you get to visit the right place and be more well prepared. … 🙂

    2. I didnt hate it as u did, but i didn’t like it as much as Thailand. but i do agree with some of ur points

      1) Not Cheap, With the US$ so strong its actually more expensive than Thailand. Just go to the mini mart and buy urself the same goods u would in Thailand and u will see the price difference is pretty large.

      2) Cambodian are not friendly to all races, they look down on people who are especially not white skin. I think Laos and Thai people are genuine more open minded and nicer, thou Cambodians are not bad people; just i don’t agree with the article claiming they are nicer than Thais.

      3) Shopping is a lot cheaper in Cambodia, more than Thailand but the variety is much much less

      4) Tuk Tuks are annoying they will constantly ask u for a ride; its like all foreigners just hate walking…. even when ur a 28 year-old young guy.

      5) There is also much less to do here, once u see the temples in Siem Reap, the Beaches in Sihnoukville, and the Museums in Phnom Penh… there is a less incentive to come back; but in Thailand its just so much to see and do and u can keep coming back for years.

      5) The night life in Thailand is unmatched to Cambodia…. there is absolutely no comparison.

      I thought Cambodia was a good place but its not my fav places in SE Asia, would i be back probably but not anytime soon.

  5. Cambodia is on my list of upcoming travel (yay!). Thanks for reminding me about the passport photo!

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