When I was backpacking in South East Asia, one of my friends advised me “Make sure you don’t miss Cambodia, it’s amazing.” I am still indebted to my friend for persuading me to visit this Masterpiece. I visited Cambodia at the end of my trip and it was like the climax of the whole adventure. Unfortunately, Cambodia has not received much appreciation, which it definitely deserves. Well, I think it’s because it’s simple and pure. If you are looking for shopping and glamour, Cambodia might not be your thing. It is a place for true nature explorers.
My stay in Cambodia was fantastic and I will definitely visit it again. The only trouble I faced in Cambodia was lack of information about the cost, food and places to visit. I tried to connect with my friend but he was too busy in meetings, he is a business consultants in Dubai and it is quite difficult to have a long face time with him. I turned to internet and even the internet was short of guides and backpacking blogs about Cambodia. I don’t want my fellow backpackers to face what I faced. I am going to tell you all about Cambodia, the food, the cost, accommodation, the places and all that you need to know for having a fantastic trip.
The best thing about Cambodia is its dirt cheap. It is regarded as the cheapest spot of backpacking in Asia. A couple can spend a whole day for 25$ only. Mostly we stayed in guest houses having dorm beds. A double bedroom with all facilities was available with around 10$. Hotel rooms with television, air-con and an attached bathroom come by only 15$.
The country is overall very good and unique in culinary arts. I tried a variety of their traditional food and simply loved them. You can have a heartiest delicious breakfast in less than a dollar. You must give a try to following foods during your stay.
- Fish Amok
Fish Amok is a well-known traditional food of Cambodia. It is a thick fish based curry which is also very popular in Thailand.
- Khmer Curries
Most of Cambodian curries are like Thai curries, both use coconut milk as a base with a subtle sweetness. However, the Khmer curries are not as spicy as the Thai, containing fewer quantities of chilies.
- Khmer Mango Salad
Mangoes are loved across Southeast Asia and are commonly used in Salad. If you like mangoes, you must give it a try. They are similar to the Thai papaya salad, but involve a grated mango as the base.
The Angkor beer is the national drink of Cambodia and is named after its world famous wonder. It costs only 25 cents and is the most widely consumed beer in Cambodia.
Local city transport is cheap and comfortable only costing a couple of dollars presuming that you bargain properly. Hiring a taxi for a whole day will cost 20$ and you can travel faraway in a bus in as low as 10$.
The government of Cambodia is very generous to visitors and you can fly there anytime. You get a Visa on arrival for 6 months for only 10$.
Best things to do and Best Places to Visit
It is not possible for any backpacker to discover whole Cambodia in a squeezed time because it has a lot to offer. I stayed for almost a month and everyday I felt like the first day because of unique adventures and experiences. I am listing down the best of the best places to visit and top things to do.
You might have crazy New Year celebrations at your home but what’s unique about celebrating New Year in Cambodia is that it is celebrated in April. People throw white talcum powder on each other to wish as per traditions. I was very lucky to visit in April and enjoyed this wonderful event.
It is the capital of Cambodia. The city has a great nightlife, if you have the time I recommend spending at least a week. The city and has a long history of sacrifice, genocide and fight against oppression. You should certainly head to the historical spots like the poignant Choeung Ek Killing fields and the horrifying S-21 prison where the Khmer Rouge tortured and killed over 14,000 people. These historical sites are important to visit because they teach visitors about the past horrors of the totalitarian regime and gives the spirit and positivity that similar things will never happen again.
If you are an Angelina Jolie fan, you must have watched the movie “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider”. The movie features a fascinating mysterious temple in the final moments. The temple you watched in the movie is Angkor Wat, one of the wonders of the world. Angkor Wat is a temple complex and is the largest religious monument in the world. The temple has a significance in Cambodian history as it was originally constructed as a Hindu temple of God Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, gradually transformed into Buddhist temple at the end of 12th century. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country’s prime attraction for visitors.
If you are a fan of ancient architecture and high rise temples, than this place is a winner. Primarily, people come here for Angkor Wat but the site has a lot of other temples in its proximity and it may take days to visit all of them. I strongly recommend, don’t just stick to Angkor Wat and spin around the whole locality as much as you can.
This place is like the center of backpackers. You will find a lot of other backpackers here because of the white beaches, amazing islands and seafood plus a crazy nightlife, this place has all adventures in one pack to offer. It is an amazing place to relax after a long day of exploring.
Khep is quite similar to Sihanoukville but few nightlife. However, the sunset view is absolutely mind blowing and fantastic for photography.
Bokor National Park
Cambodia was a French colony before its independence in 1951. The national park boasts atmospheric French ruins set in a lush rainforest with multiple hiking trails.
This place depicts the real Cambodian culture and way of living. The people are absolutely amazing and have a lot of hospitality stored in them. Another good thing about Battambang is that you can easily hire a bike for a whole day in like 10$.
Cambodia is an underdeveloped country but is struggling to improve its economy by developing some free trade zones like they have in UAE, where you can easily have a free zone company setup UAE. The country’s major part of income comes from tourism which is increasing steadily. I am dying to visit this amazing country again and I also want you not to miss Cambodia no matter what because it’s just simply amazing.