Cambodia, a hidden gem of Southeast Asia, is getting great popularity at present. While it's still a renowned tourist stop, it's not as famous as its neighbor Thailand. With gorgeous temples, beautiful islands and beaches, and rich cultural heritage, every travel enthusiast should visit Cambodia at least once. While the lively cities are the major attractions that attract a lot of tourists to the country, the smaller towns and villages are equally beautiful with different beauty than the cities. From the jungles to the beaches, this country has lots of incredible to explore around.
On this trip, you will visit some of the best seaside resorts, beaches, and islands of Sihanoukville and Kep. At Sihanoukville, you can explore the markets and wander through the city and interact with the locals. Then, we head towards a serene island where you can snorkel and discover the underwater world, and enjoy classic Cambodian meals prepared by the locals. On to the Kep, you will learn about the relics of French colonial architecture, taste the fresh seafood in the crab markets, and visit the caves of the white elephants. Also, you will be visiting the world's finest pepper plantation where you can purchase green and red pepper. Through this five-day tour, get a genuine experience of Cambodia's seaside.
Things to Know
Cambodia Riel is the official currency of Cambodia. However, you can use US dollars for almost anything. In the country, you will see prices marked in USD, although you might get a change in Riel.
A 30day tourist visa is a must for every visitor to Cambodia. You can get a visa on arrival for around 30USD in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Preah Sihanouk. Don't forget to bring a passport-sized photo with you. The Cambodian government website also offers e-visas. You can apply before traveling, to speed up your entry in the country. e-visas costs additional 6USD and takes three days to process. You can extend the 30day visa at the embassy in Phnom Penh for 45USD (for an additional 30days). For visitors from Asian nations, a visa to Cambodia is free for 30days.
overall, Cambodia is a safe country to visit. Khmer people are welcoming and very friendly to foreigners. However, as with any place, you have to be cautious. You might experience bag snatching in big cities like Phnom Penh. Most of these happen, especially when you are riding in tuk-tuks. Be aware and keep your bag and other belongings close to you. Also, never wander off in rural areas like forests or rice paddies without a guide. Even though it is rare, you might step on unexploded mines. In many places of your trip, this is not much of an issue. However, a little caution goes a long way, so just take heed from the locals and don't go wandering off in the jungle alone.
Before traveling to Cambodia, make sure you get travel insurance. It is the thing that you don't want to leave home without.
Cambodia's official language is Khmer, also referred to as Cambodian. Over ninety-percent of the country's population speaks the Khmer language. Most Cambodian locals speak Central Khmer, which is the most common dialect; however, the exact dialect might vary depending on the places. As tourism in Cambodia has increased a lot in recent years, the use of English has also increased. You will easily be able to communicate in bigger towns and cities with English. However, this might be a bit of a problem in small villages.
Festivals and Celebrations
Cambodia has an abundance of cultural heritage, and the Khmer people love to celebrate their traditions with big parties and festivals. If you visit Cambodia in April or May, you will get to take part in the Khmer New Year celebration. Two initial days of this holiday are for traditional activities and family gatherings, while the third and final day vents into a country-wide water fight (similar to Thailand's Songkran, but very toned down).
At the end of April or beginning of May (depending on the year), the Khmer people mark the beginning of the rice planting season with the Royal Ploughing Ceremony. This ceremony takes place in Phnom Penh too and is a great sight to see. Perhaps the most festive and exciting holiday of Cambodia is the water festival, held every year in October and November, to mark the variation in the flow of the Tonle Sap and Mekong River. The city turn into a festival vibe and is a perfect time to experience Khmer culture with most fun
When to visit Cambodia
Cambodia's dry season that lasts from November to March is the most popular time to travel. In the dry season, temperatures are usually between 70 degrees Fahrenheit and the high 80s, occasionally getting up to the 90s, while April and May are the hottest and most humid months, with temperatures reaching 100 degrees. The rainy season falls between May to October. During this season, even though the temperature remains around 90s, the rain cools it off a bit. In the wet season, the afternoon downpours regularly, however, this will not affect your travel. This is the most pleasant time with a lot less crowded than the high season, if you don't mind being a bit wet, and also many accommodation and flight tickets get cheap during this season.
No matter what time of the year you travel to Cambodia, it's going to be hot. The tropical climate means high heat and humidity year-round. However, it can be quite cool in the evenings, particularly during the winter months, so it will be best to carry a light rain jacket or sweater. You can buy ponchos in many places, but it will be best to carry a rain jacket when traveling in the wet season.
Other things we recommend to carry would be a durable travel water bottle, sand-free beach blanket for beaches on islands, an RFID travel wallet, and a good pair of travel sandals. Also, don't forget to carry a nice sun hat as the sun can get quite intense while wandering around Angkor Wat. As the region is hot all year round, you can pack only light clothes and a pair of jackets/sweaters for the evenings.
Don't worry if you forgot to pack something; big cities like Phnom Penh or Siem Reap will have any amenity you could need.
Visit Cambodia's two most popular coastal cities; Sihanoukville and Kep
Visit Kirirom and Ream National Parks
Relax on the beach of the Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsai) of Kep
Wander around the pristine coastal Ream National Park
Visit the scenic town of Kampot and its countryside
- Comfortable twin-sharing accommodation in with daily breakfast
- A highly experienced, supportive, and friendly English speaking guide
- Private transportation with AC vehicle
- Entrance fee for all sites included in the itinerary
- Private boat at Ream Beach
- Three meals per day
- Back up support from Khuon Tour office
- Water and refreshment towels
- Local or International flights
- Cambodia entry visa fee
- Travel insurance
- Surcharges for different language speaking guide
- Bank fees (as charged by intermediate and overseas bank)
- Additional or alternative routing requested by guest
- Tips and gratuities and other personal expenses
- Additional charge for a single room
Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville
This morning, we head towards the coastal city of Sihanoukville, one of Cambodia's premier beach resorts. On the way, we will visit the Kirirom National Park, the first official national park of Cambodia. Head towards the peak of the Kirirom hill, situated over 675 meters above sea. From here, you can get gorgeous views over the Cardamom Mountains that widen as far as your eyes' sight can reach. Wander through some of the many paths in the park. The recommended spot is the pine forest, where you can take a relaxing walk and also see several streams and rapids along the park. Then, we will stop for a short break and enjoy Khmer style picnic lunch, before heading towards Sihanoukville. We will reach Sihanoukville around late afternoon. The rest of the time is free for your leisure activities. You can watch the mesmerizing sunset over the Gulf of Thailand from your resort.
Sihanoukville to Kbal Chhay Waterfall
Today, head out towards the Kbal Chhay Waterfall, Sihanoukville's most famous waterfall. The site lies about 16kmm north of the town. This place was the hide-out spot for the Khmer Rouge soldiers when the Khmer Rouge took over Cambodia's governance. At present, the waterfalls are one of the major tourist spots of Sihanoukville and also a clean water resource of the region. During the fall season, a massive amount of water flows from the mountain ranges surrounding Sihanoukville, wherein the dry season, the pools at the bottom are perfect to swim. Before heading back to Sihanoukville, enjoy this pristine environment. We head back to Sihanoukville for a delicious lunch. In the afternoon, you can relax on the beach, or enjoy the hotel's facilities.
Ream National Park
We begin the day with the trip to the Ream National Park. The park is home to many endangered species of animals, including macaques, sun bears, dolphins, mouse deer, pangolins, and over a hundred species of birds. Pay a visit to the park headquarters and learn about the park before entering. Hop on a local boat, accompanied by your guide, and explore the mangroves at Prek Tuk Sap River. There is also a tall watchtower from where you can get a great view of the area. Cruise along by boat over open waters and experience the serenity and beauty of this pristine region. Then, head out to the white sand beach where we will have our lunch, enjoy snorkeling, and swimming. Then, we return to Sihanoukville in the late afternoon.
Sihanoukville to Kampot
Departing from Sihanoukville, we drive for about a couple of hours to reach Kampot, one of Cambodia's most attractive towns. We pass through some of the most beautiful scenery with the Damrei mountains constantly following us. Also, we will visit the Educational Kampot Pepper Project and learn how Kampot pepper is famous among the best chefs in the world. During the Khmer Rouge, the farmers abandoned all plantations, and only recently, the project has re-instated by NGOs. You can offer a donation to this project, which supports the building of houses, water wells, infrastructure, and alternative energy plants. In the evening, go for a stroll around Kampot town where you can observe gorgeous French colonial architecture that is still present and, at the time, beautifully renovated. Also, board on a wooden boat and cruise along the Kampot river while enjoying an enchanting sunset with fellow travelers.
Kampot to Kep to Phnom Penh
This morning, we take a tour of Kampot's salt field and learn about how they produce salt. Then, driving a bit further, we will reach the coastal town of Kep, where we can enjoy white sand beaches at Koh Tonsai, also famous as the Rabbit Island. The Rabbit Island is only on a short distance via bot from Kep town. You can enjoy the underwater world while snorkeling or go swimming on this serene beach. At lunchtime, we will hold a barbecue on the beach and enjoy with your fellow travelers. Then, we return to the hotel to freshen up. After freshening up, we head back to Phnom Penh. The trip back to Phnom Penh takes approximately two and a half hours. On route, we will visit the Tonle Bati, a small lake which is very popular among locals. The major attraction of the lake is the 12th-century temple called Ta Prohm. King Jayavarman VII built this beautiful temple. You can see many little shrines and gorgeous flowers around every corner of the area. Then, we continue the trip to Phnom Penh, and upon arrival, check into the hotel. Trip Concludes.