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Cambodia travel plans - please advise!

  • panlou

    Joined Travelfish
    8th July, 2010
    Posts: 8

    Hi,

    I am planning to spend about a week in Cambodia around the Xmas period and ending up in HCMC.

    I would like to spend a couple of days somewhere to relax/recover from the long flights and then visit Siem Riep and Phnom Penh. From there i plan to take the bus to HCMC.

    Any suggestions were to spend the first couple of days? Beach would make sense but not sure how to schedule and combine with the rest. Alos, I was thinking of taking the boat between PP and SR but from what I have read it is probably not worth the time/cost. Now I need to decide between bus/plane. ANy comments?

    Any alternative destinations to propose? I have never been to Cambodia so not sure whether I am missing something.

    Thanks,
    Panos

    #1 Posted: 8/7/2010 - 18:59

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  • Nokka

    Joined Travelfish
    6th April, 2009
    Location United Kingdom
    Posts: 259

    Hi, Panos. I spent a week in Cambodia earlier this year. In my view, in the time you have available I would concentrate on Siem Reap and Phnom Penh only. You don't say where you will fly into and from where, though. If you are flying into Bangkok, say, I would then fly to Siem Reap. I stayed 5 nights there and found it a really nice place, with more to do than just the temples. If you want to relax, stay in a place with a pool and a nice balcony; they don't need to be expensive.

    I took the bus to PP, which took about 6 hours, I think and was fine. Starts early so you get in in good time. 2 nights in PP was enough for me, but each to their own.

    If you fly into PP you may be tempted to hit the beaches for a couple of days, but logistically I think you'll be better not to bother. PP to the beach, then all the way up to SR, then back to PP in a week ? Hmmm.

    I'm sure SR at Christmas will be extremely busy with tourists. I was there in late February and it was still pretty busy. I would book your guest house very early, if I were you.

    #2 Posted: 8/7/2010 - 19:55

  • svendj

    Joined Travelfish
    30th April, 2010
    Location Belgium
    Posts: 196
    Places visited:
    At least 32

    as nokka says, time is valuable, but going from PP to the beach(f.e. sihanoukville) and then siem reap is a bad idea, if you go from PP to Sihanoukville you have to come back through Phnom Penh anyway so that's a wast of time.

    It's indeed a good idea to fly into siem reap and then head back down to PP. 1 Week is not a lot of time but you should manage to see some stuff.

    I'd suggest in Siem Reap : 1 day at the temples, 1 day a boat trip on the lake and 1 day of sightseeing should be enough.

    The beach is indeed a good way to relax from your flight but as nokka says, a good hotel will do the trick as well!

    #3 Posted: 9/7/2010 - 15:29

  • panlou

    Joined Travelfish
    8th July, 2010
    Posts: 8

    excelent, thank you both for your insight! it seems that I should skip the beach idea.

    I am flying in from europe via Bangkok, so i could start either from SR or from PP. From what you said i guess SR makes more sense, then head to PP and from there to HCMC. Any thoughts on boats between PP and HCMC instead of bus?

    Thanks,
    Panos

    #4 Posted: 9/7/2010 - 19:56

  • busylizzy

    Joined Travelfish
    31st December, 2007
    Location New Zealand
    Posts: 2087
    Total reviews: 20
    Places visited:
    At least 107

    The boat from PP to HCMC is a great idea, and I have made a couple of posts recently on this (but with regards to travelling in the reverse direction - HCMC to PP).

    http://www.travelfish.org/board/post/vietnam/11121_chau-doc-border-crossing-and-cambodia-visa
    http://www.travelfish.org/board/post/cambodia/6796_ho-chi-min-to-angkor-wat-and-back---

    #5 Posted: 9/7/2010 - 20:06

  • KazAussie

    Joined Travelfish
    18th July, 2009
    Posts: 221

    I would recommend you go straight to Siem Reap . It can be as hectic or as laid back as you want to make it. Accommodation is cheap so get somewhere nice with a pool for at least your first couple of days. I would recommend Day 1 -- see Ankor Wat sunrise. It will give you a sense of the majesty of the place. Spend the rest of the day lazing by the pool, or if you prefer wandering around the town. There are some really nice walks along the river.

    Day two head out to the further temples .... four or five hours depending on how much 'templing' you can take.

    Day three, devote at least four or five hours to Ankor Wat.

    For the temples, if your budget will allow get a guide for the temples. It will cost about $20 per day including transport (make sure you ensure that transport is included, otherwise you will be up for another $12-15 for a tuk tuk driver. You can team up with another couple of people to defray some of the costs. I really enjoyed the stories told by the guide, but make sure you meet them first, they are all licensed and so their knowledge is very good but some have better English than others. Siem Reap town is really nice to just wander around or do a cooking class, it depends what you like to do.

    Don't be tempted to get the boat from Siem Reap to Phnom Phen at that time of year. The lake is really low so the trip takes a very long time at best, at worst you could be, as happened last year, suck for 24 hours without being able to move and with very little water and food on board. The bus is about 5 hours I think.

    If you only have a week I would recommend leaving HCMC for another trip as you will need at least 2 or 3 days for the city itself let alone any day trips you might want to take.

    I hope this helps.... I loved Cambodia and trust you will too.

    Just be aware, this is a very poor part of Asia so in the market places you will be badgered to 'buy something' but a polite 'no thank you' does the trick. There are also beggar children around the temples trying to sell very cheap post cards and trinkets, these children are beautiful and hard to resist, but please read the tourist information (should be at your hotel or hostel) about how to donate. If you give money to these children it encourages them to skip school etc and they put themselves in danger from not so ethical tourists.

    Also hard to resist are some of the land mine victims. Don't let this put you off, it is just something to be mindful of and prepared for.

    Enjoy your trip

    #6 Posted: 12/7/2010 - 15:42

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