I want to spend about 3-4 weeks in Feb-March at Cambodia. I have a bunch of questions
1. Is it way too long a time if I am planning to skip any islands? I am not a very beach person
2. What places would you suggest I visit? Are there any forests or trekking options here?
#1 swethaD has been a member since 13/1/2012. Posts: 1
1. It's a good bit of time alright, definitely longer than the traveller spends here and particularly so if you are planning on skipping the islands and, presumably, Sihanoukville.
2. You could spend two weeks doing the usual tourist route - PP, Kampot/Kep, Siem Reap and Battambang (assuming you are not going to Sihanoukville). Then why not do a homestay on Tonle Sap lake for a few days. If you are going on to Laos then head over towards Kratie for the dolphins and onward travel to Stung Treng.
I would say you should probably limit it to 3 weeks assuming you are planning on just travelling in the normal sense of 3-4 days per place and not settling anywhere for longer than this.
#2 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
I recently spent 2 weeks in Cambodia and think it might be a bit too long. I think it depends on where you are from. The few European tourists that i met (actually in Bangkok) that had been to Cambodia thought 2 weeks was more than plenty. I was pretty off the grid in Cambodia and didnt have access to many of the tourist basics - and while I enjoyed this, i struggled physically with keeping my weight up and had some other health issues at the end of the trip... So what I am saying is that I suppose it also depends on how physically and mentally tough you are and where you will be staying, what you will be doing. Have you thought about starting in Viet Nam and that working your way through the Cambodia as the above person suggests? Maybe one week is VN and 2 in Cambodia?
Trekking can be done from Ban Lung (Rattanakiri Province) and Sen Monorom (Mondulkiri Province). I understand you can do treks up into the Cardamom Mountains, as well, but don't know from personal experience.
I don't think 3 weeks is too much, but then I spent a month there at the beginning of 2011. By land from Viet Nam (from Plei Ku to Ban Lung), then Kratie, Kampong Cham, PP, and on.
SwethaD, do you want to go to Angkor/Siem Reap? Logistics are going to help shape this trip. Cheapest travel is by bus, and it takes time to get from place to place. But a great way to travel in Cambodia.
Aside from not being interested in beaches, and liking forests and trekking, any other particular interests that you want to follow?
swethaD are you going alone? I am going to Cambodia at the end of Feb also for 4 weeks. The last time I went there i was there for 1 month. It didn't feel long because I have families there. If you plan on traveling to different parts of the country that is a perfect length. It may feel long if you don't plan on doing much like just sitting around which I do plan to do lol.. If you or anyone else wants to hook up in Cambodia or just talk more about Cambodia e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The beauty of spending time in Cambodia is being able to slow down, explore, meet local people and travel at your leisure. I live here and think that 3-4 weeks in this country would be wonderful as you won't feel the pressure of running around,doing it all and not having enough time.
Wherever you are, give yourself time to wander the streets, sit in coffee shops, explore local markets and get to know Cambodians. Whether it's a tuktuk driver who invites you for dinner at his home (as ours does regularly) or a place to volunteer your services for a few days...it's the best way to get a feel of the country, without feeling so much like a tourist.
As for trekking and hiking, I'd highly recommend Koh Kong. My husband and I recently took a daytrip of trekking in the jungle which was wonderful. There were only 8 people and our guide hacked his way through the undergrowth until we reached a couple of incredible waterfalls where we could swim and have lunch.
#6 Gabster has been a member since 26/3/2012. Posts: 5
One day in Siem reap will allow you to see the small cluster of temples at the main site, and not much else. You'l end up only in the far more crowded tourist zone of temples. These are well worth seeing, but only offer a glimmer of many "lesser" sites that, I thought, we're awesome. With two pre-teen kids we spent three days zooming about (we hired a tuk-tuk driver for the three days who took us to many different sites (as well as local restaurants etc) and his energy engaged the kids and made the trip a lot of fun. I was amazed that my kids enjoyed the temples so much, but some of the sites are quite large and well worth clambering around on.
To get all the way to Angkor Wat and dash through it in a day would be like ordering a huge dinner but only having time for the appetizers.....
#7 threelandtravel has been a member since 7/3/2012. Posts: 6
I agree with Gab big time. I think the best part of Cambodia is the people. Take time in places like Kratie, Banlung or Kampong Cham. Do some homestays (I had a great time at Rana Homestay near Kampong Cham). Hang out off the grid some. You'll be glad you did it.
'I think the best part of Cambodia is the people.'
OK I'm waiting to be shot down over this one but I would say the Laos,Thai and even Vietnamese (don't laugh if you've been there you probably only experienced the tourist areas) are much more friendly than the Khmer.
I've witnessed countless times when I've found the Khmer to be only money-grabbing.I suppose you can expect this because corruption starts at the top.
How many times have I seen a Khmer knock someone down on the road and then speed off and leave the injured person.(including me incidentally) Look at that crash on the road to Koh Kong.The bus turned over because of reckless driving.One poor Russian girl killed and many badly injured.What does the driver do? Call for help because he's the only one who can explain the situation? No.He runs away leaving the carnage behind.Yeh,nice people.
A police force that is totally useless (don't lose your passport or money because their not interested until you pay,pay,pay)
Just the other day my girlfriend came back shaken after watching a Khmer man brutally beating a girl with a baby whilst the Khmer stood and watched.In the end two Barang stepped in.
Yes, they smile a lot but if you know Asia you'll know a smile can mean many things, some sinister.
Yes, they are happy when they are taking your money, of course.
I'm presently back home, return in 4 weeks to Phnom Penh.
I'd advise the OP to see Angkor Wat then get into Laos, much,much nicer people.
#9 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Woah, Sayadin - maybe you need some more time away from Cambodia! Not going to shoot you down, you've provided some specific examples of why you feel that way. However, those incidents are not an everyday occurance, at least not in my experience.
I don't find Khmers to be money-grabbing. Sure, tuk-tuk drivers like to get a good deal on their fares and there are beggars around, but I've been given things for free so often and I'm rarely overcharged when buying food, coffees etc.
To answer the original OP, 3-4 weeks is a fabulous luxury to explore Cambodia without rushing. Travel can be tiring, so allowing yourself the time to orientate properly and find out what's to do and see in each place should make your visit much more rewarding.
Don't just think in terms of the main sights, take Gabster's advice and enjoy the little aspects of Khmer life. Go for a walk and get lost, see what you find!
Find a tour or a tuk tuk who can take you to Kien Svay in Kandal province (about 30 minutes from Phnom Penh) and help you to buy food in the market before you relax in a hut over the lake. (NB, the market is much cheaper than ordering food at the hut).
Enjoy the back roads between Kandal and Kep and soak up the vistas.
You also have time to visit Mondulkiri or Ratanakiri in the north, a totally different aspect of Cambodia that many people simply don't have the time to see. Swim in a volcano crater lake in Ratanakiri, see waterfalls galore, get close up and personal with elephants, go trekking and jungle camping in Mondulkiri. Try to find my friend Mot in Sen Monorom and he'll take you for an unforgettable adventure!
Abigail in 7 years I've seen many accidents and NEVER seen a Khmer stop to help.They ALWAYS speed off. It's a disgraceful habit.Yes, It is an everyday occurence.
You must know if you live there that the irritating tuk-tuk drivers will each ask you if you want a ride even though they've heard you say no to the first one.Is there any reason to shout 'Joy Mae' because you don't want his ride.It happens constantly.
We understand the language and the filthy comments my girl gets just because she wears shorts are outrageous.
Are you saying you've never seen domestic violence in Cambodia! It's endemic.Remember to a Khmer everything is the woman's fault.
If you've been there awhile you'll see the difference of the last few years.How many brand new luxury cars are on the road now? I remember the days when all you saw were beat up old Camrys. Where's all this money come from? I just see the poor getting poorer and the elite taking the cream.Hence the example is set.Sure I've had loads of acts of kindness but the country is deteriorating and becoming meaner because of the corruption.Barang are at the bottom and are seen as easy prey.
Answer me: Why is it in a filling station full of Hilux,Lexus,Humus the beggar will come to the Barang?
The winter was bad with the heavy rain so a lot of people lost the harvest and were forced on the street.What does this government do? Nothing.In Thailand every farmer was provided with rice and money to start up again. I think you're seeing a Cambodia that no longer exists.
I can't blame them for trying to survive but IMO the country has lost it's innocence.
#11 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
I have seen Khmers help at road accidents. I've seen several accidents on my street corner and seen moto dops and shop owners rush out to help people up and collect their belongings for them. Just this week I saw a car driver stay to sort out the issues after he hit a moto. I know there's a nasty habit of hit and run, the person in the car feeling they are too important to stay and sort it out, but sweeping generalisations don't give a full picture.
I never understand why people get so annoyed about the tuk tuks - it only really happens on riverside and I have never, ever been sworn at when I say no. Usually I am asked how long I've lived in Cambodia, or complimented on my Khmer. Maybe it's a female thing ...
I have witnessed domestic violence here, although not much. Most of what I see in on 'comedy' TV programmes. I did see a man and a woman screaming at each other that escalated into him hitting her. The Khmer people around me were embarrassed and clearly felt awkward and didn't intervene. To my shame, neither did I. Afterwards, people said how bad it was. But I've seen the same in my home town in the UK, especially when alcohol is involved.
I am seeing the Cambodia I live in - I don't own a pair of rose tinted glasses! Of course I've noticed more expensive cars and 'nouveau riche' acting as they do in every country. But you can't assume all the money comes from corruption. It also comes from people working long hours for successful companies, Khmer and foreign-run alike. It comes from foreign investment. The economy is genuinely growing here, it's not just backhanders.
Of course, not everyone is benefiting. And the gap between rich and poor is more obvious. And more help is needed. But I do see Khmers giving to beggars and I know rich Khmers who are involved in charity work to improve conditions in their home province.
This country is changing and fast. It's one reason why I encourage people to visit, because who knows what it will be like in 10 years' time. I'd hate to think that you aren't seeing all the little daily bits of beauty and happiness that make this place special because you're focussed on the negatives. And I'd hate for someone else to be put off visiting and finding out for themselves ...
"The economy is genuinely growing here."
A cursory glance at any of the economic websites would back this up, with GDP growth currently estimated at 7% for 2011.
However, I guess Sayadian's point could still stand regarding inequality as, unfortunately, economic growth does not always equate to equality of growth.
#13 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 740
'I know there's a nasty habit of hit and run'
That was precisely my point-hit and run, people help yes, though I think if I was badly injured I'd prefer to wait for qualified medical staff (dreaming, this is Cambodia) than be violently shaken to see if I was still alive.But that of course is just ignorance not malice.
'I never understand why people get so annoyed about the tuk tuks'
Really, when a whole line of them ask you the same damned question and when you finally get exasperated and ignore them start swearing at you in Khmer.
So where are these successful businesses? All I see is building projects where a lot of the time the land has been stolen from the people and sold on to foreign investment with dodgy, government companies receiving the profits.I think the Khmer people need to get off their backsides before the whole country is sold off to the Chinese,Taiwanese,Vietnamese etc and get some concessions like Thailand.I don't see so many luxury cars in Thailand but I do seee them beginning a social programme including Old Age Pension, free travel etc.
I'm not only focusing on the negatives but I'm politically minded and was involved at Lakeside and it gave me a whole new perspective of Cambodia.
The only negative I see is the corruption which seeps through the system meaning everyone learns early that you grab what you can get and to hell with the rest.
Of course I know really nice Khmer people but there is an attitude of rotteness creeping through this society because they are aware of what is going on (yes,I talk to Khmers) but are clueless what to do.
BTW The best time to see Phnom Penh has to be during Khmer New Year-it was a ghost town and the firework display was immense.
#14 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Fly to PP, spend a couple of days there, then take a bus up to Ban Lung and spend a week doing village homestays drinking rice wine and listening to folk tales and do a trek in Virachey while it's still there (I will be returning for the 4th year in a row in January 2013 to do yet another trek to a different area of the park). After Ratanakiri, you could go to Stung Treng and then cut across (I forget the name of the road) heading west and stop at Preah Vihear and then down to Angkor Wat. 3-4 weeks will be perfect. I wouldn't do less.
That's interesting.Is the road from Stung Treng to Preah Vihear (through Tbeung Meanchey towards Anlong Veng) now passable,have they upgraded it? It used to be only for dirt bikes and experienced riders.If true Cambodia is changing very fast.
#16 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
Tbeung Meanchey towards Anlong Veng -yes, that is what I was thinking of. I am not sure if the road has been redone and sealed yet. Sheed, you know? Even if it hasn't been done yet, it should be a good adventure.
'Even if it hasn't been done yet, it should be a good adventure.'
Agreed, but how would you do it.Is there a van or would you have to use a dirt bike?
#18 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557