We're planning a 2 week family trip to cambodia in January. Our proposed itinerary is to fly into Phnom Penh , have 2 nights there before heading to Siem Reap for the temples and Tonle Sap lake, then heading to Battambang for two nights before ending our trip on the coast either in Sihanoukville or one of the islands.
Is this a realistic itinerary for our time frame? Is there anything we're missing?
Also some questions:
Is it better to stay on the mainland coast in Sihanoukville or head to one of the islands? if so, what island is recommended?
Is it better to bus or boat from Phnom Penh to Siem reap? what companies?
whats the best way getting from Siem Reap to Battambang?
And the best way from Battambang to the coast? Ive heard due to bad roads you have to head back to PP...true?
Any further suggestions/tips are greatly appreciated!
#1 milouhofman has been a member since 8/10/2013. Posts: 1
The time frame isn't too bad, I imagine you'll want to spend at least 3 full days in Siem Reap which means you only realistically get one full day in PP before departure and then take count a whole day as taken up in travel to Siem Reap. So, including your arrival day, you'll get to Battambang on your 7th day in country, you can take a boat, but I'd say just take the bus to make life easier -- the boats did not get good reviews from the people we talked to. Even if you get a really early bus you'll really just explore the city in the evening on your first day, so that gives you one day to see the temple to the north and the one to the south - if only time for one, I found the drive up north nicer, the view from the hill at the southern temple good too though. You can get that done in a busy day though - so if you're looking to just stop off you can do it.
You will head back through, or skirting if you take a direct bus, PP in order to get to the coast. Count on a full day for that as well so that you'll arrive on the coast, and I'd recommend if you're staying with family that you'll have a quieter stay on the islands - though the right resort can be found for some peace on the mainland. That gives you a couple of nights before heading back to PP . . .
Thinking about it this way I'd suggest cutting out Battambang. You seem keen on a boat trip so maybe do that to SR and then just book a bus direct to the coast from there. This saving you a couple days will give you a night or two to add onto either the beach or on a return to PP as there is enough to do and enjoy there for at least one or two more nights.
I would also suggest cutting out Battambang. It's a bit of an awkward route as it is, since going to Sihanoukville from Siem Reap requires you to go back through Phnom Penh , so it is further complicated by trying to fit in Battambang. I would also suggest stopping in Phnom Penh overnight on the way to S'ville to break up what is otherwise a very long journey.
So you could consider spending a couple of nights in Phnom Penh, then on to Siem Reap for say, 4 or 5 nights (well worth it IMO, a lot to see and do there, and a great atmosphere at night with hundreds of restaurants and bars), back to Phnom Penh for a night, then onwards to S'ville the next morning.
Regarding S'ville, it unfortunately has a reputation for being a bit on the seedy side (whether this is deserved is another question), and in my own experience, I wouldn't think it was particularly suitable for a family holiday. So I imagine visiting one of the islands could be more worthwhile.
Koh Rong Samloem could be more suited to your needs: http://thesiracusas.com/2011/01/16/koh-rong-samloem-and-the-laziest-beach-ever/
Koh Rong, the other main island off S'ville, in my experience was more oriented towards younger backpackers looking for a bit of a party vibe.
Finally, if you wanted to squeeze in another location, Kampot is a quiet and relaxed little town located on the route between Phnom Penh and S'ville, which could be worth seeing for a night or two. There is even a resort near the town (expensive but quite luxurious) which could be somewhere to treat yourselves for a night if you were so inclined! http://www.natayaresort.com/index.php/en/home.html
Hope that helps!
#3 JaiYen88 has been a member since 25/4/2012. Posts: 110
You could stop at Battambang on your way to Siem Reap instead of on the way back if you want to see it. Best thing in Battambang is the circus but it only runs on certain days(usually Mon and Thu I believe).
To get to Battambang/Siem Reap I would take the bus, it is much cheaper then the boat and almost everyone that takes the boat seems to say never again. Especially since you are going to be there in the dry season so the boat will take a lot longer.
From Siem Reap there is a night bus to Sihanoukville if you are willing to try that. Otherwise it will take at least 1 full day travelling.
As others mentioned I would head to an island as Sihanoukville is supposedly sketchy. I didn't go there myself but talked to lots that did and most didn't care for it and the ones that did like it there were usually sketchy or strange.
Going against what others have said, but I think Battambang would be a great destination with kids. It is really fun to hire a tuk tuk for the day and get out of the town. A ride on the bamboo train is sure to be a hit. There are plenty of things to do besides the circus.
I have done the boat trip between Battambang and Siem Reap twice. It was a fantastic trip during the wet season, but during the dry season it is just really long. Since you will be there during the dry season, I think bus is probably a better option. If you want to see villages around the lake, you can always do a day trip from Siem Reap. I've never done it and have heard it is overpriced and touristy, but could be a fun trip with kids depending on how old they are.
If you are wanting to save days, I'd say cut time PP from two to one day. There isn't really a huge amount to see there.
#5 Wish has been a member since 29/9/2009. Posts: 2
Yes there are others things worth doing in Battambang, the circus is a ton of fun and kids would likely really enjoy it too. No animals or anything like that just a group of acrobats acting, dancing and doing tricks.
Phnom Penh isn't a child friendly city. The main sights are Tuol Sleng Prison and the Killing Fields which the children likely wouldn't enjoy especially if they are young. If they are old enough to understand that stuff then I would go see it but Killing Fields would be a lot more child friendly as Tuol Sleng has many disturbing pictures.
Also in PP the national museum is nice but is even better if you see it after you have seen the Angkor temples since you then have more of an idea of what you are looking at. So maybe save this until before you fly out or if you decide to stop on way to Sihanoukville. The Royal palace might be worth a view, looked interesting but it was closed when I was there so I never got to see inside.
I would agree that it makes sense to go to Battambang on your way up to Siem Reap, and then break the return journey in PP before you head to the coast. You might need to spend a night in Sihanoukville to catch a boat to the island the next morning. For a family stay, I'd recommend Lazy Beach on Koh Rong Samloem, or Palm Beach on Koh Rong. Both operate their own ferries so there's no transfer when you get to the island. There's snorkelling, kayaking and trekking depending on how active you're feeling!
Depending on the age of your kids, there is a new place called Kids City on Sihanouk Boulevard in Phnom Penh (about 5 minutes from Independence Monument) which would be a great place for them to let off some steam. Expect ball pools, a climbing wall, ice skating, laser tag etc. There's also plenty of burger, pizza and ice cream joints if they need some comfort food in aircon! Phnom Penh is also good for shopping - Russian Market is busy but interesting, Central Market has impressive architecture and plenty of souvenir stalls too.
You could also consider a boat trip in Phnom Penh - there are pleasure cruisers which can be hired for about $20 an hour, or check out the Kanika boat which has regular cruises.
Also in PP the national museum is nice but is even better if you see it after you have seen the Angkor temples since you then have more of an idea of what you are looking at.
Totally agree with Geer1 on that.