OK. We have about 9 days in June to get a taste of Cambodia. We were thinking 2 days in Phnom Penh, then 2 or 3 days in Seam Reap to see Angkor Wat and then a couple of days on the islands just to get heat relief.
We need to know mostly about traveling. Are buses our best bet?? I read that the train system just doesn't happen. Also.. accommodation. Being 46 and 56... I think we need air con at night to keep us functioning in summer. Any thoughts and experiences would be most welcome. We will be traveling in from and out to Bangkok if that makes any difference.
Ty in advance :)
#1 jojoaus has been a member since 17/3/2011. Posts: 3
Not sure if that will be a comfortable trip in 9 days if you want to include the coast.
To save yourself time and cost try to get a flight BKK - Siem Reap - Phnom Penh.
From PP it will take you half a day to reach the coast (Sihanoukville, Kep or Koh Kong ). Either by bus or private taxi. The latter being a little more expensive, more comfortable and slightly faster.
Destination depends on interest. In general people in your age group tend to favor Kep over Sihanoukville. I live in Kep so this is based on experience.
The islands only have primitive accommodation (no aircon) and you'll most likely not be able to reach them on the same day of arrival.
If you choose Koh Kong (and to lesser extend Sihanoukville) you have the option of going back to Bangkok overland without backtracking to PP and flying back to BKK.
Another option is to fly Bkk- Siem Reap , but bus to PP. It's about a 6 hour trip on a reasonably comfortable bus (if you don't mind the blaring video), but it's a great way to see the scenery and countryside as you drive by. The bus stops half way between for 1/2 or so in a small town where you can grab a bite to eat and have a toilet stop.
In terms of the coast, I agree that Kep would be a better option to S'ville. Or as an alternative, consider Kampot - a nice, relaxing riverside town. Again, the bus is a reasonably comfortable ride to here - about 5 hours I think, by memory.
I didn't make it to the islands off the coast unfortunately, but you just might find that with sea breezes, etc you just might not need aircon. A fan just might suffice, even in June.
I would suggest allowing a bit longer in Siem Reap - at least 3 full days. There are more things to see than just temples. You can do day trips up the river villages, and to the landmine museum, etc further north. Plus just walking around SR itself is quite nice. Don't rush it. Also, you will probably want at least 2 full days in PP, so aim for 3 nights minimum.
Thank you both for the input! Will share this with my traveling companion. He has a friend who has been 3 times who we will also consult. It's so good to hear about the realities of the country- I am really looking forward to it!
#4 jojoaus has been a member since 17/3/2011. Posts: 3
................it's easy to reach Rabbit Island from Kep , for a taste of the islands. There are ferries from about 8am, and the earlier you are, the better to ensure transport. Alternatively, there are a few islands off Sihanoukville which take from about 90 minutes to get to by boat. Honestly think you will not need aircon on the islands (you can't get it anyway!). When I visited one in August, I was almost cold at night!
A private taxi to Kep/ Kampot is about $35 for the whole car and takes 2 hours, compared with about $5 each for a bus ticket for a 4.5 hour journey. It's worth spending the rest of the day exploring Kep or Kampot before you head to Rabbit Island.
From Bangkok, I think it makes sense to go to Siem Reap first, then bus to PP (agree that this allows you to see the countryside and 'real' life). From there you can head to Kep/Kampot/Sihanoukville. For ease, probably flying from BKK to SR, then from PP back to Bangkok is easiest.
Apart from on the islands, it's easy to find aircon rooms. There a bit more expensive than fan rooms, but could help you sleep better. Depending on your budget, there are some amazing places to stay, especially in PP, SR and Kep. Boutique hotels, old villas, eco lodges ...
I usually suggest that friends and family go first from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, then return to PP for a night before coming to the coast. Kep is very nice, but small. Sihanoukville gets a bad rap sometimes, but it is changing fast. I have lived here for 5 years. I used to never see "old farts" except on the Hill (not recommended). Now that Serendipity/Ochheuteal Beaches have been upgraded and the property titles sorted out, that area is becoming a wonderful place to make as your base in SV. In the past couple of years it has become increasingly popular with families and couples, whereas before it was largely backpackers. Still is, but there's a nice mix now. Accommodation with swimming pool costs around $35 per night. I highly recommend the Coolabah. It's now run by an Australian couple who seem to really know what they're doing.
From the main tourist road at Serendipity, you can make travel arrangements to the islands or anyplace else. If you do want to go to Kampot/Kep, it's only a couple of hours away from SV.