Hello fellow travelfishers...first post here, but lurked your forums for a good while, some legends in the shadows in this place...I like how honest and subjective this place is compared to by the book trip advisor.
Me and my gf are doing a 5 week tour of SE asia....after much to-ing and fro-ing, we have decided we are doing 17 days in china, 7 days in cambodia, 2 days in Malaysia (KL transit), and 9 days in Thailand
We have China sorted, we just need further clarification on Cambodia and Thailand (which I will post in the appropriate forum), can you critique our itinerary and give us a brief run down of the best things to do in the area? also mention if we are spending too much or too little time, or even anything else.
Not interested in museums....pretty boring...suggest them anyway and we might consider it.
Like good street food and cheap beer
I am into scenery, im a nature geek....anything to do with mountains, nice gorges etc
She is more into the cosmopolitan vibe and beaches
We both are interested in culture and hate typical tourist traps and tacky commercialised areas.
Not interested in a typical package holiday activities like sitting at pool....reading paper....eating....read paper again.....sit at pool some more...none of that, we like to be active and doing things.
#1 Grandads_tools has been a member since 30/3/2012. Posts: 3
Sounds like a great trip.
With 7 days in Cambodia you'll probably only want to check out 2 or 3 places so you're not rushing around too much. I would suggest maybe 2 days in Phnom Penh, 2 days in Battambang and 3 days in Siem Reap . Using a bus to travel between the 3 areas is a cheap option, and a great way to mingle with the locals.
If you want to get a better understanding of Cambodia and it's people, you should visit the s-21 prison and the killing fields. A bit overwhelming, but definitely a must. There are also a few interesting temples in town and the grand palace is worth a look.
In Battambang it's great to hire a tuk-tuk driver for a day or 2 (they usually cost around $15 for the whole day) to take you out into the countryside and off the tourist trail. I hired one who not only took me to meet his family, but also to a friends wedding! By far the best experience I had in Cambodia.
One must-do in Battambang is the bamboo train. Yes, most tourists passing through do this, but is it a fantastic experience. Also, this is how the locals travel, whom you will encounter along the trip.
In Siem Reap it goes without saying that you'll have to do the Angkor temple complex. Using a tuk-tuk is a good option if you're short on time, otherwise it's great to explore on bike. But in saying this, Angkor would have to be the biggest tourist trap in all of Cambodia (which is what you said you wanted to avoid). You'll be competing for walking space with the big and plentiful tourist groups, children pushing cheap souvieners will follow your every step, and the grand Angkor wat is actually covering in scaffolding while being renovated! Not very "Indian Jones" like! But if you make the effort to visit the smaller and lesser known temples on the outskirts of the complex you'll more than likely have them all to yourself and have a more authentic experience.
Also, another fun thing to do in Siem Reap is a boat trip on Tonle Sap Lake. You'll get to see the floating villages with all the locals going about their day to day lives which is a nice way to spend an afternoon.
Street food and cheap beer are a plenty throughout the entire country.
Hope this information is of some help. In Thailand, once you've spent a few days in Bangkok, you'll have to pick one or the other....beaches (southern thailand) or mountains (northern thailand). 9 days in probably too short a timeframe to fit in all without rushing around.
Thanks for your reply, I was curious about that battambang place...read heaps of travel guides on it and was thinking of fitting this in, our plan is 3 days PP and 4 days Siam Reap, we could maybe do as you suggested and cut our time in PP.
Angkor does seem over commercialised, but the temples of Cambodia cant be missed so just have to accept it this time! lol. How about Siam Reap itself? is it authentic? locals mingling or is it just strictly tourists and a place where you can see a "Rangers FC" or "Celtic FC" football bar? we had this in turkey and it amazes me how you have everton, manchester united, leeds, celtic and others in the middle of turkey....surely you come on holiday for culture? not sit in some bar with football supporters which you can do at home?
Thank god for the cheap beer....checked up on some prices in malaysia....not impressed! mind you, still cheaper than the UK thats for sure.
In regards to Thailand, we are doing 2 days in bangkok, 4 days in phuket and 4 in chiang mai....phuket is the last stretch of the holiday and it will be more of a relax and do nothing kind of wind down...Chiang Mai looks awesome, was thinking of splitting it and doing 2 in Chiang Do....what you think?
Appreciate your help with this.
We were thinking of Kampot...but we thought it would maybe too similar to phuket? could be wrong though, thanks for the suggestion
#4 Grandads_tools has been a member since 30/3/2012. Posts: 3
Angkor over commercialized? Well it's pretty busy, just as Machu Pichu, Acropolis and the Pyramids. You'll just have to bite through it but well worth it. It's for a good reason that there's so many people..
You're at least 15 years too late to find them in pristine original condition without anybody around.
Siem Reap is touristy yes but I can name a few places in the same category where they've done much worse to the town. If you stay outside of the main center you'll find plenty of places for street food and so on. Is it authentic? No. With over 2 million visitors per year you can hardly expect a town to stay authentic. There are plenty of activities but the town itself is not very exciting for a city walk or so.
And what's wrong with watching a sports match on TV every once in a while? Some people travel for long periods and then it's sometimes nice to watch a match of your favorite club or eat a burger. Just because someone wants to watch a match on 1 evening doesn't mean they come to Cambodia to watch TV. Don't be too judgmental.
Kampot is not similar to Phuket.... Not even close. There is a stretch of 100m riverfront where you have 10 very laid back bars/restaurants and that's it.
Eastwest you are exactly right here. You want to be Dr Livingston but at the end of the day enjoy a pizza and a beer? Doesn't work that way. 99% of the Dr Livingston's were dead the year they get off the boat. If a place is "amazing", you can be sure someone has built a way to get to it and make money off of it. There are some Khmer ruins in SEA that are interesting, but not all that grand, they are not heavily touristed. You can find them right here in Issan. But if you want to see the "can't miss" sight - well it's everyone's can't miss sight. You won't be alone.
#6 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
True. The tourists do go where the good sites are, and if I did find myself in some remote pristine environment, im probably in the wrong place.
2 million? wow, read quite a lot of trip reports on the area and it looks amazing. Do you know any places to stay that are slightly off the beaten track? my guide book hasn't said the area.
I just find it annoying how you get lager louts who get pissed and start trouble with everyone back home still manage to do the same usual crap on holiday and give british tourists a bad name. I'm not saying everyone is like this, but the typical stereotype of fat, rowdy, brit tourists with no tan and hideous tattoos apply to this bunch. Go watch the football in some place and have a quiet drink with your wife and kids, not lock yourself in your rangers pub. Makes it even worse when you hear the "old firm" chants between rangers and celtic. I literally cringe when I see people wearing rangers tops abroad.
Would you reccomend stopping in past kampot or battambang then? I think I may pick between these two...
#7 Grandads_tools has been a member since 30/3/2012. Posts: 3
Forget "off the beaten track" when it concerns Siem Reap . Any place you can stay in Siem Reap at has already been "discovered" by thousands of other backpackers.
Doesn't mean there aren't any pleasant budget places to stay. I'm not a backpacker so can't help you really. I do know that there is a street across the river, a little outside city center, with a string of budget places. Look it up on this site. I'm pretty sure 1 of the blogs mentions this street somewhere.
Kampot or Battambang? I'd choose B'bang for you just because it would save you travel time. With more time you could fit in Kampot.