Hi everyone! I am going in cambodia after 1 and 1/2 month in bangladesh. My requirements for this trip are relax nature and beaches. I'll fly in siem reap the 17/05 morning and I have my flight back the 27/05 morning. My initial idea was to stay 3 days 2 nights in SR to visit the temples and then move south and stay 5 days 4 night. Take a night bus from SR to kep in order to have more time to spend in the beaches. From kep the idea is to moving west and overnight in sihanouville to explore the islands, then koh kong city. Finally going back to siem reap and stop one night in Battambang . I am a girl traveling alone but I was pretty confident in taking night bus for the main transportation ( SR - kep and Battambang - SR), but reading the forum I saw many travelers reporting bad experiences with night bus.
My questions are then the following:
1) The situation for night bus is still that bad?
2) Do you think is a good idea organizing the trip starting from SR to kep or it would be better going first in Battambang?
3) I will for sure go in the rabbit island, otres beach, islands around sihanoukville and then I will follow the inspiration of the moment. Do you have any suggestion about someplace I cannot miss?
Many thanks for your tips !
#1 Giuls has been a member since 7/5/2013. Posts: 5
Do you have tickets purchased already? You would be best to fly out of Phnom Penh instead of having to back track to Siem Reap as that is going to waste time, you could do night bus back but it is going to suck.
As for night bus I believe it only goes Sihanoukville to Siem Reap and vice versa(via Battambang /Phnom Penh of course but I don't know that it goes to Kep/Kampot). Night buses suck though and you should avoid them, you will come out feeling so tired you won't want to do anything the next day.
My opinion would be Siem Reap, then stop in Battambang if you want(decent place but nothing amazing, best attraction is the circus) on your way to Phnom Penh. I would recommend seeing the Killing Fields/Tuol Sleng Museum just for an eye opener if nothing else. Then swing down to Kampot/Kep/Rabbit Island/Sihanoukville/Koh Rong etc and then back to Phnom Penh(or up to Siem Reap if you have to).
10 days isn't enough to see all these places so you are going to have to choose where you want to go. To me hopping on a bus and looking for new accommodation every day is about as far from relaxing as a person can get but whatever floats your boat.
Geer1 thanks for your advices! I have already booked my flight tickets so I am forced to go back in SR. Definitely I don't have enough time to see everything and be in the main time relaxed.. I'll probably change my tour in this way: 2 full days and 1 night in SR then night bus (I know it could not totally safe and uncomfortable but I would save one entire day) to sihanoukville where I am planning to stay 2 and 1/2days and 2 nights. The next day I ll try to take the last boat to koh rong (have to check the boat schedule) to enjoy the sunset in the boat or in the island. 3 nights and 2 days in KR. The day after I ll take the first boat to SHV and catch a bus to Kep where I ll stay 2 night and 1 and 1/2 day. Finally 26/5 bus from kep to SR and overnight there to catch the flight on early 27.
The schedule is tight but I hope that beaches food and landscape will compensate the effort!
Feel free to suggest some changes on my plan!
#3 Giuls has been a member since 7/5/2013. Posts: 5
10 days should be split as follows:
Siem Reap (3-4 days)
Phomn Penh (2-3 days)
Sihanoukville (3-4 days)
Kampot and Kep are nice and well worth seeing but in 10 days you don't have enough time and you stated in your original criteria that you wanted beaches. The beaches in Kep suck. Sihanoukville's are no world beaters but they (and those on the islands) are a lot better.
Any more than 3 places in 10 days and you will not be relaxing.
#4 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
Thank you for the feedback! I am not interested in visiting PP in this trip (in this few days I would rather prefer to avoid big cities since I am coming from dhaka).
I read about kep and it seems that it is worthy go there at least for seeing the rabbit island, but maybe it is not the case or simply people with different tastes/opinion. Don't you think?
For having a more relaxed trip should I probably stay more in koh rong and skip kep? So It would be 3 places 10 days.
#5 Giuls has been a member since 7/5/2013. Posts: 5
My advice would be this:
Stay 3 or 4 nights in Siem Reap so you can see as much of the temples as possible and enjoy the nightlife there, I really love it there because there is a lot to do and it's a fun and busy atmosphere but still quite a small city.
Then travel to Phnom Penh just for 1 night to split up the journey to Sihanoukville (at least 12-13 hours, probably more than that), and it's definitely worth it to see the Tuol Sleng and Killing Field museums. It's not a hugely populated city like Dhaka, so it will probably seem quite chilled and quiet to you! I would recommend taking an early morning bus from SR at 6am, then you will arrive at 12 in the afternoon, which gives you plenty of time to see the museums, and you can also visit the big market.
Then you could go to Kampot for 1 night which is very quiet but nice for a quick visit, or just go straight to Sihanoukville and take a boat to Koh Rong where you have nice beaches and plenty of other travellers you can meet, and without the problems that S'ville has with lots of begging and sleazy tourism. That will give you 4 nights in Koh Rong to relax, and then you can go back to Siem Reap to catch your flight.
Hey - I'll throw in my 2-cents if you don't mind. I really enjoyed Kampot and thought Kep a quaint place - wouldn't go for beaches though, more for the sea-side town feel of the crab market as a day trip from Kampot. I didn't make it to Koh Rong, but while I've heard it is nice, I've also heard it isn't a must do, but rather an additional place if you have time. So,while I'd recommend a couple nights in Kampot to anyone who is looking for a quiet few days in Cambodia, I would only do that if 1) beaches are not a priority and 2) they have a longer stay than you (especially if they are flying in and out of SR).
Rather, I'd suggest sticking to Sihanoukville as there are a plenitude of different islands to choose from, so if you want to island hop you can save yourself the hassle of getting out to Kep (https://www.travelfish.org/feature/220). If relaxation is really what you are looking for, those night buses back and forth to SR are going to put a dent in that, so better to just soak up one island, or a short boat hop over to another if you want some exploration. I'd really recommend just choose one that suits you to base off from and book some day snorkeling trips if you get itchy feet.
My suggestion for ten days:
2-3 nights in Siem Reap .
1 night bus
1 night Sihanoukville (decide to move on our stay a little if you like the atmosphere)
4 nights based on island of your choice
1 night bus back to SR
I don't think this accounts for all your time - but it is an option.
I've noticed that almost all the transportation I took in Cambodia was also late, with varying degrees from a bit to very . . .so if you have an early flight it may be stressful to take the night bus if you have to arrive early to the airport for your international flight. With that in mind, one option would be to head straight to the islands to unwind and then come back to Siem Reap for the final 3 nights so that you don't stress about getting back here on time.
thanks for your super useful tips!
I would have thought about switching the stay in SR to the end of the trip if my fly was in the afternoon/evening, but I arrive in SR at 8 am so I would prefer to travel to SHV during the night.
So far I thought about these changes:
1night/2 days in SR
night bus SR--> SHV
3 days/nights in SHV (day1 visiting SHV's beaches, day2 hopping around the islands, day3 daily trip to kampot/kep for enjoying food and village)
3 nights 4days in Koh Rong
night bus SHV-->SR
1 day/night in SR
I read in several forums and lonely planet guide that koh rong is one of the prettiest island. Do you confirm it? this is why I chose KR but maybe is not the best option. I am sorry for all the questions and inquiries!
#8 Giuls has been a member since 7/5/2013. Posts: 5
I actually didn't go to the islands when I was in Southern Cambodia as my friend was not a beach person - but I've heard the same about Koh Rong.
If you are looking for villages - then Kampot /Kep don't really work, they aren't so much villages as small towns. However, if you are in Kampot, rent a motorbike and cross the river heading west, then turn south and work your way through the 'delta' of salt farms and you'll get a very clear site of how the locals live and earn money. That said, just exploring there for a day it will be pretty, but the best part of Kampot is the sunset over the Bokor Highlands.
As for Siem Reap - I think you can get away with one full day where you get up early for the large circuit of the main temples and the Angkor sunrise - and then spend one of your 'not quite' full days exploring some of the temples further afield.
I followed some of your tips and the moment inspiration!
I arrived very early in SR and I checked in at the siem reap hostel. I warmly recommend it. It is very clean, central position (less than 5 minutes from the pub street) but also very quiet. 6 beds dorm for 6 dollars (ac, swimming pool and nice chill out area). I visited the temple for 2 full days and it is not enough; 3 days would have been perfect (I had planned to spend there also the last day of my trip-since my flight back was from SR, but I was too tired to do it). I visited the temple with the bike, a very cheap option but not so smart with the may heat.
The second day I took a night bus to sihanoukville. I don't remember the company, it was 18 $ and not that bad. I would recommend to share the seat/bed with someone that you know.
In the early morning I arrived in Shkville and I went directly to the mushroom hostel (7 dollars in the dorm): the hostel is located in otres beach, quite far from the centre but the beach is nicer. In 10-15 minutes and 4$ you are in the centre with a tuk tuk. 3$ go and back with motorbike.
I didn't like so much the beaches, even in the islands tour I wasn't satisfied. So I decided to skip koh-rong and I stayed 2 nights in kep. The hostel was kukuluku beach and the dorm was ok, while the room were too expensive for what they offer. Kep is, as you said, a very very small town. The most remarkable thing is the crab market and it is worth to go there only for have an amazing dinner over the sea!
I rented a motorbike and I wondered around. There are same nice places to see: caves, pepper fields etc.
I went also in phnom penh and I am so glad about it! I enjoyed stay there for 2 nights and the killing field museum and the one in town were really touching and well done.
My last day was in siem reap where I relaxed before taking my flight.
Cambodia is an amazing country and without the time constraint I would have loved to visit it more in depth.
Thanks everyone for the help :)
#11 Giuls has been a member since 7/5/2013. Posts: 5
So interesting to see how plans change once you are there! I would love to get input on my plans. I was thinking of passing on Sihanoukville and i also dont think i want to do night busses. with that in mind, this is my current rough plan:
* Jan 7: Fast boat from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh
- it would probably be faster for me to go directly from chau doc to Kep via bus, BUT i heard that its worthwhile doing the boat up the Mekong Delat to Phnom Penh
* Jan 7: Transfer to Bus from Phnom Penh to Kampot and somehow get to Kep
* Jan 8 - 10: Kep - 2-3 Days
- I was considering going to Sihanoukville but then figured to use that travel time for relaxation time in Kep and going to Rabbit Island
* Jan 11: Bus from Kep to Phnom Penh
* Jan 12 / 13: Sightsee in PP
* Jan 14: Bus from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
* Jan 15 - 17: Sightsee in Siem Reap (3 Full Days)
* Jan 18: fly form SIem Reap (2:30pm?) to Luang Probang
Would LOVE to hear your thoughts :)
#13 jeanne1307 has been a member since 30/10/2013. Posts: 3
I would recommend you stay in Phnom Penh your first night (January 7). There are direct buses and minibuses to Kep, but most leave in the morning or early afternoon. You will reduce your stress if you're not trying to make a connection, and you can enjoy the boat trip without checking your watch!