Photo: Now that is a Royal Palace.

Most first-time travellers to Cambodia opt for a trip like this -- the bulk of the time spent exploring Angkor Wat and a quick trip to the capital Phnom Penh. Experiencing the grandeur of Angkor and the rustic charm of Phnom Penh allows first-time travellers the opportunity to see two extremes of the Cambodian nation .

In a short trip to Cambodia like this you're you're visiting just the two locations -- both of which are well-connected by boat, road and air -- but there is ample opportunity for side-trips and extensions.

Both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh have international airports, so if you're in a hurry, look to fly in and out of the country. Those with more time can overland in and out of the country -- Cambodia has overland borders with all of its neighbours.

Suggest trip length

The suggested minimum time for a trip like this is four days, though at least a week is far more comfortable.

Sample plan

1) Arrive Siem Reap (Angkor Wat -- allow at least two days)
2) Siem Reap -> Phnom Penh (capital city, Khmer Rouge history, colonial architecture, scenic riverside setting -- allow two days)

Save some time

One day: fly from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
Two day: Fly into and out of Cambodia -- both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh have international airports.

Take a side trip

Two days: Not far southwest of Siem Reap lies Battambang -- a small, untouristed riverside town: visit ruins, see village life and take a ride on a nori!.
Two days: Head north from Phnom Penh for an overnight stay at Kompong Cham where you can visit temples, silk villages and explore tributaries of the Mekong River.
Three days: Head south from Phnom Penh to Kampot to relax in the old seaside resort town of Kep and explore the mountain top Bokor National Park

Three days: Head south from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville -- Cambodia's premiere seaside destination


Sample Trip Times (in hours)

To help you work out how you'll get around, we've listed the trip durations for the various forms of transport available. Note that with the exception of flight times, these are average trip times, so no hate mail if you take the slow train.

CAMBODIA: One week explorer
FromToAirBusTrainBoat
Siem Reap Phnom Penh 1:10 5:00 - 6:00-8:00
Siem Reap Battambang - 4:00 - 3:00-7:00
Phnom Penh Kompong Cham - 4:00 - -
Phnom Penh Kep - 3:00 - -

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One week explorer map


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More itineraries

Where to go, how long to stay there, where to go next, east or west, north or south? How long have you got? How long do you need? Itinerary planning can be almost as maddening as it is fun and here are some outlines to help you get started. Remember, don't over plan!


Burma

Burma lends itself to a short fast trip with frequent flights thrown in or a longer, slower trip where you don't leave the ground. There isn't much of a middle ground. Ground transport remains relatively slow, so be wary about trying to fit too much in.


Cambodia

Roughly apple-shaped, you'd think Cambodia would be ideal for circular routes, but the road network isn't really laid out that way. This means you'll most likely find yourself through some towns more than once, so work them into your plans.


Indonesia

How long have you got? That's not long enough. Really. You'd need a few lifetimes to do this sprawling archipelago justice. Be wary of trying to cover too much ground - the going in Indonesia can be slow.


Laos

North or south or both? Laos is relatively small and transport is getting better and better. Those visiting multiple countries can pass through here a few times making for some interesting trips.


Malaysia

The peninsula is easy, with affordable buses, trains and planes and relatively short distances. Sabah and Sarawak are also relatively easy to get around.The vast majority of visitors stick to the peninsula but Borneo is well worth the time and money to reach.


Thailand

So much to see, so much to do. Thailand boasts some of the better public transport in the region so getting around can be fast and affordable. If time is limited, stick to one part of the country.


Vietnam

Long and thin, Vietnam looks straightforward, but the going is slow and the distances getting from A to B can really bite into a tight trip plan. If you're not on an open-ended trip, plan carefully.


The region

This is where itinerary planning really becomes fun. Be sure to check up on our visa, border crossing and visa sections to make sure you're not trying to do the impossible. Also, remember you're planning a holiday -- not a military expedition.