Time to Plan Your Trip to Cambodia
You know you’ve been meaning to, and you promised yourself a holiday around Christmas/New Year. So, why not Cambodia? In fact, December and January are the coolest months of the year and as such is the peak of the tourist season. So now is the time to plan your itinerary, budget and then make the bookings.
Where to start?
First you need to decide what sights you want to see. You need to buy yourself the latest copy of a Cambodian travel guide. As they say, "Know before you go". A good, up to date travel guide will inform you of the latest information about accommodation, restaurants, transport, medical facilities, currency, working hours, public holidays, as well as cultural information about the country. All the major names in travel guides have their 2017 editions published now, and we’ll take a look at some of them below.
What to see?
Every visitor to Cambodia visits the famous Angkor Wat near Siem Reap. But, what if I told you that there is now a new temple complex been given world heritage status as recently as May 2017. Sambor Prei Kuk in Kampong Thom province is older than Angkor Wat having been built around the 6th and 7th centuries.
Here is what Unesco has to say about it:
“Temple Zone of Sambor Prei Kuk, Archaeological Site of Ancient Ishanapura
The archaeological site of Sambor Prei Kuk, “the temple in the richness of the forest” in the Khmer language, has been identified as Ishanapura, the capital of the Chenla Empire that flourished in the late 6th and early 7th centuries AD. The vestiges of the city cover an area of 25 sq km and include a walled city centre as well as numerous temples, ten of which are octagonal, unique specimens of their genre in South-East Asia. Decorated sandstone elements in the site are characteristic of the pre-Angkor decorative idiom, known as the Sambor Prei Kuk Style. Some of these elements, including lintels, pediments and colonnades, are true masterpieces. The art and architecture developed here became models for other parts of the region and lay the ground for the unique Khmer style of the Angkor period.” http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1532br
THE LATEST TRAVEL GUIDES FOR CAMBODIA (2017 releases)
The Rough Guide to Cambodia by Rough Guides (Released 19 Sep 2017)
Rough Guides is a leading travel publisher known for its “tell it like it is” attitude. In print since 1982, the slogan of Rough Guides is "Make the Most of Your Time on Earth".
Available in Paperback, and eBook.
Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand (Travel Guide) by Lonely Planet (Released 15 Aug 2017)
Affectionately known as 'the backpacker's bible', Lonely Planet is the largest travel guide book publisher in the world. Lonely Planet was founded by Maureen and Tony Wheeler in 1972.
Available in Paperback, and eBook.
Insight Guides Laos & Cambodia by Insight Guides (Released 01 Jul 2017)
Insight Guides, founded by Hans Johannes Hofer in 1970, combines full-colour photography with essays written by local experts.
Available in Paperback, and eBook.
Responsible Travel Guide: Cambodia by Pujita Nanette Mayeda and Friendship with Cambodia (Released 30 Jun 2017)
Responsible Travel Guide Cambodia promotes hotels, restaurants and shops that are locally-owned, prevent sex-tourism, protect the environment, and provide training and employment programs to disadvantaged people. Profits from the sale of this book support the humanitarian projects of Friendship with Cambodia.
Available in Paperback and eBook.
LUXE Cambodia by LUXE City Guides (Released 05 May 2017)
LUXE guides target the traveller who is looking for a more luxurious experience. First published in 2002. Their slogan "Why rough it, when you can LUXE it".
Available in Paperback (inlcudes a free mobile App).
More travel guides can be found here: TRAVEL GUIDES SECTION
Phnom Penh - 2 days: visit The Royal Palace, The National Museum, Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, take an evening boat cruise along the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers (with or without dinner), Central Market, and Russian Market.
Kampong Thom - 1 day: visit Sambor Prei Kuk.
Siem Reap - 2 or 3 days: visit Angkor Wat, The Bayon, Angkor Thom, Preah Khan, Ta Prohm. Day trip to Bantei Srei and Kbal Spean. Unless you’re an archaeologist, you might get tired of seeing nothing but ancient temples. You could try Anton Swanepoel’s great book ’Siem Reap 20 Must See Attractions’ for more ideas (available on Kindle). After visiting Siem Reap, and depending on how many days you have available, you could:
- Fly back to Phnom Penh, then travel south to Kampot and Kep for a couple of days.
- Fly directly to Sihanoukville (more about that soon).
- Continue by road to Battambang.
Battambang - 2 days: Cambodia’s second largest city has numerous things to see and do. Phnom Sampov is a little way out of town but worth the hike up the hill to the temples and bat cave (you can take a motorbike taxi if you don’t want to walk). Closer to town is Wat Samrong Knong and the Well of Shadows - slightly macabre as it was used as an interrogation center during the Pol Pot regime. Visit Mrs. Bun Roeung's Ancient House - a beautifully maintained Khmer traditional wooden house. Lots more to see and do in Battambang (maybe you have to come back again next year). https://www.facebook.com/mrsbunshouse/
Back to Phnom Penh for a night while deciding to go south to Kampot and Kep, or go southwest to Sihanoukville. Alternatively, if you have time, you could do all of the above. There is now a train service which only runs a couple of days a week, but you can take the train to Kampot, then a day or two later take the next train from Kampot to Sihanoukville.
Kampot is a smallish town on the Kampot river which runs into the Gulf of Thailand a few kilometers downstream. Kampot has some nice, but rather run down, old buildings from the French colonial period, as well as a lot of Chinese style shophouses. Generally a quiet place but very popular on the travel circuit. Just south of Kampot is Kep. Prior to the 1970s, Kep was the seaside destination of choice for royalty and the elite. Nowadays there are a lot of new guesthouses and resorts to choose from, despite the beach not being anything special. Kep is a great place for seafood, especially crabs. Next stop Sihanoukville.
Sihanoukville has changed a lot in the past couple of years. There has been a huge influx of Chinese investors buying up hotels and turning them into casinos. The future Macao of Southeast Asia. The areas where tourists used to go have become overrun with Chinese, so everybody now goes to either Otres Beach (on the mainland), or to the islands. Nothing like a holiday to a tropical island with crystal clear waters, warm balmy nights, fresh seafood and, maybe, a good book to read. You should try Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloem.
Most of the accommodation on the islands can now be booked online, so you can see online the quality before you commit yourself.
So there you have it. No excuses not to start the ball rolling and get your vacation planned now. Share with your friends, they might like to join you.
- Angkor Wat: A Transcultural History of Heritage by Michael Falser
- Lonely Planet Southeast Asia on a shoestring by Lonely Planet
- Lonely Planet Cambodia by Lonely Planet
- The Khmer Empire: The History and Legacy of One of Southeast Asia’s Most Influential Empires by Charles River Editors
- Cambodia Marco Polo Pocket Guide by Marco Polo Travel Publishing
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