Travel Cambodia: the Ultimate Guide

Temples, white sandy beaches, good food and so much history. Cambodia is filled with happiness, and it’s so easy to fall in love with. Find out how to Travel Cambodia with this ultimate guide.

As most of you already know, I’m not encouraging travel during this time. We need to stay home. What I am doing is inspiring your wanderlust for future trips after this is all over.

Before I had even arrived back home from my trip to Cambodia with my mum in 2019, I was already planning a trip back, I just loved it that much. Neither of us wanted to leave, it’s just the sort of place that you felt content and happy. We could have stayed lounging on the beaches of Koh Rong Samloem, or eating and drinking in Pub Street, Siem Reap, forever. I’m going back later this year, and I just can’t wait.

When I say Cambodia, most people just think of Angkor Wat. Which, fair enough. The temples of Angkor are so impressive so it’s not hard to see why they are Cambodia’s most known sight. However, there is so much more that Cambodia has to offer.

Our taxi driver who took as from the airport to Siem Reap when we landed was shocked when we told him that we were staying over 2 weeks In Cambodia. He told us most people only stop by for a night to see Angkor Wat before leaving. At the end of our 2.5 weeks in the country, I was amazed that people missed so much. Give yourself some time – seriously! I’m sure you will love it as much as I did.

So, I’ve put together this ultimate guide to travel Cambodia, one of my favorite countries, and of course, I will be updating every time I return. With everything you need to know about travel in Cambodia, with some top tips for each of the most popular places to visit. Let’s get into it!

Cambodia Fast Facts

  • Continent: Asia
  • Capital city: Phnom Penh
  • Population: 16.25 million (as of 2018)
  • Currency: Cambodian Riel

Travel Cambodia: Everything you need to know.

When is the best time to visit Cambodia

When is the best time to visit Cambodia?

The high season for tourists in Cambodia coincides with the dry season, which is November through February. During this time, Cambodia sees the least amount of rain, and slightly cooler temperatures, although it is warm all year round. You can expect everything to be crowded with tourists during this time. March through May are the hottest months in Cambodia, where temperatures soar.

May through October is considered the wet season, with high rainfall and humid temperatures. I personally visited in October, and the rain was heavy for 15 minutes each day in the late afternoon – that was it. The weather was hot, and there were less tourists, which I loved.

Is travel in Cambodia affordable?

In short, yes! Travel in Cambodia is extremely affordable. You can find luxurious accommodation for half the price you would pay in Western countries. Food and drink are also extremely affordable, as is getting around, with tuk tuk being the most affordable transport method.

Tourist Visas in Cambodia

Tourist visas are required to enter Cambodia. Depending on where you are from, you can normally apply for an e-visa online in advance, which makes arriving in to the country much easier. Contact your local embassy for up to date visa requirements and information.

Getting there and away

Cambodia has two major international airports, being Phnom Penh International Airport and Siem Reap International Airport. Some international flights also arrive and depart in to Sihanoukville International Airport. Generally speaking, if you are flying in from outside of Asia, you will generally have a stopover in a major transport hub such as Ho Chi Minh City.

From Vietnam and Thailand, you can cross the border into Cambodia by land, and the same visa process will still apply. There are several routes that travellers frequent in and out of Cambodia, which you can find out more information on here.

Getting around Cambodia

Getting around Cambodia

Getting around Cambodia once you are there is relatively easy. The main forms of transport are tuk tuk, taxi, and bus. Generally speaking, for shorter distances and getting around the city, a tuk tuk or taxi are the best option. Tuk Tuk’s are common, especially in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, and offer an affordable and fun way to get around. You’ll also find drivers and taxi’s readily available.

For longer routes, such as travelling between cities, tourist buses are the best option.

Money Matters

The local currency in Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel, however US Dollars and generally accepted, and in a lot of cases, actually preferred. In most major shops, restaurants and hotels you will find prices are listed in US Dollars.

Although many major establishments accept credit card, charges often apply, so make sure to carry cash. Cash is also needed for purchases at smaller restaurants and markets, and for paying drivers and tipping. ATM’s are readily available in the main tourist areas (Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville), as are money exchanges. If you are travelling of the beaten path, ensure you withdraw cash at the nearest major city.

Safety in Cambodia

Cambodia is generally considered a safe country for travellers. As always, exercise normal caution when travelling in Cambodia, particularly at night. Make sure to keep your items safe and don’t flaunt expensive items. In places like Phnom Penh, drive by robberies are known to happen occasionally, so keep your items close to you and be cautious when walking at night. Violence against travellers is rare.

As for scams, there are not many to worry about. The most common being that drivers may try to rip you off but stand heavy on your price.

Don’t give money to children – you’ll find many young kids around tourist areas such as Angkor Wat asking for money. The parents take them out of school for this, so the less money they come home with, the more likely that their parents will let them go to school.

Drinking water in Cambodia

Generally speaking, the water in Cambodia is not safe to drink. It is fine and safe for showering and brushing your teeth, but not for drinking. Many travellers rely on buying bottled water in Cambodia, which although is safer, it contributes to huge amounts of plastic waste.

Food in Cambodia

Food in Cambodia

Cambodian food is delicious! The cuisine is a mix of different Asian Cusines with a spin. You’ll find a huge variety of foods and cusines in restaurants in main tourist areas, so picky eaters shouldn’t worry. You can always find Western and International dishes. If you are adventurous, you’ll find places offering crocodile, frog and other dishes.

Here’s some must try Cambodian Dishes:

  • Fish or chicken Amok
  • Cambodian Curry
  • Cambodian Beer

Food and drink are extremely affordable in Cambodia, especially alcohol.

Best Places to Visit in Cambodia

Siem Reap

1. Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the heart and soul of Siem Reap, and truly one of my favourite places I’ve ever been. It’s bustling and beautiful. Home to the marvellous Angkor Wat, Siem Reap is also filled with culture, nightlife and amazing food. I recommend atleast a couple of days to explore everything Siem Reap has to offer. Check out this epic 5 day Siem Reap itinerary!

Things to see and do in Siem Reap

Angkor Wat

Easily Cambodia’s biggest selling point, Angkor Wat is situated just outside of Siem Reap and is truly incredible. The temples of the Khmer Empire are marvellous, and you just have to get there for sunrise for one of the most breathtaking sites. Must see temples include Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple, Bauphon Temple, and of course, Ta Prohm, the famous Tomb Raider Temple.

Angkor Wat Siem Reap

Read more: The ultimate Angkor Wat travel guide.

Tonle Sap Lake

A cruise on Tonle Sap Lake to see the floating villages is a must, and an afternoon cruise will often include watching the sunset over Tonle Sap Lake, which will easily be one of the best sunsets you will ever see. 

Tonle Sap Lake Siem Reap
Pub Street

Pub Street is the heart of Siem Reap. Closed off to traffic from 5pm daily, it comes alive at night, but is also beautiful in the day. Head for a quiet lunch before exploring the nearby markets and shops, or go at night for amazing drinks, food and nightlife. It really is the place to be in Siem Reap.

Pub Street Siem Reap
The Night Markets

There’s no shortage of markets in Siem Reap, however the night markets are some of the best. Open late every night, you can spend hours browsing the stores, picking out souvenirs.

The Night Markets Siem Reap
Cambodian Circus

A purely acrobatic circus, the show uses dance, music and acrobatics, to show cultural stories. All of the performers in the show are given the chance to go to a local school and train for a career in the performing industry, which is amazing.

Cambodian Circus Siem Reap
Village tour

Village tours are one of my favourite ways to get to know a new place. Interact with locals and see how they really live. In Siem Reap, mum and I did one in a local’s home and it was an amazing experience!

Village tour in Siem Reap

Read more: the Ultimate Siem Reap travel guide – All the best things to do in Siem Reap!

Where to eat and drink in Siem Reap

Siem Reap is filled with amazing food and drink, with many amazing places situated on and around Pub Street. There are so many amazing places that I created a whole blog on this – The best Siem Reap Restaurants, which I recommend checking out. Here’s a couple of my personal favourites.

Café Latino
Café Latino

Situated in the heart of Pub Street, Café Latino offers a huge range of happy hour cocktails (happy hour runs all night here!), and amazing food, with local favourites and Mexican dishes. It’s also the perfect place to watch the crazy Pub Street come to life.

The Kitchen 2002

Also in Pub Street, the Kitchen offers comfy seating overlooking the street, and is considered to be a little bit more on the ‘fine dining’ side compared to the other restaurants in the street. The pasta is a must try!

Where to stay in Siem Reap

Hotel Somadevi Angkor Resort and Spa
Hotel Somadevi Angkor Resort and Spa

Located in the heart of Siem Reap, just a 5-minute walk from all the action in Pub Street, you won’t be short of a little luxury at the Somadevi. With gorgeous rooms, a huge pool (and swim up bar!), and a delicious buffet breakfast offered daily, it’s the perfect place to relax after a long day of exploring.

Onederz Siem Reap

For a hostel in the heart of the action, Onederz is one of the top picks. Within walking distance to all the top attractions, swim at the rooftop pool and enjoy a drink while getting to know fellow travellers.

Koh Rong Samloem

2. Koh Rong Samloem or Koh Rong

Koh Rong Samloem and Koh Rong are two islands nestled off the coast of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, and are truly beautiful. I’m going to focus on Koh Rong Samleom here, because it’s the island I’ve personally been too, and it’s much less crowded and party focused compared to Koh Rong. Koh Rong Samloem is much more peaceful. To get to either island, you need to get a ferry from Serendipity Pier in Sihanoukville.

Things to see and do on Koh Rong Samloem

Things to see and do on Koh Rong Samloem
Lay on the beach

Ok, so the best thing to do on an island like Koh Rong Samloem is relax. Lay on the beach or by the pool, reading a book with a cocktail in hand. The beautiful beach of Saracen Bay is a white sandy strip of beach with pristine waters. My favourite things on the island were laying in the sun, followed by bar and restaurant hopping along the beach in the afternoon for happy hour.


There’s plenty of great spots to snorkel on the island, and If you want more, there are also plenty of affordable snorkelling half day and full day tours offered by resorts and dive shops on the island.

Kayaking and stand up paddle boarding

Most resorts on the island have kayaks and stand up paddles boards available for use (normally free for people staying at the resort or for a small fee). Explore the bays of the island and get in some exercise at the same time!


There’s several hiking trails that you can explore on the island – hike to the lighthouse, the Sunset Beach and to Lazy Beach, all from Saracen Bay.


Read more: the ultimate guide to Koh Rong Samloem.

Where to eat and drink on Koh Rong Samloem

The One Resort

Along with being one of the resorts on the island, The One is also one of the best places to eat. The Cambodian Curry is a must, and they make a great Aperol Spritz.

Moonlight Resort

Moonlight Resort has a super cool domed restaurant and indulge in the menu, which features some amazing pizzas.

Sol Beach Resort

The happy hour specials are amazing at Sol Beach Resort (2 for 1), and they offer all of the classics plus some really cool, original cocktails that are worth a try.

Where to stay on Koh Rong Samloem

Onederz Hostel
The One Resort

The One Resort is as close to luxury as you will get on Koh Rong Samloem. With beautiful bungalows, 2 pools, a gym, and an amazing restaurant, you can’t go wrong. They also have one of the best spots on the beach, plus a huge amount of sun loungers.

Onederz Hostel

Located on the busiest part of the Saracen Bay Beach, its all happening at Onederz Hostel. Bustling at night and an affordable hostel, make sure you book in advance!

Read more: Where to stay on Koh Rong Samloem.

Phnom Penh

3. Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s history filled capital city. It’s beautiful and bustling. Here’s a brief overview of the history of Phnom Penh. In 1975, a vicious group led by Pol Pot reigned terror over the city, the took kids from their families and made labour camps around the country.

Their main aim was to target who they considered ‘intellectuals’ who they thought might try to fight against them. This resulted in many doctors, lawyers and the likes being murdered. In the 4 years that the Khmer Rouge ruled, over 2 million people were murdered. Phnom Penh is slowly rebuilding, and is today a safe, beautiful city, although filled with dark history.

Things to see and do in Phnom Penh

Things to see and do in Phnom Penh
The Killing Fields

This is the way to truly understand what happened during the Khmer Rouge time. It’s an emotional experience, but a necessary one.

The Russian Market

One of the best places to pick up souvenirs, this bustling market is mostly filled with traditional Cambodian items, although you will find some leads to Russia, such as Russian Dolls.

The Royal Palace

Sitting on the banks of the river, Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace was built in the 1860’s and has been the royal residence since. The golden temples on site are beautiful, and you can opt for a guided tour if you’d like to learn more of the history.

Where to eat and drink in Phnom Penh

Where to stay in Phnom Penh

Friends is an amazing spot which trains young Cambodian’s to give them jobs and new skills. The food is delicious and the service is even better. The cuisine is Asian and also Western style tapas.


Located on one of Phnom Penh’s cutest streets, ARTilllery serves up all of your healthy brunch favourites.

Where to stay in Phnom Penh

Baitong Hotel and Resort

A gorgeous boutique style resort, Baitong Hotel and Resort offers serenity and a pool, on site restaurant, bar and a gym.

Onederz Hostel Phnom Penh

A fan favourite hostel chain right around the country, Onederz in Phnom Penh is just as good as the rest. With dorm and private rooms available, there’s also a rooftop pool and bar.

Kampot Cambodia

4. Kampot

Located in Southern Cambodia, Kampot is a slow-paced town that serves as a little quiet paradise. The riverside town is quaint and quiet, with slow days and no traffic. Life moves a little slower, which is what makes it so great.

Things to see and do in Kampot

Things to see and do in Kampot
Kampot River

Whether its lounging on the banks of the river with a book, watching the sunset with a beer, or kayaking the waters, the Kampot River is the heart of the town and there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Salt fields

The Salt Fields are located just outside of Kampot, and its stunning to see at sunset or sunrise. You watch the workers raking the salt all day.

Explore the town

The slow streets of Kampot are worth wandering. Admire the cool architecture, stop for a coffee and cake, and just watch the life go by around you.

Where to eat and drink in Kampot

Café Espresso

A cute coffee shop located in town, that serves up not only great coffee but great food too. There’s plenty of good breakfast and lunch options available, along with café favourites.


Overlook the river for stunning views at this lovely restaurant. Head at happy hour for 2 for 1 cocktails, and enjoy some of the traditional dishes on the menu.

Where to stay in Kampot

The Hidden Oasis Bungalows

Centrally located in Kampot, stay in a lovely little bungalow that suits the slow style of living. Surrounded by gardens with an onsite restaurant and bar, you can also enjoy the buffet breakfast.

Why You Need to Visit Cambodia

Why You Need to Visit Cambodia

I was intrigued by how shocked our taxi driver from the airport was when we mentioned that we were staying in Cambodia for over 2 weeks. He was excited that we were staying in the country so long, telling us that most people only stay for a day or two to see the temples.

I had a slight flicker of worry, thinking, are we staying to long? I don’t like to rush things when I travel. I like to have enough time to truly appreciate what a place has to offer, and trust me, I was glad I stayed true to this. I find it hard to put into words what Cambodia is like.

Siem Reap is bright. It’s bubbly. It’s filled with so much culture, and so much love. Something about wandering the streets made me happy. I felt content. I could have sat in Pub Street for hours on end, sipping cocktails or beer and just appreciating the world go on around me.

Obviously, what attracts people to Cambodia (and more specifically Siem Reap) is Angkor Wat. Over 900 years old, the temples are truly awe inspiring. It’s worth the early start to be at the temples for sunrise and take the day from there.

It’s magical, and seems miles away from the bustling Siem Reap, although it’s only a 20minute drive (read my ultimate guide to Angkor Wat here!). There’s so much more Siem Reap has to offer. The floating villages are beautiful. The sunsets over the lake even better. The kids in the villages are the happiest you will ever meet.

The local markets are a cultural experience like no other, and the night markets filled with souvenirs. Pub Street just makes you happy. There is so much to explore in Siem Reap just by wandering the streets.

The islands are a whole other story. Nestled off the coast of Sihanoukville, Koh Rong Sanleom is a hidden paradise. I’ve never felt more content than i have when I was on that island. It felt untouched almost. A quick flight from Siem Reap puts you in Sihanoukville, one of the dirtiest places I’ve ever been. An hour drive from the airport, head down to the pier and fight your way on to a ferry. It’s chaos but it’s worth it once you get there.

The islands seem a million miles away from the mainland. The beach is lined with bungalows and resorts. You spend the days laying in the sun with a cocktail in hand. Swimming, kayaking or hiking whenever you need to move. Having dinner at one of the beaches bbq’s after drinking too much at happy hour. It’s a quiet island, that sleeps early and rises late.

It’s silent at night, the only noise the sound of the water washing on to the beach. The staff are more like your friends rather than staff. It’s truly beautiful, and not over-crowded. Yet. There are plans to build a road through the jungle to the other side of the island, and signs of construction in undisturbed place. Sadly, it is likely to soon be a victim of over-tourism, so now is the time to go. You can read my ultimate guide to KohR Samloem here.

You can easily spend a week exploring Siem Reap, immersing yourself in the culture and experience, before jetting off to Sihanoukville to board a ferry to paradise. The perfect mix of relaxation and adventure, it really makes for the perfect trip.

If you are interested in travel in Cambodia

White sandy beaches? Breathtaking temples? Good food and cheap drinks? A country rich in culture and beauty, with the friendliest people you will ever meet. A vibe that is just so good. Cambodia has it all. I loved it so much so that I’m considering moving there. If you take one piece of advice from me, let it be this. Visit Cambodia.

I have so much insight to share about Cambodia that I will be splitting it up into several blogs. Check in next week for a complete guide to travel in Siem Reap.

If you are interested in travel in Cambodia, I recommend the Lonely Planet Cambodia handbook for a great detailed overview of Cambodia.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this ultimate guide for how to travel Cambodia. If I’ve missed anything or you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to comment below!

Happy travelling,