Skip to main content
9 min.

My 2 weeks in Cambodia weren’t that easy and cool… This was a road trip I had in mind for a long time, which aroused very contrasting emotions… I must say that my first impression was far more African than Asian!

Silvia's Trips in Cambogia

Phnom Penh

Silvia's Trips in Cambogia

Accommodation in Phnom Penh: I stayed at The Pavillon ($ 35 per night, breakfast included). The hotel is an oasis of peace. It is a colonial mansion with stylish furnishings, an exotic lush garden, and a beautiful central pool. As per the room, I booked the glass and teak bungalow nestled in the garden, well decorated and quiet. Excellent breakfast with plenty of choices, local products, cocktails, and Khmer dishes served at the poolside is a treat.
Where to eat in Phnom Penh: I had a delicious chicken amok at the Rever Front restaurant (22000 Riel), and if you are staying at The Pavillon, the restaurant there is excellent too (20/15000 Riel per meal). I recommend avoiding the Ngon due to the deplorable service and low quality of the dishes (24000 Riel per meal).
Visiting Phnom Penh and the surrounding region: the city is really very chaotic and dirty. At every corner, you meet victims of landmines and children asking for money or trying to sell bracelets and other cloth items. Palaces and luxurious villas are located next to ruined buildings and cabanas. Tuk tuk and rickety pickup trucks circulate on the streets next to hundreds of brand-new shiny scooters and many very luxurious SUVs. In the streets, you see many car washes planned to wash in detail under the car/scooter, all in the dust covering everything and everyone.
Silvia's Trips in Cambogia
I spent the first day visiting the old Royal Palace (25000 Riel), very nice and well maintained, although certainly less impressive than that of Bangkok; the National Museum (12500 Riel), fascinating and in my opinion beautiful from the architectural point of view; and the home of the Buddha and the Wat Phnom (Riel 4000).
I then took a tuk-tuk (Riel 8000) to the Russian market, which I found very disappointing.
From there, I quickly moved to the school … hard, and I truly prefer not to add anything else because I think it should be a visit chosen and lived on a personal level.
I came back walking with tears in my eyes and spent the evening thinking about Cambodia’s recent past.
Silvia's Trips in Cambogia Silvia's Trips in Cambogia
The next day I rented a car with a driver ($ 20) to visit Udong, the Victorious, and its temples ($ 1). It is the former capital of the country, located 41km away. The site is beautiful and frequented almost exclusively by Cambodians.
Splendid panorama of the surrounding countryside and many micro temples all around. The first ascent consists of 500 steps, strictly in the sun …
Silvia's Trips in Cambogia
Silvia's Trips in Cambogia
From the top, I noticed a beautiful temple complex a few kilometers away. It is an Institute of Buddhist Studies. Don’t miss it!
Peace and smiles all around, beautiful well kept buildings, beautifully clean and tidy gardens, quiet atmosphere, and very kind and helpful monks.
For my third day, I negotiated with the same driver to visits Phnom Chisor and Tonle Bati ($ 22). I crossed the beautiful emerald rice fields and many villages, unfortunately very dirty and poorly kept, but all rich in beautiful cars protected by sheets. At the same time, the owners eat in the dust and dirt on the roadside …
Phnom Chisor ($ 1) is being slowly restored, but the ruins are beautiful.
Less interesting Tonle Bati ($ 1), now incorporated by a Chinese cemetery.
Silvia's Trips in Cambogia
Silvia's Trips in Cambogia


Phnom Penh – Battambang: I traveled by bus, leaving at 9.30 am with the Paramount one (10000 Riel – to be booked in advance). Six long hours on the burning road with oh so loud Cambodian music and honking every two minutes … the landscape is varied, and the stops for breaks, meals, up and down of street vendors are varied.
I have to say that my trip was a highly successful one, given the number of broken-down buses on the way!

Accommodation in Battambang: I stayed at La Villa ($ 40 per night, breakfast included). The hotel is nice, but a bit sad. Housed in a beautiful colonial mansion of the thirties, with stylish furnishings, but not very well managed … The restaurant’s food is mediocre and expensive, and they serve an abysmal breakfast. Nice pool, though. Nights are boisterous because of neighboring karaoke going on to the bitter end during the night and ended only in the morning! A nightmare! 

Where to eat in Battambang: I was very well in two restaurants, the Bamboo Train Cafe (average cost 25000 Riel) and White Rose (18000 Riel). In both cases, I only ordered Khmer dishes (God bless the fresh spring rolls!) and fantastic fresh fruit smoothies.

Silvia's Trips in Cambogia

Visiting Battambang and the surrounding region: I spent the first hot day walking around this small colonial town, and, after Phnom Penh, it looks so clean and in clear expansion. I visited various temples in the city and chatted pleasantly with a young and nice monk (seems to be common in Battambang!).
The city museum has a collection of interesting sculptures ($ 1), but I was the only “white person” inside. Actually, I was practically the only “white person” in the city!
Very nice also the governor’s palace, but I could only admire from the outside.
Silvia's Trips in Cambogia

I spent my second day in Battambang visiting the surrounding area ($ 7 by tuk-tuk).

I visited Phnom Ek ($ 2), and it’s really worth it, both for the ruins and the landscape crossed to get there. Here, too, I was the only non-Asian … next stop Phrasat Banan ($ 2), which is very nice and animated. The climb to the temple is exhausting, and the shade non-existing!

Silvia's Trips in Cambogia Silvia's Trips in Cambogia Silvia's Trips in Cambogia

In the afternoon I took the bamboo train ($ 6) to the very traditional brick factory outside town, and I really found it very funny! If you read Italian, I told everything about the so-called norry in my interview for the train blog Bassa Velocità.

Silvia's Trips in Cambogia

Siem Reap

Battambang – Siem Reap: I had a beautiful boat trip lasting eight hours ($ 20), leaving Battambang I could only notice the filthy water and was shocked to see people washing their clothes and even their teeth (!!!) in the river, in the middle of the huge amount of garbage and some animal carcass …

Silvia's Trips in Cambogia Silvia's Trips in Cambogia

Moving away from the city, the river becomes more and more interesting and better organized. Fantastic villages and then impressive floating towns on the Tonlé Sap.

I recommend everyone to board taking a handy sweatshirt because the first few hours of navigation are freezing. Another detail: the first three people on both sides get wet! Obviously, I was sitting in the front row …

Silvia's Trips in Cambogia Silvia's Trips in Cambogia Silvia's Trips in Cambogia

Accommodation in Siem Reap: I stayed at the Palm Garden Lodge ($ 9 per night, breakfast included). The hotel is not bad given the budget, but the cleaning of the bathroom really approximate. Even breakfast is more than mediocre, but they have free bikes for guests (!). The owner, Mao, is very nice and helpful and helped me negotiate a tuk-tuk ($ 30 for three days) to visit the temples further away.

Where to eat in Siem Reap: I loved the Cambodian BBQ in Pub Street ($ 25), where I found out I love crocodile meat. I had another excellent dinner at the Tigre de Papier ($ 7), where lok lak is so yummy!

If you like fruit smoothies, they prepare them everywhere on the road, and the price is always $ 1.

Silvia's Trips in Cambogia Silvia's Trips in Cambogia

Visiting Siem Reap: first thing, go to the ticket office to buy a pass for three days ($ 40) and avoid the queue in the morning. 
I spent my first full day there visiting the temples of the great circuit, which I do not describe here as any guidebook can do it much better … but I can tell I was amazed and touched by what I discovered. To be seen at least once in your life!
Silvia's Trips in Cambogia Silvia's Trips in Cambogia

Not to get too tired, I dedicated the next day to relaxation 😉 I woke up late and had a great yummy breakfast at the French Quarter ($ 4), then spent the afternoon at the spa/pool of Angkor Century ($ 8 for access, towels, etc. + $ 15 meals and cocktails).

Later in the afternoon, I went to the night market, where I bought everything…

Silvia's Trips in Cambogia Silvia's Trips in Cambogia Silvia's Trips in Cambogia
On my third day, I had a hard schedule: the Roulos Group in the morning and the National Museum ($ 12) in the afternoon. The museum helps a lot to understand and interpret the various codes and symbols represented in all the temples, so don’t make my mistake; start with it!
In the evening, I had a nice bike ride to enjoy the sunset over Angkor Wat. Amazing.
Silvia's Trips in Cambogia
The following day I woke up at 4.30 am. I will never forget the billions of bright lights of a tuk-tuk in the night or the torches of tourists on the bridge to access Angkor Wat. I stayed outside to take advantage of dawn reflections on the water and avoid the scaffolding and tarps due to restoration work on the main facade. It was wonderful.
Silvia's Trips in Cambogia Silvia's Trips in Cambogia
As soon as the sun came out, the temple got almost empty, and I saw a procession in the opposite direction, but more importantly, I was able to visit everything with relative ease. From there, I moved on to visit the rest of the small circuit.
Silvia's Trips in Cambogia Silvia's Trips in Cambogia
There are no words to describe the emotions felt in the day nor the tiredness when I finally got back at the hotel at around 5 pm!

If you plan a trip to Siem Reap, which I heartily recommend, don’t miss the post I wrote about it!

Silvia's Trips in Cambogia
Silvia's Trips in Cambogia

Useful info for your 2 weeks in Cambodia

I always organized my trip by myself, helped by various guides and some friends’ travel tales.

Everything – flights, hotels, meals, etc. – costed me about 900 €.
The exchange at the time of the trip, in January 2011: $ 1 = 0.76 €; 1KHR (Riel) = 0.00019 €

I left mid-January with an Egyptair flight from Malpensa to Bangkok via Cairo (€ 489). I was fine, as always. Flights on time, clean airplane, and good value for money.

After a night stopover in Bangkok, the next morning, I took a quick flight with Air Asia from Bangkok to Phnom Penh (69 €) and got the Cambodian visa ($ 30) upon landing. The iter is very fast, and the visa is delivered on call, but by name and not surname.

You pay a $25 fee to leave the country too!

Silvia's Trips in Cambogia

Packing tips

  • pack a silk sleeping back to feel comfortable and sleep well even when the venue doesn’t look clean. I’m using this one, and it’s perfect after several years and lots of trips: Stretch Silk Liner
  • always carry a sarong and extra socks to visit holy venues
  • pick a backpack and not a trolley, in particular, if you plan both journeys (and I do hope you’ll plan them!)
  • pack clothes for a week to have light luggage to carry around. Laundry shops are everywhere and are quite cheap. For a complete guide, I recommend you read my tips for packing light!

Silvia's Trips in Cambogia

Cambodia is a country destroyed by settlers, wars, revolution, and the Khmer Rouge.
There are almost no people of my generation because exterminated at birth or before.
People are smiling but destroyed by the recent history and also by poverty and corruption.
Running into mine victims or signs indicating this kind of danger is something trivial. Despite all this, it is worth visiting the country and get closer to the culture and people.
During this trip I laughed, cried, I felt helpless, I felt angry and ashamed, I was excited and amused …I will never forget the smiles, the sad eyes, the signs witnessing a past that should not be forgotten because still present … and of course I do not forget the extraordinary beauty and richness of Cambodian culture.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Silvia's Trips

Hi there! My name is Silvia and after 15 years between the Paris Opera and the Palau de les Arts in Valencia I now run a boutique hotel in Cinque Terre, deal with tourism management and blogging, sail, horse-ride, play guitar and write about my solo trips around the world. For more info about me and my travel blog check my full bio.