There is one tourist attraction in Cambodia that is a “must-see place before you die” and it’s called Angkor Wat. Almost every traveler you meet on the road will eventually tell you that Cambodia is worth a visit. But a group of younger party backpackers will disagree, and they will inform you that a bar in Siem Riep is much better than a bunch of rocks in Angkor Wat. Perhaps, Angkor Wat is not a place for these younger backpackers. But if you are an individual looking for an adventurous backpacking experience in one of the cheapest countries in Southeast Asia that revolve mostly around a cultural exchange, then backpacking in Cambodia is your ultimate choice.
Why You Should Go Backpacking in Cambodia
- It’s cheap. Let’s face it; you can easily spend two weeks of travel in Cambodia with the same amount of money that you will pay for only three to four days in one of Europe’s cities. Backpacking in Cambodia is easily affordable, and almost every corner of this country is filled with travelers and backpackers from all around the world. For a dorm bed, you can find one for $3 per night, and if you want a beer, you can just buy it for $0.50 each.
- It’s quite adventurous. People say that it’s easy to feel as if you are traveling back in time once you leave the beautiful capital of Phnom Penh. Bear in mind that transportation can be a bit more challenging because Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in Southeast Asia. However, if you love to explore unbeaten paths, you should know that Cambodia is full of perfect unspoiled islands and beaches. Now, it makes sense that people keep coming back to Cambodia almost every season.
- It’s a historic country. Of course, talking about oppression and genocide publicly is not a fun topic to discuss but where else can you learn about a fascinating history of a country’s troubled past other than Cambodia? The S20 Museum and Killing Fields are among those places in Cambodia that every visitor must visit.
See Angkor Wat Before You Die
When you get to Siem Reap, everyone there will make you go to Angkor Wat, and if you’re not, then you are missing on something big. After all, you are in Cambodia, and that’s what everyone does. “Wat” from the Angkor Wat means temple. However, this “Wat” only refers to one of the central temples. In pictures, you will get to see this temple most of the time, but the truth is in Siem Reap, hundreds of temples can be spotted spread around a vast area. To explore all of these temples correctly, you will need days to do it.
Most of the people will tell how you can easily see the beautiful sunrise over the main temple. For you to get to Angkor Wat, get yourself a tuk-tuk driver early in the morning and once you get there, you will hop from temple to temple. However, due to the high number of visitors, you might not be able to experience the hundred percent of peacefulness that you are looking for while watching the sunrise. But that’s okay. It is still a worthwhile thing to do in Cambodia.
Go and visit the “Tomb Raider” temple. Yes, Angelina Jolie was in the movie where this temple appeared but don’t make that as your main reason to visit the temple. The temple is simply beautiful with big trees overgrown it in the coolest of ways ever. Most backpackers claim that the “Tomb Raider” temple is one of their favorites.
Things to Do In Cambodia
Backpacking in Cambodia doesn’t have to be hard labor. You can easily spend each day at a slow pace and enjoy each famous attraction one at a time. Because backpacking in Cambodia will not cost you a lot of money, it is suggested that every backpacker to stay a little bit longer to be able to explore as much as they can.
Yes, you can fire a bazooka or rocket-propelled grenade launcher in Cambodia. It is open to tourists, and if shooting a huge gun is on your to-do list, then you should try it in Phnom Penh. Some owners of the guesthouses in Cambodia will tell you about this opportunity, but if no one approaches you for this, you can only ask them. The cost for each bullet of the guns will be around $1-$2. As for the bazooka, it is around $300 per one shot. For some people, this might be a little bit expensive, but it’s one in a lifetime experience! The set-up is at a mountain range, and there will be professional military officers to guide you.
Party up to your heart’s content at Sihanoukville. It’s a city with a mix of locals and random tourists living there full-time. There’s a main strip of bars in Sihanoukville and although not the best in Southeast Asia; the beaches are decent and pleasant enough. Speaking of good food, every backpacker knows that they need a cheap but delicious meal each day. Sihanoukville has a lot of characters and majority of the development is low-rise. If you are backpacking in Cambodia, you should always be aware of any kids who are trying to steal your bags. And this includes in Sihanoukville as well.
There’s an odd energy in the air at Killing Fields. Skulls and bones are everywhere. Not a place for everyone but if you’re feeling a little adventurous and you want to learn more about Cambodia’s dark history, you should go to Killing Fields. You might like it; you might not. It depends on every individual.
Scorpion Snake Liquor
You can get unique liquor with reptiles in it. Yes, you can get the regular alcohol everywhere in Cambodia, but trying the liquor with reptiles in it is worth the experience. After all, they say it’s good for your health. Hopefully, it’s the truth.
Once you are backpacking in Cambodia, why not go to the countryside and away from the typical beach resorts? Thanks to its infamous bamboo railway and the fascinating nearby temples, one of the most popular destinations are called Battambang. But almost every backpacker declared that their favorite one is Kampot, the sleepy town by the Mekong River.
Budgeting in Cambodia
You can live your backpacker’s life in Cambodian-style around $20-$30 a day. That includes your dorm bed for a night, meal and even that beer you need each day. A typical cost for a dorm bed will be around $3-$5 a night, a dinner meal on a tight budget will be about $3, and for that little liquor each day, you can get $0.50-$1 for each beer. However, bear in mind that the primary currency in Cambodia is the US dollars. It may sound a little intimidating but anything below $1, you can pay it in the local currency.
Safety in Cambodia
For those who are considering backpacking in Cambodia, the country is safe enough to be explored. Anywhere you go, you do need common sense, but honestly, Cambodia is an exceptional country. However, people in Cambodia are desperate for money. So it’s easy to find tourists being targeted for the dollars. Backpacking in Cambodia can easily be done if you take extra precautions. Since Cambodia has its history of war, it is not suggested for anyone to explore into random fields or woods, especially if it’s in a remote area.
Of course, Cambodia is safe enough for tourists to come and just enjoy the beautiful attractions. But dangers can happen anywhere, and that includes Cambodia. If you are on a backpacking trip across Cambodia, always make sure you do a thorough research of the places you are about to visit and never ignore your instincts.