I recently spent 3 weeks in Cambodia and it’s unbelievable what can happen in such a short space of time! Today I’m sharing my top travel Cambodia stories – some more embarrassing than others! Don’t let it put you off – Cambodia is an amazing place to travel, but do prepare yourself for a hardcore travel ‘experience’ rather than a Phuket style beach holiday!!!
11 Travel Cambodia Stories – I can’t believe that all this happened in 3 weeks!
1. The Police Bribe and Tyre Change
On the way to Battambang our Mekong Express bus got pulled over by the police. We a little confused at first as it was a proper bus company and so the driver had clearly had his license checked. As we looked over to see what was going on outside, we literally saw the driver slip a $10 actually INTO the policeman’s pocket! About half an hour down the road things started to make sense. We pulled into a makeshift garage on the side of the road where this tyre was pulled off our bus and replaced….!
Read more here – Bookaway Review – my Cambodia Travel Nightmare!
2. My Mom got bitten by Fire Ants!
I thought that Cambodia was a great idea for celebrating my mothers 60th birthday with a visit to Angkor Wat. But I soon realised it wouldn’t be as easy as Thailand! My mom got bitten by something sitting outside to watch a movie. The next day her let bites swoll up and ended up looking like this….
She was taken to hospital where she was given a drip and antibiotics for an allergic reaction to FIRE ANT BITES! The hospital then retained her passport until the travel insurance claim paid out. We managed to get her passport back just 48 hours before we were due to fly back to Phnom Penh!
3. I got chatted up by the Hostel Owner!
On arriving in Battambang I was enthusiastically excited about everything I was going to see. This overly friendly aura resulted in the hostel owner, a happy American-Cambodian taking a liking to me. I was frantically waving my wedding ring as he introduced me to the tuk-tuk driver as his future girlfriend! Needless to say I was well looked after on that trip!
4. I got Pissed on by a Bat!
After our jeep trip up Sampeau mountain to see the Monastery, we headed back down to the bottom of the mountain to see the bats fly out of the bat cave. The ‘mass exodus’ that occurs at the start of their evening of hunting lasts for 15 minutes. I made the mistake of standing directly under the stream of bats. I felt something wet on my arm and thought to myself – strange, it’s not raining. The Cambodian next to me laughed and said ‘be careful of the bat piss haha!’
5. ‘You no go Siem Reap!’
After a wonderful 2 days in Battambang, it was time to get back to my Mom in Siem Reap (mainly to check on the fire ant bites!) I had bought a bus ticket through Bookaway but the company that I bought it from had not communicated my return journey with Mekong Express (read my Bookaway Review!). I could see the blank seat reserved for me with no name on it. Several different people came over to try to figure out the system and couldn’t find my booking. I was eventually told ‘YOU NO GO SIEM REAP!’ In the end I assertively said ‘Yes, I will go to Siem Reap, because that’s my seat and that’s my bus!’ and got on! I then had to sort it out with the Siem Reap Mekong Express office when I got back.
6. Almost Thrown out of a Tuk-Tuk
Those tuk-tuks can be hit and miss at times! On the way to Angkor Wat Putt for some temple cray golf, the road got rather bumpy and dusty. With the weight of four of us in the tuk-tuk it was a challenging ride. My arse left the seat several times and at one point I was nearly swiftly thrown into a nearby ditch!
7. I gave my Mom laxatives by Mistake!
Many of you know that I had major bowel surgery in October 2019 and the result was less pain but a frequent need for laxatives to ‘keep things moving’. I sometimes have to take Movicol – AKA ‘poop drink’ which dissolves in water and remains colourless. My mom was less than impressed when I got my water bottle mixed up with hers and she said ‘this water tastes funny!’ I quickly swapped them back saying ‘I think this one’s yours!’
8. I got Attacked by a Monkey!
Travelling round the big circuit of temples at Angkor Wat, I headed across the pier to the beautiful Neak Pean. I admired the beautiful view of the temple across the water. I turned around and saw a baddass monkey who decided to launch at me barring his teeth! I quickly whacked him with my backpack to scare him away and made a lucky escape!
9. The Unexpected helmet-less Moto Ride
I was eager to explore Preah Vihear – a less crowded alternative to Angkor Wat positioned on the Northern Thai border. I hired a lovely driver called Hak who drove us 3 hours from Siem Reap to the base of Preah Vihear Mountain where he parked up. ‘Oh, aren’t you driving us up?’ I asked. Hak explained that we were not allowed to drive up the mountain as only licensed cars and motos can go up the mountain for safety. I hadn’t got enough on me to get a four wheel drive (no one mentioned about the additional $20 for this) and so my only option was a $5 Moto. I paid for the safety approved Moto at the ticket office and he pulled up….without helmets!!!!
10. We Paid $40 to get to a Temple that had Fallen Down!
West Baray sounded like a good option for an ‘off the beaten path’ temple. We were eager to see temples missed by other tourists and were prepared to pay for the transport to get to this island temple. We paid $20 for a taxi and then realised that we had to ‘charter a vessel’ for another $20 to get to the island. When we approached the island on a rickety boat with life jackets, we saw three massive cranes and a load of rubble. This is not gonna be good, I thought to myself. We walked onto the island and couldn’t even see anything past the building works. The temple was under reconstruction for several years and no one had told us. One of the Cambodian guys on the island saw the disappointment on our faces and said ‘haha! Fall down!’
11. We ran over a Chicken!
On the main road coming into Siem Reap from the North, I was admiring the farmyard animals and countryside when, to my horror, a chicken launched itself into our car bonnet committing suicide! Yes – we ran over a chicken! But it wasn’t the drivers fault as there was literally nothing he could do about it. We pulled over to briefly assess the extent of the chicken smush ;-S
Travel Cambodia Stories – Further Reading
If you enjoyed these Cambodia travel stories you might also like to read about…
- Pub Street Siem Reap
- Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
- Best time to travel to Cambodia
- The Ultimate Angkor Wat Guide
- Things to do in Battambang
What to Pack for Cambodia
Take light cotton tops, long comfortable trousers and maxi dresses that cover your shoulders. Thailand is a conservative Buddhist county and you are likely to be refused entry to top sites like the Phnom Penh Royal Palace and Angkor Wat with shoulders showing and shorts or short skirts. You can pack shorts and vest tops for hanging around your hotel or the pool.
Pack a water bottle because many guest houses are eco friendly and have a refill and reuse policy to cut down on plastic waste. The drinking water is fine and many hotels supply cold purified drinking water.
Bugs bite particularly in the evenings in Cambodia and so a bug repellant is essential. Also the sun can get hot – this Christmas and New Year temperatures were exceeding 32 degrees and so sun screen is another essential.
Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is so important as it will help you with emergencies and unexpected costs on your trip. Make sure that you declare any pre-existing health conditions so that you are covered for those. Check your cover for accidents and medical care and also lost baggage or getting things stolen. Remember to report as soon as something goes wrong on your trip because some travel insurance companies require you to report something that you want to claim for within 24 hours. Read the fine print carefully when you sign up. I always recommend World Nomads. You can get a free quote here: