I love that line – I’m taking my mom to Cambodia!’ My friend Lee said to me. ‘I’d usually say I’m taking my Mom to Liverpool ONE or to Blackpool to eat fish and chips on the pier!’ But it’s true, my Mom is baddass! She has travelled with me and met me in a number of countries – Morocco and Thailand included! We’re currently planning our amazing Cambodia itinerary.
So why Cambodia? Well we both absolutely adored Thailand, so a neighbouring country in South East Asia is likely to satisfy our need for copious amounts of templeseeking. We’re travelling at Christmas and want winter sun – again perfect climate in South East Asia for this. Finally we were looking for something really spectacular for her 60th birthday and so Angkor Wat would certainly fit the bill. It’s the largest ancient temple complex in the world.
The great thing is that I’ve made enough money online to pay for BOTH of our flights by matched betting. It’s basically profiting from the free bets with the bookies! My travel blog is now consistently earning at least $200 a month. Not a great deal I know, it it’s enough to pay for a couple of flights a year. I’m looking to grow this to $500 a month by the new year by getting on Ezoic or Mediavine (advertising platforms that tend to generate a larger income than Adsense).
Planning the Perfect Cambodia Itinerary
I highly recommend at least two weeks to explore this amazing country, in which time you will be able to fit in Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat and some other cities and beach areas (maybe Battambang and Kampot). However, if you are on a whistlestop tour of South East Asia and just swinging by for a few days it is still worth it – you can manage to see a great deal in Cambodia in 3 or 4 days.
Phnom Penh (the Cambodian capital) and Siem Reap (for Angkor Wat – the world famous ancient temple complex) are essential destinations to start with when planning the perfect Cambodia Itinerary. Depending on how many days you have, you can extend from there.
Most people will fly into Phnom Penh if you are flying direct to Cambodia. However, many people travel overland or by internal flight from neighbouring countries such as Thailand. This will also dictate the starting place of your itinerary.
Cambodia Itinerary 4 days
For your Cambodia Itinerary of 3-4 days I totally recommend doing one destination really well, and that this destination is either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.
Cambodia Itinerary 4 days – Phnom Penh and/or Siem Reap
However, I am an advocate of Slow Travel and don’t push myself too much. Some people on a 4 day Cambodia itinerary go for 3 days in Siem Reap for Angkor Wat plus one day in Phnom Penh for a quick tour of the main sites including the palace and/or genocide museum to get an understanding of Cambodian history.
It takes around 5 hours by private transfer from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, so if you are seeing these two destinations, one of your days or at least half a day will be spent travelling.
Day 1 – One Day in Phnom Penh
If you have just one day to spend in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia and are up for a full on day, I suggest that you book on two key Cambodia tours. This will help you to maximise your time there and learn from a local guide.
The first is the Phnom Penh: S-21 Prison and Killing Fields Half-Day Tour. This tour with Get Your Guide starts at 8am and is 3 hours in duration. It will allow you to explore one of the worlds infamous dark tourism destinations and understand the horrors behind Cambodian history under the communist regime of the Khymer Rouge (1975-1979).
You should then jump on the afternoon Half Day Royal Palace, National Musuem and Wat Phnom Tour, which will show you the highlights of the capital including the tallest religious building in the city. This tour runs at 8.30am and 2pm, whereas the S-21 Prison and Killing fields tour is a morning tour only, which is why I suggest doing these tours in this order to fit everything in.
Siem Reap in 3 days
Siem Reap is a small Cambodian city surrounded by ancient ruins, including Angkor Wat. It’s well set up for the backpacker and expat community and a great place for solo female travel. It’s a MUST SEE in Cambodia and is the country’s main attraction.
Deep inside the forests of the Siem Reap province, the sophisticated points of an ancient stone city soar above the sprawling complex of Angkor Archaeological Park. The Khmer Empire’s numerous capitals thrived here from the 9th to 15th centuries, while their rulers officiated over an empire that stretched from Burma to Vietnam. Including forested areas and newly discovered suburbs, Angkor covers more than 400 square kilometres.
Although it is just one of hundreds of surviving structures and temples, the huge Angkor Wat is the most known of all Cambodia’s temples and also appears on the nation’s flag. The 12th century temple-mountain was made as a spiritual home for Vishnu, a Hindu god.
Day 2 Siem Reap – In a full day tour of the Angkor Wat area, you will be able to see the main temples of Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm and the Angkor Thom South gate. You can read about these in this article on the best temples of Angkor Wat from top travel bloggers.
It is possible to see most of these by bike, but you might like to book on a tour to get more of an insight into the history of the temples of Angkor. I recommend this Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Bayon Temple: Private Day Tour. I also highly recommend the Angkor Wat sunrise tours as it’s a beautiful time of day to visit the temples.
Day 3 and 4 Siem Reap – For the other day or two that you have available, I would suggest seeing some further temples such as Banteay Samre and/or Beng Mealea. Due to these being a distance away from the main Angkor Wat temple location, I’d recommend a taxi or private transfer/tour.
On an evening, you will be able to explore pub street and the Siem Reap night market which is great for shopping.
Cambodia Itinerary 5 days – Phnom Penh and/or Siem Reap
Day 1 – Phnom Penh Killing Fields and Half day city tour (palace and temples)
Day 2 – Koh Dach or Udong day tour
Day 3 – Travel Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and night market/pub street
Day 4 – Angkor Wat main temples
Day 5 – Angkor Wat Outlier temples
If you’re a serious templeseeker and history buff like me, you could consider doing the whole 5 days tour of Angkor Wat. However, it’s likely that you will split your Cambodia itinerary 5 days between the two main destinations, spending 2 days in the capital of Phnom Penh and 3 days in Siem Reap.
Follow the above 4 day Cambodia itinerary and then in your 5th day you can choose to explore more outlier temples in Siem Reap or add another day on to Phnom Penh to further explore the capital. If you would like to do another day trip from Phnom Penh on your extra day, I would recommend a trip to Kh Each (silk island) or the Stupas of Udong.
Cambodia Itinerary 7 days
If you have a 7 day Cambodia itinerary, you can cover the above Phnom Penh and Siem Reap schedule at a more relaxed pace and maybe add on a Mekong River cruise or a day shopping in the markets of Siem Reap or Phnom Penh.
If you are happy to throw in a third destination, the relaxing seaside village famous for its pepper plantations and colonial houses. Kampot is approximately 3 hours drive by private transfer from Phnom Penh and it’s also well connected by bus which takes slightly longer.
From Siem Reap, getting to Kampot takes around 9 hours and so it might be an idea to take an internal flight from Siem Reap to Kampot which will take just under an hour. Internal flights are quite cheap in Asia.
Side-Swipe Sihanoukville Beaches
I’d sideswipe the Sihanoukville beaches – there have been awful reports of them being full of rubbish and there are now massive construction sites for all the new Chinese casinos popping up. It’s no longer the beach paradise that it used to be, and with just one week in Cambodia, you won’t have enough time to he’d to the islands which are still idyllic beach paradises.
Cambodia Itinerary 10 days
For a Cambodia Itinerary 10 days – you will be able to do the above schedule seeing Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Kampot and you have two main options.
The first option is to slow it down and fully enjoy either Phnom Penh and Siem Reap or Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Kampot.
The second option is to speed it up a bit and add one of the islands. 10 days is enough to see Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and then head down to Sihanoukville to hop across to Koh Rong. The South East of the island is the popular backpackers and party area of Koh Touch. To the West of the island is Long Beach and to the North is Lonely beach – perfect if you want serenity and relaxation.
The territory on Koh Rong is mainly hilly, with a 316m mountain in the north-west. Most of the island’s inner is concealed in jungle forestry, with numerous waterfalls, bays and sandstone rock formations totalling to the pleasing scenery. Exposed to the weather and open sea, the south side of Koh Rong is particularly beautiful, while the east side is characterized by smooth hills that gently slope towards the crescent-shaped beaches, inlets, and bays.
But Koh Rong is still quite remote so don’t expect excellent facilities or fully functional WIFI!
Cambodia 2 Week Itinerary
Two weeks in Cambodia? You lucky devil….you are certainly in for a treat! If you are an enthusiastic traveller who likes to cover a lot of ground, this will be a fantastic Cambodia 2 week itinerary. If you have longer, you can spread it over 3 weeks….
Day 1-2 Phnom Penh – 2 Days – S-21 and killing fields, Palace and temples tour and a day trip maybe to Koh Each or Udong.
Day 3 – Travel to Siem Reap and shop on night market
Day 4-5 Siem Reap temples – inner temples on the first day and outlier temples (Banteay Samre or Being Mealea) on the second day.
Day 6 – Siem Reap – Relaxing day of shopping, massage and pub street OR add a third day trip.
Day 7 – Travel to Battambang
Day 8 – Battambang – Explore temples/Bamboo Train/ Bat caves
Day 9 – Fly to Sihanoukville and travel by ferry to Koh Rong
Day 10 – Koh Rong – explore beaches and beach bars.
Day 11 – Koh Rong for Long beach or ferry to Koh Rong Sanloem.
Day 12 – Travel to Kampot
Day 13 and 14 – Kampot and travel back to airport
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:
What to Pack for Southeast Asia
To help you pack for your trip to Southeast Asia, the below list of must-have items can be really useful.
First of all, you need a plug converter. Absolutely essential wherever you travel.
It is also a good idea to get a hanging toiletry bag, which is a fantastic way to keep all your belongings organized; and a practical rolling suitcase like the one below by Samsonite in lightweight polycarbonate.
In order to stay healthy while travelling, activated charcoal helps with stomach distress absorbing toxins that may be in your system; and natural jet-lag remedy pills help you sleeping while boosting your immunity and can avoid you to ruin precious days of sightseeing.
For all the ladies, it can be a great idea to get a maxi dress: very versatile as it can be worn at any time of the day and it is ideal to go to temples too.
A scarf that you can put on your shoulders as well as on your head while visiting a sacred place.