Cambodia is a great country to travel to, as it offers a diversity of things to do. From the famous old temples in Siem Reap, to the bustling town of Phnom Penh. We like to travel in a way that we get to know a country, dive into the culture, local habits and foods. Places like Sihanoukville are the spots we won’t travel to, simply as it is overtaken by partying backpackers and hippies. Nothing wrong with that, but not something for us 🙂
Make sure you stay for a couple of days in Siem Reap as visiting of the several temples can soak up a lot of your time and is definitely worth it. Make sure you go early, and see or one of the local moto bike taxi’s can take you down, as they normally know better spots than the local tour guides, as they bring you to the standard touristy temples only.
Siem Reap has a lovely centre, which thrives on tourism. Fancy a decent local bite? Go over the bridge and eat at one of the small restaurants, yes there where you see locals only. We got to choose our own piece of the cow, yup indeed, it was hanging outside and cut on the spot. Had some very tasteful meals.
There are several options to go to Battambang or Phnom Penh from Siem Reap. The boat ride to Battambang is absolutely stunning, as it will show you a proper look on how the locals live outside the tourist areas. We met a lot of friendly people during our boat trip and were able to buy some local produce straight from the little boats. And moving houses goes very easy via the water as well. Boat first, then house, then pig pen and the last part was their own rice garden, awesome!
Battambang itself is not a really fascinating city, although you will find some nice temples and little shops around. We made this stop to visit the killing caves, just a bit outside the city. Two friendly moto bike taxi’s drove us around for the day, giving us a good insight in the horrific past of this country. The caves are simple and really reflect the seriousness of the past. The trip to the caves is great, especially when you ask your moto driver to take the back roads to see more of the country site. O, and on the way to and from you will meet the ‘Cambodian snow’, be prepared to come back at your accommodation covered in red dust!
From Battambang we took the bus to Phnom Penh, a bigger city with the typical chaotic traffic. It is already a great experience to jump in a tuktuk and have a little ride around the city. Make sure you pay a visit at the palace, the waterside (of the river) and stroll over the night market. From here you can book a tour to the killing fields, just outside the city and pay a visit to the Tuol Sleng museum. The former school, which got turned into a jail during the Khmer Rouge period. There is no need to put a sigh up to be silent in the museum, as the reality will hit in once you enter the first room.
There are several markets you can visit in the city, from the Central Market with her beautiful fabrics on the first floor to the local market where you can buy fresh herbs, fruits, meats and veggies.
It is absolutely a country you can travel to and through with kids, be cautious with water and food and take the time to let them adjust to the sometimes overwhelming warmth. They will love the temples, the country side, the boat ride and local markets!
Cambodia, you are beautiful in all your ways! Easy to travel to different places, a broad range of accommodation, tasteful food and above that, incredible friendly people!