Ah yes. The mandatory ‘itinerary’ post. Not that original, but all the more essential to a well-organised trip. There are many side-steps you can do on this two week itinerary (Battambang for example, or Koh Rong), but this is how I did it.
DAY 1 – DAY 4: SIEM REAP
Obviously, you’ll fly in on day 1, and depending on your flight, let’s say you arrive at lunchtime on day 2. I suggest checking in to the hotel (the drive from the airport to Siem Reap town is about 30 – 40 minutes by tuktuk), get your bearings, have a dip in the swimming pool if there is one, and then head out for your cocktail class at ASANA. A good ginger-based cocktail and some dumplings should help you sleep like a sloth on Ambien and be ready and non-jetlagged for the next day.
Day 3 is all about them temples, baby! Get your own tuktuk driver, or join a guided Vespa tour (trust me, I’m sure you can rock those orange helmets like it’s no-one’s business). Be sure to hit the main sites: Angkor Wat (duh), Ta Prohm and Bayon. In the evening, ‘go hard or go home’ is the motto in Pub Street and around. Grab some 1$ cocktails first at the tuktuk bars adjacent to Pub Street, and then head into the madness at Angkor What? or Temple. Or both. Depends on how active you aim to be the next day.
On the last day in Siem Reap, I suggest you take a walk around town during the day, hit the markets and wander by and through the more ‘traditional’ temples you’ll encounter. Try some local food stalls or sip on a cocktail in ‘the Alley’ and watch the Cambodian world pass by. Or, if you still haven’t had enough temple-hopping the previous day, get back on that horse we call tuktuk, and go out for another day of ooh’s and aah’s and never-ending photo ops.
Make sure that on one of the nights, you head out (tuktuk 10min) to Phare – the Cambodian Circus. It’s spectacular, funny and gives the youth from the streets something to aspire to. Highly recommend. No clowning. Pun intended.
DAY 5 – 6: OTRES BEACH
On day 5, you can fly out to Sihanoukville pretty cheap (50-100 USD) and get a tuktuk to Otres Beach I or II (20-30 minutes, around 7-10USD). The remainder of the day is chillin’ and illin’ like a beach side villain…and pretty much the same goes for day 6. You could also use day 6 to check out the other beach or do an island boat tour with one of the many, many, many little tour companies. Just relax and enjoy the sunsets with some good value-for-money cocktails.
DAY 7 – 9: KOH RONG SANLOEM
Get a tuktuk to take you from Otres to Sihanoukville pier (15 minutes, 7USD) and hop on the ferry to paradise: Koh Rong Sanloem (45 minutes – book ahead if you can). If you want perfect sand, clear water, small hikes, cheap drinks and super food (I mean like ‘super good food’, not ‘superfood’. Not that into kale, sorry) served with a genuine chilled out island vibe, this is your spot. Be aware, if you like your creature comforts (AC, hot shower, electricity 24/7), prices of accommodations will be higher than what you’re used to. But very much worth it, if you ask me.
On one of the days, be sure to head out to Lazy Beach for sunset. And on all of the nights, enjoy the bars right on the beach. Take me with you, yeah?
DAY 10 – 11: KAMPOT
From Koh Rong Sanloem, take the ferry back to Sihanoukville and get on one of the buses or taxis to take you to Kampot. The drive is about 2-3 hours. Let’s say you arrive in the early afternoon on day 10 at your hotel: check-in, rent a bike or walk into town. It can’t be that far since Kampot is relatively small. Check of the riverfront and town centre with its colonial houses, have a drink at Rikitikitavi and settle down for dinner at one of the outdoor restaurants.
On day 11, catch a movie in your private ‘theater’ at Ecran. Be sure to take the afternoon SUP tour at SUP Asia for a proper workout with rewarding sunset on the ocean and firefly galore on the way back.
DAY 12 – 13: KEP
Kep is only 20 minutes by tuktuk from Kampot, but I suggest making the awesome detour (add another hour including the visit) to Phnom Chnork cave through the countryside (your tuktuk driver knows where to go). Wave to all the smiling kids on the road, hold on to your butts on the bumpy road and have a look-see in the cave. The road to the cave is actually better than the cave itself. Once you get to Kep, check into your hotel and go have a look at the crab market. Maybe even get some crab straight from the ocean and find someone on the market to cook it for you. Get a drink at one of the plastic tables and eat your freshly cooked seafood. If this is too adventurous for you, walk to the sailing club just outside of town for a bit more ‘classy’ dining. Sunset + cold beer + fresh seafood = happy camper.
After breakfast on day 13, head out to the Kep National Park. Count on about 3-4 hours to complete the loop. Bring water, sunscreen, good walking shoes and a camera. Views are great up the hill. The hike can be strenuous, but it’s nothing you have to train for. I mean, I can do it, you know? After the hike, call a taxi to take you to Phnom Pehn (2-3 hours). You’ll arrive there around dinner time.
DAY 14 – 15: PHNOM PEHN
The last full day in Cambodia is upon us, children *insert sobbing*. Today is packed with high paced sightseeing. (Or at least as ‘high paced’ as Cambodia gets.) Visit the Royal Palace first thing, and try to do it on foot from your hotel if possible. If you are into history something fierce, get your fix at the National Museum. You can easily walk there from the Palace. Grab lunch, grab a tuk-tuk and head to Tuol Sleng (S-21) prison. Try to find a guide to give a bit more background info into this gruesome place. After that, I’d say there are two options: you follow up your visit to S-21 with a drive to the Killing Fields, or you’re done with all that and want to go back to your happy place. If that’s the case and your hotel doesn’t have a pool, there are many who do and accept non-guests to use the pool if you have a drink there or for a small fee. Relax a bit and have dinner around Pasteur St. which is packed with watering holes and restaurants.
On the last day, get a taxi to take you to the airport. Make sure to reserve enough time, because depending on traffic it can be anywhere between 45 minutes and an hour and a half to get to the airport. Not to scare you, just wouldn’t want you to miss your in-flight entertainment and complimentary beverages.