Cheapest Exotic Places: Cambodia

12 Apr Cheapest Exotic Places: Cambodia

The kingdom of Cambodia, one of three nations within Indochina is the mysterious former jungle reign of the Khmer who was based in Angkor.

It was once one of the largest cities in the world, Cambodia features many well preserved and untouched sculptures of various gods. The former palaces of the gods are not tourist attraction. Along with the fascinating and dark history in the rule of Khmer Rouge, Cambodia is now an up and coming tourist destination in Southeast Asia.

1. Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat before sunset, Cambodia.

Angkor Wat is an ancient city in Cambodia that was key to the Khmer empire, which once ruled Southeast Asia. However this civilization disappeared right after the intricate buildings and temples were constructed. Since then, the jungle took back the plot of land and the turn out is eerie and sinister looking, yet mind-blowing at the same time. There are thousands of Apsaras carvings and each of it is astoundingly unique. Fortunately enough, the temples are very well preserved, making it highly impressive.

=How to Get There=

Angkor Wat is about 20 minutes drive from Siem Reap. There are many bus services that will bring you to the archeological park. However, be sure to check the different stops before purchasing the tickets as some will miss out on major sites. Each ticket cost around US$25-50 per day for a guide and transport.

Alternatively, you can also take a tuk tuk for about US$12 to the main Angkor Wat temples.

You can choose to fly from Phnom Penh on Cambodian Angkor Air at US$50-70 which takes only 35-40mins.

=Where to Stay=

  • Green Empire Resort

$$

Address: Veal Village, Kouk Chork Commune, Siem Reap

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  • HanumanAlaya Boutique Residence

$$$$

Address: #5 Krom 2, Phoum Treang, Siem Reap

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=What to Do=

  • Angkor Wat

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Surprise surprise… Angkor Wat is the biggest Asian pyramid standing over 200 feet tall and also the largest religious monument in the world. If you have caught Alien vs Predator in 2004, you would have appreciated the mythologies of Angkor Wat, Egypt and the Mayans. Be sure to wake up earlier to catch the sunrise because missing it will not just mean you have to come back again. The view you are treated with is undoubtedly a wonder of the world.

  • Ta Prohm

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Located about 1km away from Angkor Thom, on the southern edge of the East Baray, it was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII. This is where Angelina Jolie shot Tomb Raider because of the well preserved temple, allowing present day visitors to see the actual appearance from a thousand years ago. The temple is now covered by the jungle, giving it its known eerie qualities. Some believe that one of the cravings resembles stegosaurus.

2. The Killing Fields

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There is not a specific site but multiple locations described or collectively known as the killing fields in Cambodia. Being in the luxury of the hotel, basking in the sun or soaking in the pool will not take away the fact of how millions were murdered and buried by Communist Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979. Just as it is depressing yet necessary to head to concentration camps in Germany, it is as necessary to visit the outskirts of Phnom Penh. The scale of the site along with the different stories told on the audio guide give you first hand insights of the country’s violent past.

=How to Get There=

Hire a taxi or a private vehicle from the hotels. It is a 21 minutes drive via Street 217.

=Where to Stay=

  • iRoHa Garden Hotel & Resort

$$

Address: No.8,Street 73, Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Phnom Penh

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  • Samsara Villa

$$

Address: 43Z5, Street 466, Beung Tra Bek, Phnom Penh

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=What to Do=

  • Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

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Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum used to be a high school which became a prison during the Khmer Rouge regime. The notorious Security Prison 21, or S-21 is merely one of the 150 execution centres in the country. Today, it is a museum that is chronicling the Cambodian genocide.

  • Choeung Ek

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A former orchard and mass grave of victims of Khmer Rouge, it is located 17 km away from Phnom Penh. Human bones litter the site. As part of educational and memorial purposes, these remains are not to be disturbed.

3. Siem Reap

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Known as the life-support system for the temples of Angkor, Siem Reap has developed into a tourist hub in Cambodia over recent years. The name Siem Reap means “Siem Defeated” but this place has turned from a quaint village to a place that receives hordes of tourists annually. There are many things you can get on a bargain at the night market and needless to say, the party scene is vibrant and lively. A place not to be rushed but savoured, Siem Reap will be a place you want to return again and again.

=How to Get There=

Taxis from the airport to Siem Reap cost US$7, tuktuk rides at US$4-5. Most of the hotels do provide airport pick up.

=Where to Stay=

  • Villa Asaliah

$$

Address: Asaliah Road, Siem Reap

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  • Golden Temple Residence

$$$

Address: Old Market area, Pub street and Night Market, Siem Reap

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=What to Do=

  • Cultural Performances

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There are many theatres and broadway concert halls you can visit in Siem Reap.

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From popular to traditional performances, the choices are plentiful. Some theatres you can visit are Apsara Theatre, Rosana Broadway and Cambodian Cultural Village.

  • Alcoholic Beverage Tasting

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Alcohol is very affordable in Cambodia. But other than having it for parties, you can also have a chance to try out the different unique blends that Cambodia offers. Flavours such ginger-red chilli, anise-coffee or even banana-cinnamon are some spices and fruits infused alcohol called Sombai. You can have a taste of it at Sombai Infused Cambodian Liqueur. If this is too adventurous for you, you can also try local palm wine coupled with snacks such as puff fish and snakes. Cambodia will most assuredly leave you with good stories to tell, but be prepared to garner up enough courage to live them out.

4. Koh Rong

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Easily one of the most beautiful islands in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Rong is undoubtedly the new desert island paradise. Only accessible by a small ferry, it is a whole new world the moment you disembark. White soft sands and turquoise-green waters entice you to laze you day away basking in the sun. You will be treated with bio-luminescent plankton in the evening, a view that will be nothing less than spectacular. Don’t miss the chance to visit this island paradise while it is still fairly untouched and less visited. The pristine forests and peacefulness are all there for you to indulge in.

=How to Get There=

Slow boat leaves 2-3 times a day and takes 2h30mins, costing US$10. The fast boat will take only 40mins but cost US$20.

=Where to Stay=

  • Secret Paradise Resort

$$

Address: Saracen Bay, Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia

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  • The One Resort

$$$

Address: Saracen Bay, Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia

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=What to Do=

  • Snorkeling

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A highly sought after location for diving enthusiasts, visitors who only want to do snorkeling will not be left out as Koh Rong is a place with extensive choices for it.

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At just US$10-20, you get to be out at sea on a Native Khmer guide’s long boat.

 

5. Phnom Penh

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Just as Thailand has Bangkok, Cambodia has their very own Phnom Penh. Very similar to the ever-popular Land of Smiles, Phnom Penh boasts their own tuk-tuk and street vendor culture. This is where your shopping and feasting on traditional Cambodia cuisines can be done. Be sure not to miss out on The Royal Palace, which includes two magnificent pagodas in the Palace Grounds. 

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If you are here at Cambodia to taste insects, Skuon and Psar Thmei will offer you extensive selections of insect cuisines.

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Psar Thmei is a large market offering all sorts of local delicacies.

 

=Getting Around=

Motorbikes can be rented at US$5-6 a day but do note that theft cases are common, therefore you should choose to park only at guarded areas. You can also hire a tuk-tuk which cost US$1-3 per trip. It is always wise to negotiate the prices with these tuk-tuk drivers before boarding the transport.

 

=Where to Stay=

  • Arunreas Hotel

$$$

Address: 163 St 51, Daun Penh, Phnom Penh

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  • La Rose Suites

$$$

Address: No.4B, St 21, Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Khan Chamkarmon, Chamkar Mon, Phnom Penh

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=What to Do=

  • Sisowath Quay

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Also known as Riverside, Sisowath is an attractive boulevard that runs along Mekong and Tonle Sap.

  • The Royal Palace

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You are expected to dress decently or rent a sarong and buy t-shirts at the entrance, but the hassle is all worthwhile because of the gorgeous architecture and the rich history that comes with it.

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With cheap food, cultural attractions, and warm hospitality from the locals, what’s not to love about Cambodia?

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