In recent years Cambodia has become one of Southeast Asia’s most alluring and vibrant countries. Travellers are drawn in by the breath-taking scenery, golden palaces and spectacular crumbling temples, but it’s the blend of history, natural majesty and warmth of the people that make this such a wondrous destination. For all of these reasons, Cambodia has become a favourite destination for lone travellers. But, before you book your very own adventure, here are a few tips to ensure you have a fantastic trip to Cambodia:
1. Plan ahead to save
With an extraordinary £4 trillion spent on travel and tourism every year, prices are on the rise, but Cambodia can provide some respite if you plan carefully. The spectrum of options available in this country is extraordinary and that means that, if you don’t know where you’re going to stay, or what you’re going to do when you get there, the prices can start to climb up. So, before you leave for your trip to Cambodia, do your research and find a few low cost options for accommodation in each place so that you remain within budget.
2. Revel in the history and culture
Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh, is a modern city in every sense of the word but even here there are reminders of the nation’s historical Buddhist roots as well as visible signs and remnants of its more recent past and the cruelty of Pol Pot’s killing fields.
This is a country with an extraordinary story to tell, so be prepared to immerse yourself in that history. Visit places like Siem Reap, where the country’s ancient majesty is preserved, and Angkor, a world-famous UNESCO World Heritage site. Cambodia remains very much as it has always been; a rural country stuck delightfully in a simpler time.
Stroll through Kep’s small streets scattered with old colonial houses. It is a small seaside town that used to be an old seaside retreat for the French elite. Nowadays you still see some of the heritage of this French period.
As you can see there are plenty of options to immerse yourself in Cambodia’s local culture.
3. Cambodia’s best places to experience its amazing nature
The French colonial town of Kratie is a nice stop on the way. Stroll around the local market and spot the rare freshwater Irrawaddy Dolphins. The best time of the year to see the dolphins is between March and August.
You can also explore the National Park of Botum Sakor. It is squeezed between the ocean and the Cardamom Mountains. It is considered one of the most beautiful rainforests in Southeast Asia. It is still unexplored and one of the main Cambodia hidden gems. Also exploring the vast jungle of the Cardamom Mountains will leave you feeling overwhelmed. This is a great video of the Cardamom Mountains. A great place to stay is the Cardamom tented camp.
4. Hostels are great places to meet new friends
With Cambodia being a firm fixture on the South East Asia backpacker trail, there are a myriad of hostels, guesthouses and small hotels ready to house you. And that means the culture of this well-trodden traveller trail is extraordinarily open and welcoming. People are open to meeting new people in a way they simply aren’t when they are at home. So, it is a huge plus for solo travellers, who often travel on with new friends for a few days, weeks or even longer. So, if you’re fed up of being alone, new friends are never far away in Cambodia.
Dorm rooms in hostels start at around $4 USD per night. Private rooms in hostels and guesthouses generally are $5-10 USD per night.
Some of the best hostels for your trip to Cambodia are:
Manor house is an oasis in the heart of Phnom Penh and is in the middle of the city and only minutes from the major attractions.
5. Buses are fantastic transport
Getting around this beautiful country is actually more straightforward than you would imagine. There are plenty of bus companies that cater to lone travellers to get you around the country. These are especially prevalent along the more popular routes, such as Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. So once you are in these places, look around and there will be information in hostels and guesthouses for how to book. Buses can be fantastic places to meet new people and like-minded travellers, with everyone looking for an interesting way to spend time. They can also be a fantastic place to catch up on sleep. Whatever works for you.
You can get a bus anywhere in the country for under $20 USD.
bookmebus is a reliable bus-ticket booking site, also for cross-border trips.
6. Keep your wits about you
Safety is an obvious priority for anyone travelling on their own anywhere in the world. But how safe is it for travellers in Cambodia? Generally, it is a pretty safe place to travel, despite being a country where guns are prevalent. Just be sensible and, as with anywhere else on earth, keep your wits about you, especially after a few drinks. Minor crimes like pickpocketing and bag snatches are common, with smartphones being a particularly common target. And some of the wiring in hostels can leave something to be desired, so go carefully when plugging in devices. It is a very slim possibility that you will stumble upon the remnants of the war in Cambodia, but if you do, do not pick up shells, mortars or mines. If you are careful with your possessions and do your best to blend in, rather than stand out as a foreign traveller, you will stay safe.
A scam that sometimes happens in Cambodia is the tuk-tuk scam. You might occasionally meet a driver who works under commission for a particular shop, restaurant, hotel. Another scam is that you are approached by a police officer, or fake police officer who will demand to see your passport. Never hand it over. Just hold it while you show it otherwise they will ask you to pay a fine to get it back.
Read about these 14 major travel scams to avoid when in Cambodia so that you are aware.
7. When to visit Cambodia
The high season in Cambodia is from November to April when temperatures are more mild and there is hardly any rain. The coolest months are from November-February. Temperatures during the cool season are still high, but it is less humid. Warmest months are April and May.
Do you have any tips for other travellers about your trip to Cambodia? Please, leave them in the comments below. Thanks!