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Backpacking in Cambodia

Cambodia is certainly not the backpacker Eldorado in Southeast Asia yet, but the country has some worth seeing cultural and geographical treasures to offer, which put it in the spotlight not only of the international backpacker scene. The absolute highlight of Cambodia is certainly the world-famous temple complex Angkor Wat, but the country has much more to offer than this sight, which is meanwhile also a tourist trap. Not only the ancient Khmer influences are visible and perceptible in everyday life, also the French colonial power has left its traces.

Traveling in the backpacker style in Cambodia is easy, as the country has a relatively good traffic-technical infrastructure, although some things are a little bit tough. But as a real backpacker these are not obstacles, but challenges. In addition, you can make ends meet with a Denglish in Cambodia. When it comes to prices and living costs in the country that stretches between Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, you should not expect extremes.

Backpacking in Kambodscha - Landwirtschaft

Backpacking in Cambodia – Agra Culture

It is neither particularly cheap, nor extraordinarily expensive for the region. With a daily rate of 20 to 30 euros you can certainly get through. We are talking about the average and not about extremism. You can withdraw money from the cash machines in any major city – but only in US dollars. You will only get them back in the local currency, the riel exchanged. The good thing is that you can enjoy free WLAN in hotels in almost every hostel or guesthouse. Cambodia is not the last country in the international ranking as far as technical progress is concerned, despite the fact that it may seem so at first glance. Everything works – more or less. You can get anywhere by bus, train, van, tuk-tuk or plane – sooner or later. You need a visa and a passport valid for 6 months to enter the country. Make sure that the papers are in order, otherwise there will be stress at customs.

What should you have seen in Cambodia?

The ultimate Cambodia highlight Angkor Wat has already been mentioned. There is no larger temple complex in the world. But also with scenic attractions the country is not stingy. Take a look at Tonle Sap Lake or be impressed by the dimensions of the mighty Mekong River, which makes its way through the plains in the east of the country. Other Cambodia backpacking attractions are certainly the wooden bridge at Kampong Chan and the Killing Fields near the capital Phnom Penh. Relax from your backpacking tour on countless fine sandy beaches that stretch along the mainland or around Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island) and Koh Rong Samlen. A multifaceted cultural spectacle is the colourful festival of cooperation between Japan and Cambodia. If you want something more adventurous, then hitchhike through the south of the country.

Backpacking in Kambodscha - Angkor wat

Backpacking in Cambodia – Angkor Wat

Culture in Cambodia

In Cambodia, everything follows the ancient tradition of the Khmer people, even if it is not so clearly established in the bustling cities. At home in their own four walls, however, the old customs and traditions still apply. But some have mixed with French cultural influences, especially in the elitist classes. The Cambodian is tolerant and in need of harmony. As with many Asians, the worst thing for him is to lose face. Therefore, a local would rather send you in the wrong direction than say: I have no clue where it is. Some cultural customs are already stupid. But what would a Cambodian say if he saw a Bavarian in lederhosen hitting himself on the legs at the Schuhplattler?

So rather ask two or better three different sources, because if you start complaining loudly about the ignorance of the locals, you’re through. Even though many locals have a rather meager income, they try to be decently dressed and clean. If you want to let the dirty, buggered, hard-boiled, bearded globetrotter hang out, you won’t make an impression this way – on the contrary. Also pay attention to the sexual customs in Cambodia. The culture there is not as open and permissive as it sometimes seems. Homosexuality in Cambodia is not tolerated more than just marginally.

Backpacking in Kambodscha - Film

Backpacking in Cambodia – Movie

Backpacker Route in Cambodia

Cambodia has a lot of travel highlights to offer. Many only wanted to stop by for a moment to “have been there”, but then stayed for months. Maybe because they don’t praise everything in a big, big way. One simply still feels a certain kind of contemplation on the backpacking trip. Komabodscha is rather roundish compared to other countries in Southeast Asia and therefore perhaps a bit more complicated in terms of route design.

Most backpackers travel in circles. Phnom Penh is usually the first port of call. Of course it is also important where you want to go. Let’s take a look at what you should have seen as a backpacker in Cambodia.

Route 1: The classic (15-20 days)

  • 3 days capital Phnom Penh
  • 1 day Siem Reap – from here we go to Angkor Wat
  • 1 day Angkor Wat
  • 2 days to visit Battambang, the second largest city in the country
  • 2-3 days exploring the coastal town of Sihanoukville and the surrounding area – it’s time to pay attention.
  • 1 day Preah Vihear Khmer temple complex in the Dângrêk Mountains experience
  • 2-3 days Tonlé Sap – visit the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia.
  • 1 day Bokor Hill Station near Kampot
  • 2 days watching dolphins in the town of Kratie on the Mekong River
  • 1 day visiting the temple in Koh Ker

Route 2: Backpacker Intensive Trip (up to 40 days and more)

  • 3 days capital Phnom Penh
  • 1 day Siem Reap – from here we go to Angkor Wat
  • 1 day Angkor Wat
  • 2 days to visit Battambang, the second largest city in the country
  • 2-3 days of exploring the coastal town of Sihanoukville and its surrounding area – you should pay attention.
  • 1 day Preah Vihear Khmer temple complex in the Dângrêk Mountains experience
  • 2-3 days Tonlé Sap – visit the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia.
  • 1 day Bokor Hill Station near Kampot
  • 2 days watching dolphins in the town of Kratie on the Mekong River
  • 1 day visiting the temple in Koh Ker
  • 1 day temple Ta Prohm in Siem Reap
  • 1 day enjoying scenery on the drive from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
  • 3-6 days exploring Cardamom and the Elephant Mountains
  • 3 days in the area of Banlung to experience the jungle and natural landscape with waterfalls.
  • 2 days Kampot and Bokor National Park
  • 3 days enjoying authentic Cambodian lifestyle in Kampong Cham

Travel times in Cambodia

As hard-boiled backpackers, you can travel to Cambodia all year round. Thick sweaters, thermal jackets, dressing according to the onion principle – you can forget all that. Throughout the year you’ll find a hot and humid tropical climate, with daytime temperatures between 26 and 33 degrees. There is no summer and no winter. And as far as the rainy season is concerned, this is no reason not to visit the country, as there are always several hours of nice weather during the day. Between May and October it is pouring during the rainy season. The high humidity may cause you some trouble.

Backpacker Budget in Cambodia

Surely Cambodia is one of the cheapest backpacker travel countries. If you’re short of cash and still have time to get to know Asia, then you’ve come to the right place. If you look around in the net and see what different travellers have paid for a trip through the country, you will also see the differences. As a rule you can assume that you will pay 250 to 300 Euro for 2 weeks if you have low demands. Tendency downwards. For one Euro you get a bed in a guesthouse here and there.

If you put down ten euros, you can have a good time in a clean single room with bathroom and air conditioning or a small beach hut. In Cambodia there is good food everywhere for one or less euros at the street stalls. Even the beer doesn’t cost a single Euro. You won’t get half a litre of beer for a few cents anywhere else. The entrance fee to the Royal Palace/Silver Pagoda is about 6 Euro. To see the Killing Fields you have to pay about 5,5 Euro. Admission to the National Museum of Cambodia costs around 4 euros. You can find cash machines everywhere in the cities and in the tourist centers.

Train travel in Cambodia

There are only two train lines in Cambodia. Both start and end in the capital Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh – Sisophon and Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville. However, there is not much going on in terms of passenger transport.

Bus travel in Cambodia

The bus is the public means of remote communication in Kambdscha. With the partly rickety vehicles you can get almost anywhere. Some companies argue about the numerous customers. On the long distances leading to the big cities and the famous sights, you can enjoy quite reasonable buses with on-board toilets and air conditioning. You can also take advantage of comfortable overnight buses with sleeping facilities. There you save one overnight stay. The bus tickets are inexpensive. From Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville you pay between 4 and 6 Euros depending on the day of the week and the holiday. If you want to go from Phnom Penh to Battambang, then calculate about 6 Euro. If you want to travel super comfortable, take the VIP buses.

Domestic fares in Cambodia

It is not particularly worth taking a domestic flight in Cambodia. You travel faster with the bus. Who knows when the plane will take off or arrive.

Motorcycle and moped rental in Cambodia

The best thing is to rent a bike for your Cambodia backpacking tours. 250 bikes cost around 12 Euro a day. Deals for a longer rental period are always included.

Backpacking in Kambodscha - Transport

Backpacking in Cambodia – Transport

Backpacker Unterkünfte in Cambodia

If a travel country in Asia or on the globe at all is cheap, then it is certainly Cambodia. With 10 Euro you can get through your backpacker trip per day. One Euro for a meal, one Euro for two beers and the rest for a bed. If you find your accommodation cleverly, there’s still something left. Usually you can plan 6 to 10 Euro for a hut. You should not do without everything. So maybe it’s better to rent a beach hut together with a backpacker companion and enjoy the feeling on the spot than to skimp and spend the night in a fucked up bed of a cash-house. According to Hostelword, the average overnight prices are currently as follows:

  • Siem Reap 3 Euro
  • Phnom Penh 5-6 Euro
  • Sihanoukville 7-8 Euro
  • Battambang 3-4 Euro
  • Kampot 5-6 Euro
  • Koh Rong Island 7-10 Euro
  • Kep 5 Euro

On tourist islands like Koh Rong Samloem you’ll have to pay about 25 Euro for a cabin. You can also look around for private accommodation – in the style of Bed and Breakfast, but that costs a little more. But even with an average price of 10 to 18 Euros this is not the world. The best place to stay is in the guesthouses, which usually have all kinds of accommodation available, from single beds to double rooms.

Camping in Cambodia

Camping is not exactly known in Cambodia. As in other Asian countries around the tropical belt not. That doesn’t mean that you as a backpacker can’t put up a tent here and there. But you should inform yourself well before where you do this. Although the country is relatively safe, such a single tent is always a temptation for one or the other bush thief.

Backpacker Trips, Tips & Highlights in Cambodia

There are some things you should have seen and experienced in Cambodia. Some things are more exciting, others are more interesting and others just show you the idiocy of the human race. These include the Killing Fields near the capital Phnom Phen. Discover the wooden bridge in Kampong Chan, which is rebuilt every year in the style of Sysyphus work, or enjoy hanging out on Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island) or Koh Rong Samlen.

Sure, Angkor Wat is a must on your backpacker tour through Cambodia. There is nothing comparable on earth. Cambodia has many sides to discover. You shouldn’t avoid the sad story, but you shouldn’t ruin your whole stay. You decide what does you good and what interests you in the end.

Backpacker Highlights in Cambodia

The real backpacker highlights, however, are different from the usual destinations and attractions. Tramp through the south of Cambodia or rent a bike and explore the country. At 5:30 local time you should be in Angkor Wat, because then the sun rises. Better pictures you don’t shoot from the temple anymore. Have a look at the handicraft of Artisans Angkor and go to the New Hope Restaurant Siem Reap to eat. There are “fallen” girls and kids working.

Backpacking in Kambodscha - Killing Fields

Backpacking in Cambodia – Killing Fields

A Tuk-Tuk tour through the city of Siem Reap also has its charm. And don’t miss the hustle and bustle of the night markets. One of the best is the Siem Reap Night Market. Hire a boat and venture a tour on the gigantic Tonle Sapzu freshwater lake to the floating villages. You’ll get to know Cambodia along Route 6. If you’re on your way there, just stop at one of the small snack bars or pubs. It’s not unusual for grilled spiders and the like to be served to you. It’s said to be quite rich in protein.

Backpacker insider tips in Cambodia

Most backpackers come to Cambodia to experience Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh and some dream stands. But the country can boast a few hidden spots that you shouldn’t miss. Take a detour to Kampot and get to know the original Kombodscha. The best way to get to the Bokor National Park is from the village on the Mekong.

If you can’t stand it without mountains, you can climb up to the 1813 m high Phnom Aura. It goes partly through densest bush. Tour guides do not operate in the region. Start from the small village of Srae Kan. The Mondulkiri region is known for its natural highlands – but only among the locals. Only very few tourists get there.

Food & Drinks in Cambodia

The once rich and multifaceted food and drink culture was partly completely eradicated in the course of the political dominance of the Khmer Rouge. Nevertheless, you can discover tasty dishes prepared according to old traditions while strolling through the alleys and streets at the food stalls. In any case, during your backpacker tour through the country you can be sure that you will get good food at low prices. In Cambodian cuisine, almost everything that wheezes and flies is used. From larvae to spiders to scorpions, everything goes in the pot or on the grill. Rice is the basic product. What you will notice little or not at all during your culinary expeditions are the abnormally spicy dishes as they are known in the neighbouring countries. So you can also say that the more famous Vietnamese and Thai cuisine have hardly any influence on the indigenous cuisine in Cambodia. Many dishes are prepared with the fish paste Prahok.

Food in Cambodia

As in neighbouring countries, coconut milk is often used as the basis for many dishes such as Amok – Arguably. Whether fish, chicken or prawns, everything is cooked in it. Another tasty backpacker dish is K’tieu – a noodle soup that you can serve right away for breakfast. Somlah Machou Khmae is really delicious, a sweet and sour soup based on pineapple, tomatoes and fish. Many dishes like Saik Ch’rouk Cha Kn’yei are also enriched with the ginger that needs getting used to. But once you have fallen for this, you can’t get rid of it anymore. If it has to be a pizza or similar fast food, then you can fill your stomach in the Happy Pizza chain.

Drinking in Cambodia

Never trust tap water wherever you are. The iced teas and iced coffees are good, but they are often prepared with fatty condensed milk. Fresh coconut milk and the many different kinds of fresh fruit juices are the hammer. As far as alcohol consumption is concerned, the country has a problem, as children are already drunk on the streets because of the lack of minimum age when buying. Beer, tiger, Heineken and Carlsberg are the most popular beer brands among backpackers. Rice wine and palm wine, some of which maltreat the pear, are available at every corner for a button and an egg.

Backpacker Visa and vaccinations in Cambodia

As in some other Asian countries, you also need a valid visa when entering Cambodia. You can apply for this visa at the responsible Cambodian embassy abroad or directly at the airport in Phnom Phen. More information here. The entry requirements for German citizens are currently as follows:

  • Passport: Yes
  • Provisional passport: Yes
  • Identity card: No
  • Temporary identity card: No
  • Children’s passport: Yes
  • Still valid child ID card according to old model: Yes
  • Travel documents & visa

When German nationals enter the country, the travel documents must be valid for at least six months from the date of entry. Every child needs his or her own ID document. In order to make the visa process a bit easier for you, you can also apply for an e-Visa. You can find more information on this at However, with this visa you can only enter the country via certain border crossings. You can find out what these are on the page

Vaccinations & medical information

Without sufficient vaccination you should not enter the country. At least you should be vaccinated against tetanus, diphtheria, polio, mumps, measles, rubella and influenza. If you stay longer in the country or region, get vaccinated against hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, typhoid and Japanese encephalitis. Dengue Fever, Malaria, HIV, Chikungunya Fever, Avian Influenza, Hand Foot Mouth Disease and Schistosomiasis are also known in the country.

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