Recently I planned a trip to Cambodia, and I stayed there for a month. It was fantastic, besides the bout of diarrhea i had after eating grasshoppers and frogs. On the plane the hostess will hand out the VISA forms for everyone to complete before arriving at the airport. If you’re planning a short holiday (30 days or less) the option for you would be to tick the box for a tourist visa, which is valid for 30 days. If you’re planning on living there it’s also very simple, just tick the box which says “O” or ordinary visa. This is also valid for a month, the difference being you can take it to a travel agent, pay a relatively small fee ($250 – $300) and get it extended for 12 months. To get you’re visa processed at the airport is very easy, takes just a few minutes and costs a small fee of $20 – $30.
Finding Hotels in Cambodia
Fancy a nice boutique hotel with free WIFI, cable TV, swimming pool, free breakfast and $0.75 cent beers in happy hour? Well you’re in luck because this what you’ll find in most of the hotels in major cities around Cambodia. After catching a tuk-tuk from Phnom Penh international airport to the very nice Blue Corner Boutique hotel I had a huge smile on my face, not just because of the friendly and helpful staff, or the very nice standard of the hotel but simply because I survived the tuk-tuk ride and got to the hotel alive. To someone who’s never experienced traffic in Phnom Penh it’s seems almost crazy, but they make it work and it’s actually quite safe. The Blue Corner was the best hotel I stayed in during my holiday in Cambodia, it was close to the popular river side area, shopping centers and Royal Palace.
After a week long fiesta of food, beer, shopping, nightclubs, the occasional snack of grasshoppers and frogs and relaxing by the poolside in Phnom Penh our next stop was Siem Riep. Our hotel there was also very cheap costing just $85 for the six nights we stayed there, and that includes free WIFI of course, cable TV, breakfast and complimentary fish spa. What better way to start the day than to have little fish nibble on your toe cheese? Next stop, the beautiful beach town of Sihanoukeville. I had booked a very nice hotel there through Booking.com (which i used to book all the hotels) but little did i know it was nowhere near the beach. My girlfriend was not happy about that at all, and i could see why. It would take us 45 mins to walk to the beach, and catching a tuk-tuk is not as easy as it is in Phnom Penh where tuk-tuks are on almost every corner. No late cancellations for hotel booking through Booking.com so I had to pay for the whole 6 nights we had booked, the good thing was it was only $120. So we found a nice hotel right on the beach, and an hour later we sank into the bed and enjoyed the air conditioned comfort and shortly after a dip in the swimming pool at the beautiful White Beach Hotel at $36 a night.
Eating Out in Cambodia
Food in general like most other things in Cambodia is very cheap. You can wonder the streets of Phonm Penh or Sihanoukeville pointing at everything that looks tasty, hand over a few dollars and never eat the same thing twice. That being said I ate the same thing 3 days in a row at a beach restaurant, it was that good. Yes hamburger and chips 3 days in a row might not sound that appealing to some, but believe me it was delicious (someone from that beach restaurant should teach McDonalds how to make hamburgers).
Most meals cost between $3.50 and $6, so you could quite easily eat out every day for less than $10. If you fancy doing some of your own cooking the local markets and super markets have pretty much everything you need, and the thing I like about the local markets is everything is fresh. Chicken carcasses, slabs of beef and pork are being cut and sold to customers at the markets without ever seeing the inside of a fridge so your damn sure it fresh. Another popular thing and a favorite of my girlfriends is street BBQ’s, where they cook sea food and a variety of meats with seasonal vegetables at very cheap prices. For us to eat out at the street side BBQ across the road from the Blue Corner Hotel in Phnom Penh cost $5 each, and was a delicious selection of prawns, fish, rice, vege and drinks. Excellent value!
Fancy upmarket restaurants and cafes also cater for just about any taste, you can find Italian pasta, pizza, French restaurants and bakeries, Japanese food, traditional Khmer soup restaurants, and of course some very nice cafes which is fantastic if you’re a coffee lover like me. A good coffee is disproportionately expensive at $2.50 – $3.80, but it’s not really any more expensive than buying a nice coffee at home so it’s not really an issue.
If you’re in Phnom Penh i would recommend going to the Eclipse Sky Bar for dinner at night. The view from the rooftop restaurant/bar is amazing and the food is top notch.
Traveling Around Cambodia
Getting around the city is very easy, almost all of the hotels have tuk-tuk drivers waiting out the front to take you where ever you want to go. A tuk-tuk ride anywhere in the city will cost around $3-$5 so it’s also very cheap. There are moto bike taxis which are a tad cheaper than tuk-tuks, and of course there are taxis as well. Buses are a very cheap option available to transport you from town to town if you want to travel that way, for example we caught a mini-bus from Sihanoukeville to Phnom Penh which was roughly a 7-8 hour trip and cost $8 each. Most of the buses can be booked from the reception at your hotel.
Another option which is surprisingly cheap is flying from town to town. Cambodia Angkor Air has connecting flights between all the major cities in Cambodia. A flight from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap cost us $40 per person plus taxes.
If you’re thinking about a trip to Cambodia it’s a great place for a relaxing holiday, the people are super friendly and if you enjoy the night life there are plenty of bars, night clubs and women to keep you entertained. Pontoon is one of the hottest nightclubs in Phnom Penh. Good music, affordable and always full of happy party people. The venue is top class with cozy sofas, huge bar and performances every night. A safe bet if you are looking for dancing and party in Phnom Penh. Another favorite nightclub of mine is The Classic Night, where Ladyboy shows are a main feature a few nights a week. The show was very, very funny and the food drinks and atmosphere inside the club were world class.