Ready for take-off? This week Frequent Flier is heading to captivating Cambodia. Good food, fabulous people and rich history — come and see why we were totally awestruck by this colorful and diverse country.
Ode to Cambodia
While Thailand and Vietnam get the bulk of the travel buzz, Cambodia is not to be missed. A cosmopolitan capital, beautiful beaches, great food and fascinating history make this a must-visit destination. Here’s why we love it:
One of the highlights of any trip to Cambodia is a trip to the temples. We were utterly awed by the artistry, history and sheer magnitude of Angkor Wat. Get a three-day or even a week pass so you don’t have to rush. Trust us; you can’t see it all in a day or even two. Find a guide or a knowledgeable tuk-tuk driver to take you to the sites or rent a motorbike or bicycle to get around between temples on your own. From jaw-dropping structures to intricate carvings, Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia and not to be missed.
Sipping happy hour cocktails along the Tonle Sap River in bustling Phnom Pehn is a great way to while away a few hours. Grab a seat on the second floor of the Foreign Correspondent’s Club (FCC) for the best river view. Or, simply wander the boardwalk as the sun goes down.
One of the first things we noticed upon arrival in Cambodia is just how friendly the people there are. Always smiling, helpful and ready to suggest a place to eat, or something to do, it’s hard not to fall for the warm, welcoming Khmer people and their culture.
Dolphin spotting (if you’re lucky)
The Irrawaddy River Dolphin is nearly extinct, but you can try to get a glimpse along the mighty Mekong in Kratie. The town itself is worn down, but charming with relaxed pace and tree-lined streets. Along with dolphin-watching, sipping Angkor beer at a local bar and mingling with locals, take a ferry across the water to Koh Trong where you can rent a bike to take in the 9-kilometer trail that circles the entire island.
Bargaining like a local for everything from housewares to jewelry at the bustling Central Market, Phnom Penh, is a great way to spend an afternoon and the perfect place for souvenier shopping. If you’re not too tired or laden with bags of local goodies head to the nearby Russian Market for even more shopping (and bargaining).
If you’re a seafood fan, head south and indulge in fresh-caught crab in dusty but charming Kep. Make your way to the cluster of tiny waterfront restaurants in the Crab Market for the best the area has to offer.
Although Thailand and Vietnam get most of the credit where stunning stretches of sand are concerned, Cambodia offers some beautiful beaches and secluded islands for anyone who really wants to get away from it all. Port city and beach resort town of Sihanoukville is surrounded by white-sand beaches and islands worth exploring, and makes for a good jumping off point to discover the area.
On a budget? Cambodia offers a respite from expensive destinations. Finding well-appointed rooms with all the comforts of home (A/C, Wi-Fi, breakfast, pool) for under $20 is not only possible, but relatively easy. Two of our favorites: Mother Home Guesthouse in Siem Reap ($18 for a double) and Fairyland Guesthouse in Phnom Penh ($15 for a double).
When you get tired from all your exploring, why not treat yourself to a massage (we did). Getting a much-needed aromatherapy massage and natural jasmine rice scrub at Bodia Spa (three locations) was a highlight of our trip.
From authentic Khmer dishes with a vegetarian (and organic) twist at Chamkar Restaurant in Siem Reap and delicious baked goods and sandwiches at the Blue Pumpkin (several locations), to Thai-influenced curries, spicy papaya salads and sumptuous seafood, Cambodia offers a tempting array of options when it comes to filling the hunger gap.
Pack your bags and join us next time when Frequent Flier heads to gorgeous Curacao.