After decades of war, instability and poverty, backpackers were the first to find their way to Cambodia in the late 90’s. And until today, this beautiful country full of contrasts is still one of the most popular backpack destinations in South East Asia!
But what is it that independent travelers from all around the world value so much about Cambodia? Let’s find out!
First of all, Cambodians (or ‘Khmers’ as they call themselves) are probably amongst the most warm and open people that you’ll ever meet! In spite of their hard living conditions, Khmer people are always smiling, making Cambodia the real ‘land of smiles’. (Sorry Thailand!)
Furthermore, the country was able to preserve a lot of it’s authenticity and still offers many options for travelers who want to roam far off the beaten path. Even in Siem Reap, the touristic heart of Cambodia, you’ll just have to drive a couple of miles out of town to find yourself in the middle of rice paddies and bamboo huts.
On top of that, it’s very easy to find low budget accommodation and dining options in Cambodia. If you are traveling on a tight budget, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a basic room with fan for about 3 to 5 dollar a night. And at the local food stands, you can treat yourself to a typical Khmer meal for 1 to 3 dollar.
If you are still not convinced that Cambodia should be your next travel destination, then we still have one last ‘secret weapon’ in our arsenal: the magical temple complex of Angkor Wat! This UNESCO world heritage site will pull you straight back into it’s mysterious past like no other place in the world!
With 20 dollar for one day, the entrance fee to the archeological park is not cheap, but this money will give you the memory of a lifetime. And if you have the budget, we would recommend that you get the 3 day pass for 40 dollar. This gives you the possibility to browse through the park at a more comfortable pace and visit some other temples like Angkor Thom or Ta Prohm (the ‘Tomb Raider’ temple)!
Since Angkor Wat is located a couple of miles out of town (where you’ll probably spend the night in one of the guesthouses), we can recommend 2 budget options to get to the park.
The first option is to rent a bicycle for 1 or 2 dollars a day and ride from temple to temple at your own pace. The roads are flat, well maintained and there’s plenty of shade from the high trees flanking the road.
The second option is to negotiate a tuk-tuk for the whole day. Usually this should cost you about 12 to 15 dollars for one day. Especially if you are with a group of 3 or 4 people this option is quite affordable. If the tuk-tuk driver proposes a higher price, then don’t be shy to bargain! As in most Asian countries, bargaining is common practice in Cambodia. Another word of advice is to choose a tuk-tuk driver with a relatively good understanding of English and clearly agree on the pickup and return time.
Hopefully this blog post convinced you to visit Cambodia and provided you with some useful tips about Angkor Wat! If you are looking for more travel tips and information about Cambodia, then please visit our website http://www.siemreap.net/ or join the Siem Reap forum for more personalized travel advice.