Best Places to Stay in Cambodia

Best Places to Stay in Cambodia

Cambodia is one of the most popular destinations with travellers and many backpackers in Southeast Asia leave the region with fond memories of their time in the country. While the price of accommodation is very much to the liking of budget travellers, the quality can certainly sometimes be a little bit lacking unless you know where to look!

This article should hopefully help you find somewhere cheap in Cambodia’s main travel destinations without sacrificing on the bare essentials.

cambodia map

Here are some of the best places to stay in Cambodia:

Phnom Penh

phnom penh

The Phnom Penh skyline around the bustling Central Market.

The Cambodian capital has the widest choice of accommodation in the country and has some dirt cheap options. Most of them were in the slightly crazy Lakeside area near the Beoung Kak lake which was popular with travellers on the tightest of budgets. While the lake no longer exists, Guesthouses 10 and 11 as well as a few others are still there and offer basic rooms starting from $3 although don’t expect amazing facilities and certainly don’t count on hot showers!

The biggest hostel in the city with a lively social scene is The Mad Monkey Hostel. They have modern dorms as well as private rooms and offer a huge choice of tours and also have 3 bars and a restaurant. For solo travellers it’s the safest bet for finding somewhere modern, sociable and fun but still budget friendly.

There are plenty more cheap options in the centre close to the Central Market with prices starting from $4 or so but again the standard is variable. Other solid options with travellers looking to socialise include Velkommen Backpackers and Top Banana Guesthouse while Capitol 3 Guesthouse have cheap clean private rooms which may suit those seeking a bit more privacy.

Sihanoukville

Cambodia’s most famous beach destination has plenty of budget accommodation although some of the better options do sell out quickly during peak times. Sakal Bungalows offer everything from basic huts on the beach to better equipped air-con rooms with a nice sea view. If you’re looking to meet people then try The Led Zephyr Backstage Bungalows which have several bungalows that act as dorms from $4 a night and generally receive excellent reviews.

If you want to get away from the increasingly commercialised centre then Cinderellas Dive Resort & Beach Bungalows on Otres Beach provide a quieter alternative with beachfront accommodation from $6.

Kampot

mad monkey hostel in kampot

Pictured above – The Mad Monkey Hostel in Kampot.

Just a short journey from Sihanoukville and conveniently located for the beautiful Bokor National Park is Kampot. It’s quite easy to find a budget room in town as it is very small and the imaginatively named ‘Guesthouse Street’ has many offerings that cater to foreigners. Popular options there include the Magic Sponge and Blissful Guesthouse with prices starting from $3 for dorms and $4/5 for private rooms.

There is also a Mad Monkey hostel in Kampot which is one of the best places to stay in Cambodia. It is located on the riverside and boasts one of the few swimming pools in the town which can be a welcome relief from the heat.

Battambang

The riverside town is a good place to get to experience what life is really like for Cambodians and there are some interesting homestay and community options. BOVA (Battambang Orphanage Village Assistance) Village Homestay is a bit more expensive than most of the options featured here with rooms costing $12 but it includes the chance to eat Khmer cuisine and live with a local family. You can also provide some much needed help at the local orphanage so it’s a nice way to get involved with locals and make a positive contribution to the lives of young Cambodian orphans.

Contact sophornbb@yahoo.com for info.

If you just want cheap and friendly then try Tomato Guest House were beds start at just $2! Somewhat obviously you shouldn’t expect the height of luxury though.

Siem Reap

siem reap

You can help the local communities by supporting the Mad Monkey Clean Water project.

Located close to Angkor Wat, Siem Reap receives hordes of new backpackers every day so there are plenty of budget places to eat, sleep and drink. Beds start again at just a few dollars a night and private rooms can be found for as little as $5.

The Mad Monkey in Siem Reap boasts a rooftop pool bar and has plenty of fun events and trips to get involved with. You can also help support their important community based projects in and around the town.

Garden Village Guesthouse & Hostel is another sociable option. There are also plenty of small guesthouses close to Pub Street and the Night Market that can’t be booked in advance but be sure to ask to see the rooms before handing over any money. Also be wary of tuk-tuk and moto drivers who try to take you to specific guesthouses as they are working on commission. Either tell them exactly which hostel you want to go to or get off at Pub Street and find somewhere yourself.


This article was first published in February 2015.

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for a more up-to-date summary of budget travel in SEA.


Frugal Backpackers Guide to Eating in Siem Reap,

Budget Guide to Eating in Siem Reap

by Milda from Asian Rooms

siem reap food

Siem Reap is ideal for people travelling on a budget who want to experience a piece of the local culture. Many backpackers like to really get stuck in and try some of the more traditional places, rather than the obvious tourist spots. Siem Reap is the second largest city in Cambodia, so there are plenty of interesting places to eat scattered around the city. It is located in Northwest Cambodia and is best known for the nearby World Heritage site, the Angkor ruins (right). Many travelers come here just to see the magnificent ancient temples. However, the city has recently angkorexperienced an influx of tourists so the number of restaurants and bars is growing rapidly.

The city has a vibrant nightlife, a friendly atmosphere, fascinating sites and great food, making it perfect for frugal backpackers. The restaurants here serve a fantastic range of delicious food including Asian, Khmer, BBQ and Western food. If you are planning to visit Siem Reap on a tight budget then you will easily be able to get some tasty food at reasonable prices. Here are some of the best restaurants and cafes for frugal backpackers.

Khmer restaurants

Angkor Palm

A favourite with locals and tourists alike, Angkor Palm is located near Pub Street. Here you can experience traditional Khmer dishes and well known soups. If you want to sample a bit of everything then they serve platters with a variety of dishes such as salad, spring rolls and fish dishes. This restaurant is especially good for backpackers because they do cooking classes, giving you a chance to learn to cook Khmer style.

Butterflies

lake in siem reapThis restaurant has been around for a while so you are pretty much guaranteed a quality meal in a beautiful setting. You can dine in their garden which has 1500 Angkorean butterflies resting on 500 plants and trees. They also play relaxing music so you can enjoy your meal in peace. They have a gift shop where you can buy souvenirs and on Tuesdays at 7.30 you can watch a traditional dance in the garden. If you want to write a blog post about your experience then you can use the free wifi. It’s a good place to escape to if you need a break from the crowded city streets.

International Cuisine

Red Piano

Red Piano is a popular restaurant which serves local dishes and Asian favourites, as well as Western food. It’s located 50 metres Northwest of the Old Market. People love this restaurant because of the quality of the food and the great atmosphere. It has a distinctly local feel and the staff are very friendly. You can enjoy a few drinks after your meal when the restaurant converts into a bar around 10pm. Dishes cost between $5 and $10 and they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Chusska

Chusska is a charming vegetarian restaurant serving Indian food. The food is very fresh and authentic and they are generous with their portions. Their dishes include favourites such as the samosas, naan bread, Daal and mixed vegetable curry. You can also get set meals here if you want to try lots of things for a set price.

Street Food

street food in siem reapSome people get a bit put off by street food, but they are missing out on the true taste of Cambodia. It is only here that you can really enjoy fresh food and taste the real dishes of Siem Reap. Digging into a street food dish is an experience in itself because you get authentic food in a vibrant atmosphere.

Don’t be discouraged by the locals asking you to eat at their stall, just wander through the streets and take your time choosing somewhere to grab a bite to eat. Head to the Old Market and the stalls just off Pub street. As the evening begins lots of different stalls pop up and the streets start to come alive. You can try a range of local and international dishes such as noodles, salads, pasta, BBQ, soups and fried dishes. Enjoy some fresh market food in a lively atmosphere for low prices.

Local Restaurants

The local restaurants don’t look as glamorous as some of the more up market places, but that doesn’t mean the food is any different. In fact, the food is probably better in some of the more local restaurants.

Mr Grill

Mr Grill serves mouth watering BBQ food as well as some well known Khmer favourites. Lots of locals come here to enjoy the extensive range of Khmer dishes and relax with their friends. You can cook your food yourself if you like on their barbeque, adding something special to your dining experience. It does get quite busy here because it is a local favourite but that just adds to the atmosphere. Don’t miss this experience on your next trip to Siem Reap.

Soup Dragon

The Soup Dragon is a Khmer and Vietnamese restaurant with very reasonable prices. You can also get a few Western dishes here if you don’t fancy a local delicacy. You can do some people watching at the roadside as you enjoy your food and watch the world go by. Here you can get breakfast, lunch and dinner for excellent prices.

Cafes

There are lots of pleasant cafes in Siem Reap where you can get a fairly cheap meal. If you fancy a light bite or a sweet treat then head to one of the local cafes. Some of them serve more substantial dishes if you want a proper meal. The best cafes include Blue Pumpkin, The Art Deli, La Boulangerie and Haven. You can snack on homemade bread and ice cream, pastries, sandwiches, salads and quiches. Some of the cafes have wifi so you can surf the internet whilst you enjoy an aromatic coffee.


About the author:

mildaMilda is the Community Manager @ AsiaRooms. Born in Lithuania (love it!), studied in the UK, travelled around Asia and USA, taught in Africa and now residing in Singapore where, equipped with a strong cup of coffee and surrounded by an amazing team I’m blogging about travels, cultures, events and hotels in Asia.



 This article was published in March 2013.

Get our Backpackers Guide to Southeast Asia 2017-2018 for a more up-to-date summary of budget travel in SEA.


Backpackers Guide to Cambodia: Visiting the Temples of Angkor Wat

Cambodia: Visiting the Temples of Angkor Wat

Country Guide | Temples of Angkor Wat | Cambodian Genocide | Phnom Penh’s Lakeside

The Glory Days of the Khmer Kingdom

angkor wat

NOTE – This article is over 5 years old. Some of the info may no longer be accurate, particularly in relation to the ‘Buying Tickets’ section.

Angkor was the capital of the ancient Khmer Empire which controlled almost all of South East Asia from Burma to Vietnam between the 9th & 13th centuries. It was the world’s largest civilization and is the source of immense pride to Cambodians.

The temples are spread over a large area and were re-discovered and restored in the 20th century. The main temples include Angkor Wat itself, the largest religious structure in the world. Bayon a weird ruin in the middle of Angkor Thom, with hundreds of large faces all staring at you. Also not to be missed is Ta Prohm a mysterious temple swallowed up the jungle.

These temples in their own right are fascinating but the sheer number and size of the place, makes the Temples of Angkor Wat one of the true wanders of the world. Tourist numbers are increasing but still tiny compared to other famous sites around the world which have been ruined by mass international tourism.

Getting There & Around the Temples

Inside temples of angkor watWhen planning it is important to realise that the temples of Ankor Wat are set over a vast area. The ancient city of Angkor Thom was once home to a million people (roughly the size of modern day Birmingham (UK) or Dallas, Texas hence it is not somewhere you can walk around. Indeed most of the ruins lie outside the ancient city walls.

There are two main routes, the little circuit (17km) and the big circuit (26km) follow the same course up until just past Bayon. Both take in the temples at Angkor Wat and the ancient city of Angkor Thom. The big route includes Preah Khan, Preah Neak Pean and Eastern Baray. The little route goes via Ta Prohm and Ta Keo. There are also many temples and ruins that neither route takes in, some being as far as 80km from Siem Reap. There is a huge amount to see and your chosen route will depend on how many days you intend to stick around, your chosen mode of transport and your level of interest in Khmer history.

Bicycles can be rented for little more than a dollar in Siem Reap, although set out early if you want to see it all in a day, and the big circuit is around 40km in total given it starts around 8km from the centre of Siem Reap. Your bike will come with a lock so it is safe to leave by any of the temples you decide to check out. Otherwise find a moto driver in Siem Reap (it’s not hard) to transport you around the temples for the day for around $8. Add $5 or so for a moto pulled trailer tuk-tuk thing (not sure of the exact name) which is perfect for two. Elephant rides are available for $10 from the south gate of Angkor Thom to Bayon.

Buying Tickets

The official Angkor Ticket Office (5am-5:30pm) is on the main road to Angkor from Siem Reap.

1 day US$20
3 days US$40

7 days US$60

Your pass will have your photo on and you can only pay in cash, so take enough out from one of the ATM’s in Siem Reap. The pass allows you to visit any of the 80 or so temples and ruins. The Temple of Angkor Wat is manned by several staff at the front gate who you will have to show your pass to gain entry. The other temples don’t require you to show your pass to enter, however you must have it with you at all times and there is a fine if you’re caught without it.

The temples are open for visitors from 5am to 6:30pm. If cycling you may want to head back before 6ish because it gets dark quick and there are no streetlights.

Top Temples Tips

1) Get a guide (either Cambodian moto guy or guide book) to get the most out of your visit.

2) Cycling is a fun way to see the temples, watch out for the moody teenage girls who expect payment to ‘look after your bike’. We were told our bike would be broken if we ever returned because we only bought one bottle of their water.

3) You’re supposed to be out of the temple complex by dusk, but we can’t think of a better or spookier way to spend a night than camping out by one of the temples. You will probably get in some trouble if caught.

sculptures in wall temples of angkor wat4) Don’t forget to buy your pass and once you’ve got it don’t lose it. You will need it to get into the main temples and will be fined $30 if caught without it.

5) The temple of Angkor Wat may be impressive and has to be visited but is flooded with tourists and people trying to sell stuff. Visit any of the other 70+ ruins for a more peaceful real experience.

6) Unless you’re a real temple history geek a week pass is likely to be too long. Having said that 1 day is not enough to see everything and take it all in. We reckon the 3 day $40 pass is your best bet.

7) It is true that $20 goes a long way in Cambodia but seriously don’t be tempted to skip this because it is more costly than other activities you’ve taken part in during your time in Cambodia.

8) It’s normally hot and sunny in Cambodia. Drink alot of water. Sold outside the main temples but not all so bring supplies.

Country Guide | Temples of Angkor Wat | Cambodian Genocide | Phnom Penh’s Lakeside


This article was published in June 2011