Tripwire’s Cambodia Backpacking Trip Itinerary
The finest hostels, bars and cultural experiences for all backpackers travelling around Cambodia.
Tripwire’s Cambodia Backpacking Itinerary & Trip Planner
Full travel itinerary for Cambodia, ideal for independent travellers and backpackers travelling on a budget
Have you ever found yourself returning from your travel adventures and thinking – damn, why didn’t I know that was there? Oh crapbags, why did no one tell me to do that?
We’ve all been there.
The unwelcome realisation of FOMO. Let’s face it, we all yearn for a life where we never miss out. With regards to your backpacking itinerary, this means knowing where all the best destinations, hostels, parties, attractions and people are.
It doesn’t matter whether you are just planning a short holiday or are trundling off into the sunset with a one-way ticket to backpack through Cambodia, this one could be the trip of a lifetime.
And it should be.
I’ve just returned from an eye opening and liver challenging journey through South East Asia launching our new travel app and am going to give you the most up to date travel tips to help you schedule your perfect Cambodian itinerary.
No more FOMO.
For any young backpacker looking to plan this adventure of a lifetime in Cambodia, welcome to the party! Pints of beer for 50 cents and buckets of cocktails for $2? You bet your bottom dollar they are.
In general, this backpacker itinerary has been compiled with the independent traveller in mind. However, if group action is more your cup of tea, then we also have a variety of group backpacking tours that are running all across Cambodia.
So here it is…
Hopefully this will guide your Cambodia itinerary and make sure that you squeeze the most out of your trip.
I’ve also written up a more detailed itinerary of top travel tips on where to stay, nightlife, things to do, transport options and the best restaurants in each of the major destinations in Cambodia: Siem Reap, Battambang, Phnom Penh, Kampot, Sihanoukville, Koh Rong & let’s certainly not forget the magical Koh Rong Samloem.
You will be able to plan your whole Cambodia trip itinerary from this page, however if you need any more travel advice, I can be reached by both email and messenger pigeon.
Before we go any further, I’ll talk you through the more mundane (yet crucial) itinerary planning elements.
First things first, it would be sod’s law if you travelled all the way to Cambodia while it’s pissing down with rain, unless you happen to be one of the few wet weather fiends.
Make no mistake, monsoon season hits the country hard.
Don’t worry though… Cambodia is still as hot as a basted turkey all year round. Sometimes too hot.
So when’s the best time to travel?
For those of you who are looking to avoid the wet weather and the humidity, November to January is the best time to embark on this Cambodia itinerary as the rains have just finished and the temperatures are at their lowest (still roasting).
The dry season and prime time backpacking weather conditions are in play from November until April.
Cambodia Visa Information
Visas are required for most travellers, including all EU, US and Australasian citizens.
Luckily, even if you are a bit of a donkey when it comes to general travel preparations, Visas can easily be obtained upon arrival at all international airports and border crossings in Cambodia.
The 30-day tourist visa will give you more than enough time to pack your itinerary full of all the hidden gems I have in store for you, and it only costs $20.
Usually your Cambodian plan will commence with entering the country from either Vietnam or Thailand.
Let’s kick off today’s agenda with entry from Vietnam.
Arriving In Cambodia
Arriving from Vietnam (Travelling from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh)
Flights are always tempting. However, the plane from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh usually costs over $100, so probably better to save your backpacking budget for a couple of celebratory beer towers when you arrive.
DIRECT BUS (8 hours)
The bus is the most cost efficient way for backpackers to get into Cambodia from Vietnam. Buses travel to Phnom Penh from Ho Chi Minh Giant Ibis Terminal everyday at 08:30 and 12:30. The bus journey will cost you around $15.
Be warned, there is a chance you will be charged an extra $5 for your visa on the border, $25 instead of the standard $20.
Believe it or not, I ‘ve heard a number of stories of backpackers who have been kicked out of the bus at the border for failing to cough up the extra 5 buckaroos. Better safe than sorry and ditched in the Vietnamese countryside.
Now when it comes to arriving in Cambodia from Thailand, you have a whole host of travel options…
Arriving from Thailand (Travelling from Bangkok to Siem Reap)
There are 3 main transport options for arriving in Cambodia, from Bangkok to Siem Reap:
FLIGHT (1 Hour)
Flying directly from Bangkok to Seam Reap using Air Asia & Bangkok Airways can cost anywhere between $40 and $80 depending on the season. A seamless hour long flight and you will be dropped right into the Cambodian backpacker action. Having used all 3 transport options, I would definitely recommend flying if your purse strings can be stretched that far.
If your budget can’t quite justify flying, then the direct bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok is your simplest bet.
DIRECT BUS (9-12 Hours)
The bus costs around $21 and departs in the early hours from the Morchit Terminal. If you’re travelling during peak season (November – April) I would recommend buying your tickets from a travel agent in advance to guarantee your seat. Taxi fares to the bus terminal from central Bangkok costs about $4.
The border crossing is not as simple as you’d imagine though…
There’s a ‘special zone’ that separates the Thai and Cambodian borders that you will need to navigate.
You’ll be dropped briefly at the Thai passport control outpost on the border of Thailand. Here you’ll be offered the opportunity to have your Cambodian visa sorted. Bad move. Save yourself a whole lot of time and some money ($10 to be precise) by skipping straight through to the Cambodian passport control counter on the other side of this ‘special zone’.
You will then board your next bus from the Cambodian side. However, there tends to be quite a wait to get this onwards bus to Siem Reap.
It’s not all bad news…
The $10 you’ve just saved can be put straight to work. The ‘special zone’ you walk through from Thai to Cambodian passport control is a boomtown called Poipet. This town is technically on Cambodian soil and is an EXTREMELY popular gambling destination for Thais (given that gambling is illegal in Thailand). Stroll through the strip of casinos between the passport control counters enabling Thais to gamble. Hot tip on the roulette – ‘Black 26’.
Fingers crossed lady luck is on your side.
This direct bus route can be quite a long journey, with all the waiting around. Through shifting transport methods, you can save yourself some time.
BUS. TUK-TUK. TAXI. (7-10 Hours)
If executed in the right way, this triple transport combo can save your itinerary some precious travel time, especially hanging around needlessly at the border.
First take an early bus from Bangkok’s Morchit Terminal to Aranyaprathet, which is a town on the eastern border. From Aranyaprathet, get a tuk-tuk to the border crossing. Once you’ve passed the casinos and crossed the border, join up with some travel buddies and share a taxi which will cruise you on down to Siem Reap. This whole journey should cost you between $15-20, plus the Cambodia Visa payment.
When it comes to planning my transport across South East Asia, I always use www.12go.asia – a very handy tool which has the full variety of overland transport options to help you schedule your Cambodian travel itinerary down to a tee.
Right, now here comes the good stuff…
You’ve made it across the border one piece. Security check complete, visas sorted & bags collected. Behold the cultural travelling wonderland of Cambodia.
Time to trip out in style.
Welcome to Siem Reap. This section should help guide your itinerary through Cambodia’s most popular travel destination.
But what makes it so popular?
The obvious attraction, travellers flock here from all over the world to see the famous ancient temples of Angkor, but that’s not all the city has to offer. The city’s party atmosphere is vibrant and there is a constant buzz among the backpacker community (in every sense of the word).
Now it’s time to ditch those backpacks at your hostel, but not just any hostel.
Whether you’re looking for a party hostel, chilled hostel or even just a plain mattress with air conditioning to catch a quick nap. I got you covered. Look no further than these 5 hostels, these are the best places for backpackers to stay in Siem Reap:
Mad Monkey Hostel – Party paradise.
Garden Village Guesthouse – Chiller’s haven.
Naga Angkor Budget Hotel – Sleeping beauty.
Onederz – Chic, clean & comfortable.
Funky Flashpacker – All day & all night.
For the full whammy on the best Siem Reap hostels; including prices, secret rooftop bars and which one of these has a beach football pitch – check out my “Where to Stay in Siem Reap”.
EXPLORE THE ANGKOR TEMPLES.
I know the temples are an obvious one for the itinerary, but frankly, any backpacker who leaves this city without spending at least a day visiting these ancient relics deserves a thousand lashes.
The flow of tourism into Siem Reap is largely due to the temples that sit on the outskirts of the city, especially the globally renowned Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat itself is a famous tourist trap filled with selfie sticks, but the park is also home to equally beautiful and less crowded temples.
Some of the hostels will offer day tours, however I would advise jumping in a tuk-tuk with some travel buddies and driving down there for sunrise (which means setting the alarm for about 4am, rise and shine campers!). A one-day pass to the Angkor temples and the strong dose of euphoria that comes with it costs $20.
For a fully authentic experience and some insider knowledge on the temple’s history, Happy Angkor Tour will hook you up with guides that are licensed and recognised by the ministry of tourism.
BOAT AROUND THE FLOATING VILLAGES.
If the heat stroke sets in and the crowds become too much, spend a day out boating through the floating villages on Tonle Sap Lake (fun fact of the day – this is the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia). The lake is a 15km tuk-tuk ride outside of the city; and home to some magnificent stilted houses, huge fish traps and maybe even a crocodile if you’re lucky.
VENTURE INTO THE NATIONAL PARK.
All tree huggers and George of the jungles will be going bananas in Phnom Kulen National Park, and for good reason. This natural wonderland is packed full of mountain biking trails and waterfalls to swim through.
But it gets even better…
The park is also hiding the largest reclining Buddha in Cambodia. Grab a tuk-tuk and some road beers and go find it. Phnom Kulen is a 48km journey from Siem Reap.
That’s not all though…
To discover more amazing experiences; including jungle zip-lining and one of Cambodia’s most famous circuses – scroll through the best “Things To Do In Siem Reap”.
It’s not all about getting cultural 24/7. There’s always time to party and Siem Reap is a great place to get your dancing socks on.
After getting sufficiently juiced at the hostel. All the travelling community will wander towards the originally named ‘Pub Street’ at about midnight. This street is everything it says on the tin, and some. A long strip of bars, restaurants, clubs and mobile tuk-tuk cocktail vendors.
No prizes for guessing you’ll end up throwing some emphatic shapes in Temple Bar or Angkor Wat Bar until sunrise. Be sure to leave a couple bottles of water in the dorm, that early morning dry mouth kicks in hard.
There’s much more to tell you…
For the inside scoop on liveliest bars and best watering holes, including which bar pays you $100 for drinking a cocktail, have a sip on my “Siem Reap Nightlife”.
The logical next destinations from Siem Reap would be to travel to either Battambang or Phnom Penh.
Battambang is only 48 miles from Siem Reap, however the road paving gods have not blessed travellers with the simplest of routes. There is no direct road to Battambang. The more adventurous may choose to take the river boat down to Battambang. There are also flights, buses and also a boat that goes straight from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh.
Those up for a long haul road trip may choose to go all the way through to Sihanoukville on the overnight bus. There are a number of route options which vary greatly in both price and safety.
For the full pricing, options and safety of transport from Siem Reap, take a ride on the “How to get from Siem Reap to… Best Transport Options”.
Pack your pineapples! Battambang we’re coming for you…
Believe it or not this is Cambodia’s second largest city. Battambang is not high on most travellers’ Cambodian agenda, but that’s not to say that this city doesn’t have a slice of cultural pie that you all should explore.
With it’s rich architectural heritage, influential artistic scene and beautiful surrounding countryside, this is the perfect place for visitors to enjoy a dose of tranquil relaxation away from the backpacker hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Here Be Dragons – Games & Thrones.
Battambang My Homestay – Home Sweet Home.
Ganesha Family Guesthouse – Extra Spicy.
Check out the full details of these best bunking options in Battambang on my “Where To Stay In Battambang”.
Things To Do In Battambang
When first arriving in Battambang, I thought it seemed like a sleepy and rural city with not much going on.
I couldn’t have been more wrong…
Battambang had the last laugh, as I discovered heaps of cool experiences to quell that thirst for adventure.
RIDE THE BAMBOO TRAIN.
One of the most unique rail journeys in the world. Located on the outskirts of town, the norry (as locals call it), cruises 7km through the Cambodian countryside.
Not only will you get the pleasure of riding this wood, you’ll be picking up speeds of up to a stonking 40km an hour as you motor past waving locals. Sit back on your straw mats, relax and feel the wind breeze by. Return tickets are $10 per passenger.
WATCH THE BATTAMBANG CIRCUS.
Evoke your inner child with a visit to the most famous Circus in Cambodia. The show goes on every Monday and Thursday in Phare Ponleu Selpak which is about a 10 minute tuk-tuk ride from the city. Any financial support you provide goes directly to help local abandoned children. Good deed of the day, done.
VISIT THE CROCODILE FARMS.
A great experience for anyone interested in seeing how these creepy amphibians go about their daily business. You’ll have the opportunity to hold the babies and check out the beasts in their natural enclosure.
Better still… It’s only $3 entry fee. Bring a camera, it’s been known to get pretty snappy.
Filling up your Battambang itinerary already? Hold your horses, there’s more…
You’ll certainly want to check out the swarm of bats that emerge from the nearby killing caves as well; reveal all in the top “Things to do in Battambang”.
Battambang certainly doesn’t rival the likes of Siem Reap or Phnom Penh when it comes to big city nightlife, however there are a number of lovely places to enjoy a few beers and cocktails in the evenings.
Smoking Pot’ on the Rooftop is a new bar which is serving up drinks and dreams through the night. It gets better, there are also a couple of places that pour some of the cheapest pints you will ever have the pleasure to wrap your lips around.
So bottoms up and read on…
To get the freshest draft of best cocktail spots and cheapest beers in town, get my “Battambang Nightlife” tips down you.
Backpackers arriving from Siem Reap will be likely to travelling onwards to Phnom Penh or down to the coastal destinations of Sihanoukville or Kampot. Unless you’re in a position to splash the cash on a flight, I would advise taking the bus, which ranges from 6-14 hours depending on your final destination.
If you’re heading north to Siem Reap, as I mentioned previously, your spoilt for choice with either bus, boat and flight transportation options.
For all the gossip on timetables and pricing of onwards transport from Battambang, cruise through the full “Best Battambang Transport Options”.
Might as well hop across to Phnom Penh then…
For any traveller stepping off the bus, boat or plane into the Cambodian capital, it can be a big culture shock. The city streets are hot, congested and dusty. The energetic atmosphere injected into this destination by locals and backpackers is undeniable. The opportunities and experiences to add to your itinerary here are endless.
For backpackers travelling on a budget, the best hostel scene is centred around Golden Street, which is Street 278. This will plot you right in the midst of the late night clubbing action. Behold the 5 greatest napping spots in Phnom Penh, cement them in your plans.
Mad Monkey Hostel – The trend setter
Eighty8 Backpackers – Art decadence
Top Banana – Rooftop giggles
Lazy Gecko – One to watch
To guarantee you know which one of these sweet dreams is for you, check out my full “Where To Stay In Phnom Penh”.
Most travellers, myself included, initially cast Phnom Penh in quite a dull and dreary light. It’s not surprising given the history that the city has had. Cambodia suffered some very dark moments of it’s recent past; no darker than the genocide which took place here during the 1970s.
Over 3,000,000 people murdered across a period of 5 years. Horrific scenes.
Yet, some monuments and sites of this tragedy still remain to this day as both a memory and a testament to the strength of the local culture. As depressing as they may be, you will want to experience these whilst in Phnom Penh to truly understand what Cambodia went through.
WANDER THE KILLING FIELDS.
This is both an impressive and incredibly horrifying tour. These fields were the notorious site where many Cambodians were killed and left in mass graves after suffering through the Khmer Rouge regime.
UNLOCK S-21 PRISON & TUOL SLENG MUSEUM.
The dark past of the killing fields is mirrored here at what was the site of S-21 Prison, which was a stage upon which many women, men and children were locked up and tortured. Since the barbaric regime was overthrown, the site has been renamed Tuol Sleng Museum. However, the evil memories of the prison are well photographed and documented.
Headsets are available at each site, which I would highly recommend getting to bring its history to life. Both these tours can be done in an afternoon, followed by a stiff drink of course!
GET HAGGLING AT THE MARKETS.
Whatever you are looking for, they will have it.
Phnom Penh has a very strong market game, stocking everything from household goods, fresh food, animals to fine silks and souvenirs. The big three markets I advise checking out are Central Market, Old Market and Russian Market.
I would set aside 3 hours to zip around these markets by tuk-tuk and see what gems you can find. To rent a tuk-tuk for half a day should cost you around $15 and a cheeky smile.
But that’s not all…
It’s not all markets and museums in Phnom Penh, to find out how you can fire your first AK-47 or Bazooka and where the best go-karting track in Cambodia is, explore my list of best “Things to do in Phnom Penh”.
Once you’ve had the good night’s kip and a day out on the town, the time has come to explore the evening’s hidden gems of what was once called the ‘Paris of the East’ can be a truly memorable experience. If you know where these gems are at…
Here we go…
The Phnom Penh nightlife scene is on the rise, not only attracting DJ’s and musicians from all over the world, but also catalysing the melodic growth of local talent.
For a city with such a morbid past, they sure know how to celebrate the present. Festivities will undoubtedly commence at your hostel, erupting into drinking games of beer pong, cricket and pretty much any sport within which you can intertwine a drink
At about midnight the hostels will dance with you out of the door towards to the various local clubs. The most popular of which is the one and only Love Bar. This is the favourite late night watering hole for backpackers for reasons I can’t remember, must have been the unbelievable cheap drinks. Either way it’s a party you will LOVE.
Want to get your groove well and truly on?
Check out where the top DJ’s are playing and which bar is serving up a unique range of international beers at “Phnom Penh Nightlife”.
Phnom Penh is the transport hub in Cambodia, all major destinations can be reached pretty straightforwardly.
As mentioned previously, if your heading North West back towards Siem Reap or Battambang, there are options to catch a flight, get the bus and even float across the lake on a boat.
If the South Coast is calling your name, both Sihanoukville and Kampot can be reached very easily by bus.
Capitol Tours and Sorya Tours have buses running all day to Sihanoukville. The road trip takes about 5 hours and tickets cost around $7. Alternatively, if you are wanting to shave an hour off your journey time, get a mini bus. It’s only $3 more expensive and they will pick you up from your hostel.
To get down to the lovely Kampot, I would definitely recommend getting the mini bus. It’s at least 2 hours quicker than the bus and is only $4 dearer. Both Giant Ibis and Kampot Express have a daily mini bus service that runs to Kampot.
For the full schedule and cost of travel from the Cambodian capital, check out my “Best Phnom Penh Transport Options”.
Kampot it is…
It’s a bold statement, but Kampot is my favourite backpacker destination in Cambodia. Idyllically located right on the river, it provides travellers with the perfect opportunity to soak up some sunshine, culture and has some of the best nightlife your dance moves will have the pleasure of taking on.
Not to mention some of the hostels, holy moly…
Backpackers are spoilt for choice with where to stay in Kampot. There are some glorious hostels in the town centre or you can venture of the beaten track into the forested riverside wilderness to experience some real overnight backpacker magic. These are my four favourite hostels, win-win-win-win…
Mad Monkey Hostel – Mansion Madness.
Arcadia Backpackers – The Adults’ Playground.
Banyan Tree – Lazy River .
Monkey Republic – Safe & Sound.
To discover which of these lovely backpacker establishments has my favourite roof terrace, the floating blob and where the big Friday night party goes down, take a look at my “Where To Stay In Kampot”.
Now, what hair raising activities does Kampot have in store for your itinerary…
The beauty of this riverside town makes it very easy to lounge around and do nothing in the sun. If that’s your prerogative, then welcome to paradise. If your up for exploring the sights, then there are a whole host of things pack out your Kampot itinerary.
ROAD TRIP TO KEP.
Kep is the much sleepier cousin of Kampot that is located just down the coast. Wouldn’t recommend staying there for the night but definitely worth going to spend a day by the beach.
The best part…
You are renting yourself a scooter and cruising wolf-pack style for 45 minutes through the scenic Cambodian countryside to get there. Be mindful, Cambodian drivers have been known to knock back a few beers before getting behind the wheel. Keep that helmet firmly attached.
VISIT THE PEPPER FARMS.
I don’t know about you, but pepper really gets my juices flowing. Every meal gets a hearty dousing. As fate would have it, there’s no better peppercorns than the one you will find right here in Kampot.
During the tours you will get to explore the pepper plantations, learn how it is grown for export and grab yourself a bag to jazz up your future meals.
SNEAK AROUND THE BOKOR MOUNTAIN GHOST CASINO.
If there’s one adventure you go on during your time in Kampot, this is it. A day trip for the memoirs.
Scooter about 30km outside of town to the Bokor Hill Station, which was once a small resort town, but now all that remains is a ghastly ghost town. It is most famous for the abandoned casino, but is also home to the remnants of a church and a few buildings for the former king.
There’s been some Cambodian whispers of sightings of lions, tigers and bears, but if you actually see one be sure to send me a snap.
To fill your itinerary with more amazing experiences, like kite surfing and the infamous booze cruise, stroll through my “Things to do in Kampot”.
After your itinerary has had its day’s worth of activities, it’s time to hit the town’s nightlife…
Kampot gives the allure of being a very chilled backpacker spot, however if you know where the nightlife is you can be sure to burn the candle at both ends. All the hostels I recommended will certainly have some late night parties but if you want to go to the early hours, this is where to head…
On Friday you need to gather your backpacker buddies and head across to the Banyan Tree, a riverside fiesta like none other. Good music, fairy lights and plenty of drunken antics to be had.
Saturdays means only one thing, Naga House. The hostel that is neighbour to Banyan Tree and throws a similar shindig, they had some pretty raucous techno music playing last time I was there and an atmosphere to match it.
If your feeling a more sophisticated evening, but your knowledge to the test at Blissful Guesthouse’s Quiz Night. Every Tuesday at 8pm. The winning team gets a beer tower of course.
For the full low down on party options, groove on through my “Kampot Nightlife” article.
When your ready to tear yourself away from the Kampot paradise. These are the best itinerary options for your onwards travel…
If your heading back to Phnom Penh, grab the mini bus which I mentioned before.
However, it would be a crime not to travel down to Sihanoukville and the islands. If you’re travelling in a group, then I would advise jumping in a taxi. The journey is about two hours and you should be paying as close to $30 as you can.
Otherwise the Champa Mekong bus departs four times a day and only costs $5.
To get the full details of onwards travel options from Kampot, meander through my “Best Kampot Transport Options”.
Roll out the red carpet Sihanoukville…
Sihanoukville is not as pretty as Kampot however it’s much more lively, and definitely deserves a little spot on your Cambodian itinerary.
And better yet…
It is the gateway port town for the array of tantalising tropical islands that lay just off the Cambodian coastline.
Firstly, there are two options of locations in Sihanoukville. Either you bunk up right in the centre of town or you can choose to sleep on the quieter and more idyllic Otres Beach which is about a 20-minute scooter ride away.
Whichever side of the fence you decide to sleep on, these are all wondrous choices for hostels to stay in during your Sihanoukville slumber…
Monkey Republic – King Kong’s Castle.
The Big Easy – Easy, So Easy.
Wish You Were Here – Wooden Wonderland.
To make sure you wake up on the right side of the bed and to see which of these has emphatically come back from the dead after being burnt down in 2013, scroll through my “Where To Stay In Sihanoukville”.
GET YOUR SCUBA DIVING ON.
The Sihanoukville port is the main area for dive centres along the South Western Cambodian coastline. The ocean is full of wildlife and the waters are crystal clear. There are four PADI dive centres which offer scuba services, I would recommend going with The Dive Shop as they are the only PADI 5 Divecentre in Cambodia.
WATCH A FILM AT TOP CAT.
The evenings of chilling and watching films will be few and far between on your Cambodian itinerary. Your own smoker-friendly private cinema. This place cannot be missed. Rent a room filled with cushions and futons at $5 for a two-hour session. 1,000s of films to choose from, and even some happy pizzas on offer if you want to take the flick to the next level.
BEACHSIDE FIREWORK EXTRAVAGANZA.
Unfortunately (for me), I’m yet to catch this firework display. Just another reason to return, but I hope you don’t make the same mistake. The firework show on at Serendipity Beach happens every evening and will guarantee you kick the night off with a bang.
To get the inside scoop on all Sihanoukville activities, including the best booze cruise and the largest collection of snakes in Cambodia, check out my “Things To Do In Sihanoukville”.
Sihanoukville’s nightlife is always popping off. Most of the action happens down on Serendipity Beach where there is a strip of beach front bars. Dolphin Shack certainly tends to steal the show most evenings but if you are looking for a bit of variety then stroll a bit further down the beach to Utopia. There tends to be a steady flow of prostitutes that linger around the beach so be sure to keep a tight hold of your valuables, unless that’s the sort of thing floats your boat.
To get the full run down of the best bars in Sihanoukville and to find out where the weekly SECRET JUNGLE PARTY happens, check out my piece on “Sihanoukville Nightlife”.
Earlier in the article I talked about how you can get to Siem Reap, Battambang, Phnom Penh and Kampot from Sihanoukville. However, it would be a grave mistake to leave here without boating over to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem.
A return ticket on the speed ferry to Koh Rong costs $15 in low season and $30 in high season. The ferry leaves several times a day and takes about an hour. When the fast boats are full, you also have the option of the slow boat which costs $15 for a return journey and takes between 2 and 3 hours.
From Koh Rong you can then get the ferry to Koh Rong Samloem, which I will talk you through in a bit.
For the full ferry timetables and other transport routes, check out “Best Sihanoukville Transport Options”.
It’s time to drop anchor at Koh Rong…
Koh Rong Island is a must visit for any backpacker who loves lounging around on white sandy beaches, swimming through crystal blue waters and generally beach bumming around.
At the minute there are no ATMs on the island so be sure to bring more than enough money to help pay for your festivities on the island.
If you’re looking for where to stay in Koh Rong, look no further than these 4 hostels. They all will give you a proper taste of the easy island life.
Monkey Island – Captain Castaway.
Bong’s – Wake & Bake.
Island Boys – Shacked Up.
Sky Bar – Head In The Clouds.
To really decide which one of these you want to jump into bed with, including the hostel with all day happy hours, check my full piece on “Where To Stay In Koh Rong”.
DIVING AND SNORKELLING.
Koh Rong Dive Centre offers up daily scuba trips around the island. If you’re already PADI’d up, two fun dives costs $80. Otherwise the PADI open water course is $380 over 3 days or $430 for 4 days.
If you’re not feeling like going to deep, most bars and hostels will rent out snorkel gear from anywhere between $3 to $7.
TAKE ON HIGH POINT KOH RONG ADVENTURE PARK.
A very addition to the island, it is certainly worth checking out if you want some action. The rope park is built across 23 trees and stretches 400m long, packed full of zip lines and rope bridges. Tickets cost $20 and the course takes about an hour to swing through.
For the full list of island adventure options, check out my “Things To Do In Koh Rong”.
Mango Lounge is the island’s only standalone bar, so keeps going as long there is still a backpacker with a drink in hand there. It’s basically a 24/7 party, and is also the proud owner of the island’s only pool table.
Other than that, the Koh Rong nightlife will be buzzing around the many hostels on the island. Vagabondz is a stoner chill zone that oozes laid back vibes and cheap drinks. Sky Bar is a great place to chill in the evenings, with some face melting views of the sunset.
To get the full vibe of the island’s nightlife, including which bar occasionally hosts a free-beer happy hour, check out my “Koh Rong Nightlife” agenda.
From Koh Rong either you are cashing in your return ticket to go back to Sihanoukville. However, I certainly wouldn’t go back to the mainland until you have gone to explore Koh Rong Samloem.
You can book your ferry transfer to Koh Rong Samloem both in Sihanoukville and on Koh Rong. The transfer between the two islands should cost around $5 each way.
Welcome to paradise…
You’ve certainly arrived at the right place. Cue tears of joy. A destination that deserves a spot on any backpackers’ itinerary. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.
Let me explain…
If you could take Leonardo Dicaprio’s ‘The Beach’ concept and build an island experience around that theme, this would be it. Paradise has been found. Living like a king with nothing but the bare necessities.
In terms of places to stay, it’s plain and simple…
Mad Monkey Hostel have recently opened up a private backpacker resort on Koh Rong Samloem unlike any other. If you are searching for the perfect island experience amongst the most free-spirited and friendly of backpacker crowds, then this one should certainly be cemented in your itinerary.
When it comes to things to do, your life couldn’t be made any easier…
Chill out on the wooden decked terrace of the beach bar, futons and hammocks galore. Excellent seafood and cocktails delivered right into your lap. Then there’s the whole island to explore; secret beaches, jungle treks, fishing trips and diving.
When the sun is setting and the witching hour draws closer, the night comes alive with themed parties, drinking games and a nightlife so good, you may well not remember it!
The island has also recently started hosting its own Full Moon Parties which have been getting rave reviews from backpackers.
When and if you’re ever ready to leave this tropical haven, jump on the ferry back to Sihanoukville and continue your Cambodian adventure.
For the full breakdown of the Koh Rong Samloem backpacker magic, check out my ‘Tripwire Koh Rong Samloem Backpacker Itinerary‘.
Cambodia Itinerary Conclusions
Well that just about wraps it up. It’s been a pleasure. For those of you looking to set out on the adventure of a lifetime to Cambodia, these tips should help you create an itinerary that will guarantee you make the most of your trip. Take the time to have a look through the more detailed articles on each destination to give you a more detailed perspective on where to stay, things to do, nightlife and best transport options to properly plan your Cambodia itinerary.
Lastly, one thing I would ask of you; well this article runs to over 6,000 words and took a lot of blood, sweat and beers to piece together. If you enjoyed this, please share it on your social pages and spread the word so that other people can feel the Cambodian love.
Any other questions regarding your travel itinerary, please do get in touch.
But, most importantly…
Have a good trip, I know you will.