A beach vacation in Cambodia is not yet so imposing in the teeth as Turkish or Egyptian. This tourist destination is still unpopular among our compatriots, not everyone is aware that the Khmer Kingdom has beach resorts located on the shores of the Gulf of Thailand. Cambodia is really far from luxurious Thai or Vietnamese resorts, but a comfortable stay with all the necessary attributes is quite possible here. In addition, Cambodia is famous for its picturesque islands, which is another argument when choosing local resorts.
Kep is a small Cambodian town - at one time it was considered almost the main beach resort in the country, however, unable to withstand the competition with Sihanoukville, it fell into decay. In recent years, tourists have again begun to show interest in this godforsaken place, where, apart from the beach, the promenade and the crab monument, there is perhaps nothing interesting and there. But we are interested in a beach holiday, and the beach here is remarkable, with volcanic black sand and fairly clear water.
Since there is still no tourist excitement here, Kep will be an excellent haven for those who want to take a break from the megacities and the crowds inhabiting them.
An acquaintance with local cuisine, namely seafood dishes, will be a pleasant gastronomic discovery: the fame of the taste of crabs, freshly caught and immediately grilled, thunders far beyond the Kep.
An hour's sail from Kep is the Rabbit Island, which is a must-see. The place is very beautiful - a perfect example of wild, unspoiled nature with white sandy beaches and the absence of any civilization.
Sihanoukville was built relatively recently, in the middle of the last century, so there is no abundance of historical and architectural monuments here. In fact, there are no usual attractions here at all, but there is the sea, and the sun, and the beach. What does the main resort of Cambodia offer tourists in exchange for food for the mind? Sihanoukville is primarily a beach resort with a vibrant nightlife.
Local beaches are packed with vacationers, at every step there are hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, travel agencies with tempting offers to go fishing or buy a tour to romantic islands.
A few words about beaches. The most visited and, as a result, the most polluted city beaches are Serendipiti and Ochitel. Everyone who is not lazy comes here, so, of course, there is no quiet rest and clean water on these beaches. The conditions are no better on Victoria Beach, which is located next to the port. The beaches of Otres and Ream will not delight you with infrastructure: there are very few restaurants and other entertainment establishments here, but there are no people, the water is clean and the sand is pleasant. The leader in cleanliness and livability is considered to be Sokha Beach, there are sun loungers with umbrellas, cafes and amazing cleanliness, only one thing upsets: Sokha Beach is available only to visitors of the Sokha Beach Resort. True, the most persistent are trying to solve this problem, privately bargaining with the guards and, it should be noted, in most cases successfully.
The most romantic island - Koh Rong - attracts not only with its impressive views and white beaches, but also with a small heart-shaped bay. Sun Neil Island captivates with its relaxing atmosphere and amazing beaches sparkling in the sun, while Koh Tan Island is an earthly paradise for diving fans.
Often, Cambodia is considered an unsafe country for travel, mainly by those who have never been there - and this, of course, is not at all the case. However, as in any other country, be it Russia or Switzerland, there is crime, no one is immune from illegal actions of intruders, and tourists are no exception. That is why we advise you to play it safe before the trip, because as the well-known proverb says “forewarned is forearmed!”.
Many travelers, regardless of whether they are passing through Cambodia or flew to the country of the ancient Khmers purposefully, at times, completely lose their composure as soon as they step on Cambodian land. The reason is either the tropical air, which is so intoxicating far from home, or the intense heat, which turns the gray matter in the head into an ordinary porridge. Never mind. When doing any extraordinary act in Cambodia, just ask yourself the question: "Would I allow myself such a trick in my homeland?" If the answer is no, then you should not decide on such an act in Cambodia.
It's no secret that most of the extraordinary antics during the trip, we are pushed by alcohol, because the next trip is a kind of holiday, isn't it? In any case, alcohol pushes the boundaries of what is permissible, so during the fun and after, do not allow yourself, for example, to get involved in a drunken brawl, argue with a tuk-tuk driver for a dollar, or harass local girls in a bar. Otherwise, you run the risk of being properly beaten or go to jail, as we have already warned you about.
Although Cambodians are extremely positive and smiling people, you should not completely and completely buy into such good nature, because it can often turn out to be fake. You should also not believe in any unprecedented offers of one nature or another and agree to receive additional information, a free excursion and the like. Such offers usually come from so-called helpers who, under the guise of an ordinary good guy who wants to tell something interesting about their country to a foreigner, will ultimately try to cash in on you. Always stick to your own plan of action.
Even though Cambodia remains a fairly safe place for travelers today, the level of tourism in the country is growing, and therefore the number of crimes against tourists is growing. Theft of bags is especially popular with local criminals. Such thefts, as a rule, are committed in pairs: attackers on a moped drive up to a potential victim from behind and simply grab the bag at the most appropriate moment. The same crimes are committed against tourists traveling in tuk-tuk or rented mopeds.
It is advisable to leave valuables in the hotel or guesthouse and carry only essentials with you. If you are walking down the street, keep your bag or backpack on the opposite shoulder from the roadway. If suddenly you see something curious on the road and you will certainly want to take a picture of it - stay at a distance from the roadway, because it will be quite a shame if a guy passing by suddenly grabs your brand new iPhone.
Thieves are not limited to only pedestrians, more and more cases of theft from passengers of tuk-tuk. Therefore, do not sit close to the edge of the board, swing the camera and hold the bag securely or lay it on the floor. At times, handbags work as a whole gang, especially at night. In such a situation, be prepared for the fact that they will try to surround you and, in this case, your chances of “getting out of the water” are significantly reduced.
When an attacker sees a victim on a moped or motorcycle, he is like Donald Duck, who has dollar symbols in his eyes and, in such moments, his actions can go beyond common sense. Of course, being left without a bag and its valuable contents is not all that fun, but still not fatal. It is much worse - to remain disabled or to die altogether in an attempted robbery. Therefore, remember: when traveling on a two-wheeled vehicle, never hang your bag over your shoulder.
Car and motorcycle rental in Cambodia is relatively cheap, and many guests of the Khmer country rent vehicles for greater flexibility in planning routes. You can go wherever, whenever you want - complete freedom of action and movement. However, there are some nuances here, which are worth mentioning in advance. And so, let's go.
The most common deaths in Cambodia are road accidents and mine explosions during the Khmer Rouge rule, but now we are not talking about mines. Traffic accidents claim thousands of lives every year. Such statistics can be put on a par with Vietnam and this is pretty alarming, especially if you are a potential guest of the country and plan to properly drive around the district on an iron horse or car. Drivers of two-wheeled vehicles should be especially careful, because the “law of the jungle” operates on the roads of Cambodia, something like: “the strongest survives” or “who is stronger (more) is right”. Therefore, choosing a car gives you a higher priority, but motorcyclists should be more careful, because the nearest medical institutions are located only near Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang. On the other hand, having learned how to drive a motorcycle, moped or scooter in Phnom Penh traffic, subsequent trips around the country or abroad will seem childish to you.
As for vehicle insurance, the situation is as follows. Most of the cars are rented directly with the driver, which completely relieves you of liability in the event of an accident. Also, you have the opportunity to rent a car without a driver. In this case, the insurance only covers the damage caused to your vehicle, but if there are victims, the court is unlikely to be on your side. A tourist is a great source of income for local corrupt policemen, and they are unlikely to miss the chance to profit from the spoils.
As for mopeds and motorcycles. As a rule, the lessor is silent about the issue of insurance of the moped during the transaction. Perhaps the owner of the vehicle has insurance, but he will try to do everything to shake off a couple of tens of dollars from you in the event of an accident.
What you really need to take care of when renting a two-wheeled vehicle is your own safety. Be sure to make sure that a reliable impact-resistant helmet, and not a "plastic pan", is given in the kit. If you have any complaints about the helmet - do not squeeze, buy a suitable option on the market or in a specialized store.
On the territory of Cambodia, an international driver's license is not officially valid, although this does not always stop vacationers. You need to have a small amount of cash with you to pay off the police officer who stopped you, but in the event of an accident, the consequences can be serious.
In order to get a Cambodian driver's license, you don't have to “dance with a tambourine”, just go to any tourist center or rental office, where for about $ 30 you will receive an absolutely official driver's license.
International driving license is suitable for driving two-wheeled vehicles, but know in advance - every police officer that comes your way will certainly want to look at him. Particularly agile employees meet in Sihanoukville, who literally keep white drivers out of the way. If everything is in order with the documents, they will wish you good luck and let you go; in the absence of a certificate, they will hint at a bribe. Typically, the amount ranges from $ 2 to $ 5.
Since December 2016, the Cambodian Traffic Law has been amended to allow driving motor vehicles with an engine up to 125 cc. see without a driver's license. Read more here.
Gasoline prices in Cambodia are slightly higher than in other Southeast Asian countries. The price per liter of gasoline at gas stations in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap varies in the range from 1 to 1.25 dollars, in other regions of Cambodia prices are slightly lower. Also, in addition to gas stations, fuel can be purchased at almost any roadside shop selling all sorts of things.
The most popular is car rental with a driver, especially in Siem Reap. Prices for such a service start at $ 30 per day for a passenger car and from $ 50 for an all-wheel drive SUV.
Renting a car without a driver is a rather risky undertaking, especially if the purpose of your visit is tourism, and not a long-term stay. The prices here are absolutely individual.
how to live happily
Every time a question arises about a vacation abroad, preferably not expensive, the countries of Asia are the first to come to mind. More precisely, earlier Turkey was the first to fall under the category of cheap overseas recreation, followed by Egypt, but that was before us, in the fourteenth century (more precisely, the year). Therefore, when choosing a beach vacation abroad, I suggest staying realistic, and whoever remembers the old will be out of sight. So let's talk about Cambodia.
I have already expressed my thoughts about domestic and foreign resorts, as well as prices for beach tourism, who are interested, I suggest reading articles from the cycle "In crisis on vacation". You can start with a central article:
Now let's return to Cambodia, the country that conquered me at first sight. Why such a strange choice - vacation in Cambodia? The country is not the cheapest when compared with India, not the most hospitable and not so prepared for tourism as, say, Thailand, why then go there? I do not want to impose my opinion at any time, because I myself came to Cambodia quite by accident and would hardly have chosen it on my own, especially for the first acquaintance with Asia, I just want to pay attention to it today. We got here almost not planned, but I do not regret at all about the choice made in January 2015 in favor of the country of the Khmer Rouge. The sea of emotions and impressions received in Cambodia will easily cover a couple of extra hundred dollars left there.
If you, like us, prefer living in Vietnam, then you probably want to know how to organize an independent trip to Cambodia - to the nearest neighbor of Phu Quoc Island. Read more in the articles:
If you don’t like surprises, if you’re not ready to get off the ground, or just like to thoroughly prepare, then here are some important notes about vacation in Cambodia, which, however, I did not know about when on the road.
The first thing to understand when choosing a vacation in Cambodia is the country's low focus on tourism. Whether it's a plus or a minus, let everyone decide on their own, lovers of secluded relaxation should like it, lovers of comfort, most likely, not. You will not be understood everywhere, but they will hardly interfere with your privacy.
The second important fact is the remoteness of resort cities from the capital, i.e. where the international airport is located. Be prepared that it will take about 5-7 hours to travel by bus or taxi. By the way, we went to Sihanoukville from Bangkok, and the trip took about 14 hours on 4 different vehicles - informative, but really long.
Finally, it is fair to note the local flavor that catches the eye right at the border. After a clean, well-groomed and tidy Thailand, where every border guard, bus driver and even a salesman was a model of order, Cambodia was a little shocked. As soon as we passed the neutral zone, the Khmers surrounded us, trying not only to sell us cigarettes and minibuses, but also trying to take us away by taxi, discarding the fact that we had not yet received a visa. However, applying for a visa to Cambodia is not a tricky business, accessible to everyone, about which I wrote separately:
PNOMPEN (1 night) - KRATJE (1 night) - RATANAKIRI (2 nights) -MONDULKIRI (2 nights) -PNOMPEN (1 night)
Arrival in Phnom Penh. Passing through passport control and baggage claim. Meeting at the airport with a guide. Sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh. The tour begins with a visit to the Royal Palace, which was built in 1866 by the French and rebuilt in 1913. Currently, the Royal Palace is the current residence of the royal family. On the territory of the palace there is the "Silver Pagoda" (Temple of the Diamond Buddha), which got its name from the 5329 silver tiles that cover the floor of its first floor, in the pagoda you can see the Diamond Buddha statue made of a solid beryl crystal and statues of golden buddhas. inlaid with 9584 diamonds of great value. A visit to the National Museum, built in 1920 by a French architect, one of the few places in Cambodia where you can see the miraculously preserved centuries-old Khmer culture, there is an excellent historical and ethnographic collection, as well as many examples of traditional Khmer crafts. Hotel accommodation.
Breakfast. Transfer to Kratye (260 km., 5 hours) - a small colonial-style town. Visit to Wat Phnom Sambok and stop on the banks of the Mekong to watch the rare dolphins of the Mekong River. Night in Kratie.
Breakfast. Start sightseeing on Koh Trong Island. Koh Trong is an island located in the middle of the Mekong River, directly opposite the city of Kratie. The 9-kilometer ring road around the perimeter of the island provides visitors with the opportunity to experience traditional Khmer villages, orchards and rice fields. Return to Kratye and departure to Ratanakiri (250 km, 4 hours). Ratanakiri province is located in the north-east of Cambodia and borders Laos in the north, Vietnam in the east, Mondulkiri province in the south, and Stung Traeng province in the west. The administrative center of the province is the city of Banlung. Ratanakiri is one of the most protected natural areas in Cambodia and the most significant of them are Virachi National Park and Lumphat Nature Reserve. In the north lies the Truong Son mountain range, covered with dense deciduous evergreen forests, with a very rich variety of vegetation. Ratanakiri province is undoubtedly one of the best destinations in Cambodia for adventure lovers and ecotourism lovers. This province is also famous for the wealth of natural resources where precious stones are mined. The most common stones are blue zircon, chrysolite, amethyst and opal. Overnight in Banlung.
Breakfast. Departure towards the border with Laos - Veun Sai village, meeting the locals and visiting the market. Further, the path lies in another interesting village of Kopirk, located on the Tonle Sap River. You can get there by boat upstream. The excursion will continue with a visit to Iek Laom Lake, located in a volcanic crater. This is the most beautiful lake Rattanakiri - 800m in diameter and 50m deep with crystal clear water. The entire lake can be walked around in 1 hour. After the lake, an equally interesting visit to the Katieng and Katyan waterfalls. Overnight in Banlung.
Breakfast. Moving south, to the city of Senmonorom (200 km, 3.5 hours), the capital of the north-eastern province of Cambodia, Mondulkiri. Mondulkiri province is considered to be one of the largest provinces in the country. 10 ethnic minorities live here, the most significant of which are the Pnongs, as well as other wild tribes that have not yet felt the influence of tourism. This is all the beauty of visiting these places, where virgin nature simply amazes with its beauty with its abundance of mountains, pine groves, overgrown with wild jungles, endless green meadows and powerful waterfalls, as well as an abundance of vegetation and wild animals living here. Overnight in Senmonorom town.
Breakfast. An exciting journey to the valley of the elephants. The park, surrounded by a hedge of trees, was created to preserve the elephant population in Cambodia. The elephant park will allow you to learn more about the life of these giants in nature. Meet Bob and Onion are two elephants who were rescued and live in the Elephant Valley. The Pnongi tribe living here have skillfully learned how to tame elephants and use their physical strength since ancient times. Growth in adult representatives of this pedented tribe does not exceed 120 cm., Speaking in their dialect, their language is so difficult that even Khmers themselves, he is not amenable to study. A visit to the pedagon tribe. Important: A visit is possible only from Monday to Friday. Night in Saintmonorm.
breakfast. Departure from the hotel and visiting the local market. Further transfer to Phnom Penh (370 km., 6 hours). Night in Phnom Penh.
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