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maciekda 02-17-2004 04:19 PM

10 days in Cambodia?
hi, it is my turn to ask some questions to TE travellers.
I am going to take 10 days of vacation, from 3.04 to 12.04... I live in Hong Kong now, so I am going to travel not very far from HK... and I was thinking about going to Cambodia, there is a direct flight available now at a reasonable price.
and there is the question, how to spend 10 days in Cambodia and return back home with nice pictures?
so, I fly to Phnom Penh, I spend there 2-3 days and I go by slow boat to Siem Reap to see famous Angkor Wat and to hunt for monks with some temples in the background... 3 days should be fine there.. and what to do then? where to go? I have no clue!
so where can I go to have some chances to take interesting photos, I don't care much about landscapes or monuments, I want to see people.. markets, life on the river, maybe minority villages...
and what about the safety in Cambodia? I have heard so many bad stories about beggars and people mugged on the street in Phom Penh..
and I have read the thread about Angkor started by Thien, so I know a bit about Angkor from your point of view.
or maybe I should go somewhere else and leave Cambodia for less hot period and for a longer stay there... 10 days is not much!
so, any suggestions are welcome :-)

BobTrips 02-17-2004 05:09 PM

Re: 10 days in Cambodia?
I assume that you're flying into and out of PP? If so, I'd move quickly out of PP (I didn't find a lot of interest there) and get on up to Siem Reap.

After spending a few days in the temples consider a boat ride to Battambang, the slow ferry if possible. You'll get a chance to see a lot of life along the river, unlike the PP->SR boat which will be mostly open water.

Then the train from Battambang to Pursat was a highlight of my trip. It was, three years ago, a really decrepit piece of junk running on terrible tracks. The result was that the train never traveled faster than one could ride on a bicycle. That made for a nice leisurely rocking and rolling trip through the countryside.

From Pursat you can catch a bus back to PP.

Also, get a good guide, such as Lonely Planet's and see what else interests you. The more you get off the tourist path, the more fun it generally is.

When I was there beggars were no problem, except for some minor encounters around the tourist areas of PP. We were cautioned not to walk around at night, just got on the back of a motorcycle taxi for the trip from restaurant to hotel. No problems.

If you've got only ten days Cambodia is a good place to spend them. Laos would be another. Other countries really require much more time for an adequate visit.

Darren 02-17-2004 06:16 PM

Re: 10 days in Cambodia?
I think Bob has given you some good advice. He certainly is an experienced traveller and I would trust his judgement. I would personally suggest a slightly longer stay in PP though. I was there in August, and I really liked the city. I have heard some stories suggesting there are some dangers at night, but during the day, no problem. At night, the suggestion would be to take a car, not a moto when you travel. Philip Coggan has lived in PP, and there is one other member here who lives there presently I believe, but I am sorry, the name escapes me. I would also look to them for suggestions. BTW Maciej, I hope we might be able to meet with you in November or December for the planned trip to Myanmar.

Opus 02-18-2004 05:29 PM

Re: 10 days in Cambodia?
Ten days? Angkor is pretty much the best of Cambodia. I might slip across the border into Laos and get to Luang Prabang; one of the lesser known treasures of SE Asia. What a trip that would make...Angkor Wat and LP in one trip. And ten days would be enough.

Also, I just read about Sihanoukville, also known as Kompong Som, on the south coast. This is Cambodia's only maritime seaport. It's said to be a sleepy town of less than 20,000 known for its superb beaches and for divers, good shoals and reefs packed with colorful marine life.

philip_coggan 03-12-2004 01:20 PM

Re: 10 days in Cambodia?
Hi Maciek

I think you could spend 2-3 days in PPenh easily - see the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda and the Tuol Sleng museum in town, the Killing Fields memorial and Shooting Gallery out near the airport, visit places like the Ballet school (r=traditional dance) and the kick-boxing stadium, take in some of the famous night-life. If you can afford $45-50, stay at the FCC on Sisowath Quai - book online at - otherwise, just have a beer there, but do visit it. Visit also the Jungle Bar on Sisowath and say hi to my friend Scott, the owner - a nice American who can make sure you have a good time without getting into trouble.

I think the boat to Siem Reap is fine - it takes from abt 7 a.m. to abt 1 p.m. and costs abt $25, maybe less. If you ride on the roof of the boat, (and you will), cover up your arms and face - seeing Angkor with extreme sunburn is no fun!

For monks at Angkor, get a guide and go to the modern monastery to the left hand side of the ancient temple - and ask politely if someone would like to pose for you. There's another temple near the Terrace of the Leper King with an interesting hall where they practice music. Remember to take your hat off - never approach a monk with your head covered.

Other places: Sihanoukville, Kep (I prefer Kep), Bokor (Kep and Bokor could make a day trip from PPenh), all south of PP. To the northeast, Rattanakiri is the least touristic area of the country. Battambang is a big town, but not touristic, and the boat ride downriver to the lake is very picturesque.

If you want people-pictures, I suggest you contact a moto-driver named Tom, who works afternoons outside the Riverstreet Restaurant (renamed recently the Cambodia Club), opposite the FCC on Sisowath. He was a great friend of mine and took me to stay in his village. He can at least be your guide/wheels in PP, and maybe can take you outside to do a village-stay. Speaks perfect English, totally trustworthy, and understands that not every visitor wants to see the monuments. If this sounds interesting to you, send me an email and I'll contact him by email so he can make arrangements (meaning take time off his job, and maybe hire you a motorbike).

Maybe I could also contact Scott in advance - he might have some ideas too. We had a mutual friend (Swedish) who entered a Buddhist monastery and is probably still in it - might be interesting to visit him.

Beggars: a pest but not major. Safety: don't get over-excited, I lived there 2 years and never a problem.

Drop me an email at [email protected] if you want me to contact Tom and Scott.

DrorAngkor 03-15-2004 12:54 PM

Re: 10 days in Cambodia?
Hellow Everyone :)
<or should I say Jom Rieb Soo :) <>

Wow, this only the third thread I read in this forum or website and it seems
its just the place for me ...

I've been living in Cambodia for the past 5 years, in Siem Reap ...

I agree completely with Philip's and Bob's suggestions.

I've always found Pnom Penh rough around the edges but for markets
and photographing people I think it's a great place!

I have to ask you a question: Do you know how to ride a motorcycle?
If you do you should either rent a scooter for around PNH or better
rent a dirt bike for the duration,there are a couple of places always renting dirtbikes in PNH. With a bike you'll have the freedom to go where you want and do as you please ...

Philip coverd the south and beaches.
Ratanakiri & Mondulkiri are like the dark side of the moon. very untouristy but I think not enough time during your visit of 10 days ...

As for the temples, yeah most people take only a 3 day pass but for a photographer that might not be enough ...

Again if you ride ask around and go on a day trip to Beng Mealea temple,
Its about 60 cliks form Angkor forgotten in the jungle litteraly
and huge. You really get the sensation you're Indiana Jones if you go there
and ofcourse its off the beatten trail with great villages on the way ...

On the way from PNH to REP you can stop at Kampong Thom and go off to visit the oldest temples in Cambodia SAMBOR PREI KOOK
and in the same vicinity Koh Ker litterally a lost city in the jungle
and offcourse on the way great photo opportunities.

Than there's also Banteay Chmar an other lost city in the jungle ...

And you can take from Siem Reap a few hours or a full day to explore the floating villages ...

Also not far from Pursat mentioned earlier by Bob if I remember correctly there is an amazing floating city at Kampong Luong.

Just Remember one thing, April is probably the hottest month of the year to visit Cambodia
A real scorcher!

Have a great Trip, If I'm there when you come would love to meet you.

[email protected]

maciekda 03-15-2004 01:14 PM

Re: 10 days in Cambodia?
hi guys,
thanks a lot for your information. These days i am reading Camnodia Lonely Planet guidebook and soon I think i'll be able to ask some more specific questions.
now i know i'll arrive Phnom Penh on the 3rd of April and i'll have 13 days - 11 full days and 2 half days (after arriving PP and before departing PP).
probably i'll spend 2 or 3 days in PP, then I'll go towards Siem Reap. and i'll probably spend last two days in PP. so i have like 9 days to explore Cambodia... not much ;)
anyway, i need to read the giudebok more to be able to ask some sensible questions

DrorAngkor 03-15-2004 01:30 PM

Do you Know how to ride a bike ???
I don't want to wright a lot of info about that if you don't ...

Also ,if you can,try to find the Rough Guide Cambodia
Its much better than the LP ...
The LP gives you a feeling the Khmer Rouge are still around ...
which they aren't ...!

maciekda 03-15-2004 04:45 PM

Re: Do you Know how to ride a bike ???
hi Dror, I know how to ride a bike, but how to take pictures riding a bicycle?! ;) i think i prefer walking. if you rent a bike then you have to look after it and be careful not to have it stolen ;) i guess i'll end up on a back of a moto and i'lll be driven to Phnom Pehn attractions. probably i'll do the same in Siem Reap... this way i was seeing Vietnam most of the time...
anyway, thanks a lot for your information, i'll try to ask some more precise questions soon if you dont mind :)
and i am not very interested in temples or monuments - i need people on my photos ! ;) that's why i'd like to visit some markets in PP... i hope there is some ppl in Angkor too, if I could capture some monks with the Angkor Wat in the background, i'd be really happy ;)

DrorAngkor 03-15-2004 06:38 PM

People not Temples
Hi, Maciej :)
(is that Polish for Matheiw or for Max?)

By bike I don't mean bicycle but MOTOR-cycle,and prefferably an off road motorcycle known as a dirt bike.

If your driving you have much more freedom,and you're able to go through villages no moto driver will take you to ...
The same with the temples, the way is just as interesting as the temples themselves,and on the way there are villages.

Also, as I have mentioned earlier April is the hottest month in Cambodia.

April 13th is the Cambodian (and also Thai,Burmese & Laotian) New Year which means merry making throughout the country and people
throwing water at eachother(to wash away last year's sins) but also to cool off during the hottest period of the year, so its a great time to catch religious processions etc throughout the country ...

As for monks in temples, you can almost always find a few lounging around, or as Philip has suggested,within the Angkorwat temple precincts on both sides of the main sanctuary itself there are two modern monasteries with many young monks eager to practice their English ... so its not a problem at all,only maybe a bit cliche ...
In the Bayon area as well there's a monastery next to the road going to the westgate of Angkor Thom , and as Philip mentioned there's also
the temple behind and to the north of the Royal enclosure and Lepper King Terrace,next to an old temple called Preah Palilay - hey usually I'm paid hundreds of dollars a day for this info ... enjoy:)

Anyway, enjoy your trip.


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