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THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING CAMBODIA


Cambodia is one of those countries in Southeast Asia that usually isn’t on the top of most travelers’ lists. It gets overshadowed by the likes of Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. But mark my words… Cambodia is a country you do not want to miss.
They are still rebuilding from a tragic past—with pain from the brutal Khmer Rouge that still stings to this day. Because of this, we almost skipped Cambodia altogether due to the mixed reviews we read online. We’re glad we didn’t. Cambodia, while less developed than its neighbors, is a country we will never forget.
When researching our trip, we quickly realized there is a lack of reliable information about Cambodia. See, Cambodia is developing FAST, especially in tourist hotspots. And blog posts or reviews from just a couple years ago may no longer be accurate.
For example, we almost skipped the beautiful Koh Rong Samloem island due to some bad reviews we read online. Luckily, while watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat, we bumped into another couple who convinced us otherwise.
Plan your Angkor Wat itinerary strategically. Angkor Wat is incredible. There are two main tour circuits—the Small Circuit and the Grand Circuit. The Small Circuit hits all the most popular temples like Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Ta Prohm (AKA the “Tomb Raider” temple. These temples are the most crowded. The Grand Circuit goes to a bunch of smaller (but still beautiful) temples. These are a bit farther away and have slightly smaller crowds.
Skip Sihanoukville. Sihanoukville used to be a sleepy beach town popular among backpackers. Now it is a disaster zone. There are more cranes and unfinished building projects in Sihanoukville than I have seen in my entire life (combined).
Now, you will need to pass through Sihanoukville to take the boat to Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. If you have the right expectations, you might actually find it fascinating (in a sad kind of way).
The entire city looks like it is one big, torn up construction zone—and that’s not something you get to see every day.