Cambodia Backpacking Itinerary

"Book a Ticket and just Leave"

I'm a big fan of surfing the Internet and reading blogs of people who traveled from one place to another makes me envious. I told myself that I have to start traveling now that I'm still young and with only a few responsibilities. The moment tiger airways sent me an email regarding their promo fares, that trigger the explorer inside of me to press the booking button. Now that explains why I chose "Book a Ticket and just Leave" for my heading. It would have been nice if I was able to book a direct flight to Siem Reap to see the ruins of Angkot Wat, which was my target location however flight ticket to Phnom Penh was 70 percent cheaper. It only means I have to see the ruins in a harder way than, yes to adventures. Let's go!

I've always been preoccupied with traveling and the thought of some that it's an escape from reality. As I grew more wisdom within me I see more things and experience more fun in all my travels. I realized something it was never been my outlet for escape but it was my need or craving. My itchy toes didn't make it to the list either. My desire to explore, to go beyond my borders, and to feed my wandering soul was or became the ultimate reason. I'm glad that thought strikes me early in my younger years because I don't need to explain it to close-minded people. As long as you know what you want you won't care a damn about what other people say. 

3 days Backpacking in Cambodia ( Phnom Penh-Siem Reap )
Short Trip Budget: 300 SGD = 900,000 riel 

FIRST DAY - Saturday
Check-in: Lazy Gecko Cafe & Guesthouse
2 days Room - 20 USD
Airport to Gecko (by tuk-tuk/taxi): 5 USD - 15 USD
Travel time: 30 minutes
Lunch/Snack Meal -5 USD - 10 USD

Phnom Penn tourist spots: Among my list, we only get to do numbers 1, 4 and 5

1. Central Market (Phar Thmei) - 5 minutes away from our Guesthouse 
Market Opening hours: 6:30 AM - 5:30 PM
Location: The meeting point is in Kampuchea and Street 63

The Southwest door to the bus and the Northwest to the taxi (I don't know if people use this as a reference for directions),

Additional information: Inside Central Market, there are two kinds of bus stations.

Giant Ibis are the bus operators along the street near the riverside.
GST Express, Mekong Express, Phnom Penh Sorya, and Capital tours are the bus operators located at the corner of the south side of the Market.

2. Boat ride: Tonle Sap and Mekong River
From Central Market: Take a boat cruise to Sisowath Quay Or hire a tuk-tuk to the Japanese bridge and take a ferry, Fare: 20 USD, additional 1 USD dock entry fee and Travel time: 2.5 

3. Tuk Tuk tour
Visit Choueng Ek killing fields or Tuol Sleng and the Russian market -15 USD - 30 USD

4. Dinner at the Russian market
Check out: Yej Café, located outside of the Russian Markets towards the back. The cafe is decorated in purple and yellow.

5. Night Market - Tour/Shop/Buy Souvenirs/Foodtrip
Location: Street 106 and 108
Reminders: Secure your bags

Night Bus Ride
Head out at 10 PM to catch the night bus
Lazy Gecko is about 5 minutes by tuk-tuk from the Giant Ibis bus station
Sleeper night bus at 11 pm night bus - Make sure to book online ahead of time for your ticket 
Price: 15 USD - 25 USD
Travel time: 6-7 hours

6AM - Arrival at Siem Reap 
From the bus station, take a tuk-tuk ride to Angkor Wat Ruins
Opening hours: sunrise-sunset before 5am/5pm 

Stopover Breakfast 10 USD - 20 USD
Whole Day Angkor Wat Tour
Entrance Fee: 20 USD - 40 USD
Reminders: cover your legs, wear an Aladdin pants/maxi dress
Rent bicycle 15 USD - 30 USD

5PM Angkor Wat Sunset
6PM Nightlife & Dinner @ PUB Street

Angkor Wat to PUB Street:
Check out Angkor What Bar (backpackers bar)
Best ice cream at the Blue pumpkin
Red Piano Resto -try Tomb Raiderdrink (Cointreau, lime and tonic)

1030PM Night Bus: Giant Ibis

Location:  #252 near Old Market(Phsar Chas)
PUB Street to Bus Station: less than 20 minutes

THIRD DAY - Monday
January 6, My Birthday!
Time frame: 9 - 5pm
6AM - Arrival Lazy Gecko Guesthouse 

930AM Pick up for Bear Keeper a day at Phnom Tamao wildlife rescue center
Address: National road 2, Trapang sap commune, Bati district, Takeo province
Travel time: 45 mins from the city
Fee: 65 USD - 100 USD (feed,cuddle,lunch)

5PM Flight Departure

Must Try Foods: 2 USD - $20
Bai sach chrouk -pork and rice
Fish amok - fish mousse
Khmer red curry 
Lap khmer - lime-marinated Khmer beef salad 
Nom banh chok- khmer noodles ( vendors carry in baskets) breakfast food
Kdam Chaa : fried crab
Stir fried red tree ants with beef and holy basil
Ang dtray-meuk : grilled squid
Cha houy teuk-jelly dessert -street
Fried fish on the fire lake-resto

Khmer words:
Thank you - saum arkoun anak
T'lai nas -so expensive
Stop -chop
Turn left -bot ch'wayng
Turn right -dtou dtrong
Turn back- dtou grao-ee
Delicious - Chgañe nah!
Goodbye - Lea huey

Motortaxi - 2,000 - 4,000 riel
Taxi - 5,000 - 20,000 riel

What to do in Cambodia

First Day

Going back to my booked flight. I was actually planning to go on my own. I still make silly decisions. I thought about backpacking on my own, even considering those dates were a few days away from my birthday. It sounded like a cool and adventurous birthday for me to be alone in the wild. Good thing, my friend said yes to going along with me while I was on the verge of making a bad mistake by going alone to a foreign country.  I would have ended up miserable, alone in a bar, and drinking a bottle of beer for myself. I laughed just the thought of it but one day I know someday I'll do solo backpacking on my own. The booking process ended well and I was able to book a cheap round-fare ticket going to Cambodia. 

Tiger Airways round trip promo fare: 146.5 SGD ( Singapore-Phnom Penh )

I've searched a couple of sites that introduce Cambodia, its people, the means of transportation, and all the tourist spot. They said when you travel you don't need to plan out or make an itinerary. A real backpacker they said would just go along where his feet take him. I disagree. A responsible traveler must be equipped with a plan before heading out to a foreign country. A simple list of locations, fares, and bus/train schedules is essential for a smooth trip. This ensures your safety and more importantly contributes to a lesser percentage of getting lost. More than two weeks before our trip I've searched for the tourist spots where we wanted to visit, and booked a guesthouse and night bus tickets. A plan B was even set if things don't go well with one transportation from the other. 

I always make sure to prepare my vacation checklist ahead of time so that when the packing date comes closer I wouldn't miss anything. I didn't spend all my time planning out my trip. I've made sure that after I made my itinerary I wouldn't search for any more information about my trip. This makes the upcoming trip anxious-free and more exciting. 

What to bring checklist:
- Itinerary 
- booked tickets (make sure to do web check-in and print out your boarding pass) 
- comfortable shoes
- shades 
- raincoat ( better ready than sorry )
- baggy pants and a thin jacket ( to show respect, temples are sacred places)
- sweets
- USD Dollars ( no need to change for Khmer money- tell you later )
- Close-up smile! ( lots of it, to get a good price from the Tuk Tuk drivers )
- Don't forget your friend, it's nice to get lost with someone by your side.

I've gone to the gym before I head out to the airport. I need to wake myself up from fatigue due to last night's work and energize my muscles for my short trip to Cambodia. I ended up short of time and had to rush out and took a taxi. The great thing I've already done the web check-in the other day and printed our boarding pass- so much for time management. This makes the chances of the plane living you behind at minimal level. 

Our budget was to bring along 300 SGD is about 900,000 riel or 230 USD. We planned on sticking to our budget game as much as possible. 

It was a sunny day on our very first day in Phnom Pehn, Cambodia. I've already booked ahead of time a room good for two people with our own bathroom. It's best to secure a place to stay before invading Cambodia with your glistening crazy smile. 

A backpackers hostel is a clean place to stay at a budget-friendly expense. 

We were planning to get a taxi outside the gates of the airport but the tuk-tuk offered a better deal. A blogger said it was cheaper to get a ride out there. However, that was not the case in Cambodia we found out that changing your dollar to Khmer, Cambodian money was useless. No matter where you are in the country, every tourist in Cambodia regarding rides, accommodations, food/drinks, and all are all in American dollars. A constant number was implemented by all stores. During our visit, the constant rate of 1 USD was equivalent to 4,000 Khmer. All necessities that tourist needs here are doubled up in great amount compared to Thailand which is more budget-friendly. But of course, everything was still cheaper when compared to Singapore.

Russian Market 

After we checked into our guesthouse we decided to do some early shopping. We allotted the second day for a whole day Angkor Wat tour. The tuk-tuk driver drove us all the way to the Russian market for about 35-45 minutes from the guesthouse. I was planning to have our dinner at this so-called Yej Café which is located outside of the Market towards the back. I've read on the Internet that the staff and cafe are dressed up in a yellow and purple theme. More importantly, it's a cafe where you can show your support for mistreated people. It is said most of the crew have gone through some life mishaps and the cafe is trying to lift them up from their adversaries. However, we were starving to look any further for it. If you're dropping by any chance in Phnom Penh go and have a meal in this nice little cafe. 

Try Angkor Beer

Reminders: NEVER leave Cambodia without trying out their beer. I'm already implementing that rule in all my travels. 

Street Stall Dinner in Russian Market

We had a Pork Barbecue and Banh Chiao, a kind of salad that looked like a pancake stuffed with minced pork and bean sprouts, paired up with the one and only steamed rice. It was something different and I like trying out new flavours. A portion of the egg-like pancake was meant to be wrapped with the lettuce and the other green leafy vegetables and dipped in sweet sauce, which we only found out when we'd almost finished the dish. I liked it. I was just a bit worried about the food preparation but we didn't have any stomach problems at the end of the day so that's clear.

While we were enjoying our dinner I can't help myself from talking to the locals. Some of them who were just sitting beside our table was really friendly to share a few tips about their country. They taught us some important phrases that we can use like "Thlay pon man?" which means how much? and "Ong kun" for thank you. 

We headed back to the guesthouse full and ready to prepare for a long night's bus travel. By 10 pm we've already showered and packed some useful things for our travel. Lazy Gecko is about 5 minutes tuk-tuk ride from the Giant Ibis bus station. 

Cambodia is flooded with tourists and booking an online for your night bus ticket is a smart decision. I've searched a lot of night buses and all have good reviews but the Giant Ibis bus service has the best remarks among all of them. It's a long, bumpy ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, and choosing the best wheels will pay its price. 

A bumpy bus ride from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

NIGHT BUS- Phnom Pehn to Siem Reap 
Travel time: 6-7 hours

The ride was bumpy and the roads were treacherous. If you're asking about a good night's sleep then expect less for that to happen. They have double-deck beds with a 25 degrees head elevation portion. A small pillow and blanket were also provided for everyone's comfort. I chose the upper level of the bunk without knowing that was actually the least promising unless you're going on a day trip. I later realized that the most comfortable area inside the bus is in the middle part and the lower level of the bunk is the most conducive bed for sleeping. We got out of the bus groggy but our spirits were shining bright like a diamond, and at the same time, I learned the best spot for a night bus ride which will be beneficial for my future trips. 

Second Day

Angkor Wat Temple of Siem Reap, Cambodia 

For the past few months, a friend of mine has been talking about the ruins of Angkor Wat and all the amazing historical sites on earth.  Angkor Wat was never been on my bucket list but I've been fascinated by the idea of going to Cambodia and seeing the majestic architecture in person. Then one day I was able to purchase unplanned promo tickets and I'm so glad I did. As I read in an Instagram account "Book a ticket and just leave." I thought to myself Cambodia here I come! Right away after a few days from the new year's countdown, I fly to Cambodia with all smiles.

What to bring checklist:
- comfortable footwear 
- baggy/Aladdin pants 
- flying carpet joke! Ahahaa 
- sunblock? 
- hat/cap
- gallons of water 
- sunglasses (esp. for those people who took the night bus ride) 
- deodorant!
- camera with spare batteries or film if you're using the old school camera. For me no need to bring a flash the lighting in and out of the temples are perfect. Besides I don't have that kind of gadget so what do I know right?! I use a flashlight from my camera for a more natural effect.
- tuk-tuk ride

My friend joined me on this travel and the moment we arrived in the country on the very first night we took a bus ride to Siem Reap.

We took the Giant Ibis night bus ride in Phnom Pehn around 22:00, arriving at 06:00 the next day in Siem Reap. The plan of seeing the sunrise in Angkor Wat was beyond our control it takes 6-7 hours of travel to get there from Phnom Penh. 

We arrived in the city greeted with huge smiles from the tuk-tuk drivers. A good deal was made with one of the drivers for 40 USD providing a whole-day tour of the ruins of Angkor Wat. Old-school transportation always wins backpackers' hearts. What a kind and cute comment coming from the tuk-tuk drivers how they approached us they said " Hello My Lady, do you need a tuk-tuk ride?." I was impressed by their words and I felt like royalty. If that's their marketing strategy they got me but I find it genuine in some way, I'll leave it that way for my memory bank.

The driver agreed to take us to the famous sites and he would patiently wait for us by the corner of the entryway or in the parking area. At the end of every stopover, we always find him so relaxed with his feet dangling in his nylon-made hammock. 

Ta Prohm "Tomb Raider" Film Location

The entryway to the first site of Angkor Wat has a few restaurants/cafeteria that serves good meals, good enough to fuel you with energy for a temple-run challenge. Have some breakfast as you will need that with all the stair climbing you'll be doing for that day.

Tourists are encouraged to wear proper clothing, if you're worried about your fashion statement then wear Aladdin pants or a maxi dress. I chose the laid-back Aladdin pants and my cotton top with comfortable slippers. 

I've planned to roam around the temple on a bicycle if it weren't for our tuk-tuk ride. The bicycle rental was nowhere in sight too, in my research it cost maybe around 12 USD. If you have more than 2 days' access to the temple then why not rent a bicycle the next day. I guess having a tuk-tuk waiting for us was not that bad because each historical sites were far from the other. 

It was amazing! What more can I say. The breathtaking view of one of the temples was a must to see. The grandeur architectural design of Angkor Wat is something we don't have in this century. The intricate designs of each corner and passageway were done with intensive commitment and passion. The Angkor Wat symbolizes how humans surpass creating impossible structures, the same goes for the Ancient Pyramids, Machu Pichu, and all the unbelievable human creations on the planet. They were able to build a majestic structure with less mechanical help with an impressive outcome. Real art intoxicated with hard work and dedication, and there you go The Angkor Wat of Cambodia. 

We roamed around the ruins like children in a playground. Up in here, Up in there. 

No monkey business, please.

Just being silly, no harm was done.

Hanging around the tuk-tuk with a friend.

Made another friend along the way.

The sunrise we'd planned was deleted from our day plan however the sunset was still up for grabs. When we figured out we still have time to see the sunset, our tuk-tuk driver suggested we head to a hill named something I can't remember. It was a steep hike going to the hill but you won't feel that tired because the view is great and a big crowd accompanies you all the way. 

The sunset was a spectacular view, especially watching it on the rooftop of a temple. People flocked to the area just to see the sun slowly making its way from the horizon, all eyes were fixed in the west on that brightly lit ball of fire. There's something about a sunset that puts people at ease: it's like a delightful feeling of a warm hug or a gentle aromatic tea/coffee/beer/wine that simply creates a curve line in someone's face. 

Nightlife & Dinner @ PUB Street

We were exhausted at the end of the day yet we still have time to make our way to the nightlife capital city of Siem Reap. Our accommodating tuk-tuk driver passes by our night bus station before heading to PUB Street. It was just a walking distance from the Night Market which is just around the corner from PUB street. 

We had dinner at this affordable outdoor restaurant. You can see the chef cooking outside just along the street with a hat! How cool is that?! It was delicious and the prices range from $10-$20. You better have dinner here if you're looking for a good meal at a fair price. 


Nightlife & Dinner @ PUB Street
Angkot Wat to PUB Street: 30-45 minutes, depending on the traffic.

Check out: Angkor What? Bar, a must-see for every backpacker out there in Cambodia! 

We roamed around PUB street and searched for the Blue Pumpkin, it was said that they sell the best ice cream in town. 

I was planning to check out Red Piano resto, a place famous for their Tomb Raider drink, a mix of Cointreau, lime, and tonic (whatever those two are but lime sounds good to me). However, we run out of time so if you're going to PUB Street in Cambodia better check out this resto and tell me about it. We had to rush before 1030PM to catch our night bus and head back to Phnom Penh for our Bear keeper a Day activity. 

NIGHT BUS back to Phnom Penh (booked online)
PUB to Giant Ibis Bus Station: less than 15 mins walk. 
Location:  #252 near Old Market (Phsar Chas), a few metres away from the Russian Market. 

Reminders: Booked your night bus ticket online to avoid the queue and the fully booked hassle. Just recently, night buses were available due to the popular demand of tourists going around Cambodia at a time management pace. 

Third-Day  My Birthday!

Bear Keeper for a Day 
Phnom Tamao Zoological Park and Wildlife Rescue Center

It's our last day in Cambodia and a very special day for me. We arrived back in Phnom Penh around 6 in the morning and right away took a tuk-tuk ride to Lazy Gecko Guesthouse. My friend took a shower while I did some packing. The feeling of leaving made me feel sad because I wanted to do more stuff in Cambodia, yet at the same time I was excited thinking about my next travels. I was beaming with excitement at the thought of exploring another country and filling in my soul's desires. 

A few weeks before we came to Cambodia, I read a very interesting article about the Phnom Penh rescue center. It was highly recommended by bloggers and travelers. I decided to drop an email regarding their rescue center and the activities they offer. We were supposed to get a jeepney jungle-like tour of the place however, the coordinator in charge had a wedding to attend on that day. The other part of the center offers a bear keeper activity for tourists, it sounded cool so right away I booked a reservation.  

0930 Pick up for Bear Keeper for a Day 

Phnom Penh Tamao wildlife rescue center
Address: National road 2, Trapang Sap commune, Bati district, Takeo province
Travel time: 45 mins from the city
Book the activity by sending them an email:

Our Kher money was already low so we drop by a bank to change some dollars. I've discovered that it's more convenient to use US dollars in Cambodia and the bank offers a higher rate compared to our guesthouse. That's something new, now I know what to do if I ever decided to come back to Cambodia. We travel for 45 minutes or more the traffic got bad while we were trying to get out of the city proper. The pickup truck passed by mountains, rice fields, and all the wonderful scenery you find in the Asian countryside. The interesting thing about the trip is that the one who picked us up brought along his big dog.  He stayed at the back of the truck along with our bags. I can actually see him on my right side with his tongue tasting the air. It was like the road trip from the movies, one thing missing, the shouting part from the passing vehicles or showing off boobs - maybe that's too extreme! Ahahaa 

In the center, we had a brief orientation about the place and the animals kept inside the vicinity. The site has been established in 2007 and abused or smuggles animals were taken to the center for rehabilitation. 

The guide showed us the first three cute young cubs: one is sleeping while the other two were playing and dangling around. The sight of them reminds me of the cartoon TV series care bears, instead, they're bigger, have no bright colors, and are real. As a bear keeper, our task for that day was to feed them these orange and green balls, which we stuffed ourselves, holding a few bananas and leafy vegetables. A simple recipe makes up the bear's diet: bananas, biscuits, honey syrup, and a bundle of leafy vegetables. We were asked to place all the ingredients inside this hollow bowling ball with big finger holes. I've imagined it to be a close encounter with bears, like holding one small cub in my hands while feeding him milk in a bottle. It was not what I expected it to be. The bears were behind an electric fence and the balls were just thrown above it. It was clearly for safety purposes. I can't deny my disappointment I pictured myself to be right beside them, stroking their backs and feeding them treats. Who can blame the center for keeping everyone safe anyways, the bear's loved our homemade snacks for them. They were clever to roll over their backs while holding on to the holes in the hollow ball, rapidly shaking it until the bananas, biscuits, and vegetables fall outside the holes. The site of them devouring their food made everyone hungry. 

The tour package includes a homemade Cambodian lunch in a nearby hut in the rescue center. We had our meal in a traditional way, sat comfortably on the mat, and happily ate our last meal in Cambodia.

The tour was cut short because we have to be at the airport by 4 in the afternoon. The person who runs the place, who is also the one who picked us up from the hotel was kind enough to send us back early for our afternoon flight. I had a memorable experience but what makes it even better is I've found a friendship that will last for a long time.

Have fun and be safe ^__^

Do you want more adventure?
If you still have one more day to spare why not go to Bagan and see Myanmar's Land of Thousand Pagoda's.

Where am I going next?
My next adventure is Surfing in the awesome waters of Sri Lanka.


  1. Hi there, I discovered your web site by means of Google at the same time as searching for a
    related subject, your web site came up, it seems to be great.
    I've bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
    Hello there, just turned into alert to your weblog through Google, and located that it's really informative.
    I'm going to be careful for brussels. I'll be grateful if you
    continue this in future. Numerous other folks will likely
    be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

    Feel free to visit my site ... best resort in boracay

    1. Google is number one! And having you check out my blog and read your comments, I really appreciate it! Tnx muchos! ^___^

  2. Hello, I have browsed most of your posts. This post is probably where I got the most useful information for my research. Thanks for posting, maybe we can see more on this. Are you aware of any other websites on this subject.
    party school bus rental

  3. We are really grateful for your blog post. You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work. visit this link

  4. I am very enjoyed for this blog. Its an informative topic. It help me very much to solve some problems. Its opportunity are so fantastic and working style so speedy. prince holding group

  5. I was reading some of your content on this website and I conceive this internet site is really informative ! Keep on putting up. cambodia chenzhi

  6. I haven’t any word to appreciate this post.....Really i am impressed from this post....the person who create this post it was a great human..thanks for shared this with us. chen zhi cambodia

  7. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  8. I definitely enjoying every little bit of it. It is a great website and nice share. I want to thank you. Good job! You guys do a great blog, and have some great contents. Keep up the good work.

  9. very interesting post.this is my first time visit here.i found so mmany interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion..thanks for the post! chen zhi prince group

  10. Positive site, where did u come up with the information on this posting?I have read a few of the articles on your website now, and I really like your style. Thanks a million and please keep up the effective work. https://chenzhicambodia2.blogspot....nce-holding.html/

  11. Please let me know if you’re looking for a article writer for your site. You have some really great posts and I feel I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I’d absolutely love to write some material for your blog in exchange for a link back to mine. Please send me an email if interested. Thank you!

  12. I am impressed. I don't think Ive met anyone who knows as much about this subject as you do. You are truly well informed and very intelligent. You wrote something that people could understand and made the subject intriguing for everyone. Really, great blog you have got here. cambodia chenzhi

  13. When you use a genuine service, you will be able to provide instructions, share materials and choose the formatting style. prince chenzhi