Cambodia Itinerary: How I Celebrated My Birthday Alone17 min read

Cambodia Itinerary

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Expenditure: 34,000 INR (Including Flights and Visa)

Duration: 12 Days

Hyderabad – Phnom Penh – Siem Reap – Phnom Penh – Sihanoukville – Koh Rong – Hyderabad

After a year of procrastination, I feel it is time that I share with you the details of my best solo trip so far. Cambodia will always remain a close trip to my heart, not because it was my first birthday in a foreign country but because it was my first solo international trip too and I couldn’t be happier that I chose Cambodia for both of these experiences.

So, how did I end up in Cambodia?

Everyone wants to celebrate their birthday with their friends and family but on my last birthday, my all friends were either busy with work or some exam. So, I had two choices. I could either sit at home and waste the day by sleeping and night by partying or I could travel. Well, no surprises there that I chose traveling than wasting my entire day.

 

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Last year I spent my birthday cycling around the ruins of angkor wat while being drenched in the continuous rainfall. This year, I figured I ll do something different. So, this year I plan to just chill and laze around gorgeous beaches on Mauritius! Watch the underwater waterfall, hike the national park, and witness the Rainbow mountain for myself. Yay, another 10 days before I daydream around Seychelles! What are your plans for the coming summer?😊 . . . . . . . . . #backpackers #solotraveler #MyTinyAtlas #angkorwat #siemreap #i_hobbygraphy #travelers #natgeotravel #historicplaces #historic #ancientarchitecture #ruins #places_wow #travelasia #theglobewanderer #mypixeldiary #travelbloggers #travelstoke #exploremore #travelawesome #wearetravelgirls #dametraveler #photographers_of_india #lonelyplanet #ancient #temple #temples #lppathfinders #exploreasia #southeastasia

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That was my first birthday alone, that too in a new country and I wasn’t sure how it will turn out to be. Will I feel lonely or will I feel exhilarated? After all, your birthday is just another day of the year right? Why should this day hold any importance?

So, I went ahead with my plan and ended up in Cambodia and I am so glad I did. Cambodia was everything that I expected and so much more. The Angkor Wat complex, the gorgeous beaches, the amazing boat rides, everything was worth it. That was my second solo trip and I loved every moment of it.

For more information on Visa, Currency, etc., please click here.

My Cambodia Itinerary

Here is a detailed itinerary of how I spent my days in Cambodia. I started my journey on 25th May 2017 and ended back in India on 5th of June 2017.

Day 1: Hyderabad to Phnom Penh

I started my journey from Hyderabad to Phnom Penh via AirAsia which took me around 10 hours to reach. I had a layover at Kuala Lumpur for 6 hours which is why it took me so much time but my round trip tickets were cheap so I didn’t mind. It cost me 16,000 INR approximately for the entire round trip journey.

Day 2: Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

I reached Cambodia airport in the evening of 26th May and filled the necessary Visa and Customs formalities and got a visa for Cambodia in just 20 minutes. The entire process was quick and easy and 30 USD later I had a legal document to explore Cambodia for 30 days.

You just need to fill the Visa form and give them your passport, 2 photographs & 30 USD (2000 INR).

 


 

Note: You can get the visa extended for another 30 days in Phnom Penh for an additional 25-30 USD (1700 – 2000 INR).

Once I completed the custom and the immigration process, I could leave the airport. Now, there are a couple of ways to reach the main city but since I was on a budget, I waited for the bus. The bus stand is just outside the airport and I had to wait 20-30 minutes before I got a bus to the city.

I had booked a night bus for Siem Reap so that I would reach early morning the next day. This would allow me to enjoy 2-3 days in Siem Reap. It cost me about 7.93 USD (550 INR) from CamboTicket.com which was quite easy and simple to book.

I booked most of my buses and ferries from either Bookmebus or Camboticket.

I had 2-3 hours to pass before my bus departure so I just walked around and explored the nearby places. It was raining constantly so I didn’t see a lot of people on the streets. But, there was a lot of eating stalls and shops open.

I had a dinner in one such stall which was a Cambodian noodle soup named Kuy Teav and cost me 1.5 USD (110 INR). The dish was a type of a broth and was quite filling and delicious.

After that, I made my way to my bus stop and headed for the famous city of Siem Reap.

Day 3: Floating Village and Seam Reap

Next day early morning, I reached Siem Reap bus stop where I booked my stay at Oasis Siem Reap Hostel for just 2 USD (140 INR) per night.

It was barely a 20-minute walk from the bus stop so I took a morning stroll. This was the first time I realized that Cambodia is beautiful. There were so many colorful trees lining the streets and the roads looked so clean and slowly, I fell a little in love with this city.

Once I reached the hostel, I got to know that the check-in wasn’t until 10 a.m. so I had to wait 3 hours in the reception. I knew that it would not be possible to visit Angkor Wat today as I didn’t have enough time but I figured I can check out other places. My hostel was actually pretty great and looked so clean and fancy, that too at such a cheap price.

 

 

Finally, I got my dorm bed and I slept off for a few hours. After I was refreshed, I started enquiring about what I could do here. I was told that there is a Floating Village (Tonle Sap) tour which starts at 2 p.m. so I signed up for it.

This guided trip cost me around 18 USD (1300 INR) which included to and fro transport from my hostel and the boat ride.

This was the first time I was ever seeing a floating village so I was pretty excited and on the way to the village, I made friends with two Malaysian sisters who were traveling together. The village was quite beautiful and the sky.

Alas, the sky in Siem Reap is so clear and gorgeous, I could see candy-shaped clouds burning against the sky too.

The floating village was itself mesmerizing and the blue sky only further added to its charm. This is supposed to be an amazing place for sunset but unfortunately, the clouds covered the sky so we were unable to watch the sunset. However, I had a great time just looking from the root of a floating restaurant.

Once I got back, I figured I’ll check out the Night market which was barely 1 km from my hostel. So, I walked and was blown away by all the pretty lights. I also had another new dish in one of the food stalls here: Duck’s egg and spring roll which cost me 1.5 USD (110 INR).

 


 

Then, I roamed around a bit and came across the Siem Reap Pub Street. This is a really happening place and if you love partying then this is the perfect spot for you. I had no idea that Cambodia is such a party place but this country kept on surprising me with its wonders.

However, the most amazing thing which I found here was Pancakes Rolls which cost me just 0.75 USD (55 INR). They were so damn delicious that I kept going for more every day. You guys have to try it when you are in Siem Reap, they are to die for.

Day 4: Angkor Wat Complex

Next day, I got up and hired a cycle from my hostel for 2 USD (150 INR) and went to get my 3-day ticket for Angkor Wat. Cycling in Siem Reap was a thrilling experience as I cycled at a pleasant speed while enjoying the view.

It was a tough task though, seeing that I hadn’t cycled once in the past 4 years. This was probably the first time that I cycled around 5-6 km from my hostel to the Ticket office. The main office lies near the Siem Reap highway. It was quite sunny and I was red by the time I reached the ticket station which was somewhere around 12 p.m.

However, this wasn’t the hard part. I didn’t know what actually lay ahead of me. So, I got my tickets for a 3-day entry visit to Angkor Wat (62 USD – 4200 INR) and headed on the road next to the ticket place to enter Angkor Wat.

 

 

Angkor Wat complex has three entries and on my first day, I entered Angkor Wat via the right-hand side entrance. It took me around 30 minutes to reach from the Ticket place on the cycle and I was already quite tired by this time.

Thankfully, the weather had shown me a little mercy and it was cloudy when I reached the entrance to the complex.

They checked my ticket over there and tried to sell me the rickshaw ride for seeing Angkor Wat complex. Don’t fall for this, guys, 15 USD – 1000 INR for one day for a single person is completely not worth it.

 

Angkor Wat Complex
Angkor Wat Complex

 

Angkor Wat complex is really pretty and resembles a forest due to the thick trees that line on both sides of the road. On my first day here, I could only explore Angkor Wat temple ruins and a little of Angkor Thom as they were huge. Around 5.30 p.m. the complex closes so I cycled back to my hostel.

Angkor Wat complex is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen and each temple here is so unique that you would fall in love with it. Especially, if you are a history buff like me.

After returning back, I again went to the night market and the Pub street and had another delicious Pancake roll for 0.5 USD (35 INR). I also tried a Khmer Rice dish which was pretty tasty and cheap again (1.5 USD – 110 INR).

Day 5: Angkor Wat Complex

On this day, I started early at around 4.15 a.m. so that I could watch the sunrise at the Angkor Wat temple. However, as fate would have it, it started raining and I couldn’t see the sunrise (Damn my luck, the only day I get up early I don’t get to watch the sunrise :/).

So, I waited for the rain to stop and then started my exploration of the remaining of the Angkor Wat complex.

 

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This is for all those who think traveling is a privilege and you have to be really lucky to be able to travel, I have something to tell you. Its not a privilege, it doesn't depend on luck. You have to actually want it to achieve it. Don't be one of those people who are like 'I wish to travel' when you actually mean you want to get a break from your life once in a while. You don't want to travel. You want a vacation. Traveling will never be easy, even more so when you come from a middle class background. It will require your constant sacrifice and efforts. A lot of us might seem 'lucky' to you because we 'get' to travel but there are a lot of efforts required for that. I don't go to parties where I might end up paying a lot and avoid eating or drinking outside. I walk everyday to office so that I can save 60 bucks a day. For all those who feel that my parents are supercool to let me travel, my mother never allowed me to go to my neighbouring market when I was at home. I take buses and cycles where preferable or choose to walk. Yes people, I have been known to walk 10 km just to save a few hundred bucks. So yes, traveling requires your constant energy. Don't assume anyone is lucky, you don't know how hard they have struggled to reach that position. So, next time you think to yourself that you wish to travel. Ask yourself. What exactly is stopping you? . . . #traveldiaries #angkor #siemreap #cambodia #nomllers

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I easily cycled around 50 km by the end of the day and had walked around 20 km while exploring the insides of the temples. Although it was really tiring, it was completely worth it and I am extremely glad that I did this.

A few temples that I would really recommend you guys to visit are the Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Preah Khan, and Bayon Temple. Make sure that you check out these temples if you are short on time.

At night, I had my return bus to Phnom Penh so I packed up my stuff and went to the bus stand. The bus stand was near the Night market, thankfully, so I just walked there and got on my bus.

Day 6: Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

I reached Phnom Penh finally and again walked to my hostel, which was approximately 2-3 km away. (Yeah, I have a habit of walking too much.)

Once I reached my hostel, I just slept and tried to relax for the most of the day. I had several cycle bruises on my legs and since I hadn’t rested once in Siem Reap, I figured it is time to recharge myself.

 

Amok Trey
Amok Trey

 

I wasn’t particularly interested in exploring Phnom Penh because I had read that most of the Wats and temples in Phnom Penh charge a lot of entrance fees but I wanted to visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Killing Fields.

So, I just explored the city on foot on my 6th day and spent some time near the Mekong river with a Russian traveler.

I also tried the famous Khmer dish, Amok Trey, which is a seafood curry dish and is one of my favorite Khmer dishes till now. Trust me, you have to try this dish when you are in Cambodia else your Cambodia trip will remain incomplete.

Day 7: Killing Fields and Genocide Museum

I got up in the morning to start my tour of the Khmer history and first stopped at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (3 USD – 200 INR) which took around 1-1.5 hour. I hired a cycle for 3 USD – 200 INR (Yes, apparently cycles in Phnom Penh are costly. Go figure.) and cycled to the place which was about 30 minutes from my hostel.

Here, I learned the history of Khmer culture in Cambodia and the whole experience was quite humbling and sad.

The story of Cambodia is completely heart-breaking and will certainly leave you in tears. It resembles the terror that Hitler spread all over the world but on such a small scale that none of the other countries even got a hint of it. Next, I cycled to Choeung Ek Killing Fields which was about 10-15 km from the main city.

The entrance ticket to Killing Fields costs 6 USD (400 INR) and the Audio tour gives you a detailed narration about what happened here. If you do visit Phnom Penh then make sure that you visit these places to learn about their history.

By evening, I returned back to the city and then and then made my way to the famous Independence Monument. This place looks quite gorgeous at night but cycling here is not as safe as cycling in Siem Reap.

Day 8: Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville

Early morning I left for my first beach town, Sihanoukville, which is said to have the most gorgeous beaches ever. I reached the place around 12.30 p.m. and then walked to my hostel. It was scorching hot at the time and I lost my tripod in the process. sob sob

If you are looking for accommodation check – Where to stay in Sihanoukville

Serendipity Beach, Sihanoukville
Serendipity Beach, Sihanoukville

 

Finally, I reached my hostel and after dumping my bags, I headed for the Serendipity Beach pier where I watched a beautiful sunset. This is the beach where people party and shoot fireworks. This is a completely transformed beach in the night. There are so many fire shows and other things going on over here.

I spent my entire evening and then night here too. As the clock struck 12 and my birthday was finally here, I could see multiple firecrackers in the sky. It looked absolutely gorgeous! That’s when I vowed to myself that I would spend my birthday in a new country every year.

Day 9: Sihanoukville

Finally, on my birthday I chilled for the first half of the day on the Serendipity Beach, watching the clear blue sea water. It felt so peaceful and serene to just look around and do nothing. I wanted to stay longer in this town but I knew that I had to return soon.

So, I made my way to visit other beaches and attractions in Sihanoukville. There is a famous Crocodile farm here so I cycled (2.5 USD – 300 INR) to this place. It was again around 5-6 km from the place but cycling in Sihanoukville is tough.

This is because the roads are extremely sloped so when you are climbing via cycle, it is extremely hard. I took another route through the streets to avoid the sloping highway and reached this farm.

When I stepped foot inside this place, I wasn’t sure if this is it or not because it looked so run down. Apart from crocodiles, there are other reptiles here as well and the place is just crawling with bugs and insects.

There are countless crocodiles here which stay in a stationary position so it is really scary when they suddenly move.

 

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#NEWBLOGPOST Cambodia was my first international solo trip and I was really terrified of doing it. A lot of times before the trip I panicked and thought to cancel the whole thing off but it was my birthday and I did not want to spend it moping in some corner of my house. So, I took a deep breath and convinced myself that it would be okay, I will have a lot of fun. And guess what? I actually did. The first day was a little overwhelming and scary but soon I got used to traveling alone. It felt so freeing and I had so much fun. I made so many friends on the way, saw such beautiful sights and basically did what I have always wanted. I explored to my heart's content. I can safely say that this is one of the best birthdays I have ever had and I will cherish these memories forever. Are you unsure of international solo traveling too? Then, check out our new blog post to know more about how it can be fun and what all you can do to have a safe trip! Link is in the bio. 🙂

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After spending half an hour here, I went ahead to another beach just in search of a sunset view (Yes, I can’t help it. My trips without sunsets is incomplete.). That’s how I came across the Ratanak beach.

This is a small beach with a direct view of the sunset where you will find a single restaurant for snacks. I am not sure if it was a private beach or not but I could easily snuggle in and watch the sunset.

Then, I headed to the Independence beach and I was completely blown away by its beauty. You know all those fairytale beaches that we have always dreamt of, that’s Independence beach for you. And I was so annoyed that I didn’t discover this place sooner so I could barely spend half an hour here (So going back to visit it again).

 

Independence Beach
Independence Beach, Sihanoukville

 

Finally, I returned for the day and packed my stuff as I was heading for Koh Rong island the next day.

Day 10: Sihanoukville to Koh Rong

I got a ferry from the local ferry companies in Sihanoukville which cost me 20 USD (1400 INR) for the return trip. It took around 30 minutes to reach by ferry. Then, I had booked a full day trip to make the most of my time in Koh Rong.

I took a tour with Adventure Adam company which cost 25 USD (1700 INR) for a full day boat trip. This included snorkeling, beach hopping, local village tour, fishing, swimming with planktons and a bonfire party.

I can’t even begin to describe this day because it was certainly one of the best and the worst days of my entire trip.

 

Koh Touch Village
Koh Touch Village

 

My GoPro stopped working here so I couldn’t take many pictures and videos. But, I made so many amazing friends and enjoyed my first bonfire with marshmallows party.

When we returned at night, I just took a hostel bed with the company guys itself and just rested for the night.

Day 11: Koh Rong

Next day, I went on to explore other amazing beaches and hiked a lot in the way. Koh Rong had white sand beaches which were such a nice change for me and the water was pretty clear too. I also made a friend with a puppy who kept following me around for a while (He was too cute to say no to).

 

Koh Rong
Koh Rong

 

I also saw so many tree houses here and spent a great time exploring a great part of the island. That’s how the entire day in Koh Rong went. Although I heard that they have amazing parties I didn’t go because I wasn’t feeling well. But, if you are ever here then make sure that you don’t miss it.

Day 12: Koh Rong to Phnom Penh to Hyderabad

This was my last day in Cambodia and it mainly went in traveling. I traveled back from Koh Rong to Sihanoukville and raced to catch my bus to the airport.

This was the first time I hired a Tuk Tuk as they tend to be costly (8 USD – 540 INR) but I was in a hurry. Finally, I got on my bus and reached my airport on time. However, I was leaving with a heavy heart because Cambodia was just too amazing. I intend to go back again next year but still, I miss it often.

So that is how my trip ended. With a lot of fun, surprises, and unexpected moments and I shall cherish my first solo international trip forever. 

You can check my recent solo journey in Seychelles (Mahe, Praslin, and La Digue Islands) and how I managed it in a 50k INR budget.

Comments

  1. Chandana Kuruganty

    I really loved your narrative! Thanks to this, I am going to Cambodia for my first solo trip too!

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