Cambodia is snuggled between Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and the Gulf of Thailand and is also known as the Kingdom of Wonder. Truth be told, having lived in the Kingdom for three years, a lot of things do make me wonder (why is the traffic like this? is this supposed to make my tastebuds happy?). On that list of wonderment is me wondering why many people skip over Cambodia in their travels. Beyond the world famous UNESCO World Heritage Angkor Wat complex, there is much more to explore and experience! My hope is that providing you with these expat-approved tips not only encourages you to travel to Cambodia, but makes your experience more enjoyable! The best trips I have gone on are when I have a friend in the country that can give me all the best recommendations. So, now consider us friends, and enjoy these tips 🙂 !
This is entry #1 in Expat Tips: Cambodia Edition. Be sure to check out all the other entries to help prep and plan for your trip. Read below to see which hotel is the one for you, whether you are ballin’ on a budget, bound to get bougie, or somewhere in-between. While Cambodia is full of awesome properties, the ones listed below have impressed myself (or my fellow expats) time and time again. 🙂
Phnom Penh // Capital of Cambodia. Small (in comparison to big cities like Bangkok), but big enough to keep you entertained. Full of culture, charm, and unique smells.
$: Phnom Penh has a host of hostels which can be easily found by asking any tuk tuk (open cab taxi) driver. Many of the hostels are conveniently located at the riverside. We like to go to the Mad Monkey Hostel and 11 Happy Backpackers Hostel because each of those hostels has a nice roof area with games, and is close to the riverside.
$$: The Blue Lime / https://maads.asia/bluelime
Committed to responsible tourism, this urban accommodation is comfortable and well located close to the riverside. With the pool, the property has the feeling of an oasis, which is nice after a hot day of exploring the city. Standard rooms start around $55/night.
$$$: The Plantation / https://www.theplantation.asia
Standard rooms start around $115/night. This hotel is a perfect oasis for the weary traveler or expat needing a break. You could decide to drink mai tai’s by the pool all day, or head over to the riverside, which is conveniently nearby. This hotel is also committed to responsible tourism.
$$$$: Raffles / http://www.raffles.com/phnom-penh/
Starting around $177 dollars/night, the 5 star Raffles is a wonderful mix of comfort, glamour and culture. Jackie Kennedy even stayed here, and you can get a drink named in her honor at the Elephant Bar. Raffles also has a wonderful afternoon tea that you can enjoy while viewing their elegant grounds.
$$$$: Sofitel / http://www.sofitel.com/gb/hotel-6526-sofitel-phnom-penh-phokeethra/index.shtml
The fanciest stay in Phnom Penh can be found at the Sofitel, with rooms around $200/night. This french colonial inspired hotel is on a beautiful grounds, not too far from anything in the city, and is well deserving of its 5 stars.
Kep // Quiet charming beach town, perfect if you are in need of some rest and relaxation. A 2 hour ride from Phnom Penh.
$: Khmer Hands / https://www.facebook.com/khmerhandskep
An affordable resort with a purpose, it will only cost you around $10 to stay here. Staff is very friendly, and they also offer informal cooking classes!
$$: Saravoan Hotel / http://saravoanhotel-kep.com
Right across from a stretch of beach, this hotel is conveniently located by different shops and moto rentals. It is clean, comfortable, and the staff is really helpful! Rooms start around $30/night.
$$$: Veranda Resort / http://veranda-resort.asia
One of the best places to stay in Kep, this eco-friendly resort is snuggled on a tree covered hillside. It overlooks the ocean, and has a killer breakfast buffet. If you can swing it, this is my definite recommendation. Just look at there gallery and you will know what I mean! Rooms start around $80/night.
$$$$: Knai Bang Chatt / http://www.knaibangchatt.com/the-property/sleep/single-rooms/
The most luxurious place to rest your head in Kep, Knai Bang Chatt, is right by the water. With an infinity pool and yoga and meditation classes, this property has it all! Rooms start around $188/night. Make sure to catch sunset at the Sailing Club for an unforgettable end to your day.
Sihanoukville // A 4 hour ride from Phnom Penh will take you to the best beaches in Cambodia. Known for being a party town (which is nice if you are into partying), you can also find family friendly locations, resorts, and quieter areas.
$: There are a lot of hostels in Siahnoukville, and depending on the experience you want you can choose the beach accordingly. If you are looking for more of a party atmosphere then look at hostels by Serendipity beach and Occheuteal beach. If you are looking for more of a laid back time then look at properties on Otres I and Otres II.
$$: Papa Pippo Bungalows / http://www.papapippo.com/#home
Otres beach is one of the calmer, family friendly beaches in Sihanoukville. These bungalows are comfortable and right along the beach (so this is good if you don’t mind being sandy all the time)! A bungalow is around $30/night, and when you stay here make sure to bring your appetite. They have an amazing Italian restaurant that is always churning out wood fired pizzas.
$$$: Independence Hotel, Resort, and Spa / http://independencehotel.net
Rooms start around $100/night and if you have one hundred dollars to spare then staying here is totally worth it! The resort has a private beach with a lovely walkway that goes from the hotel to the beach. The staff are wonderful, and the breakfast buffet may be one of the best I have ever had the pleasure of eating.
$$$: Sokha Beach Sihanoukville / https://www.sokhahotels.com/sihanoukville/
This is a beautiful resort nestled between garden landscapes and sparkling blue waters. Rooms start around $100/night, with an extra cost for breakfast. All the resorts amenities and the beautiful beach will keep you entertained in a relaxing atmosphere!
Siem Reap // Place of the famous Angkor Wat Temples. Besides exploring the ancient temples, Siem Reap has a lot more to offer- from traditional Cambodian dancing shows (called Apsara) to circus acts and good cafes! A 7 hour car ride, or 30 min flight from Phnom Penh.
$$: The Villa Siem Reap / http://www.thevillasiemreap.com/home.html
Starting at $35/night this quaint villa is walking distance from pub street and other Siem Reap attractions. You get fresh juice on arrival, a nice bed to sleep in, a pool out back, and a smiling staff member to help you with any needs!
$$: Lotus Blanc Resort / http://lotusblancresort.com
Starting around $55, the Lotus Blanc Resort is an awesome fusion of Khmer culture and French elegance. Comfortable, relaxing, and modern- everything about this resort is done right. Peek at their online gallery and you will agree!
$$$: Sokha Siem Reap / https://www.sokhahotels.com/siemreap/
Sokha also has locations in Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, but the Siem Reap location is my favorite. Set amongst lush tropical gardens at $115/night, the Sokha gives you tranquility, luxury, and easy access to all the town has to offer!
Mondulkiri // 6 hour ride from Phnom Penh. A low-key place with cooler temperatures and nice scenery. Venture here if you want to relax in a hammock while staring at lush green hills, hike with an elephant, hang out at a waterfall, or visit a coffee plantation.
$: The Nature Lodge / http://naturelodgecambodia.com/#rooms
Around $10/night for a bungalow, you can’t beat The Nature Lodge! It is an eco-friendly budget accommodation that is surrounded by the highlands of lush and green Mondulkiri. The bungalows are comfortable, the staff are accommodating, and if you stay here you may just wake up to a horse nibbling at the grass near your bungalow stairs!
I’ve only listed the top 5 most common travel destinations, but if you are planning on staying in Cambodian longer you can also check out Battambang (quiet town, bamboo train and culture), Rattanakiri (cooler weather and strawberry fields), and Koh Kong (an island near Sihanoukville). If you have any questions, please let me know. Happy Travels!
Lee-uh Howie (Informal way of saying goodbye in Khmer…since we are friends and everything 😉 ),