Feet to move, places to roam
Sweaty clothes, tuk-tuks and sleeper buses: An extremely short summary of what you will experience while traveling throughout South East Asia. After my time in Vietnam, I continued my travels over into the chaos of Cambodia. Here is what you need to know if you decide to travel to: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville!
Important to remember when visiting Cambodia: Although Cambodia has its own currency, the Cambodian Riel, they mainly operate on the USD (American Dollar). If you withdrawal money from an ATM while in Cambodia, you will receive USD in return. As well, if you go to purchase something in USD, they will hand you back a mix of the USD in larger bills and Cambodian Riel in small change.
Here we go! Our first stop:
Where I stayed: Lovely Jubbly Villa – This is a hostel that is not made for the traveler looking for some quiet shut-eye! Instead, accommodation with rooms holding up to 21 people, a pool, all three meals cooked and available for purchase on the main floor, organized tours for around the city, and people ready to share their travel stories with you.
What to do:
Choeung Ek Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum: If you have the opportunity to visit this capital city, the Cambodian Killing Fields are something you absolutely cannot miss. To view first hand where the S-21 victims were held and to learn about the Khmer Rouge is heartbreaking but eye-opening experience. I was left in complete shock.
Before visiting Cambodia, it is important to read up on the history of the country and what the locals have been through not that long ago. This is also simply out of respect and should not only be done before visiting Cambodia, but other countries throughout the world too.
For more information before you go, you can read about the Choeung Ek Killing fields here: http://www.killingfieldsmuseum.com/s21-victims.html
Visit the Russian Market: While traveling through Asia, might as well hit up alllll the markets in sight! Just like any market, the Russian Market has plenty of cheap deals, souvenirs, clothing and delicious, ready to grab food and drinks.
The Royal Palace of Phnom Penh: The Royal Palace is the residence of the King of Cambodia. This beautiful and complex building is just a quick stop to make during your time around Phnom Penh.
Where I stayed: Lost in Neverland – This new and upcoming hostel was one of my favorites I have ever stayed in throughout all my travels simply because it reminded me of a music festival from Canada, Folk Fest. The idea of this hostel is brilliant. Eco-friendly, completely wrapped in hammocks, swinging chairs along the bar and a short stroll away from the excitement that is Otres Village. This hostel is all outdoors, so if you are someone who considers themselves high maintenance, this may not be the place for you (However, there is still stable wi-fi) . I’m talking bucket showers and no fans so be prepared to be hot. But sit back, relax, and get don’t grow up. After all, this is Neverland.
What to do in Otres Village: Once you arrive, you will never want to leave. There were a handful of other travelers I met during my time in the village that said “I only was planning to be here for 2 days and have now been here for two months. I just love the vibe and the people you meet.” Otres Village is meant for those who came looking for quiet during the day and a party at night. While strolling along the roads, you will come across multiple yoga classes, vegan dishes, dogs, and those with hippie flared pants and wooden signs reading “Spread the love.” This is a very artsy and creative village for people who love long conversations, drinks, smoking weed and chilling underneath the stars. Be sure not to miss the Otres Night Market on Saturdays where there is live music, delicious food vendors and jewelry. Also the Wednesday night parties!
For more information on Otres Village: http://www.sihanoukville-cambodia.com/about-sihanoukville/otres-village.html
HOW TO GET THERE: This is the most important part so you do not end up making the same mistake as me. The only way to get to Koh Ta Kiev Island is if you are in Otres 1 Beach. On the island, there are 3 different hostels: 10103, The Last Point, and Cactus. Each hostel has its own boat and will have a specific time when their boat leaves from the mainland from Seagarden Hostel right along the beach. Pay attention to the time the boat leaves and you will not have a problem. If you don’t, you will end up like me and take a boat that leaves just before sunset and end up dragging your luggage across the island in the dark.
Where to stay: The Last Point- Last Point defines the idea of “Going off the grid”. Koh Ta Kiev Island is completly untouched. By that I mean, no tourists, no wi-fi, and no electrical power. Fresh food is brought in daily by boat from the mainland. This is ultimate isolation and relaxation from the real world. Turn off your phone, unplug from reality, lay on the beach, read a book and actually get to know others rather than asking “What’s your Facebook?” The Last Point has bucket showers, toilets you flush with a bucket of water, and by 10:00PM the generator goes off and you are left in the dark. So remember if anything, bring a flashlight! Oh, and do not miss out on “Klang 30” where from 3:00-3:30 PM beer is free for half an hour! Afterwards, get on the boat and head over to Elephant Rock for some cliff jumping while a buzzed off the free beer and watch the sunset from the boat. This hostel does not accept any type of card payment, so prepare cash before leaving the mainland.
What to do: You are on an isolated island, just relax! Lay in the warm sand and catch a tan, swim on the private and quiet beach, sit bar top and chat with other travelers and truly take in the moment!
Where I stayed: Onederz Hostel – I arrived in Siem Reap early in the morning after a long, overnight bus ride from Sihanoukville. Arriving to a new city before sunrise is usually never easy. Luckily the staff at Onederz Hostel were extremely friendly and did their best to make the people who arrived at the property at 4:00AM comfortable. Although we had no room to settle down, the staff opened up breakfast and made us feel at home. Onederz has a rooftop pool, clean dorms and cheap laundry facilities and food! There is no elevator at this property so prepare to carry your bags up a few flights of stairs!
What to do in Siem Reap:
Land of the temples: Angkor Wat: Like this was even a question, of course this is a must see! The prices for Angkor Wat recently changed at the beginning of 2017. Day passes are now 37 USD and gives you access to all temples around Siem Reap. I would suggest arriving for sunrise at Angkor Wat in order to avoid the large crowds that will trickle in around 7:00-8:00 AM.
Take a cooking class: After you have gazed and wandered through the temples of Siem Reap, try something new and take a cooking class! Cooking classes are extremely popular all over South East Asia. Cooking class times range from 3-4 hours. Depending where you take the class, many will let you travel to nearby villages to see farmers, rice fields and traditional homes of the locals. When you stop in these villages, you will have the opportunity to hand pick the ingredients for the dishes you will later learn to cook. Once you are in the kitchen, you will learn to cook 3 Khmer dishes and of course, eat them afterwards! The cooking classes are small and range from 10-12 people which allows you to get the help you need from the chefs themselves!
For any further questions or comments on my time in Cambodia, please leave them below!