GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS
"I loved Cambodia, it felt like something you might have seen in adventure movie. They say Cambodia is about 20 years behind Thailand so not too swamped by tourists. There is certainly plenty to see and do. I found the people easy going, friendly and relaxed. Also Cambodia as a country is stunning. The Temples are like something out of The Jungle Book and the beaches are wonderful (even during the rainy season)." Andrew Kemp
Although Cambodia has gone through some very difficult times, the feeling is that it is on the right track and aiming to take on the tourism market from Thailand and other Asian countries. There is a lot of major construction work happening in the main cities, like new hotels and other vacation resorts. Last year there were nearly two million tourists who visited the country, with the stunning temples and beautiful beaches being among the most popular places to see. Quaint provincial capitals, such as Battambang and Kampot, are just now being discovered by travelers and all offer unique glimpses of ‘unspoiled’ Cambodia.
The Khmer people, who make up more than 95% of Cambodia's population, are said to be some of the friendliest, happiest and most gentle people with lovely hospitality and openness. Also Cambodia is really cheap. At time of writing, a box of 200 cigarettes in a supermarket was only $3 and a meal in a good restaurant cost about $5 (a normal meal is about $2).
You should visit the incredible temple of Angkor Wat, a spectacular fusion of symbolism, symmetry and spirituality. It's a 1,000 year old temple complex, covering dozens of square kilometers in the jungle. But just as Angkor is more than its Wat, so, too, is Cambodia more than its temples. There is so much to do and see that you should add to your itinerary:
MONEY - COST OF LIVING (correct at time of
SIEM REAP is a lively stop off destination on the South Asia tourist trail! With the flat plane jungle ruins catapulted to fame via Lara Croft just over the outskirts, the town is geared up for travellers and this is no more evident than in ‘Pub Street’ a place to drink beer and make new friends.
Siem Reap was a fashionable destination for the 1960’s elite pack
wanderers and, according to the Lonely Planet, is once again one of the most
popular spots on the planet today having reinvented itself as the heart of
Cambodia, scattered with guesthouses, superb food and a steady flow of
tourists from near and far.
ANGKOR WAT: Surrounded by beautiful rice fields, lakes and jungles Truly one of mankind’s most incredible achievements, this ancient city of temples will take your breath away and leave you traipsing through a mystical magnificent past. Built between 800 - 1200 AD by the Khmer Empire, more than 200 temples have been restored, to some extent enabling you an insight into life from this time. There are more than 1,000 ancient sites of Angkor although several are now almost entirely gone. Angkor Wat is a symbol of Cambodia and is the country's prime attraction for visitors.
SIHANOUKVILLE is amazing! It has everything you could wantt: Stunning beaches and a laid back town that has lots to do. It is also known as Kampong Som and is a port city in southern Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand, 185 kilometres southwest of Phnom Penh. You can take water taxis to the nearby islands for diving, snorkeling, and game fishing. The town center is located on a hill roughly in the center of the peninsula.
Sihanoukville is a spread-out tourist town for both foreigners and local people from all over the country. Three sides of the town are bordered by tropical beaches and islands. Filled with empty beaches, crowded beaches, seafood, restaurants, bars, Buddhist Temples, casinos, hotels, and more beaches. At several hundred places, English is spoken; and many French speakers are here as well.
Prime time in SihanoukVille is between the beginning of November and the end of February. Cooler weather, sunny every day, and not a worry in the world. Winter in SihanoukVille is the best! Low season is between the beginning of August until the end of October. Lots of rain. March to June starts to get hotter and more humid, but not too much rain. October sees a little rain everyday, which cools things down.
Local transport consists of Motorbike taxis (motodups) - the pricing for foreigners can vary and is often confusing! As a rough guide of cost to get to any of the beaches from Downtown during the day should be around $1 for 1 person and as is the case in most countries, you should agree prices in advance. Another popular form of transport in South-East Asia is the Tuk-Tuk (cart pulled by a bicycle). Tuk-Tuk prices vary depending on destination and the number of passengers. Cars or mini-bus taxis are not widely used but can be arranged and bicycles & electric bicycles are available for daily hire.
KOH RONG SAMLOEM ISLAND lies in the Gulf of Thailand, at about 40km off the coast of Sihanoukville. It is the proverbial paradise island! The growth is lush, the sand sparkling white and the water is a tempting turquoise. The island is relatively deserted, undeveloped and untouched, but is currently being developed into Cambodia's jewel tourist destination. A stunningly beautiful bay on the island is called Waterfall Bay and stretches for several kilometres. North West Bay is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Cambodia. The center of the island is a jungle with thousands of coconut palms and waterfalls.
The island has no firm roads as of yet and 'roads' are simply sandy tracks. There are two bars on the island (one with a pool table) and plenty of shops where you can buy drinks, cigarettes, etc. The locals are super-friendly and very pleased to have volunteers on their island. Koh Rong Samloem is, in fact, the only island that is fully and actively protected by the government.
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