One of the places I have had my eyes on in SE Asia is Cambodia. If we do start our trip on the cruise to Tokyo, we will quickly be aiming south from there to the more affordable areas in this part of the world. I thought today I would consider Cambodia.
To enter, it looks like $20 fee for a 1-month visa, renewable for another month for $35, 3 months for $65. I guess this will add up for the 6 of us but the living looks cheap and interesting so likely worth it. Recommended vaccines are Hep A+B, Japanese B encephalitis, TB and Typhoid in addition to the standard polio/rabies/DTP/etc. I guess we’ll have to suck it up and get all of these before we leave, sigh.
Now on to the biggest Cambodian city. This blogger, a female 20-something writer from the USA, has a lot of good information about Phnom Penh, the capital city. She recommends the BKK 1 or Wat Phnom neighborhoods there, so I began by pricing rentals.
Initial searches are promising! This site had many 2BR in the $450-$550 range that look great- furnished, modern/Western kitchen, wifi, pool, etc. They purport to be near the Russian Market, cited by this blogger who lives there (an expat, might be American) as an excellent market and a great place to live. Not sure how long is the minimum time to rent but we would want maximum 1-2 months. BTW, the same blogger had a wonderful map of the neighborhoods in Phenom Penh, entertainingly pointing out the “dodgy white men” and “tuk-tuk mafia” areas, information I’m sure will come in handy. She did not seem overly excited about the BKK neighborhood- “ex-pat/NGO/whitey land” – not what I am looking for either.
From Phenom Penh, it is a 5-hour bus ride to Angor Wat (L), a must-see for our trip. Look at that temple!! I can’t wait to check out the place.
This seems like a good time to mention The Man in Seat 61,on whom I am quickly developing an inappropriate crush. He is an advocate for and wealth of information on non-airplane travel worldwide. Thank you Mark Smith!!!! Wherever you find yourself in the world, this guy can give you the down-low on bus, rail, and ferry travel. Here is his page on getting to Angor Wat from PP. Apparently there is a speedboat at $35 per person, and the deluxe bus is only $12.
What else to do in Cambodia? This blog post has a list of good ideas in Phenom Penh, though the kids look a lot younger than mine. The National Museum especially interests me. The Russian market certainly bears some exploring, as does the Art Deco style Central Market. Outside of PP, this ecotourist floating village near Siem Reap where Angor Wat is located northwest of PP looks cool.
I am not a beach person, but ok, CNN, tell me about the 5 best Cambodian beaches. The phosphorescent plankton in Long Set Beach, seashells at Kho Thmei , and snorkling at Southwestern Beach and Lazy Beach are all draws for me. They all look pretty good except for the last (Sokha), where it appears the beaches are privatized parts of hotels.
Basically, I think once we get there we can figure out the fun stuff, for now I have to focus on housing, so a brief look at options outside of PP. Siem Reap looks too touristy and expensive due to its proximity to Angor Wat. Sihuanoukville looks to be a party beach town, not what I am looking for. Battambang, now that looks pretty good. Lonely planet says it has nice archetecture, a mix of modern and historic qualities, and a scenic river trip to Angor Wat. Tell me more. Oooh- bike trips! This place might merit a week or more for the Fantastics. Ganesha guest house looks decent, the price is right, I have to say Battambang might be a place for us!
So there is my first foray into Cambodia. I have a few emails out to friends-of-friends, so I may post again about the area.