A Working Holiday Visa can be a great opportunity to visit neighbouring countries, particularly in South East Asia. Dreaming of exploring Cambodia? Then you’re in luck! Here’s a suggested itinerary and all our practical advice for discovering this magnificent country.
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Why travelling in Cambodia?
Asian countries are popular destinations for backpackers coming from Australia. For good reason! The proximity to Australia, the diversity of landscapes and cultures, and the low cost of living, attracts many of us to Southeast Asia. Whether it’s a stopover on the way there, between the first and second working holiday visa, or just to spend a nice holiday (for example, after doing your farm work!).
The transport system in Cambodia works really well. Whether you want to get somewhere within the city, to another region, or to the neighbouring country, you always find a way and a driver. It is totally doable to travel the country from north to south and east to west if you want to take full advantage of the 30 days of your visa.
Here’s a suggestion for a simple itinerary that will allow you to explore the different regions of the country while visiting the towns and main attractions. Travelling from south to north, this itinerary will take you to the gateway to Laos. In the other direction, the southern region of Vietnam is yours.
What is the best season to visit Cambodia?
The best season to visit Cambodia is generally during the dry season, which extends from November to April. During this period, the weather is typically sunny, with low humidity and minimal rainfall, making it a favorable time for outdoor activities and exploring the country.
Here’s a breakdown of Cambodia’s seasons:
The Dry Season (November to April) is the peak tourist season in Cambodia, particularly from November to February. The weather is pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 35°C. However, the hottest months are typically March and April, with temperatures sometimes above 40°C.
The hot season in Cambodia (March to May) precedes the onset of the wet season. Temperatures can soar, and the humidity level increases. It can be quite hot, especially in April, with temperatures averaging around 35°C to 40°C.
The wet season (May to October) is characterized by heavy rainfall, usually in the form of short, intense showers. The countryside turns lush and green during this time, and the crowds thin out. However, some roads, particularly in rural areas, may become impassable due to flooding. The humidity remains high.
Visit the capital: Phnom-Penh
What is better than starting your trip in “the Land of Smiles” in the capital? Air Asia regularly offers good fares from Sydney to Phnom Penh. However, the few hours of flight separating Australia from Asia can’t close the cultural gap between these two countries. Phnom Penh offers many activities to learn more about the Khmer culture and the history of the country. The city is densely populated and full of life: tourists, tuk-tuks, good smells, and markets!
A hike that you should not miss
Visit the oldest temple in the country, Phnom Wat (= temple), which gave the town its name, by the way. Enjoy the gorgeous view. The Sisophon Jetty runs along the Mekong River and is worth a visit just to see the river. As the sun goes down, there are street food tuk-tuks while people are joining outdoor aerobics classes outside the temples.
S-21: a moment of intense history
Just off the city is the former S-21 Detention Center – an intense but highly interesting visit! It helps to understand what happened to this country and how it has been rebuilt (don’t forget to get an audio guide).
Culinary escape in Kep and Kampot
A bit south and further inland, you stop in Kep and Kampot. In between these two cities, you can visit the pepper plantations for free. You will learn a lot about the cultivation method and at the end you do a pepper tasting.
Kep is known for the fish and shellfish market and especially for its delicious crabs. We recommend the Kimly restaurant for its pepper and crab specialties and because it is located on the waterfront. In Kampot you can visit the ancient Bokor train station, a mixture of nature park and ghost town. Another good address is the Epic Art Cafe in town! There do yummy breakfasts and lunches in a special working environment as their staff have disabilities.
The islands of Cambodia
Visit the paradise islands of Cambodia. Koh Rong and his “little sister” Koh Rong Samloen are the perfect place to relax on white sand beaches and to cool your feet in turquoise water. Koh Rong is busier and Koh Rong Samloen is more authentic. From Sihanoukville, the islands are ideal for taking a break for a few days, going snorkelling or working on the tan. The photos speak for themselves, right?
The mighty temples of Angkor in Siem Reap
The city of Siem Reap itself is not worth seeing, but should definitely be on your list if you want to see Angkor Wat.
The temples at Angkor Wat are incredibly mighty and stunning. The Khmer architecture is very detailed. You can really imagine the gigantic size of the Khmer civilization and the rule of kings there. Or you imagine you got behind the scenes of Lara Croft! You can easily spend a whole 3 days there, because it is a unique place that stretches over several hundred kilometres.
Battambang on the water
Take the time to visit the floating village Battambang on the Siem Reap Tonle Sap River. When taking a boat through the floating villages, you’re observing the special way of living in these stilt houses. Go watch a show at the Ponleu Selpak Circus. Not only do you financially support the circus group in their non-profit projects, but you also get to see a great performance with traditional Khmer dances.
Mondolkiri & Ratanakiri
These provinces in the northeast are the most remote in the country. You’ll love Mondolkiri and Ratanakiri if you want to immerse yourself in the wilderness. In addition to coffee and pepper plantations, waterfalls and rivers, there are unfortunately also areas where intensive deforestation takes place. Anyway, these provinces are ideal for a mountain hike with a guide. This gives you the opportunity to get to know the different local ethnic groups.
In the capital and tourist areas, youth hostels, guesthouses and small hotels are plentiful.
On average, a single bed in a dormitory in a youth hostel costs €5 a night.
For a double room in a home-stay or guesthouse, you should expect to pay between €10 and €30 a night.
A double room in a hotel costs between €20 and €50 a night.