Two weeks Cambodia Itinerary
We spent almost two weeks in Cambodia during our Christmas vacation. Here is our itinerary, which has a good mix of ruins, beaches, and culture.
At a glance:
- 1 night at Model Angkor Resort in Siem Reap
- 5 nights at Song Saa Resort in Cambodia’s Koh Rong Archipelago
- 6 nights at Sala Lodges in Siem Reap
Day 1. Arrive in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Most visitors to Cambodia require a tourist visa. We got ours on arrival at Siem Reap International Airport; application forms were handed out on the plane. In addition, all visitors are required to have a passport that is valid for six months beyond the dates of their journey. We also brought with us one passport-sized photo for each of us, but this is not mandatory – some people had their passport’s photo scanned in the airport for a small fee. During our visit (in December 2016), a tourist visa cost US $30.
We had just a half-day in Siem Reap, and after the long journey decided to stay at the resort and relax. Our resort was Model Angkor, and we had a lovely stay here, but it was not quite as amazing as we were expecting it to be, after reading reviews on Tripadvisor and Booking.com. Our room was beautiful, but the bathroom felt unfinished after a renovation. Service was very slow in the restaurant and non-existent by the pool; the food was average. It was also weird to see some of the resort’s guests wearing swimming trunks and smoking in the restaurant while we had dinner. We would describe it as a 3-star resort, not a luxury 5-star one, as Booking.com described it. The price was great, though.
Day 2. Siem Reap – Sihanoukville – Koh Rong
In the morning, we boarded a one-hour flight to Sihanoukville. Two airlines fly from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville – Cambodia Angkor Air and Cambodia Bayon Airlines. Our destination was a small island in the Koh Rong Archipelago. The island of Koh Rong is located about 25 kilometers from Sihanoukville and features 43 km of beautiful white sand beaches. In Koh Rong, we stayed at Song Saa, a private eco-luxe island resort with a very laid back and relaxing vibe. The resort arranged our transfer from Sihanoukville to Song Saa.
There are 27 villas at Song Saa, each with a private pool. We loved our Jungle villa. It was spacious, beautifully decorated, and had a stunning view from the pool.
Day 3. Song Saa Resort
We spent the next four days at the Song Saa resort relaxing, exploring, and treasure hunting.
Song Saa is great place for couples. It is very tranquil and has an overall romantic ambience, but at the same time, it is an amazing place to make life-long family memories. The resort organized treasure hunts, beach games, and a pizza cooking class for our kids – they had so much fun. There are also ten messages in bottles hidden around Song Saa, each stocked with nice surprises. The kids loved to look for them and were so happy when they found one. Curious to know what was inside the bottle we found? A spa visit – pretty cool, huh?
Day 4. Song Saa Resort
Breakfast in the overwater Vista restaurant was our favorite meal of the day. Dinners were also something special and romantic – every evening we received a message inviting us to the dinner at different locations around the island: the beach, poolside, the overwater restaurant, or a beach restaurant. The only complaint we had about the food is that all-day à la carte menu was a bit limited.
Day 5. Long beach, Koh Rong
We took two trips while staying at Song Saa: a picnic on Long Beach, on the island of Koh Rong, and a local village visit. Long Beach, on Koh Rong Island, is no doubt one of the best beaches in Southeast Asia – the ocean is clear and turquoise, and the sand is so clean it squeaks under your feet.
There is only one resort on this beach, the Sok San Beach Resort, located on the northern end. The beach was very tranquil and there were no other people around.
Day 6. Prek Svay village, Koh Rong
We took a tour to Prek Svay, the largest village in Koh Rong, to learn what the Song Saa Foundation is doing for the local people and community development.
Day 7. Koh Rong – Sihanoukville – Siem Reap
After lunch, we left the paradise island of Song Saa and headed to Siem Reap. It was New Year’s Eve, and we arrived at our next accommodation – Sala Lodges – just before a celebration dinner.
Sala Lodges is not a regular Siem Reap hotel; rather, it is like a village with 11 wooden homes surrounded by a lush garden and rice paddies. Each house has been brought to the site from a different part of Cambodia and has its own history. For example, the house we had was from the Kompong Thom province, situated some 150 km east of Siem Reap. Its previous owners were farmers who worked the rubber tree and cassava plantations. The owners were about same age as us and lived there with their children.
We were so happy with our choice of accommodation! We will write a full review on this unique place with more photos. Stay tuned!
There is no better place to hide away from Siem Reap’s crowds and to relax after a day of exploring the temples. Sala Lodges also serves yummy food!
Day 8. Angkor temples and Tonlé Sap lake
We spent the next four days with Chris from Angkor Travel Photography. Angkor Travel Photography is a partnership between three professional photographers, Chris, Régis and Alessandro, based in Siem Reap. It was great to spend time discovering Angkor and its surrounding areas with someone as passionate about photography as we are. At the same time, Chris knows the most beautiful corners of each temple, where to be for stunning light, and how to avoid the crowds.
We started the day at 7 am with a visit to the Angkor ticket office. The price for a single-day ticket is $37, a 3-day pass is $62, and a 7-day pass is $72. In the morning, we visited the Preah Khan and Ta Som temples. Preah Khan became our favorite temple in the Angkor Archaeological Park.
In the evening, we went to Tonlé Sap Lake to visit the floating village of Kompong Phluk and the nearby flooded forest.
Floating on a tiny boat in a flooded forest was so tranquil and beautiful. The forest is usually full of water from August until the end of December, but with the dry season starting late, we had a high water level even in January.
Day 9. Angkor temples
Day 9 was a ”temple day.” We spent the full day in the Angkor area, with a couple of hours’ break for lunch. It was a bit hard for the kids, and they complained about “temple overdose.” I can’t imagine how people have two or three days like this, and am glad we chose to spend more time in Siem Reap.
We started again at 7 am with a visit to the Ta Prohm temple. The early morning, as soon as the temple opens, is the quietest time of the day. The place itself is amazing, showing the battle between nature and architecture in the Cambodian jungle.
We also visited the Ta Nei and Banteay Kdei temples before returning to our hotel for lunch and some rest.
In the evening, we witnessed a water blessing ceremony at a little Buddhist monastery near the Preah Palilay temple in Angkor Thom.
We also tried to get lost in the hidden maze-like trek to the Terrace of the Leper King, where the walls are covered in amazingly well preserved bas reliefs, and we smiled back at the 216 faces of Bayon.
Day 10. Phnom Kulen and Banteay Srei temple
Located about 50 km from Siem Reap, Phnom Kulen is considered Cambodia’s most sacred mountain. Locals come to the holy site to pray, leave offerings, and have picnics next to one of the waterfalls.
Nothing is more refreshing after a long, hot day than the Phnom Kulen waterfalls. The first, smaller waterfall is just below the picnic area, and the second waterfall, hidden in a beautiful jungle, can be reached by a small trek. It is very impressive, even during the dry season, and about 20 meters tall.
On the way back, we stopped at the Banteay Srei temple. It is very different from the other temples around Siem Reap. Banteay Srei is built of red sandstone, with detailed carvings that have been preserved for centuries.
Day 11. Siem Reap market, Wat Bo monastery and Angkor Wat temple
In the morning, we took some time off from temple-hopping and visited a local market, monastery, and a school. The Siem Reap market is a fascinating place to visit for a good taste of local life and local food. The Wat Bo monastery, in Siem Reap’s town center, features a beautiful pagoda, a school, and Buddhist sleeping quarters.
Angkor Wat temple has become a symbol of Cambodia and is, frankly, the major reason why many people visit the country. We opted to come at sunset, as the idea of a sunrise tour surrounded by thousands of other tourists wasn’t appealing to us.
Day 12. Angkor temples
On this day, we returned to some of our favorite Angkor temples.
We had a great night out and went to see a traditional Khmer dance – Apsara. We chose Angkor Village Apsara Theater for our dance and dinner experience.
Day 13. Hong Kong
On day 13, it was a time to leave Cambodia and return home. We flew via Hong Kong, where we had a 5–6 hour evening layover. It was our fourth time in the city, but we had never sailed on a famous red-sail junk boat before, so we booked a sunset cruise with Aqua Luna and couldn’t be happier with our decision.
After the cruise, we still had time for dinner at the Instagram-famous Yum Cha restaurant.
What we would have liked to change about this trip:
- We would change our first hotel – Model Angkor Resort. We initially wanted to stay at the Phum Baitang resort, which looks amazing in photos and has great reviews, but it was fully booked four months in advance, when we started to plan this trip.
Visited in January 2017.