Like most people, Angkor Wat was the primary reason I decided to do a trip to Cambodia. This UNESCO World Heritage site is un-missable and attracts the most number of tourists in Cambodia. But do not make the mistake of thinking that having done Angkor, you have seen it all in Cambodia. My favourite part of the trip was Koh-Rong, the island in the south of Cambodia - White sands and clear blue sea through the day, live gigs and beach parties through the nights. My short trip for 8 days included 2 nights at Phnom Penh (the capital city), 3 nights at Silhanoukwille (the beaches) and 3 nights at Siem Reap (the Angkor)
Cambodia is on every backpackers list who visits Asia. Despite knowing that, I was pleasantly surprised with how organized and friendly tourism in Cambodia is. 5 things that struck me the most about tourism in Cambodia –
1. Free Wifi – Every single hostel, bar, shop, massage parlour, coconut tree and stray dog provided free wifi! Coming from India where wifi is still a luxury, free wifi at every stop in Cambodia indicates how developed their tourism is. While connectivity is important to instagram pictures, do not forget that you are on a vacation to switch off!
2. Convenient commute: the easiest way to commute within a city is a tuk tuk, which appears before you even before you think of it. If you like some adventure, opt for the eco-friendly (battery operated) scooters or bicycles to explore the city, both of which are also easily available on the main streets. I took bicycle for an entire day to explore Siem Reap at a nominal charge of USD 5, and oh what fun it was to explore the city streets, markets and cafes at my (bicycles) pace.
3. Eat.Drink.Repeat: Another sign of developed tourism was tons of options of food for every cuisine, every budget, from gourmet food to street food. Pub Streets at all popular places were buzzing with food, music and people in the evenings, making our evenings fun and lively. Though sea-food and meat were the most widely available options, vegetarians would not be given any chance to complain about the food too. Besides, when beer is available for 1$ and mojito for 3$, do we really care about food?
4. Cheap Accommodation: Cambodia being a backpackers destination, there is no dearth of hostels, guest houses and B&Bs, starting from as low as USD 2 per night. I stayed in hostels ranging from 5$ to 8$ per night, with clean rooms and toilets, AC and free wifi! I suggest reaching the city early in the morning to find accommodation easily, because most hostels get booked by 12 pm (the checkout time).
5. Safe and friendly country: We were only girls. We were in shorts. We were drinking. And we were out every night. Coming from India, this safety meant a lot. It’s amazing how not for one moment we felt uncomfortable or scared or even worried. The only nuisance I have heard of in Cambodia, is incidents of bag snatching in Phnom Penh, which apparently is quite rampant.