It was not unlike other unplanned trips in 2019, exploring Cambodia was a journey that I had planned and prepared many things before. My initial plan had been invited a couple of my friends to go together. However, after a great number of things, They were not in. It was not matter to me, because If I had had tour mates , It would have been fine. But It is not a big problem if I go alone, not only that trip but also other trips.
What do we prepare to to in Cambodia
It was clearly that I would travel alone by myself, the first thing I prepared prior to coming back Sai Gon after Tet 2019 Lunar new year Holiday that I brought my passport. Because of a nation of Association of Southeast Asia Nations the Vietnamese passport can be approved to go into Cambodia up to 30 day without Visa. It is extremely convenient, right? Yes the first thing I mention is the passport. The second thing, that is money or cash. In Cambodia, they use both USD and Riel (Cambodian currency), you should carry at least one type of these currencies. However, from my experience I think The USD is more appropriate. The third thing, That is a sim 4G or 3G, It is very easy to buy in big cities such as Pnom Penh or Siem riel, you might buy and receiving support from sellers, there are numerous telecom stores. Last but not least, answering the question how to go to Cambodia. You can go by both Airplane or by car. At that time, Because I lived in Ho Chi Minh, therefore I chose to go by a bus from Pham Ngu Lao street (Only around 300K for one way ticket). When you go by bus, they car owner will help you receive approval from border gate.
Two days in Phnom penh
After 6 hours from Ho Chi Minh City, eventually, I was in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. I felt It is similar to some cities in Vietnam, honestly, that City is so small or at least It is not big as I thought. Soon after arriving to Phnom Penh, I immediately booked the Grab to arrive my Hostel. Because of going alone, I often choose to stay at hostels or Dorm because of both It is very cheap and I can talk more with local people or other backpackers. Cambodians do not speak English well, I said that because when I arrived my hostel I attempted to communicate with a receptionist but he did not understand what I was trying to say til the hostel owner came. However, my accommodation was quite beautiful.
What can we eat when we stay in Phnom Penh,
As I said, Because Phnom Penh is similar many Vietnamese cities, particularly, southern cities in Vietnam. I feel very familiar to Ho Chi Minh (However, It is smaller than Ho Chi Minh). I tried to taste some local foods as well as local drink. Two days in Phnom Penh, fried chicken rice was my best choice besides other native foods.
If you ask me, where you can explore in Phnom Penh, here are several advices from me
The Royal Palace of Cambodia.
The first place in this city, I was keen on exploring that was Royal Palace. My hostel was very near that, I walked only about several hundreds that was the Palace. Because of enthusiasm, I came to there very early before opening time and I decided to wander around that site to see the daily life. From outside, seeing people and the scenery, I felt so peaceful. I liked the feeling that see the doves on the grass-yard and enjoying the activities of the local people.
If I remember correctly 8h30 am is the opening time, after Buying a ticket I started to discovery the Palace. My first impression about it that It is like a big Pagoda in Vietnam. Currently, I do not remember all detail, but that time I was very happy because I joined two tourist groups to know more about each place in that site the first one was a Vietnamese group and the second one was the Korean group. From the ancient time, the ancestors of the Cambodia was the great khmer empire that was reason the Royal Palace has many famed structures of Khmer ethnic like a great number of architectures in southern Vietnam.
I am a historic person who is very keen on everything about history. So that, Discovering the Cambodia’s current Palace is very interesting to me. I have learnt numerous things by visiting that site.
The Palace is still where the King and royal family live, there are some restricted areas you do not allow to enter in that sites because of the privacy, but from my point, if you visit Cambodian capital you should visit “their heart”
National Museum of Cambodia.
The second place I sightsaw that was the National Museum of Cambodia. It was funny thing, because after finishing a tour around the Royal Place, I randomly picked a nearby place to visit. And the answer from my phone was that site. To be honest, I have not remember anything about that except I had buy an expensive ticket compare to the value I got from that site lol.
See the sunset on the bank of Mekong River
When I lived in Ha Noi or Ho Chi Minh, I always have a corner for me I called them were “Khoang Lang” (a place in a story I read for a long time ago, Its name “Vo oi anh biet loi Roi”. I think I had figured out that place in Cambodia. I want to mention the bank along the Mekong river that locates in front of the Royal Palace. It is really quite and peaceful with the daily activities from natives. I like the moment that I saw the dusk from that position. That time, I just hoped I can be with my love to see together (It made me miss her so much and totally hurt me as well….).
I ended my time in Phnom Penh by buying ticket to Siem Reap and took a long sleep.
The next story about Siem Reap….
Siem riep – Must Visit place in Cambodia.
From the Phnom Penh, I bough a car ticket to Siem Reap. My bus ran slowly through a lot of provinces of Cambodia. On my bus, I slept and seeing too outside. Although, It was not unusual compare to Vietnam It still brought me an enjoying time to watch while I wore my earphone to listen my favorite playlist.
After, long hours I realized that I still had not ticket for returning Ho Chi Minh. I had to face with both problems that were trying to buy ticket as soon as possible to come back Sai Gon on time for working and looking my hostel. I remember that I went most of car headquarters and branch in Siem Riep to figure out the ticket return directly to Sai Gon. Unfortunately, many receptionists of the car companies can’t speak English, so It was a tough time, eventually, I decided to give up and trying to buy a ticket back to Phnom Penh.
Currently, It did not remember much information about the downtown of Siem riel but my feeling that It is similar to Hoi An ancient town in Vietnam. Because my hostel in the central of the city, It is very easy to explore several famous places in that City.
Here are some my advices from me for you when you are in Siem Riep:
First thing to do that is discover the Pub Street, Night Market and some places near those ones. At my first night in Siem Riep, I wanderlust around the city and tried to taste some street foods, It’s so good I feel that their foods are mixed between Sai Gon’s Foods and Bangkok’s Foods. After an exhausted day, trying to eat the local foods and watching every people made me feel better. Because of the foreign area, It looks like the Bui Vien In HCM, Ta Hien in Ha Noi or Khao San in BangKoK. At that night, I thought I will have to comeback the Siem Riep together with my lover. If I come back to Cambodia, My fist destination is Siem Riep.
On the next day, I started to discover the Angkor. When I was a child, I read and watched a ton of information about that mysterious place because of that reason, I was really enthusiastic to did that. In my journey, I hired a local who has a Tuk Tuckering ( One of the most popular vehicles in Cambodia) to carry me all day. I did not remember the exact price, If I am correct, It was about $10 or $20. Fortunately, my driver is a Vietnamese, He has lived in Siem Riep for about 20 years. He is so nice. After my trip, I tipped for him $10 and my tour mate (I will tell about her later) tipped for him about $10.
Here I went, My first action that had to buy the ticket. They have three kinds of tickets that are 1 day, three days and seven days. Because It has many places with the long distances If you have more time and want to slowly discovery you can choose the long days packages.
I bought the 1 day package for about $37 (It is so expensive). However, the one thing made me happy that the ticket printed my photo lol.
to be continued….