Cambodia is a great destination for taking a road trip as it offers a unique mix of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and modern conveniences. The country's infrastructure has improved greatly in recent years, making it easier and more accessible for travelers to explore. With its diverse landscapes ranging from tropical beaches to rolling hills and dense forests, there is plenty of scenery to admire while driving.
One of the highlights of a road trip in Cambodia is the opportunity to visit the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, one of the largest religious monuments in the world. These temples, dating back to the 12th century, are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and are considered a symbol of Cambodia's rich cultural heritage. A road trip is the perfect way to see the temples and their surroundings at your own pace, stopping at various points to take in the beauty and history of the area.
In addition to the temples, a road trip in Cambodia provides the chance to discover the local culture and cuisine. With its strong French colonial influences, Cambodia offers a unique blend of flavors and ingredients that are not found elsewhere in Southeast Asia. On a road trip, you can stop at local markets and street food stalls to try traditional dishes like amok, a type of curry, or prahok, a fermented fish paste.
Driving through Cambodia also provides a glimpse into the country's rural areas, where traditional ways of life are still prevalent. With its friendly and welcoming locals, a road trip in Cambodia is a great opportunity to meet new people, learn about their customs, and experience the country's hospitality firsthand.
In conclusion, a road trip in Cambodia is a great way to experience the country's unique combination of natural beauty, cultural heritage, and modern conveniences. From ancient temples to delicious cuisine, from lush landscapes to friendly locals, there is something for everyone in Cambodia.
A must-see sightseeing attraction during your trip around Cambodia is, of course, the capital - Phnom Penh. Among the most interesting highlights, you'll find here the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda constructed at the beginning of the 20th century. The capital is also full of museums (National Museum, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum) and markers where you can find a variety of items.
While travelling around Cambodia, you shouldn't limit yourself to a tour around the capital. An equally interesting place to visit is Siem Reap located in the north-western part of the country. The town has gained fame thanks to the local Angkor temple complex. Angkor Wat is considered the most important temple that can be found even on the Cambodian flag.
If you want to familiarise yourself with the local culture and customs, choose Kampot, Battambang, or Kompong Cham. You'll have an opportunity to watch the everyday life of residents and admire colonial architecture. For some, a great advantage will be the fact that these places aren't crowded by tourists.
Those who dream about some relaxing time on the beach and bathing in warm water should visit one of the Cambodian resorts. Among the most notable ones, you'll find Sihanoukville, a resort that can boast a few sandy beaches and restaurants serving local delicacies. An indisputable highlight of this place is the tropical islands that impress tourists with their white sand and turquoise water.
Suggested Road Trips in Cambodia
Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: This is a popular road trip that takes you through the heart of Cambodia, from the bustling capital city of Phnom Penh to the ancient temples of Siem Reap. Along the way, you can stop at the stunning Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, and visit local villages to see traditional Cambodian life up close. The highlight of this road trip is, of course, Angkor Wat, the stunning temple complex considered one of the world's greatest wonders
Coastal road trip from Sihanoukville to Kep: This road trip takes you along Cambodia's stunning southern coast, from the bustling beach town of Sihanoukville to the charming seaside village of Kep. Along the way, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Gulf of Thailand, stop at pristine white-sand beaches, and visit local markets and seafood stalls to try delicious fresh seafood.
Battambang to Banteay Chhmar: This road trip takes you through rural Cambodia, from the charming colonial town of Battambang to the remote temple complex of Banteay Chhmar. Along the way, you can stop at rural villages and see traditional Cambodian life up close, as well as visit local temples and marvel at the stunning natural scenery. This road trip is perfect for those looking to escape the crowds and experience Cambodia's rural heartland.
Many tourists coming to Cambodia opt for travelling by public transport. Cambodia is full of buses, minibuses, and the famous tuk-tuks that are at your disposal. Motorcycles and scooters are also of high popularity.
However, if you value full freedom and independence, it's worth considering renting a car. You should remember that only the main roads are well-maintained, whereas when it comes to the less frequented places these are mostly characterised by gravel and dirt roads.
If you opt for a rented car despite all inconveniences, direct your steps to the car rental companies situated at international airports. The best option will be to choose a larger 4x4 vehicle that will ensure you a smooth experience in more difficult road conditions.
Cambodia follows right-hand traffic, and the required document that you have to carry is an international driver's licence. While driving a car, it's worth staying extra cautious as native motorists break even the most basic traffic regulations.
When taking a road trip in Cambodia, it's important to keep a few things in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable journey:
Plan your route: Research the roads and highways in advance, as some may be in poor condition or have limited signage. It is also advisable to bring a map, GPS device, and a backup power source for electronics.
Rent a reliable vehicle: Rent a reliable vehicle with good tires and brakes, and make sure it has air conditioning if traveling during the hot season.
Respect road rules: Follow local road rules, such as speed limits and traffic signals, to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
Prepare for cultural differences: Be aware of cultural differences and customs, such as etiquette for interacting with locals, and dress modestly in rural areas.
Be mindful of road conditions: Be prepared for poor road conditions, including potholes, narrow roads, and flooding during the rainy season.
Respect the environment: When traveling through rural areas, it's important to respect the local environment and wildlife, and not litter or disturb the natural landscape.
Be prepared for emergencies: Make sure to have a plan in case of breakdowns or other emergencies, and keep your phone charged and a map on hand in case of GPS issues. It's also advisable to carry a basic first aid kit and plenty of water and snacks.
The best time of year for taking a road trip in Cambodia depends on personal preference and the specific regions you plan to visit.
For a dry and sunny road trip, the best time is from November to March, when the weather is dry and temperatures are relatively cool. During this time, the roads are in good condition and there is less chance of rain-related road closures or difficulties.
However, if you prefer to avoid the crowds and the heat, the best time to visit Cambodia is from June to August, when the monsoon season brings heavy rains to the country. Although road conditions may be more challenging during this time, the scenery is lush and green, and there are fewer tourists, making it a great time for a more peaceful road trip experience.
Overall, it is important to research the specific regions you plan to visit, as weather and road conditions can vary greatly depending on the time of year.
The cost of a road trip in Cambodia can vary greatly depending on your travel style and preferences.
In terms of accommodation, there are many options available to suit different budgets. Hostels and guesthouses are affordable and can cost around $5-10 per night. Mid-range hotels can cost around $20-50 per night, and luxury hotels can cost upwards of $100 per night.
Food and drink in Cambodia is generally quite affordable, with many traditional Cambodian dishes available at reasonable prices. You can expect to pay around $2-5 for a basic meal at a local restaurant or street food stall, and around $10-20 for a more upscale dining experience.
When it comes to transportation, renting a car can be a good option for a road trip in Cambodia. Rental car prices can vary depending on the type of car you choose and the rental company you use. Generally, you can expect to pay around $25-50 per day to rent a basic car, with prices increasing for more luxurious or high-end options.
In addition to car rental, you can also consider using public transportation to get around. The bus and train networks in Cambodia are extensive and affordable, with fares usually ranging from $1-5 per journey.
Overall, the cost of a road trip in Cambodia will depend on your travel style and the type of activities you plan to undertake. However, as a relatively affordable destination, Cambodia can be a great option for travelers on a budget.
Here are some guidebooks and road maps that may be helpful for a road trip in Cambodia:
"Cambodia (Lonely Planet)" by Lonely Planet. This guidebook provides an in-depth overview of Cambodia's history, culture, and attractions and practical information for travelers, such as accommodation and restaurant recommendations.
"Cambodia: The Bradt Travel Guide" by Nick Ray. This guidebook covers Cambodia's history, culture, and natural beauty, with a focus on eco-tourism and sustainable travel.
"Cambodia Insight Guide" by Insight Guides. This guidebook is produced by Insight Guides and provides a detailed overview of Cambodia's attractions and activities, including national parks, cultural sites, and adventure sports.
For road maps, you can check out the "Cambodia Road Map" by ITM Maps, which provides detailed maps of the country's roads, highways, and major attractions. You can also find online maps from Google Maps or other online mapping services.
Remember to always double-check information from different sources and to take note of any changes or updates to road conditions or attractions. Additionally, it's important to keep in mind that Cambodia is a developing country with limited infrastructure, and road conditions may not be as good as those in more developed countries.