Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sianoukville, Kep… All MUST sees for first timers or short time travelers to Cambodia, how about giving a try to unique destinations yet to become popular? If you would like to stay away from the crowds, yet feel the authentic vibe of the countryside lifestyle, I have gathered for you five unconventional Cambodian roads stops to discover.
※See geographical Google Maps references at the bottom※
Private Taxi：Rate to be negotiated (approx. 60US$ )
Bus: ( US$ 5~8 Tickets ) Available on site or online at BookMeBus
Motor-bike Rental: Available at (1)Mekong Hotel ($6), (2)Mekong Sunrise ($5) or (3)Lazy Mekong Daze ($3)
In the morning before leaving for Memot, make sure to check out the sunrise from one of the bridges, either the "Rossey" and "Kisona Bridge" or the bamboo bridge in Kampong Cham. On your journey you should see several plantation of cashews, rubber trees, coconut, mangos and more!! Arrived in Memot, it's exploration time! Check out the local market to enjoy the organic and biological locally produced goods and help the local economy!
Coconuts, Cashews and Mangos
Shared Taxi： US$ 2.0~2.25
Private Taxi: US$ 60 *Price influenced by departure time/ public holidays* know more online at BookMeBus
Bus : US$ 4~5 Direction Ho Chi Minh City Available on site or online at BookMeBus
Minibuses: US$ 1.5
Motor-bike Rental: Approx. US$ 7/Day: Fastest option, but this might be a bumpy ride!
Prey Veng is very much the authentic countryside life in Cambodia and is usually more of transit spot than an attraction. However, it had a key role in the liberation of Cambodia from the Khmer Rouge as its one of first area freed by Vietnam towards the end of the war. Some tour guides based in Phnom Penh with connections in Prey Leng offer to meet war veterans and to act as interpreters over a cup of coffee or a Tiger beer!
Lastly make sure to watch the sunset on the 2KM long Neak Loeung Bridge at the end of the day for complete satisfaction and memorable Instagram posts before going back to Phnom Penh or carrying on to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam!
Shared Taxi：US$ 4~5 ※（front seat negotiable US$ 20)
Private Taxi: US$ 90 *Price influenced by departure time/ public holidays* know more online at BookMeBus
Mini-Bus: US$ 6~7/ passenger
Motor-bike Rental : US$7~10 ※Recommended not to get models below 250CC
Formerly belonging to the Kingdom on Thailand before the French Indochina and later Kingdom of Cambodia, the Anlong Veng in the Oddar Meanchey province is surrounded by the steep Dangrek Mountains. The remote region enjoyed loose government control until the end the the 1990s. Beyond being the former stronghold of the Khmer Rouge, Anlong Veng city is rather famous for hosting the grave of the infamous Pol Pot as well as many other damned souls...
Gorgeous humid forest
However it now coexists with Pre-Angkorian heritage temples, and its mixed cultural heritage if definitely rich and exploring it with a local might be the best way to maximize the experience. Beware of stepping out of official road, as landmine still poison the jungle and soils!
Shared taxi: US$3.5
Private Taxi: $60 Available on site or online at BookMeBus
Bus: US$ 4~7 Available on site or online at BookMeBus
SPECIAL ※Bullet boats 3 .5H Not running in dry season (December to April)
Kampong Chnnang is a turning table between Kampong Thom province to the North, Kampong Speu to the South, Kampong Cham to the East, and Pursat province to the West.
The road from Phnom Penh to Kampong Chhnang has a lot to offer for temple lovers or photographers looking for panoramic shot of the Cardamom Mountains. For a short-detour, visit Phnom San Touch popular with locals and tourists for its beautiful flowers, wild jungle and the exclusive view of the Tonle Sap lake. Before night time, let a professional English guide take you to several sacred rock structures and stones, then join a Khmer Folk storytelling session taking place around a bonfire! That's the way to refresh your mind and forget about life back home!
※From Phnom Penh on the way to Kampong Chhnang, make sure to stop at the ruins of Udong, where maint kings where crowned, as well as its newest additions. Accessible by moto-taxi for a quick tour, you can get back on the highway grabing a next bus direction Kampong Chhnang
Shared Taxi：US$ 5 shared taxi
Private taxi: US$ 90 *Price influenced by departure time/ public holidays* know more online at BookMeBus
Bus: US$ 4.50~ 5
If you are not a gem digger (or even if you are!) Pailin has a lot to offer! From its vibrant city center still booming from the reign of the Khmer Rouge for its precious gem stones until today, Pailin's beauty id first and foremost in its surrounding nature. The Sangkat O'Chras, O'Eb resort/reserve attracts explorers and treats you well once your reach its pristine waterfall ! Rest your feet half-immersed sitting on the river bed made of wide flat rocks polished by the ages in this natural waterfall.
(Top Left) Amber Cave opening (bottom left) mountain view (right)
※Pailin formerly belonging to Battambang province (independent since 2001), but between both areas lies the lesser know Phnom Sampeu, a mountain top temple, which has a memorial set up with skulls and bones of Khmer Rouge victims from the killing caves is also in the area.
I hope you feel like giving a try to one of these (5) unconventional stops when visiting Cambodia's countryside. It is full of adventures, anecdotes, surprises and memorable encounters! I must say that with the language barrier a single slip or misunderstanding in transportation or transiting, can take you in a long way, in the WRONG way...on a bumpy road!
My best advise to you, in order to maximize your time is to give a try to local tour guides. Most of them are young, passionate, speak English fluently and cannot wait to show something else than traditional circuits in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap areas. In fact, sharing a meal or a drink with a tour guide has been one of the most authentic and human part of my stay last time; they are voices of the Cambodian people.
Strap your boots, your backpack, and let the adventure begin!