9 Day Cambodia Itinerary – The Ultimate Trip

Cambodia is one our favourite countries in Southeast Asia. It’s got great food, amazing temples, and some seriously beautiful beaches. We’ve put together an epic 9 day itinerary, so keep reading!
Cambodia’s enchanting temples. Photo: James Wheeler | Unsplash

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Nestled between its larger neighbors Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia is often seen as a small stopover on the infamous Southeast Asia backpacker trail…. But we disagree!

Home to ancient civilizations, idyllic white sand beaches, and delicious food, you could easily spend weeks in Cambodia without getting bored. It’s a country rich in culture and beauty, whose tragic past left scars on the land and people. 

We’ve put together the ultimate 9-day Cambodia itinerary, using our personal experience and recommendations from fellow travelers. So, if you’re interested in discovering what Cambodia has to offer, keep reading below! 

Day 1: Arrive and explore Phnom Penh

It’s your first day and time to start your Cambodian adventure. We’re assuming that you’ve flown into Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, but if you’ve flown to Siem Reap or arrived in Siem Reap overland from Thailand, feel free to start there and follow this itinerary backward!

From the airport, you’ll want to make your way into the city centre to check in to your accommodation and freshen up. We’d recommend either taking an airport taxi or a tuk-tuk as they’ll bring you directly to where you’re staying. Both options have a fixed rate depending on where you’re going in the city, but if you’re concerned, you can ask for help at the arrivals information desk. 

Phnom Penh’s beautiful pagodas. Photo: S.Ratanak | Unsplash

What to see and do in Phnom Penh

As Cambodia’s thriving capital, Phnom Penh has lots to see and do. On your first day, head to the riverfront, where the mighty Mekong merges with the Toné Sap and Bassac Rivers. It’s a touristy area, with cafes, restaurants, and bars lining the streets opposite the boulevard.

Walk along the riverfront, until you reach Royal Palace Park and the Royal Palace. It costs $10 to go inside, but visitor hours are short and sweet (8 am – 10:30 am and 2 pm to 5 pm) so you’ll need to time your visit well. Once you’re finished, head next door to the National Museum of Cambodia, a treasure trove of Khmer art, sculptures, and artefacts. 

As night approaches, head to the Phnom Penh Night Market (open Friday – Sunday from 5 pm) to try some local snacks and do some shopping. 

Where to eat

You’ll encounter countless street food stalls selling barbecue all over the city. These are a great choice as they’re not only cheap but delicious too! If you’re after something a little special for your first night, then head to Mealea Restaurant, for Cambodian fine dining in a restored French colonial building. It’s on the pricier side, but the inside is absolutely stunning and the food is great. 

Where to stay

$$$ – Penh House Hotel

$$ – Blue Lime Phnom Penh

$ – Mad Monkey Hostel Phnom Penh

Day 2: Phnom Penh

It’s not quite time to leave Phnom Penh yet, and you’ve got a pretty intense day ahead of you. Today, you’re going to be learning about the Cambodian Genocide, which took place under the leadership of the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. While it’s not an easy subject to think about, as visitors, it’s incredibly important to learn about Cambodia’s history to get a better insight into the country. 

Monks at the Choeung Ek Killing Fields. Photo: Jos Dielis | Flickr

What to see and do in Phnom Penh

Start the day by heading to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This was a huge detention centre and home to the most well-known interrogation centre in the country. Entry costs $5 for adults, plus an additional $5 for the audio guide. 

Continue on to the Choeung Ek Killing Fields by taxi or tuk-tuk. It’s roughly 9.3 miles (15 km) outside of the city centre. Tickets cost $6 including the audio guide which is the best way to learn about the site. This is where thousands of prisoners from Tuol Sleng were brought to be executed, and even today, you can feel a somber presence over the whole area. 

Make your way back into the city and to the Russian Market to find lunch and browse the hectic stalls. Inside, the central food court has everything from smoothies to noodles. After you’ve eaten, walk the short distance to the Daughters of Cambodia, a boutique, nail salon, and cafe (the cafe is currently closed due to covid). It’s run by an organization that helps women caught up in the sex industry find an alternative way of living. Grab some souvenirs or get a mani-pedi!

Where to eat

Tonight, head to Bassac Lane, a narrow and trendy lane, lined with bars, restaurants, and pubs. It’s got everything from Greek to Indian food, but for amazing cocktails, head to Cay Bar. 

Day 3 + 4: Koh Rong

Travel time: 

Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville – 4 – 6 hours

Sihanoukville to Koh Rong Community Pier – 40 minutes

It’s time to head to the coast to spend a couple of days living the island life. You’ve got a long day of travelling ahead, so we recommend waking up early and leaving with plenty of time. There are several ways to get to Sihanoukville (taxi, bus, mini-van), you can check them out here and decide which is best for you. Sihanoukville is just a passing stop on the way to Koh Rong, and in our opinion, it’s nothing special. So, it’s best to just grab some lunch and then head to Ochheuteal Pier to catch a speed ferry

It’s important to note that there are several ports on Koh Rong. If you’re staying in the main tourist area, then you will need to catch a boat to Koh Rong Community Pier. Otherwise, double-check with your hotel.

Why not try scuba diving while you’re in Koh Rong? Photo: Aaron Bradford | Flickr

What to see and do in Koh Rong

Koh Rong is the ultimate island paradise, with powdery white sand beaches, turquoise waters, and lush jungle. While you’re there, soak up the sun on White Beach; go zip lining through the jungle at High Point Adventure Park; or take a boat trip to discover the best snorkeling spots. 

Whilst Koh Rong has a bit of a reputation as a party island (especially the Koh Touch/White Beach area), it’s a large enough island that you can find quieter areas like Long Set Beach. 

Where to eat

We’re going to level with you here, Koh Rong is by no means a culinary mecca. But, there are some places to get good food. Our top picks are Bamboo Pizza and Enocafe close to the pier (authentic Italian cuisine) and White Pearl Beach (Thai cuisine) over on Long Set Beach. 

Where to stay

$$$ – The Secret Garden Koh Rong (Pagoda Beach – arrive into Pagoda Pier )

$$ – BeachWalk Koh Rong (Long Set Beach)

$ – Nest Beach Club (Long Set Beach)

Special mention –  If you’re looking for an authentic experience outside of the norm, stay at Firefly Guesthouse. It’s far from the main tourist area in a small fishing village on the east of the island. The guest houses are right on the water, and your local host, Mr Hun, is a former chef who will cook you some amazing Khmer food!

Day 5: Kampot

Today you’re going to make your way to Kampot, a beautiful port city and Cambodia’s former capital during French rule. The city sits in the shadow of Bokor Mountain, and despite its large size, there’s a more laid-back vibe. 

Travel time: 

Koh Rong Community Pier to Sihanoukville – 40 minutes

Sihanoukville to Kampot – 2 – 3 hours

According to Gecko Routes, there are several ways to get to Kampot from Sihanoukville. But, the best way for convenience is to get a taxi (around $40). If you’re on a tight budget, there are two bus companies that service the route – Champa Mekong and CTT Transportation. These aren’t terribly reliable, but tickets are between $7- $8 only. 

Take a farm tour of Kampot’s number one export – Black Pepper! Photo: Marie | Flickr

What to see and do in Kampot

Once you arrive at Kampot, start by checking into your hotel and grabbing a quick lunch. After you’re finished, head to La Plantation (45 minutes away) to join a free guided tour and tasting on their farm. La Plantation is a spice farm overlooking Secret Lake, with the world’s first Pepper Mill Museum and a restaurant. 

If you’re hungry, stick around and get an early dinner at La Plantation Restaurant. It’s a little pricey by Cambodian standards ($6 – $9 a meal) but the dishes are made using the peppers grown on the farm and there’s a lovely view. For something out of the ordinary, order the vanilla red Kampot pepper ice cream or the lime red Kampot pepper sorbet. 

Afterward, make your way back to Kampot and head to the Lotus Pond for a scenic stroll at dusk before heading out for drinks/calling it a night. 

What to eat

Luckily, there’s no shortage of fantastic restaurants and bars in Kampot. If you didn’t get food at La Plantation, just head to the area on the right side of Entanou Bridge for heaps of choices. We love Ercan Noodles by the river. They have hand-pulled noodles and dumplings, with options for vegans and vegetarians!

Where to stay

$$$ – RiverTree Villa & Resort (a little outside of the centre, but absolutely gorgeous)

$$ – Hotel Old Cinema

$ – Monkey Republic Kampot

Day 6: Kampot 

Kampot’s famous durian roundabout. Photo: James Antrobus | Flickr

What to see and do

Today is the chance for either an action-packed day or a laid-back day exploring the town. If you want to slow down a bit, admire the French colonial architecture south of the Old Market; take a swim in the pool and enjoy brunch at Hotel Old Cinema; then check out contemporary art at Kampot Art Gallery.

For something faster-paced, rent a motorbike or hire a tuk-tuk to take you to Bokor National Park (around one hour). The park is home to an eerie abandoned colonial-era resort, a giant buddha statue, and has amazing views. 

In the early evening, hop onto a sunset cruise down the Kampot River. There are several boats running tours and they usually cost around $5 including a free drink. Before you hop on, make sure you know what the vibe is, some boats are for partying and some are for relaxing. They usually all serve food (at an additional cost) so you can enjoy dinner on the cruise.

Day 7 – 8: Siem Reap 

It’s time to head to Siem Reap, home to ancient Angkor Wat. It’s a long way from Kampot, so you’ll need to take a taxi back to Sihanoukville and get a flight into Siem Reap. It’s possible to take a direct bus, but since we’re on a tight schedule it’s not the most practical choice. 

Travel time: 

Kampot to Sihanoukville – 2 – 3 hours

Sihanoukville to Siem Reap – 1 hour

Pub street in action. Photo: Hslo | Flickr

What to see and do

Once you’ve landed in Siem Reap, check into your hotel and freshen up. Then, it’s time to explore the city on foot. Head to the Old Market for souvenirs then take a scenic stroll along the Siem Reap River (bring mosquito repellent!). As the sun sets, head to Pub Street for food or check out one of the city’s many night markets. Angkor Night Market is the most well-known. 

Get an early night, because tomorrow, you’re waking up early to head to the iconic Angkor Wat temple for the sunrise. The park opens at 5 am with day tickets costing $37. If you can, try to get your tickets the day before to avoid any catastrophes. Spend the day exploring the various temples in the complex (Ta Prohm is a personal favourite), then head back to Siem Reap for dinner. 

What to eat

Siem Reap has everything from street-side dining to high-end restaurants. Aside from snacking at night markets, we recommend Khmer Kitchen (they have two locations – one at Pub Street and one at Old Market). Their fish amok is a must-try as well as the Khmer curry. 

Where to stay

$$$ – Koulen Hotel

$$ – The Nature

$ – Mad Monkey Hostel Siem Reap

Day 9: Fly Home

The ancient statues at the Angkor Wat Complex. Photo: Flowcomm | Flickr

Sadly, it’s time to head home. Since Siem Reap has an international airport, we recommend flying out from there if possible. If you need to fly out from Phnom Penh, either take an internal flight or travel the 5 – 6 hours overland from Siem Reap.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, this little taste of Cambodia has shown you just how amazing of a country it is! If you’ve got some suggestions to add to our itinerary feel free to leave a comment below.

Otherwise, check out our ultimate guide to visiting Kuala Lumpur if you’re continuing your travels through southeast Asia!


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