I’ve recently been obsessing on visiting Cambodia and this is just making the obsession worse!
It’s definitely worth a trip. The temples are really incredible—and there are so many of them. The people are really nice. We only visited Siem Reap, and there is a lot of construction going on. I suspect in 10 years it’s going to be quite different.
This is my 4th year living in Cambodia, thought I’ve lived thirty years in East and SE Asia. It’s a little strange to read articles like this. Everything he paid to see in a tour is just the furniture in the room for me. But even after 30 years, I still see something at least once a week that absolutely floors me. No matter how long you live out here, you’ll never see or experience it all.
Siem Reap is quickly heading up market. Rents are going through the roof, and older buildings are being torn down and replaced with more expensive buildings.
I do suggest that if you go to Cambodia to take a River Cruise – there are lots of sunset cruises on the lake, or river cruises in Phnom Penh on the Mekong or the Tonle Sap. I also recommend visiting Kampot, and rent motor bikes and ride up to Bokor Moutain which has fantastic views. Kampot is small and quiet and has a lot of great restaurants and bars. Nice expat scene going on there. You can take boat trips there as well. At the right time of year, on the return trip after sundown, the noise of the boat will trip off a rolling wave of fireflies – whole trees light up at a time until the boat passes and they go dark again and then the boat tips off more trees. It’s an unforgettable experience.
And do try to visit Laos. Laos is one of the greatest places in the world, and a real contrast to the noise and bustle of Cambodia.
I would second Kampot and Bokor Hill Station. I was there before the road was repaved and before construction at the top had begun, but the old French ruins at the top remain; another place that it would be nice to see before it is fully developed (actually, a quick look at tripadvisor suggests it may already be too late).
The church is still relatively untouched, but Sokha has done work to the hotel, it now no longer looks like a ruin so much as a plain concrete shell with no doors or windows. It’s a lot safer than before but not exactly beautiful…
It’s still worth going there because of the view from the wall behind the hotel. You have to walk right up to the wall and there is a 300 foot drop with an amazing view. Actually, there is a little hill behind the church – scramble up the bit of path – the view is almost as good as behind the hotel.
Sokha plans on developing the entire plateau. Their first master plan never got off the ground but they are working on a new master plan. Let’s hope it won’t be as ugly as the Casino they’ve already built up there.
If you rent a moto, it’s nice to start around 9am before the heat hits. The drive up and down the mountain is fantastic. It’s an hour long drive up switchbacks cutting through rainforrest. You can hear monekys and birds as you drive. Take your time and enjoy. You’ll be back to Kampot in time for lunch. It’s a very relaxing way to spend the morning.
Oh, one last tip. If you rent a moto, be sure to fill up the tank before you leave, You’ll use nearly a full tank to get up and down the mountain and no place to fill up, except a tourist trap near the giant sitting buddha.
I can only imagine. We spent two weeks in Cambodia (after a month in Vietnam) and every day was fascinating. But yeah, construction was going on everywhere.
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