One Week In Cambodia
Our Suggested 7 Day Cambodia Itinerary
This article should provide you with everything you need to plan your trip to Cambodia, including:
- Recommended places to stay
- Decent tour options
- Some ideas for activities
- And of course, travel information (times to arrive, leave, etc.)
I’ve put this 7 Day Cambodia Itinerary together with the independent wandering traveler in mind. If you’re looking for a little company on the road, though, you may also want to check out our adventures packages. We have a range of consolidated tour options for different days. Not only are they all a rad time, they offer substantial savings for those that want to travel with a group.
Be sure to read to the end of the article so you get a decent idea of the full itinerary! Links will open in a new window to facilitate your research (cheers to you for planning ahead!). It’s probably a good idea to have a notepad next to you, because there are some travel tip gems in here! You should be able to plan your entire trip from this one page.
I have lived in Cambodia for 4 years and I am one of the owners of Mad Monkey Hostels. I’ve personally stayed at every place I’ve recommended 🙂 Hope this helps!
Getting from Bangkok to Siem Reap
To get from Bangkok, Thailand to Siem Reap, Cambodia you have 2 options:
- Fly. Cambodia Angkor Air, Bangkok Airways, and Air Asia offer flights for anywhere between $40 and $80 depending on the season.
- Take the bus. It goes straight from Bangkok to Siem Reap.
I would suggest flying if you can afford it. This will deposit you nicely in Sieam Reap, ready to start your week in Cambodia. The flight only takes about 45 minutes, which leaves more time for your vacation.
If you can’t afford to fly, or simply prefer buses (hey, to each their own…), you can catch the bus you need from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (known as Mo Chit 2 Bus Terminal or Chatuchak Bus Terminal).
The taxi fare to the bus station is around 150 baht from central Bangkok. Tickets cost around 750 Baht per person, but the bus leaves early (7:00 or 9:00 in the morning).
If you are traveling during the high season (October – April) I suggest you buy your bus ticket the day before you want to leave. You can buy straight-through bus tickets from the bus station or a travel agent. You will need the passports of all travelers with you to buy your tickets.
Arrival in Siem Reap
Congratulations, you made it to Siem Reap! We’ll count this as Day 1 of your 7 Day Cambodia Itinerary. You’ve got one week in Cambodia. To make the most of your time, I’d suggest spending 2 days in Siem Reap. This will leave you 5 days for the rest of Cambodia. That’s enough for some beach time. But first things first, let’s find you a place to stay in Siem Reap.
Where to Stay In Siem Reap
Backpacker Accommodations in Siem Reap
The best options for backpackers in Siem Reap are Mad Monkey (I know, I know, but we’ve gotta say it), The Siem Reap Hostel, or One Stop Hostel Siem Reap Apart from these 3 it can be hard to find good quality backpacker accommodations, so book ahead if you can. Book direct on a hostel’s site for the best rates.
Budget Accommodations in Siem Reap
If you’re traveling on a budget but you don’t fancy a busy hostel with a younger crowd, I’d suggest the following guesthouses. They’re listed cheapest first. I’ve personally stayed in all of them and had great experiences.
- Naga Angkor Hotel
- Siem Reap Green Home
- Bloom Garden Guesthouse
- Velkommen Siem Reap
- Hi Siem Reap
- Schein Guest House
Mid Range Accommodations in Siem Reap
Siem Reap has a lot of mid-range options. The prices vary widely. My suggestions would be as follows. Again, they’re based on personal experience.
- Karavansara Retreat: Close to town but far enough away to not be too noisy. They also have apartments to rent, which are perfect for families. I lived there for 6 months and and had zero complaints that whole time. Check out Karavansara Residences
- Siem Reap Villa – Also a good space for families.
- Mulberry Boutique– Boutique and pretty luxurious, but there isn’t a lot going on here socially.
- Royal Crown – A nice hotel, but note that it can get pricey in the high season.
Swanky Accommodations in Siem Reap
If you’re looking to ball out in Siem Reap, you only have a few options. All of the following are luxurious, but expect to pay top dollar.
- Park Hyatt Siem Reap, The best of the best, with prices in excess of $250 / night
- Chateau d’Angkor La Residence
- Borei Angkor Resort & Spa Siem Reap
- Raffles Grand D’ Angkor
- Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa
Siem Reap Itinerary
Okay, so you have 2 days in Siem Reap. You definitely need to see the Angkor Wat temples. Aside from that, I’d recommend taking in whatever tours interest you. To do Angkor Wat properly, do a sunset tour of the temples on the day you arrive. The next day, do the early morning sunrise tour. That’ll check the temples off your list and you’ll see them at their best. There are a lot of temples within Angkor Wat, but here’s a guide to the Top 10 Angkor Temples you should really see. This schedule also leaves you some activity or chilling time on your first and second days.
Day 1 in Siem Reap
Check in at your hotel/hostel. If you’ve taken the bus from Bangkok, you should be arriving in the morning or early afternoon.
- Option 1: Visit the floating villages outside Siem Reap
- Option 2: Do another activity or tour (a full list of recommended Siem Reap tours is available here)
- Option 3: Chill out and relax after your flight/bus ride
Around 3:00 pm head out for a late-day tour of the Angkor Wat temples. This will give you 3 hours for temple exploring and, of course, you’ll catch the sunset. This is a must for any Angkor visitor. To be totally clear: you have not “done” the temples until you’ve had a sunset and/or sunrise tour :
Grab dinner somewhere in town and then hit the Phar’e Circus. This circus performance is awesome and well worth the very reasonable admission charge. It’s great fun for any kids you may have along, and by visiting you will be supporting a great NGO.
If you’re in the mood for a few drinks after, you have plenty of options. The Mad Monkey Rooftop Beach Bar is perfect for the younger crowd or anyone looking to party. If you’re older or looking for a more laid-back night, any of the nice bars in town will suffice. We have a full guide to the best bars of Siem Reap written up. The Angkor Night Market is also worth a visit if you’re passing by.
Want to party? Head to the famous Pub Street Siem Reap where the bars and clubs are open til dawn. You have a choice to make now: how committed are you to sunrise at the temples? Pub Street will suck you in, so if you really want to see the sun rise over Angkor Wat, be sure to sneak back to your room at a decent hour. But we wouldn’t blame you if you end up skipping it for an epic night 🙂
Day 2 in Siem Reap
Very Early Morning
So if you got drunk, forget the Angkor Wat sunrise tour. You already saw the sunset, so don’t sweat it. If you’re made of sterner stuff and you didn’t get drunk, you can head out for your sunrise tour around 5:30 am. This will give you time to take in the sunrise, get all of your photos, and explore the temples for about 5 hours. Or, stay as long as you want, but in the peak of the afternoon it gets really hot and you end up sweating your nuts off. Make sure you take sun protection and lots of water with you.
If you had a lie in because of the drinks you managed to throw down your face last night, there’s good news! You can still head out to the temples. Or, you know, chill by your hotel’s pool.
One thing you do need to do today is book your onward travel to your next destination: Phnom Penh. If you want to see all of the most important sights in Cambodia then you can’t miss Phnom Penh. This is an especially important stop for those interested in the Khmer Rouge period of the country’s history.
Once that’s sorted, take the rest of the day in Siem Reap to enjoy yourself. Take in some tours, wander through the markets, or hang out with other backpackers.
Getting from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
Option 1: Travel on Day 2
You could stay in your Siem Reap Hostel or Hotel tonight, which would mean traveling tomorrow. If you travel tonight, though, you’ll get to Phnom Penh quicker and have more time for sightseeing.
If you want to travel tonight, I would strongly urge you to fly. I would not suggest anyone travels on Cambodian roads at night, either by night bus, minivan, or taxi. The road conditions and lack of lights on the vehicles and the road itself make for very frequent accidents. It’s much safer to fly or to travel by road during the day.
If you want to disregard this advice, there is a night bus from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. The trip takes about 6 hours. A taxi would take about 5 hours. The domestic flight takes about 45 minutes. That time is especially worth saving when you only have a week in Cambodia! If you were hoping for a more scenic trip, there actually isn’t much to see out the bus window. I’d recommend taking the boat down to Phnom Penh instead. This takes a full day (about 8 hours), but it’s a unique experience.
You should be able to book any of these options from your hostel or hotel.
Option 2: Travel on Day 3
If you are in Cambodia during high season (October – April) then my suggestion is to catch the speed boat to Phnom Penh. It will take you across the lake and down the Tonle Sap River, with some stunning views. The journey takes about 8 hours. It’s a few hours longer than the bus ride, but with the added benefit of sitting on top of a boat and watching rural Cambodia glide past. You can book a boat ticket at Mad Monkey Siem Reap or any other decent hotel.
If you are traveling in the off season (May – September) then the boat may not be running. Check before you leave! The boat leaves early, you normally need to be there around 7:30 am (again, check this beforehand). You need to buy your tickets the day before you want to leave. Tickets for the boat are available in most of the travel shops and hotels/hostels in town.
If you prefer the bus, you will still need to be up early. Departure times vary by bus company, but they’re all between 6:30 am and 10:00 am. I wouldn’t recommend leaving any later than 8:00 am. Leaving later than this will put you into Phnom Penh after 2:00 pm, which leaves very little time to do anything. Try and get the 7:00 am bus, this will get you there at 1:00 pm.
Arrival in Phnom Penh
Welcome to the capital city of Cambodia! This city of about 2 million is full of interesting culture and good times to be had. Some backpackers skip it as they zip between more famous destinations, but that’s a mistake. I’ll tell you how to make the most of a stay in Phnom Penh.
Where to Stay in Phnom Penh
Backpacker Accommodations in Phnom Penh
If you’re a backpacker, you should stay near Golden Street (Street 278). It’s the liveliest area at night (often called ‘Phnom Penh’s Khao San Road’). It’s also centrally located for your sightseeing during the day. Some options I’d recommend (again, based on my own experiences):
Mid-Range Accommodations in Phnom Penh
There are many mid-range choices in Phnom Penh.
- One Up Hotel: One of the best in Phnom Penh. It has really great reviews and it’s close to the BKK1 / Golden Street area.
- Quay Hotel Phnom Penh : Your best bet if you want to stay by the riverside
- The Billabong Hotel Phnom Penh : The best option for families.
- Plantation Hotel Phnom Penh : Another good, reliable hotel.
- Patio Hotel Phnom Penh – A nice hotel with an awesome rooftop pool
Splashing Out on Accommodations in Phnom Penh
There’s no shortage of fancy hotels in Phnom Penh if you feel like living the high life. My picks are:
- Naga Hotel : Inside this hotel is the largest casino in Phnom Penh.
- The Governers House Hotel Phnom Penh
- Samsara Villa Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh Itinerary
Day 3 in Phnom Penh
This is only going to be relevant if you either got the night bus or flew in last night. If you opted for the early morning bus or boat from Siem Reap you will not be arriving into Phnom Penh until gone 12:00.
My suggestion is to use the morning time to go out and see the Royal Palace and the National Museum and take a stroll down the Riverside.
If you’re coming in by bus today, you’ll be arriving around 1:00 pm. Whether you’re arriving now or you’ve been around all morning, use the afternoon to go and see the Killing Fields and S21 Prison. These cultural sites are such an important part of the country and its history.
If you have arrived late because you could only get the late morning bus then I would suggest cutting out the Killing Fields, as it is 30 minutes out of town. Instead, go right to S21 Prison. Afterwards, check out the Phnom Penh Markets.
There are many other tours available to help you see the rest of Phnom Penh. I’ve written a separate guide to tours in Phnom Penh that can provide you with lots of ideas for things to squeeze in during your day in the city.
Phnom Penh has fantastic nightlife. You can’t leave without at least seeing some of it.
If you are a backpacker then stay around Golden Street, which is Street 278. The Mad Monkey, Top Banana, The Blue Dog, The White Rabbit and Mini Banana are all close to Golden Street which is where the backpacker bars are. Make sure you take a trip to Club Love. This late night backpacker bar with a dance floor is always busy.
The typical progression of a backpacker’s night in Phnom Penh goes something like this: pints and drinking games in the Rooftop Bar at Mad Monkey, more drinks at Top Banana while you scope out the scene on the street below, and then dancing and buckets at club Love until the sun comes up. Read more about the full nightlife scene for backpackers in our guide to bars in Phnom Penh.
If you are a little older or want to see the red light area (not recommended, for lots of reasons) then hang around the Riverside Area. Keep in mind that if you are here as a sex tourist you won’t be welcome in any decent hostel/hotel, you are perpetuating economic misery for thousands, and you are generally an asshole. For those who just want a change of scenery, though, there are some good bars up and down Riverside. Just stroll and see what catches your eye.
There’s lots to do in Phnom Penh at night besides drink. The city has a pretty good Casino, many movie theatres, and night markets. Take a look at some of our suggested tours and activities by clicking on the link to our destination guide for Phnom Penh.
Getting from Phnom Penh to Kampot
Rise and shine! Your next stop is Kampot, and you’ll need to be on the road around 9:00 am. This will get you into town at around 12:00.
You can book a bus, minivan, or taxi to Kampot from your hostel/hotel or any tour agency. There are several providers and departure times to choose from.
Kampot should 100% be on your hit list for your week in Cambodia. Even if it’s only for a night, it’s a great opportunity to stay by the river and chill out whilst seeing some element of rural small town life.
The great thing about a stay in Kampot is that it gets you into the beach mood en route to the south. It also splits up your journey, so you don’t get stuck spending a whole day in a taxi or bus. There is a full guide for Kampot available on our site if you would like to look at it.
Day 4 in Kampot
In the morning you’ll be traveling to Kampot. There are regular buses running between Phnom Penh and Kampot. If you’re in the mood to splurge a little bit, you can also taxi from Phnom Penh to Kampot for between $40 and $60 depending on the season. The drive takes about 3 hours.
You have a whole host of options for your afternoon in Kampot. See our Kampot tours page for some ideas. My top suggestion would be a trip up Bokor Mountain, some climbing, or even just a chill out by the pool or the river.
Tomorrow you will be leaving for the coast, so you’ve got one day here to make the most of. There are a list of Kampot tours available on this page that will help you decide on what you want to do. If Kampot captures your heart and you want to stay longer (it happens all the time), Mad Monkey run an awesome 4-day tour called the Kampot Kamikaze tour. It’s low cost and awesome fun. Accommodations at Mad Monkey Kampot are included in the package.
There’s a whole list of places to stay provided in our guide pages for Kampot – please click on the link to get more information about good places to stay in Kampot.
Getting from Kampot to the Coast
Take a bus (3 hours) or a taxi (2 hours) to Sihanoukville. This is a city of Cambodia’s south coast. From here you’ll have a number of options. You can take a full 2 days on the beach to chill out and relax, or if you’re feeling active you can do some exploring whilst you are there.
We have a full Guide to Southern Cambodia written up for you already. It will help you choose a place to stay. It also gives lots of details on the various island you can visit from Sihanoukville. Cambodia’s islands are gorgeous and relatively untouched; we’d recommend checking out the guide and hopefully the islands themselves!
Coast Option 1: Sihanoukville Centre
If you want to party and get messy stay in the center of Sihanoukville as this is where the partying goes on, keep in mind that if you want quality beach time this is not the place to be. If you are a 21 year old that wants to get laid this will be great, but if you are a 21 year old that wants to get laid and enjoy the beach then we suggest you head off to either the Islands or to Otres Beach.
Where to stay in Sihanoukville Town Centre
Backpacker Accommodations in Sihanoukville
The Monkey Republic is the centre of the universe for backpackers in Sihanoukville (no relation to Mad Monkey Hostels, for the record). We know the guys at Monkey Republic very well and we highly recommend them. They also have an incredible property on Koh Rong called Monkey Island. We have a backpacker hostel/resort on Koh Rong Samloem, the next island over, too. Have a look at Mad Monkey Koh Rong Samloem for more island inspiration.
If you want to stay put in Sihanoukville, though, there are also plenty of hostel options up and down Serendipity Road (the same street Monkey Republic is on). It usually isn’t necessary to book in advance because there are so many options available.
Mid-Range Accommodations in Sihanoukville
Lots of mid-range options in Sihanoukville, too. Try any of these hotels in the city centre. They’re all pretty good quality and offer a good standard of service:
Swanky Accommodations in Sihanoukville
There aren’t many fancy accommodation options in central Sihanoukville. If you’re looking to really treat yourself I’d recommend heading out to the islands or Otres Beach. If you just want a hotel in Sihanoukville with high standards, I would recommend these ones.
Coast Option 2: Otres Beach
If you have a few days and want a beach getaway, but you also want the option to go into town to party in the evenings, Otres Beach is the place for you. This beautiful 10km stretch of beach is scattered with bars, hotels, and hostels. The area has a pretty decent chilled out hippy vibe. The nightlife on Otres can be just as good as in town.
Where to Stay in Otres Beach
Backpacker Accommodations in Otres Beach
For backpackers the only place I can honestly recommend from personal experience is Done Right. It’s run by some awesome Scandinavian guys. In my opinion no other place on the beach designed for backpackers can compete with this one. They don’t have online booking and the facilities are really basic, but it’s the best on the beach. If you can not get in there, then there are lots of other cheap digs available on the beach – just walk along the shore until something catches your eye.
Mid-Range Accommodations in Otres Beach
- Otres Beach Resort is decent. It wouldn’t be my own first choice, but it’s fairly priced and family-friendly.
- Mein Mein is also okay, though nothing spectacular.
Overall there aren’t many mid-range options on Otres Beach. You’re probably best to either take it down a gear and rough it in a backpacker place, or treat yourself to one of the nicer resorts (they usually aren’t that much more expensive).
Swanky Accommodations in Otres Beach
“Swanky” on this beach is not that swanky. There are no major resorts on this beach at the moment (which is part of its charm). But if you have a few bucks in your pocket, I would recommend any of these:
- Tamu – The best on Otres beach hands down, and not that pricey
- Moonflower – Also very good
- The Secret Garden – Very good, and notably gay-friendly
Coast Option 3: The Islands
Cambodia’s islands are often compared to the Thai islands a few decades back, before tourism took over. The beaches are pristine, the atmosphere is laid-back, and there’s lots of untouched land to explore. You have a few islands to choose from for your visit.
Most backpackers you ask for advice are going to recommend either Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloem. Both of these are well served with fast boats to the mainland. There aren’t that many accommodation options on either, though. In high season (October – April) to book ahead. Otherwise, you’ll wind up sleeping on the beach. That may sound romantic, but in reality the sand flies will eat you alive – not pleasant.
There are some other Cambodian island choices if you want to get off the beaten track. Again, we’d suggest that you take a look at our guides for the islands to learn more.
Where to Stay in the Islands
I have a few genuine recommendation for each of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem. As always, these are based on my personal experience. There are other accommodation options out there, so if you’re not convinced by my tips then do a little more research.
Koh Rong: the busier, party island
Go here if you are a “backpacker’s backpacker.” There is a party scene on Koh Rong Samloem’s Saracen Bay beach as well, but I will be honest: it’s lower-key. By comparison the backpacker scene on the Island of Koh Rong is where it’s at. You can hunt down a good party on Koh Rong Samloem off the beaten path at Mad Monkey Hostel. The scene is much more readily available on Koh Rong though.
I personally would always stay at Monkey Island (no relation to Mad Monkey) when I am on Koh Rong. I know it’s a cool place and they treat their staff very well. The guy that runs it, Paddy, is also awesome. Go here if you can. If you can’t, then there are enough choices on the island for you to find somewhere to sleep.
Koh Rong Samloem: unspoiled beauty and relaxed vibes
Koh Rong Samloem is a slice of paradise. Visitors often end up extending their stay way beyond the planned number of nights. This small island has a few separate bays, each with its own feel. The most populated one is Saracen Bay. There are several hotels along the beach here but nothing too lively goes on int he evenings. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but if you get stuck here then [eafl id=6620 name=”Saracen Bay Resort” text=”Saracen Bay Resort”] is your best bet for accommodations.
Across the island to the west lies Lazy Beach – a single resort on a stunning stretch of beach. This property faces the open sea, and it’s a great place to hang out. It’s possible to walk here from Saracen Bay, and the route is really nice. Lazy Beach is actually one of my favourite places to stay in ALL of Cambodia, and that’s saying something! Needs and tastes differ, though, so double check against other options.
Finally, of course, there’s our own Mad Monkey Koh Rong Samloem. We’re located in our own private bay, north of Saracen Bay. If you click the link, you’ll see pictures and videos from our hostel, and they pretty much speak for themselves. The location is fantastic, and it’s secluded. You feel like you’re on your own private island, for the price of a dorm bed. There’s always a great party on in the bar at night. We have no wifi, so no one is glued to their smartphone. Lots of fast friends are made, and the overall atmosphere is pretty magical. It is definitely worth considering if you’re looking for a unique island experience.
Onward Travel from the Coast
So your 7 days in Cambodia have almost come to an end. You’ve seen and experienced a hell of a lot. Hopefully you even picked up a nice suntan. Most travelers are headed either back to Bangkok or onwards to Vietnam from here. Here’s my travel advice:
Sihanoukville has an airport. It’s possible to fly from there to Bangkok. Make sure you book your flight ahead to be safe. You could also taxi from Sihanoukville up to Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh has more flight options, including regular routes to Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.
You can take a bus from Sihanoukville all the way back to Bangkok, but that means you’ll spend your entire seventh day traveling. The first leg of your journey will be a day bus to Phnom Penh. This takes 4 or 5 hours.
If you’re headed to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, we have a full guide on getting the bus to Ho Chi Minh from Phnom Penh. It takes about 7 hours and you will arrive at midnight. Be sure to have a look at our guide to Ho Chi Minh and make sure you have a place to stay in Ho Chi Minh booked before you leave.
If you’re off to Bangkok you will need to get the bus to Phnom Penh and then connect to a Bangkok Bus. This is going to take you 14 hours so you will arrive back in Bangkok absolutely shagged out the next day. Take a look at our guide to Bangkok for lots of helpful information.
Here is the thing – when you total all of the bus trips up they come to about $50 to $60. If you book in advance you can fly for the same price. Check these airlines for rates and schedules:
That’s all she wrote! As I said at the outset, 7 days really is not long enough in Cambodia. You need at least 14 days and preferably 21 days to really get the most out of this amazing country. We’ve taken the time to put together a similar guide for a 14 Day Cambodia Itinerary. If you check it out, I think you’ll be well tempted to extend your trip.
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