The Itinerary: Cambodia + Thailand

{map via learnnc.org}

Even if it’s a place I’ve never been or never thought of going, I’m always left inspired by Anna – of Annamatic – a Seoul-based graphic designer. She’s started creating mini guides of basic information for all the places she’s been. (Here’s the link to her Bangkok guide we consulted). Taking a cue from Anna, I thought I’d share our basic itinerary as a way to set the stage for the many posts to come. We loved the route we took, as each leg was an interesting transition to something more developed, and, more importantly, we never back-tracked.

GETTING THERE/AROUND

  1. We flew Korean Air (click here to read about my love affair with that airline): DC [WAS] – Dallas – Seoul – Siem Reap. We looked around a lot, but found the best deal on Orbitz. Total time: 27 hours there, 24.5 return.
  2. Siem Reap, Cambodia: 2 days Angkor Wat (you can buy a 1 or 3 day pass. We opted for 3 ($40US), 2 days and we were templed out), tuk-tuk $12/day to tour us anywhere. We loved the easy to carry, downloadable guide from TravelFish ($5).
  3. Mekong Express – 6 hour bus to Phnom Penh for $11 was a great way to see another side of Cambodia, just be sure to have your guesthouse call ahead to reserve you a seat, as they fill up fast.
  4. Phnom Penh (capitol of Cambodia): tuk-tuks are bigger than in Siem Reap, but we managed to walk most places (but don’t worry, tuk-tuks, motos and taxis will constantly drive up to you asking if you need a ride). We were fans of these free CanBy guides that gave you a good sense of the city.
  5. Fly to Bangkok on Air Asia (the Southwest of Asia). Some flights were as low as $4 (before surcharges), but I think we paid $30 – $40 at most for our flights. 1 hour.
  6. Bangkok, Thailand: 3 Days. Tuk-tuks are more for the tourists here, plus it’s HOT and pollution is horrible, taxis are the way to go (just insist they use the meter), sky train is great (but there are only two lines, with plans to expand), river boats aren’t as scenic as they sound but they do manage to avoid the horrendous traffic in the city. A map with at least some Thai is helpful.
  7. Fly to Phuket on Air Asia (same applies from #5). 1 hour flight, 2-day stay. Sitting at the beach was the perfect way to unwind at the end of a trip. Just note a the price of a taxi doesn’t get you nearly as far in this area, even during low season.

SLEEP– Michelle did a great job booking our lodging (and swore by TripAdvisor when it came to reader reviews and recommendations). Except for our last night in Phuket (beaches), all of our guesthouses were $20 or less a night! Also, note that AC is a necessity when traveling to this part of the world.

  1. Siem Reap: Ei8ght Rooms Guesthouse – friendly and local with great rooftop deck
  2. Phnom Penh: Bright Lotus Guesthouse – prime location with great views (around the corner from FCC)
  3. Bangkok: Lamphu House – spacious rooms hidden back from the main drag
  4. Phuket: Naithonburi Beach Resort – stunning pool and a hop, skip and jump from the beach

NOTES:

  • Cambodia deals in US currency, even ATMs dispense US dollars (not sure how they swung that). It’s a good idea bring lots of $1 bills, especially for the temples and if you want to buy water or any souvenirs. No American coins are used, instead change [bills] is given in Cambodian riel.
  • Monsoon season (when we went) is not as bad as it sounds. It’s hot no matter what time of the year you visit. Monsoon rains usually are short, intense rains (lasting less than an hour) that tend to happen in the afternoon. They’re a nice breather and cool things down. (But no swimming at the beaches because of rip tide).
  • You can get a delicious dinner on the streets of Bangkok for about $0.75. Prices go up significantly in Phuket.
  • Michelle printed a couple maps with English/Thai to our guest houses, which were very helpful when it came to telling our drives where we were going (don’t worry, it still wasn’t easy).
  • Take advantage of the incredible facials and massages! (and so cheap!)
  • Hands together (like in prayer) and a bowed head go a long way to say hello or thank you.

more to come…

5 comments

  • I’m so glad that you wrote about Anna!
    I’m proud to call her my friend. She’s actually the first friend that I made when I came to live in Seoul.
    She’s wonderful and is a fount of information as she too loves to travel le monde entier! Sorry, I’m staying with another great friend, Philippe and he is French! I am now back in Virginia for a couple of weeks before I head to London and Paris to visit family and friends.

    I will now explore YOUR travels and read your take on Asia while sitting in a very cozy kitchen here in Alexandria, VA. It’s great to be in America again!

    Felicia
    http://www.nearandfar.wordpress.com

  • Nice summary Anne!

    No doubt we booked some great guesthouses (thank you tripadvisor!). Also note that these particular guesthouses fill up fast so book early (even in low season most were full when we were there). Even after you’ve made a reservation, you need to email them several days before you arrive to prevent them from giving away your room! Some of them have strict check-in times so make sure you are aware of them.

  • hey, thanks for the shoutout!

    Re: cambodia, I am itching for a return trip. I think it is “gentrifying” a bit from what I’m reading on the web, and this is one place that I really think needs and deserves it. Eager to see how Cambodia will navigating the brave new world of attracting tourists while holding on to cultural identity…

    When in Phnom Penh, I took tuktuks solely to avoid getting run over by them! I couldn’t figure out how to cross the street without streetlights!

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