Flying- There is an airport here so you have the option to fly in.
Bussing- If you’re coming from Siem Reap then your cheapest option is the bus. Patience is your best friend here. A van will pick you up from your hostel and from there, you’ll pick up others along the way before you’re all dropped at the actual bus. If the bus isn’t full, then even though you bought a ticket for the 8:30 am bus, you might not leave until the the 10am bus. Like I said, patience. This isn’t going to be a coach bus. Air is a maybe. Our bus broke down about a half hour outside Siem Reap and we had to wait in 90+ degree heat for about 90 minutes for a new bus to come.
The bus will take 6ish hours with a few breaks for the bathroom and snacks.
Price- $7 USD
If you’re coming from Vietnam then you’ll take the bus from Saigon. It’s an easy border crossing and about a 6 hour ride.
Once here, walk around or catch a tuk tuk. If you’re not going too far you should only be paying around $3, don’t let them get more out of you.
Sleeping: Encounters Hostel and Guesthouse – Robert, the hostel owner is extremely helpful with everything. He made sure we were aware of the safety precautions to take in the city, he explained tours, prices to expect and gave great recommendations. The rooms are very basic, even for a hostel- but it had everything we needed. I recommend the 4 bedroom dorm because they are actual beds and the room as AC. The larger dorm just has fans and mosquito nets with mattresses on the floor. Not my style. Communal showers and toilets on each floor that they are good about keeping clean. Lockers and locks are provided and had no issues with wifi. Nice location, a short walk to the river front where the bars and restaurants are. We were happy with the cheap price and everything that came with it. No breakfast included but there is food available there or we just got some food around town.
Overall: 7/10 Price: I’m not sure it’s still running?
Eating: I’m not a huge fan of Cambodian food. It’s Thai food with less flavor. We took the opportunity to eat some western food here. Viva Mexican Restaurant has an AC room, great staff and amazing Mexican food.
Doing: Killing fields, Tuol Sleng Prison, get a view of the river
Killing fields- I’d recommend going to the killing fields first. It is basically a mass grave filled with horror stories. There are still bone remains and clothing particles that wash up after the rainy season is over. The trees and the quiet almost give you a false sense of ease there, which adds to the eeriness of it all.
Price: $6 – Admission and audio guide
Prison- If you only have time for one of the two activities, go to the prison. To me, this was a little more powerful.
Pol Pot wiped out around 21% of the Cambodian population and they are still feeling the effects of rebuilding to this day. There were countless prisons throughout the country- this particular one having an estimated 17,000 prisoners that came through. Seven survived. Seven. We were lucky enough to be there on the day that one of the survivors was there! I bought an autographed copy of his book that I’m really looking forward to reading. Putting a real face to everything we had just learned about was even more heartbreaking. It was an honor to meet him.
Price- $3 admission $3 for audio guide. **WORTH GETTING AUDIO GUIDE** Negotiate with a tuk tuk driver for a price for the whole day (Killing fields and prison). The hostel usually has a driver they can offer you but often it’s a bit more expensive that what you can find in the street. $15-17 + Tip is pretty standard.
See the river- Get a rooftop drink at Le Moon Rooftop Lounge to enjoy a view of the city. Also take a stroll along it. There’s a really nice path and the palace to see.
Russian Market- Only called Russian because it is in a section of town that used to be Russian. It is like any market you’ll find in SE Asia and not worth the trip.
Staying: Get in and get out. One full day for the killing fields and prison and plus enough time to sort out your visa to Vietnam if that’s where you’re heading next. Take note that you cannot get a visa on the weekends nor on a public holiday in Vietnam or Cambodia so plan ahead. It’s 100% worth the trip for the killing fields and prison, but after that there isn’t much to do and it’s dirty and not the safest at night.
Going: If you’re heading west make your way to Saigon via bus or if you’re heading east then head over to Siem Reap.