Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are famous destinations when traveling to Cambodia. Here are the essential experiences that every visitor needs to know when exploring Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.

1. Overview about Phnom Penh and Siem Reap

1.1. Phnom Penh

1.1.1. Basic Information about Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is one of the two most famous tourist cities in Cambodia. This place not only attracts tourists by bustling economic activities but also helps guests satisfy their passion for discovering food and culture.

Phnom Penh is the capital, the most modern economic center of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Phnom Penh has an area of ​​290 square kilometers with a population of 2.2 million people (in 2011). In addition to the name Phnom Penh, this city is also known by many other names such as Nam Vang, Nam Vinh, … or nicknamed “Pearl of Asia“.

Phnom Penh is a city that blends modern French architecture and ancient Khmer architecture. Therefore, Phnom Penh becomes an ideal place for tourists to have an interesting trip without having to worry too much about the cost.

1.1.2. The best time to visit Phnom Penh

The climate in Phnom Penh is not too different from the climate in Vietnam. The capital Phnom Penh is also located in an area with a tropical monsoon climate, so it is clearly divided into 2 seasons: the dry season and the rainy season of the year.

From December until May of the following year, Phnom Penh has its dry season. Travelers should pack their luggage and head to Phnom Penh at this time if they want to have an interesting experience. There are two subseasons within the dry season: the mild subseason, which runs from December to February of the following year, and the hot subseason, which runs from March to May. These two sub-seasons typically have very pleasant and dry weather. This helps visitors have the most convenient trip. Besides, if tourists are passionate about the culture and traditional beauty of the people here, a trip in April – Festival season, traditional New Year in Cambodia is definitely the perfect choice for travelers

Visitors should pay attention to monitor the weather forecast from June to November regularly because this is the period when Phnom Penh enters the rainy season. This time, the rainfall can account for 80% of the whole year, even two months in July and August may have floods..

1.2. Siem Reap

1.2.1. Basic Information about Siem Reap

Siem Reap city is located in Northwestern Cambodia, used to be the capital of the Khmer Empire years before the 15th century. Due to the Siamese taking over the capital Angkor Thom, King Ponhea Yat and his court had to withdraw to the Southeast and established a new capital in Phnom Penh.

With many remarkable examples of Chinese and colonial architecture in the vicinity of Chinatown and the old market, Siem Reap serves as the entrance to the Famous Angkor Wat complex. Often named among the top 10 travel destinations in the world, this bustling city has contemporary restaurants and accommodations.

1.2.2. The best time to visit Siem Reap

Siem Reap has a humid and dry tropical climate. This city is usually hot all year round, the average high temperature is not less than 30 degrees Celsius. The rainy season in Siem Reap starts from April and ends in November. July and August are frequently raining so it’s definitely not the right time to travel. The dry season lasts from November of the previous year to April of the following year. This is also the most ideal time to travel to Siem Reap.

If visitors want to immerse yourself in the traditional festival atmosphere of the Khmer, they can travel on important festivals such as:

  • Every year, from April 13 to April 15 falls within the solar calendar the Chol Chnam Thmay Festival, which is the traditional Cambodian New Year. Visitors that go on this day will be able to take part in the Bom Chaul Chnam water festival as well as the discharge of shimmering lanterns throughout the city.
  • September is when Pchum Ben (Festival of the Spirits of Ancestors) takes place.
  • November and December are the dates for the Angkor Festival. It would be unfortunate if you missed it because this is also the most significant event in Southeast Asia.
  • December sees the Angkor Wat half-marathon.

2. Transportation from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

2.1. Plan

Airplanes are the fastest means for visitors to travel from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. At the airport in the Cambodian capital, there are many flights going everywhere from domestic to foreign. When tourists travel to Cambodia during the high season, visitors need to remember to book flight tickets in advance to save costs and have a good seat.

2.2. Bus

The least expensive mode of transportation for tourists is the bus. Bus services from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and vice versa are offered by numerous private operators in Cambodia. The journey is 314 kilometers long and lasts 5–7 hours. The bus will make stops in Skun and Kampong Thom en route. The cost is 14.000 Riel one way. The earliest and last buses leave at 6:30 am and 1pm respectively. Visitors may find the bus terminal in Siem Reap opposite the Old Market. The bus terminal in Phnom Penh is situated Southwest of the well-liked tourist shopping area known as Phsar Thmey market.

2.3. Ferry

There are always ferries running on the lake between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Ferries in Phnom Penh depart daily at 7 am at Sisowath Port  and the ferry in Siem Reap also departs daily at 7 am at Chong Khneas ferry terminal. The ticket ranges from $18 – $25 and must be purchased a day in advance through hotels or travel agencies.

If tourists want to experience the feeling of sitting on a ferry, visitors should travel to Cambodia in the rainy season because at that time the water is full, the ferry will be easy to run. But if visitors go in the dry season, the water is dry, it may be a small boat and less comfortable.

2.4. Taxi

Taxi is the best option for people looking for the fastest and safest way to get from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. Both cities’ taxi fares fluctuate approximately 25.000 Riel per person. While the price of gas fluctuates, visitors can also rent a car for $38 to $45 to drive themselves. Tourists should choose an inexpensive active mode of transportation when visiting Phnom Penh.

3. The best Schedule of traveling from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap

3.1. National Museum – Phnom Penh

The National Museum of Cambodia is a place to store Cambodian culture as well as store the most important historical documents. The National Museum is known as the largest architecture and history museum in the country when it was built in the years 1917 – 1920 by the French colonialists.

Hence, the National Museum is a piece of architecture that combines modern French architecture with Khmer architecture. This is another location that visitors to Phnom Penh should unquestionably see. The entrance cost for foreign visitors is $3, and the hours of operation are 8 am to 5 pm.

3.2. Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum – Phnom Penh

One of the museums that preserves the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia between 1975 and 1979 is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. This was once a school, but the Pol Pot Khmer Rouge regime quickly took control and converted the classrooms into cells, creating the most frightening prison in all of Cambodia. Under the Khmer Rouge era, this location originally housed roughly 17.000 individuals, and very few had a chance to escape this jail alive.

3.3. Wat Phnom – Phnom Penh

Wat Phnom is one of the oldest and most ancient temples in Phnom Penh. Many people recount that the birth of this temple is associated with the beginning of the city of Phnom Penh.

According to locals, in 1373, a woman named Daun Penh accidentally found four Buddha statues in a drifting tree on the Mekong River. With respect, she built a temple on an artificial hill to worship 4 Buddha statues.

3.4. Phnom Penh Independence Monument

The 1958 construction of the Independence Monument marked the ninth anniversary of Cambodia‘s liberation from French colonial authority. The Angkor Wat temple complex and a few other monuments served as inspiration for the construction of the monument.

The Independence Monument, with its lotus flower-like design stretching out in the center of the busy metropolis, soon rose to the top of the list of tourist attractions.

3.5. Phare Circus – Siem Reap

This is a famous circus of Cambodia, which can bring visitors the most unique entertainment experiences, especially this will be a memorable memory for the children with family fun together in Cambodia. Performances that combine dance, comedy, music and elaborate acrobatics will tell visitors the story of Cambodia in a special way. An interesting circus performance will definitely be a memorable experience in their Siem Reap trip.

3.6. War Museum – Siem Reap

The War Museum is the largest museum in Cambodia – which helps visitors visualize the civil war during the Khmer Rouge era in 1975 and the Vietnam war in 1979. The museum is storing millions of unexploded mines found after the war along with many artifacts of historical value such as T54 tank, MiG-19 jet fighter, Mil Mi-8 helicopter. Some of these war machines were used during the Second World War.

3.7. Visiting Angkor Complex – Siem Reap

Angkor Wat seems to be the first destination of most Siem Reap tourists. This temple is the largest cultural monument in the world with impressive architecture. Although built in the 12th century, until now, Angkor Wat still has 3.000 carved images and a statue of a 7-headed Naga cobra – typical of Hinduism. One of the best experiences here is watching the sunrise or sunset of Angkor Wat on a hot air balloon.

Besides, if visitors want to have more experiences with Angkor Wat and many other places, guests can refer to the 8 days tour – Mekong Delta and Angkor Temple by Metta Voyage.

4. Travel tips when exploring Cambodia

  • The Real (1000 Real = 5900 VND) is the official currency of Cambodia. A lot of business is also conducted in US dollars in Cambodia. A few locations also accept Vietnam Dong as payment.
  • The heat in Cambodia is extreme, especially if tourists visit the beaches. So please wear lightweight, sweat-wicking clothing and bring sunscreen.
  • Compared to Vietnam, Cambodia does not have as many taxis. Guests can pre-arrange the cost of a cab by the day or by the session.
  • Prices are often inflated 2 to 3 times the actual price, so this is definitely not the ideal place to shop. Tourists should only withdraw their wallets when they need to buy food or small souvenirs.
  • Tourists absolutely do not pat children’s heads because according to the concept of indigenous people, it is a place where only parents can touch.
  • Visitors should also not give things with their left hand because according to Cambodians, the left hand is often “not clean“.
  • When visiting the temple, please choose modest clothes to show respect for the local culture.
  • Visitors should also avoid approaching or touching the monks

5. Conclusion

Above are the information and experiences when traveling from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap for visitors. Hope the article helps visitors have the most convenient and economical travel trip. If visitors need any more information, they can contact Metta Voyage directly to receive the most detailed instructions.

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