Cambodia Itinerary: Perfect Route for 5, 10, and 15 Days

Best Cambodia Itinerary

Cambodia is a fascinating country. Are you thinking Cambodia is just Angkor Wat? You’ll change your mind after this Cambodia itinerary. This country is an absolute goldmine of cool spots that too many backpackers skip or just blitz through on their Southeast Asia circuit. It’s more than just those iconic temples (though, yeah, they’re pretty mind-blowing).

Whether you’re here for a quick 5-day whirlwind, have 10 days to dive a bit deeper, or are lucky enough to chill for 15, with this Cambodia itinerary I got you covered. From buzzing cities and laid-back villages to untouched islands, this guide’s going to show you there are heaps to do in Cambodia.

Ready to explore the real Cambodia? Let’s roll.

How to use this Cambodia itinerary

Here’s the real deal on how to make the most out of this Cambodia itinerary I’ve put together for you. Crafted from the dust of the roads I’ve wandered and the countless conversations in hostel common rooms, this guide is your golden ticket to navigating Cambodia like a pro.

Here’s How to Rock This Itinerary:

1. Mix & Match: Think of this itinerary as your Cambodian buffet. You’ve got everything from the must-see temples of Angkor Wat to the laid-back vibes of Kampot and the untouched beaches of the islands. Dive into what excites you the most and pair it with your personal travel goals.

2. Stay Flexible: The beauty of backpacking is in the unexpected adventures. Use this guide as a flexible framework. Found a cool spot not in the guide? Go explore it! Did you meet some awesome people heading to a place you hadn’t considered? Tag along!

3. Adapt to Your Pace: Whether you’re here to blitz through the highlights or you’re all about that slow travel life, adjust the itinerary to fit your pace. Want to spend a few extra days getting lost in the streets of Phnom Penh or chilling on an island? Do it. This guide is all about making your Cambodian journey uniquely yours.

4. Expectation Check: Keep your expectations in check with reality. Cambodia is wildly beautiful but also raw and real. There’ll be moments of awe and possibly some discomfort. It’s all part of the experience, and talking to others in hostels can help set the scene for what’s ahead.

5. Share the Love: Once you’ve danced through Cambodia, using bits and pieces of this guide along with your own discoveries, pass on that knowledge. Whether it’s in a hostel common room, over a beer with new friends, or through social media – share your highs, lows, and everything in between.

In essence, this itinerary is more than just a list of places; it’s a collection of experiences waiting to be had. It’s been road-tested and traveler-approved, but the real magic happens when you make it your own.

Ta Prhom Temple in Angkor city

The start point

Alright, let’s break it down real quick. When you’re kick-starting your Cambodian adventure, you’re probably going to find yourself weighing up where to start: Siem Reap or Phnom Penh? Good news – both spots are prime launching pads for your trip.

Siem Reap is like the gateway to the ancient world with Angkor Wat as the star of the show. But there’s more to it than just temples; the vibe in town is electric with cool cafes, buzzing markets, and nightlife that can turn any night into a story.

Phnom Penh, on the flip side, is where the urban heartbeat of Cambodia is at its loudest. It’s a mix of history, chaos, and charm with street food stalls, the Royal Palace, and some hard-hitting historical sites that’ll stick with you.

Getting to either spot is a breeze. If you’re watching those pennies (or just want to keep it real with overland travel), buses are your best bet. They connect pretty much all of Southeast Asia to these hubs. Flying in? Both cities are well-connected with international airports.

Now, for the route – think circular.

Starting in Siem Reap gives you that instant ‘wow’ with the temples. Then moving through the country lets you soak up all the different vibes. From the laid-back river life in Kampot to the sandy beaches of the islands, before wrapping it up in the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh.

Or flip it – start in Phnom Penh for the urban kick. You will also be able to understand Cambodia’s history much better from the beginning of your trip.

Either way, you’re in for a full circle of Cambodian awesomeness.

So, whether you’re landing with your backpack fresh off the plane or rolling in on a bus, gearing up for a tight budget adventure or ready to splurge on a few flights, Cambodia’s got you. Just pick your starting line, and let the adventure unfold.

Getting around Cambodia

Hopping from one Cambodian city to another is fairly easy, and you’ve got options for every vibe and budget. Here’s the quick lowdown:

  • Buses are your best friend for budget-friendly trips between cities. Companies like Giant Ibis are top-notch for comfort and reliability. For the spontaneous, local bus services like Vireak Buntham Express also do the trick, surprising with their punctuality and service. Booking’s easy through hostels or 12goAsia, but snag your seat a day ahead for those busy routes.
  • Domestic Flights zip you across long distances fast. They connect major spots like Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and Sihanoukville but will cost you more than land travel. Great if you’re short on time but not ideal for tight budgets.
  • Boats and Ferries offer a scenic route, especially sweet for island-bound journeys or cruising the Mekong. It’s a chill way to travel, though prices and times can be a bit of a wildcard.
  • Trains are scarce in Cambodia. There are only 2 functioning train lines: Shiankoukville- Kampot – Phnom Penh and Battambang- Siem Reap. If you love train rides, take only Kampot Phnom Penh. Make sure you get the bamboo train experience also in Battamang. It is a lifetime unique experience I do recommend to everyone, as it was really fun and interesting.

Once you’ve landed in your city or village of choice, tuk-tuks, motorbike rentals, and bikes become your go-to for local exploration. They’re perfect for diving deep into each place, offering the freedom to explore at your own pace.

Dive deeper into my Cambodia guide for the full information on each option.

The perfect Cambodia Itinerary

First off, understand this ain’t just any itinerary. It’s been pieced together from my own escapades across Cambodia, topped with insights from fellow travelers met along the way. We’ve swapped stories, shared our best moments, and even the not-so-great ones, to give you a well-rounded picture of what to expect.

5-Day Itinerary: The Essentials

Even though 5 days is not a lot, you can see different things in Cambodia and understand Cambodian culture.

Day 1-2: Siem Reap and Angkor Wat

  • Begin your adventure in Siem Reap, dedicating your first full day to exploring the Angkor Archaeological Park. Wake up early to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat, then visit Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Prohm. You’ll be done around 16 because it is a lot of exploring.  In the evening, explore the Night Market and Pub Street.
  • Spend your second day diving deeper into lesser-known temples or revisiting your favorites at a leisurely pace. Start the day at a slower pace and make sure you see the sunset in Angkor City.
  • Take a late-sleeping Sleeping Bus (known also as a Hotel Bus) to Kampot. The ride is around 8 hours.

For a full guide check my Backpacking Siem Reap tips here.

Day 3: Kampot

Visit the pepper plantations and learn about the Kampot pepper. I do recommend you to visit La Plantation, which is a great organization founded by a French-Belgian couple that helps also the rural communities.

In the afternoon, you can visit the Phnom Chhngok Cave and the salty fields – or just chill out on the riverside.

Sleep in Kampot and wake up early the next day to take the bus to Phnom Penh.

Where to stay in Kampot? Check our guide for the 3 best hostels in kampot.

Visiting a pepper farm in Kampot - La Plantation

Day 4: Phnom Penh

Wake up early and take a bus to Phnom Penh. Once you arrive, you could visit:

  • the Royal Palace,
  • Silver Pagoda, and/or
  • the National Museum

In the evening, take a stroll along the riverside.

The best place to stay in Phnom Penh? Check it out on our 3 best hotels in Phnom Penh guide.

Day 5: Killing Fields and S21 Prison

Dedicate a day to understanding Cambodia’s recent history with visits to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21 Prison) and the Killing Fields. It’s a profound experience that provides context to the resilience of the Cambodian people.

Genocide Museum Phnom Penh

10-Day Itinerary: Culture and Adventure

I would say 10 days is a very good amount of time to visit Cambodia, balancing culture, adventure, and islands.

Days 1-3: Siem Reap with focus Angkor Complex + Kampot

Follow the 5-day itinerary above.

Where to sleep in Siem Reap? Check our guide for the 3 best hostels in Siem Reap.

Day 4-5: Rabbit Island

To get Rabbit Island, you have to get to kep. From Kampot is just 22km so you could even take a tuktuk there. In kep, there is a ferry that will take you to Rabbit Island. The return ticket costs $8-$10.

Spend the night on Rabbit Island to unwind and be able to explore the island. Sleep in a wooden hut.

The next day, keep exploring the island or just relax at the beach and take the ferry back to kep, where you can take the a Minibus to Phnom Penh. It takes around 4 hours.

Staying on Rabbit Island: The only accommodation option on Rabbit Island is in wooden huts. Availability is limited, and the names of these places tend to change frequently, so it’s best to check to secure your spot. I recommend booking 2-3 days ahead of your stay.

Day 6- 7: Phnom Penh

Dedicate a day to understanding Cambodia’s recent history with visits to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21 Prison) and the Killing Fields.

The day 2, you could visit more things in Phnom Pehn:

  • the Royal Palace,
  • Silver Pagoda, and/or
  • the National Museum

At night time, take the sleeping bus to Battambang. It takes around 4 hours, so you’ll arrive very early in Battambang.

Day 8: Battambang

Battambang was an amazing experience. Not only there is the famous and fun bamboo train, but also an interesting cave where you can see millions of bats. Choose tour guide and experience:

  • Bamboo train
  • Killing cave
  • Phnom Sampeau
  • Bat Cave

To see the Bats, you have to wait until sunset time. As there are no late buses from Battambang to Siem Reap, you’ll have to sleep in Battambang or get a private transfer.

Any good hostels in Battambang? Sure! Check out our guide best hostels in Cambodia, we update it constantly to make sure you get the best hostel experience.

Bamboo train Battambang

Day 9-10: Siem Reap

You still get one more day to visit Angkor City! If you bought the 3-day pass,  revisit your favorite temples or explore some other temples you did not see at the beginning of your trip.

If you have round-trip flights from Siem Reap, beginning and ending with Angkor City is the perfect way to experience Cambodia. I loved revisiting Angkor City after some days, as the second day I was a bit templed out, but on that third visit after some pause, I did enjoy them again a lot. I even went again to Angkor Watt in the afternoon, and I loved it much more than the sunset experience because there were so less people.

15-Day Itinerary: The Deep Dive

Got 15 Days? Perfect! You have the chance to take a deep dive. Miss and match the ideas you got from the 5 and 10-day itinerary.

Add the following for the 5 extra days you got:

  • Relax on the islands

Take more time for the islands, they are gorgeous! The most famous islands are Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem, but have a look at the lesser-known Koh Ta kiev.

If you decide to go to Koh Ta Kiev, stay in Kactus Hostel (you can thank me later for that).

  • Kratie

For a chance to see the Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River, head to kratie. The surrounding countryside and the Phnom Sombok temple are also very interesting.

  • Take more time in Battambang or Kampot

The villages of Battambang and Kampot are places where I could easily have spent more time to chill out. In Kampot, there are some guesthouses along the riverside. The expat community is also big, and there are some cafés offering yoga classes.

Summary of my Cambodia Itinerary

And there you have it – your passport to navigating Cambodia with the confidence of a seasoned traveler and the curiosity of a first-timer. We’ve journeyed together from the ancient ruins of Angkor to the serene riversides of Kampot and the sparkling sands of Cambodia’s hidden island gems. This guide was forged from firsthand experiences, late-night hostel chats, and more than a few night buses, all to help you uncover the heart and soul of Cambodia.

But hey, the journey doesn’t end here. As much as I’ve packed into this guide, Cambodia has a way of surprising you with new adventures around every corner. And because every traveler’s journey is unique, I know you’ve got your own tales to tell, questions to ask, and insights to share.

Got a burning question? Wondering where to find the best Amok in Siem Reap? Leave a comment on this article. Your insights help us keep this guide fresh and helpful.

Share your stories and tips! Did you discover a hidden gem not mentioned here? Have a tip on navigating the bus system or a must-try dish? Drop us a line in the comments. Your experiences are invaluable, and who knows – your advice might just be the highlight of someone else’s trip.

Remember, this guide is just the beginning. So take this itinerary, tailor it to your dreams, and dive headfirst into the adventure.

Safe travels,


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