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Return to SE Asia, calling for some suggestions.

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Jun 9th, 2015, 08:18 PM
  #1
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Return to SE Asia, calling for some suggestions.

We are a 50ish couple, reasonably fit, interested in architecture, scenery, hiking light, food, culture and temples. We'll be flying from East Coast Australia via Singapore.

At the end of November we have a wedding to attend in Mandalay. From there we plan to spend about 16 - 18 nights in Cambodia (our second visit). We have previously taken a river cruise from SR to PP, visiting cities and towns along the Mekong.

I believe I can get flights Mandalay-Siem Reap with one stop in Bangkok via Bangkok Airways.

In Cambodia we would like to spend a few days each in Siem Reap, Battambang, somewhere around Sihanoukville, then end up in Phnom Penh before flying home.

I'm trying not to backtrack. The transport budget is flexible.

So the questions are:
Best way to get from SR to Battambang ?

Best way from Battambang to Sihanoukville area ?
We are not averse to bus or boat, but would prefer not to spend 6+ hours on a bus.

Where to stay in the south coast Sihanoukville area ?

Can we squeeze in the Cardamom Mountains ? How ?

Is Kampot worth a night or two ?

Accomodation ideas for all of the above ? Budget say plus or minus $100 per night for a room with private bath.

Would you change the order/route, given we would need to fly into SR and out of PP ?

Am I missing an important part of Cambodia that could fit (or replace) this rough itinerary ?

Thanks in advance for any contributions.
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Jun 9th, 2015, 09:16 PM
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"Best way to get from SR to Battambang ?"

Most interesting (not necessarily comfortable although the boats may be better now) way is across the Tonle Sap by boat, but you can only do that part of the year.
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Jun 10th, 2015, 12:11 AM
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This is an excellent website for all things Cambodian...

http://www.canbypublications.com/

Capitol buses take 3.5 hours between SR and BB, with an half hour stop at a dusty place called Sisophon. The bus was a bit of a cronk, when the driver engaged the engine at the SR terminus it woke up zillions of mozzies, who kept us company for the journey!

We didn't stay in this hotel in BB, but we ate there a couple of times, was very clean, and in the centre of town close to the main market...

http://www.senghouthotel.com/

Battambang to Sihanoukville by bus will be via PP I expect, and will be a v.long trip as it's a 'B' route. I'd stay overnight in PP and resume the journey the following morning.

Why not fly Mandalay-Bangkok-Phnom Penh. It'll be easier travelling for a few nights in Sihanoukville and Kampot from PP, rather than starting in the north?

Kampot and Kep are definitely worth a couple of nights. Stay in Kampot and hire a tuk tuk for the day from Kampot to Kep for the day. Great day out.

Nice place to stay in Kampot...

http://www.rikitikitavi-kampot.com/

From PP you can fly or bus (Giant Ibis) to SR. Then BB and back to Bangkok overland via Poipet. From Poipet (Aranyapraphet) take the twice daily 3rd Class train to Bangkok. Great journey, takes 6 hours and only costs 48 baht. We stayed in Aranyapraphet for a couple of nights before getting the 0640 train...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmV3nMsHEbw

Stayed here in Aranyapraphet, nice pool and open air covered restaurant/bar...

http://www.aranyaprathethotel.com/
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Jun 10th, 2015, 02:59 AM
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Thank you Thursdayd. I have looked at the boat option now. We would be there at the very end of the wet season, so water levels might be good.

LL, thank you too. Great Canby website, and hostels which I'll explore further. I did consider your suggestion of flying into PP, then out of SR, but given we are transiting through Singapore back to Oz, it makes sense to me to work our way generally south east from Mandalay. I've found a direct flight with Cambodia Airways from SR to Sihanoukville, only one hour.

So I'm thinking - fly into SR, stay four nights, bus to Battambang stay 3 nights, back to SR airport by taxi then 2.35 pm flight to Sihanoukville. There's a bit of backtracking which I'd wanted to avoid, but don't see a better way at this stage.

That leaves us 8 or 9 nights to split between the Sihanoukville area, including Kampot, Kep, and Phnom Penh. The distances are shorter, and I expect we can arrange car transfers to PP. We then have a short flight to Singapore.

Still interested to hear about the Cardamom Mountains if anyone has been, and any hotel or guest house recommendations in any of the places mentioned.

Thanks again.
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Jun 10th, 2015, 07:53 AM
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Have you read offwego's trip report to NE Cambodia? I know it is the opposite direction from your other destinations, but...

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...rip-report.cfm
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Jun 10th, 2015, 04:06 PM
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It would be a shame to miss the boat ride from Siem Reap to Battambang. It is just fantastic - such an eye-opening journey. No, it's not the most comfortable ride in the world, but it's worth it.

Kampot is definitely worth a couple of nights. Maybe more!

I highly recommend staying on Koh Ta Kiev, about a 45-minute boat ride off of Sihanoukville. It's the dictionary definition of tropical island. You can stay at Ten 103, in open-air bamboo huts. There is no running water or electricity, so I hope you like to relax.

The Chi Phat eco-village project in the Cardamom mountains is also great, if you can make time to get there.

We wrote a daily blog about our time in Cambodia, so you can find out much more here: http://www.myfiveacres.com/trip/cycling-cambodia/
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Jun 10th, 2015, 04:22 PM
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Lol Kathie, DH would kill me during an 18 hour bus ride, but thanks, maybe another time.

Thank you MFA, I will have a look at your blog.
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Jun 10th, 2015, 04:45 PM
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We did the bus ride in the opposite direction from Battambang to SR. Took around five hours on the bus. We could only book the bus a day in advance. Not a bad journey, not a great one the water levels were too low for the boats when we were there earlier this year.

Really enjoyed Kampot and stayed a few extra days there. Rikitikitavi was the best place in town, great food, nice rooms but our room suffered a little form noise from a Karaoke bar ( I think across the river) I don't think all rooms were affected. We also stayed at another , more basic place there but I can't recall the name at the moment.



Took a sunset cruise along the river, a couple of bike rides into the countryside and also hired a tuk tuk to take us out through the villages and salt pans down to Kep, stopping at a pepper farm along the way. The crab market in Kep is nice and had some excellent crab amok there. Worth half a day but I am glad we didn't stay overnight.

We didn't bother with Sihanoukville as we heard so many bad reports about it but some of the islands look really nice with some excellent resorts.

Easy to arrange day trips or longer into the Cardomans from either Kampot or Sihanoukville.

We got to/ from Kampot from PP by private car organised by Rikitikitavi $40 each way. It took two hours.

PP to Battambang we used Mekong Express who were excellent. Really comfortable 10 seater minibus, good driver, a comfort break along the road.

In PP we stayed at Tea House Asian Resort which was nice but we did have a few issues with building work and Villa Boran which we preferred. Both were well under your $100 pm budget. Circa $40 I think.

Battambang has a lot to see and do around the town. We hired a couple of tuk tuks to get out to the temples, killing caves, bat caves, the bamboo train. I am just about to post on our blog about our time there in March so will post a link here for some more info and photos.
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Jun 10th, 2015, 05:41 PM
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Thanks Crellston, I was hoping you'd chime in. Great info above. I've been following your blog, so will await the next episode.

Can I ask how long was the mini bus rides PP to BB ?
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Jun 10th, 2015, 10:23 PM
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You are very welcome sartoric. The minibus from PP to BB took 5 hours including pick up from our hotel and a short comfort break en route.
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