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Return to SE Asia, calling for some suggestions.

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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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