I was originally supposed to go training (literally… train!) through Asia on the Trans-Mongolian Express because I wanted to check out Asia and see if maybe I wanted to teach abroad (Korea? Japan?). I wasn’t able to get my visas for that in time and still be able to take my trip to Ecuador with my students. Since that’s a free trip (which you can read about what that’s like here and how to do that here), I certainly couldn’t say no to that, but I still wanted to check out Asia.
Luckily I stayed in contact with an Aussie girl that I met four years ago (on a different Busabout trip!), and she was going on a tour in Cambodia as one of her major trips before she turned 30! So off I went! I was happy to take this tour with young adults, but head here if you want Cambodia with kids or Cambodia solo! Or even if you have longer and want to explore Southeast Asia!
(BTW, I was not paid to write this nor did I receive this trip for free. I paid for it, and these were my real experiences 🙂 )
At the time I went, it was a very comfortable $619, and I got 10% off for some special that they were having. Considering that it’s 9 days and with all of the inclusions, I think that’s actually a pretty sweet deal.
I’m a little embarrassed at how I met the guide, Ryan. Here I am…36 hours after I left my house and on a new continent…hardly slept… just on my first TukTuk ride… and this adorable hottie comes up and introduces himself while I was getting water at the bar. I’m like, “Oh, guess I’m not as awful looking as I think!” Wrong, he was my guide, hahaha. I totally played it off. Probably.
Anyway, Ryan was a treasure. He had this amazing ability to give everyone the experience that they needed and make everyone feel comfortable. I punked out and went to bed old-lady-early the first night, no shaming from him. Regardless of how tired he might be, he rallied every night to make sure everyone had a great night, and he was always the last one to bed to make sure we all got home ok. One night I had some sad news from home and left the club to process. Not only did he notice, but he came out to cheer me up, gave some rather sage advice, and got me safely back to the hotel.
He was also very knowledgable, and I feel like you’d get that with any guide. When I think about the kind of tour guide that I want though, I want someone who enhances the experience, not just throws up information at me. Although… I do treasure that information for my super nerdy photobooks I like to make. It was a tough decision, but I actually bumped Ryan up to my fave tour guide ever… and it’s a tight top 3 (Busabout has 2 of those!). I think it’s a great indicator of the kind of caliber people Busabout hires.
Best tour guide around
The hotels were actually tip top! You share a room with someone of the same gender, and you get your own bed! Really, can you ask for more? Haha, really, our hotels were right in the thick of things, were very clean, and the beds were nice albeit slightly firm. One hotel my roomie and I thought our shower was broken, and we almost had to shower with the bum gun… Turns out they had to fix something, but fix it they did! The water was turned off to the unit, but we just called and they turned it on. Not sure why it was off, but hey… at least we didn’t have to shower using a tiny gun used to clean a butt.
If you’re interested in seeing some hotels in Phnom Penh, then check that out!
I’ve traveled in varying types of coaches, and the one we had this trip wasn’t really stellar, if I’m being honest. They were the smaller type of vans, really. It was clean though, and there was always water and music, but the seats weren’t very large. Or maybe I’m just large… The worst is if you got stuck in those little seats that fold down and don’t have a neck rest. If anything, it’s a good incentive to get your booty on the bus early! Wake up late? You get the jerk seat.
While it wasn’t the best bus in the world, based on the roads and places we went, I couldn’t really see a Mack-Daddy bus making its way through there. We weren’t on the bus too much except for this one MAJOR bus day, but we did make lots of frequent stops. Including a spot with MONKEYS!
Just breakfasts were included, and they were different based on each place that we were. Everywhere was a buffet style except for Kampot where we ordered what we wanted the day before. The largest was at Sihanoukville, which had a very large spread! What a laugh to see rice for breakfast! What was nice about the rest of the meals is even when we all ate together, we got to choose what we wanted to eat, not off of a set menu.
The places we went had a great mix of standard Cambodian cuisine… and also some weird menu items. I’m not the most adventurous eater, but I was coaxed into eating tarantula, stingray, and even rat. I gotta tell ya… try the rat. It’ll surprise you!
The full itinerary can be found on the website obviously. Without giving too much away, my favorite was BAMBOO TRAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIN!!!!!! Wow. The most surprising thing that wasn’t on the itinerary was a *surprise*… but it involved a snorkel… a little loss of dignity… a lot of laughter… and a record of 5.
For the activities, I think it’s important to do all the extra stuff. It was about $100 to add the extra activities on, and the tour really shone because of them. That’s when we experienced the true sadness of the Khmer Genocide, the delight of realizing that you’re probably the worst bartender in the world at the cocktail making class, and the terror/excitement of jumping off the top of the boat even though you’re afraid of heights.
Two of the places that we went to were Kep and Kampot which are pretty off the beaten track! They’re most famous for crab, and they are worth checking out!
You get free time in different places. Some of us usually stayed together in some sort of groupings, and some of us strayed off on our own. Whenever we got to a new city, Ryan would show us around in an orientation walk. Those walks were really great because he’d show us landmarks, so we could find our way home later! The Kampot orientation walk is hilarious because it’s literally “There’s a bridge, here’s an ATM… have fun!”
We had a little extra time in Siem Reap, so we were able to check out some of the things to do in Siem Reap! And when we were in Sihanoukville, we ha some free time to check out the beach there and Otres beach were are just some of the great beaches in Cambodia!
I know it’s probably a weird thing to really enjoy, but I really enjoyed the little sassy girls that sold/made bracelets on the beach in Sihanoukville. Here’s a picture of my favorite little girl. After not taking no for an answer, she asked my name and if I had a boyfriend. I said I didn’t have one, and she said it was because I didn’t have a bracelet. Check and mate. Guess who bought a bracelet for $2 more than asking price? This girrrrlllll. She said it would work by that night… not sure her definition of night…. Still waiting on that one!
All I wanted was to see the sunrise at Angkor Wat…. it rained 🙁 That’s not really Busabout’s problem though. So I guess the real answer was the bus. It was fine for me because I usually had a window seat to sleep on, but I feel like people sitting in the folding seats had a rough go of it.
If you’re coming from Vietnam to join the tour, then this is a great guide to help you with the border crossing!
All in all, another great trip with Busabout! I’ll definitely go back!
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