7 Amazing Reasons why backpacking to Cambodia is so ‘lepak’

Whether you’re a NSF or NSmen in the Home Team, who doesn’t yearn to fulfill their wanderlust?

So, we’ve compiled a list of awesome reasons why you must pack up and go to Cambodia now – a top and affordable destination for HomeTeamNS members and families in South East Asia where you can lepak, eat and enjoy the laid-back lifestyle.

1. Temple-tations Island

Cambodia is home to some of the most historic temples in South East Asia. So, immerse yourself in the serenity and marvelous architecture of Angkor Wat. Walking along its corridors will whisk you away from the neighbourhood patrols, sleepless 24-hour shifts as well as the bustling city. If you’re travelling with company, some interesting facts that you might want to take note to impress them:

  • Angkor Wat is over 900 years old
  • It took 3 decades, 300,000 workers and 6,000 elephants to built
  • The temple still attracts over 2 million visitors annually



2. Let’s lepak down the river

The Cambodians have mastered the art of living in boathouses. What better way to take a break from long period trainings than here? From concrete jungles to bustling simplicity, you’ll embark on a water-adventure and see the sights and sounds of a fully-functioning community on water where 3 million people live, from the local children rowing home from school, to dining on a floating restaurant.

THINGS TO NOTE: To avoid being scammed, do not accept boat rides from the locals and organize a tour directly from Siem Reap or on agency websites.

 

3. Cambodian dishes are a must-try

Nestled between Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodian cuisine is overshadowed by that of their neighbors and has become 3-in-1, an amalgamation of South East Asian flavors that will satisfy every palate imaginable.

Cambodia’s cold noodles, Nom Banh Chok, may just be the inspiration for the first noodles ever made. Try the world’s first noodles (possibly) for yourself, and live to tell the tale. They can be found in almost every eatery in Siem Reap during breakfast. The most famous Khmer dish, the amok fish, involves steam cooking the fish in banana leaves. The result is a meat so tender it breaks in your mouth. The best place to enjoy this dish is at Khmer Kitchen.

Combine these delicious foods with the hospitality of the Cambodian people, and you are sure to experience soul-satisfaction unlike any other.


4.  Fear Factor food (not for the faint-hearted)

If you’re up for some Fear Factor, Cambodians know how to up the ante!

Cambodia’s fixation with insects as food began a long time ago when the Khmer Rouge Regime caused widespread famine in the country. Then, the Cambodians had little choice but to eat them for survival. Now, insects are a delicacy and come marinated in myriad of flavours, from stir-fried beef with ants to scorpion salad. When having them a la carte, spiders have a warm gooey center that melts in your mouth, whilst cockroaches and scorpions taste like crunchy chicken and potato chips.

Plus point: They’re rich in protein, amino acids and micronutrients, so scoop more cockroaches onto your plate, it’s the healthier choice.

THINGS TO NOTE: Please do not eat insects if you have a weak stomach or the vendor displayed poor hygiene practices.

 

5. Be the next Tomb Raider

Just round the corner, Ta Prohm, the last of the ‘big three’ temples in Angkor, is another endlessly fascinating monument to explore. Be careful not to stumble over the gigantic roots that grow out of the stones and sprawl like animals around the temple, they belong to overgrown trees that soar to the skies. Pretty good excuse to trip people if you ask me.

Movie trivia: The temple is also the location for 2001 action-adventure film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a movie packed with thrilling adventure, but we all know why we watched Tomb Raider. For scenic scenes, if you know what I mean.

THINGS TO NOTE: The best method to get here is on a tuk tuk, which will cost $15-$20 for a full day’s hire around the temples. Alternative inexpensive options would be by biking or hiring a private van.

Fashion police beware, do not wear hot pants like Lara Croft or revealing clothes that are too short and show the back and upper body as there is a dress code at the temples.

6. Make it rain in Siem Reap

Want to cure your wanderlust without bursting your wallet?

Fret not! Everything in Siem Reap is very much affordable!

Delicious street food from skewered beef to noodle bowls at Psar Leu starts at $1.50, and budget lunch in a mid-range local cuisine restaurant costs only $3. Dinners will increase by $2 to $4.

This means a whole day of feasting in Cambodia is equivalent to a Nasi Ayam Penyet (UP $) in Singapore!

Drinkers, go crazy, because it’ll cost you less than a dollar for a pint of beer. Bar-hopping at Pub Street in downtown Siem Reap makes for a memorable fun experience without the pain.

Budget accommodation that is affordable yet comfortable to get away from the dormitory life dip to as low as $50 a week, with basic private rooms at $7 a day.  The best areas in town are in the Old French Quarter and Wat Bo, where the heart of the city is located and things get poppin.

If not, the most expensive thing you’ll spend on would be the tickets to the Angkor temples.

 

7. Travel like a hipster with e-bikes

E-bikes are the way to go! They are eco-friendly, and only cost $10 a day. You don’t have to worry about petrol costs, pollution or noise. As long as you can ride a bicycle, you just need a few minutes of getting used to the e-bike and you can ride to your heart’s desire. As they are operated on batteries, there’s no requirement for a driver’s license. To rent one, simply call to make a booking or drop down to their office. Go on, explore the temples of Angkor, the busy streets of Siem Reap, and plain fields of the countryside for some peace of mind. In this instant, on a bike in Cambodia with water buffaloes flanking you, adventure becomes you.

THINGS TO NOTE: Bring along your passport with a valid Cambodian visa to be left as deposit. Helmets, locks, and charger for the battery will be provided for.

 

Avoid being overcharged or scammed and travel with reputable agents.

Did you know that HomeTeamNS has a travel package to Cambodia? Now, members can do all of the above by paying much lesser, find out more here.

Are you covered?  Travel at ease with AIG insurance and receive 35% off single trip plan and 10% off for annual plan, and say no worries to the unanticipated!

See you in Cambodia!

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Radiah Maria Belak has made it her life’s dream to create content that lasts longer than the average 9 seconds attention span of a goldfish. During the her spare time, she enjoys going for hikes, taking awkward photos of her friends and gazing at the constellations.