Where to stay in Cambodia
Hotels in Cambodia are inexpensive, and standards have vastly improved in recent years, especially in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, which offer a variety of hotels and hostels, and numerous international hotel chains. Elsewhere, there is usually one good standard hotel in town, although facilities are often limited. Take star ratings with a pinch of salt; there is no official grading of hotels in Cambodia. Price is often the only guide to the quality, but not often the best guide. Ask to be shown your room before you hand over your credit card for a week’s stay, to avoid disappointment.
Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville have some superb hotels with major five-star brands such as Raffles, InterContinental and Sofitel offering all the facilities and services expected in international-standard properties. There is also a good selection of mid-range hotels and quirkier luxury abodes such as floating river lodges (complete with air conditioning, televisions and room service), jungle bungalows (hidden in the forests, for ultimate seclusion) and private islands (such as Song Saa, set on Koh Ouen Island, Sihanoukville).
Bed and breakfast
There is a variety of good guesthouses and boutique lodges available in the capital and in most towns around Cambodia. Facilities range from well equipped to very limited, but most will include air conditioning or a fan and a restaurant. Boutiques of note include the minimal 60s cool décor of Amansara (www.amanresorts.com) and Hotel Be Angkor (http://hotelbeangkor.com) in Siem Reap. Do note that some boutiques and guest houses have shared bathrooms. Some budget guesthouses do not have restaurants, so guests have to buy breakfast in a local cafe. Budget hotels and hostels are plentiful, although they tend to be very basic and are best suited to backpackers.
Various resorts, reserves and national parks offer scope for camping. A few travel companies can arrange camping for organised tour groups, and individuals craving an off-the-beaten-track experience. In this case all equipment is usually supplied. However, it’s worth mentioning that Cambodia is a hugely bio-diverse area and home to thousands of rare species and tropical wildlife. Be aware of your surroundings and make sure your guides are experienced, carry anti-venom and can identify dangerous species.
Various options are available in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, while comparable lodgings are easily found throughout the country, in smaller villages and off-the-beaten-track locations. Many companies offer villas for long stay breaks in Cambodia. The best are centred around major cities like Phnom Penh. Alternatively, home stays are popular in Cambodia. While living conditions are very basic, a home stay will offer the chance to help a local impoverished family, to meet the natives in their own setting, learn how they live, and devour some delicious home cooked dishes (usually included in the price of the room). Prices for home stays vary, depending on whether the guest will be sharing a bedroom, but as a rule they are much cheaper than a guesthouse.