Known as the Kingdom of Wonder, Cambodia is a captivating prospect as a solo travel destination. From the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, a Unesco World Heritage site, to the craft markets and street food of the capital, Phnom Penh, this tropical land is all about escapist adventure.
Cambodia is less touristy than neighboring Vietnam and Thailand, which makes it more of an off the radar destination in Southeast Asia. All the same, it’s changing fast, with a culture that balances deep-rooted Khmer tradition alongside thriving city bars, elegant hotels and the blue-sky beach resorts of Sihanoukville and Koh Rong island.
No solo travel visit to Cambodia would be complete without seeing the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former Khmer Rouge regime interrogation centre: both legacies of the country’s devastating civil war (1967-1975). But happier history also awaits in the country’s vast maze of intricate Buddhist and Hindu ruins, including Preah Vihear Temple and the 12th-century sites of Angkor Thom and the vine-covered Ta Prohm (featured in the film Tomb Raider). And of course, you have the modern-day delights of Mekong boat cruises and rooftop parties in Phnom Penh.
We’ve pulled together everything you need to know about group solo trips to Cambodia, including must-see temples and museums, packing tips, hotel recommendations and more.
Cambodia travel facts
The Kingdom of Cambodia stands sliced north to south by the mighty Mekong River, neighboring Laos, Vietnam and Thailand on the lower tip of Southeast Asia. It is a land of rainforests, paddy-covered plains and Tonlé Sap (Great Lake), along with mountains in the north and waterfalls and island beaches in the south, spread along the Gulf of Thailand coast.
Once ruled by the Khmer empire, the country is home to over 4,000 temples, including the world-famous kingdom of Angkor Wat. Its royal history continues today with the resplendent Royal Palace of Cambodia welcoming visitors on Phnom Penh’s park-lined riverfront. Among the beauty, Cambodia also has a stark history of decades-long conflict, including the 1970s Khmer Rouge regime resulting in the genocide of 1.7 million people.
Today, that tragic legacy is still felt. However, Cambodia is fast-evolving as a solo travel destination in its own right, brimming with affordable food, a rich art scene, white-sand beaches and a super-friendly community.
Is Cambodia good for solo travel?
Welcoming locals, easy transport links and a trove of endlessly beautiful places to visit, Cambodia ticks all the solo travel boxes and is a fantastic place to go it alone. Start in the capital Phnom Penh, with sunset boat rides, three-wheeled cyclo trips, spectacular markets and buzzing bars. If you have time, foray south to the island paradise of Koh Rong before arriving in Siem Reap and the unmissable temple kingdom of Angkor Wat.
Alternatively, you can join a small group of solo travelers and explore Cambodia together. This enables you to see the country, and its many treasures, from a locals’ perspective – with great company, on-hand experts and zero legwork. Learn more about solo travel with Flash Pack.
Best places to visit in Cambodia
What should you do on a solo trip to Cambodia? Flash Pack has a series of original experiences in the mix, including a sunset tuk-tuk ride to Phnom Penh’s atmospheric Street 60 night market, with barbecue grills and street food like spicy amok (fish and coconut curry) to sample. Also in the capital, you’ll find bespoke jewellery, ceramics and hand-tailored silk at Toul Tom Poung Market and the Art Deco Central Market, a nod to Cambodia’s French colonial past.
Elsewhere, knock back canapés and fizz in the rose-red façades of the Banteay Srei temple near Siem Reap, where you can also enjoy massages and dinner with traditional dancing. Finally, take it all in with your locally-led group for an insider’s view on Cambodia’s leading sites, including the Killing Fields, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the incredible temples of Angkor Wat at sunrise.
Where to stay as a solo traveler in Cambodia
What are the hotels like in Cambodia? When Cambodia first opened to tourists in the mid-90s, it was known as a backpacker’s retreat, thanks to its affordable prices which still endure today. While the country still has plenty of budget guest houses and homestays to its name, it’s also home to a growing legion of luxury, boutique and wellness retreats.
Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Koh Rong island and the northern province of Preah Vihear all boast some seriously high-end hotels. Think world-class cuisine, spas and palm-fringed pools. These kinds of places would normally be off-limits to solo travelers. But with Flash Pack’s group solo trips to Cambodia, you can opt to share a room – allowing you to swerve the single supplement and access the same amazing hotels as a solo traveler. Still want a private room? That’s fine, too.
How to get to Cambodia
Direct flights to Cambodia are thin on the ground. So, if you’re flying in from Europe, North America, Australasia or Africa, you’ll need to connect in Southeast Asia – via Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur – to reach Cambodia’s main airports: Phnom Penh International Airport (for the capital) and Siem Reap International Airport (for Angkor Wat).
Many who experience solo travel in Cambodia also enter overland via border crossings from neighbouring Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Private air-conditioned buses are the best way to do this: you can book tickets easily online. From the Thai capital Bangkok, you can also reach Cambodia’s Aranyaprathet-Poipet border by train. A private boat ride along the Mekong River from Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam to Phnom Penh is another scenic slow-travel way to cross into Cambodia, if you have extra time.
How to get around Cambodia
On a solo holiday to Cambodia, it’s easy to take a bus between the country’s major destinations; book with a private company, like the Mekong Express, for comfy seats with air-con and Wifi. Within cities, you’ll get the best experience by traveling around in man-powered cyclos or motorized tuk-tuks. Boat trips run daily between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (the route is beautiful). There’s only one train route, from Phnom Penh to the northwest Battambang Province. Car hire is possible but not advised due to road conditions.
With Flash Pack, all internal travel in Cambodia is arranged for you via private minibus and included in the price of the trip. So, all you have to do is rock up and enjoy the show.
Best time to visit Cambodia
Cambodia has a tropical climate: mostly hot and humid, with average daily temperatures hitting a balmy 27°C. June to October is rainy season in Cambodia, with short, sharp showers, powerful winds and temperatures of up to 35°C. Roads and temple sites can be affected, but on the flip side there are far fewer tourists.
Cambodia’s dry season, running from November to May, is more popular; particularly during the cooler months of November to February. During this period, you’ll still get warmth (around 20°C) and blue skies, especially on the south coast beaches. But you’ll also skip the soaring dry heat of March to May.
Cambodia travel itineraries
Flash Pack’s 14-day Vietnam and Cambodia group solo trip positions Cambodia as the finale to a rip-roaring adventure through neighboring Vietnam. The Cambodian section comes with a bespoke tour of the country’s first gin distillery in Phnom Penh, where you’ll find out how to make Mekong Dry Gin from pandan leaves, galangal, kaffir lime and lemongrass.
Rooftop sundowners and artisanal markets are also on the itinerary, along with a luxury hotel and street-food treats in Siem Reap. And of course, this trip is brimming with spectacular temple kingdoms, including a very special unveiling of sunrise at Angkor Wat.
What to pack for solo travel in Cambodia
For solo travel in Cambodia, you’ll need your passport, visa, travel insurance, currency (mostly US dollars but also Cambodian riel), credit/debit cards and a secure money belt. Also, adapters for plug types, A, C and G, sunscreen, a sun hat, sunglasses, a reusable water bottle and mosquito repellent. An umbrella is better than a rain coat if you’re traveling in monsoon season (it’s much cooler) or you can buy a light poncho and flip-flops locally. Lightweight, loose-fitting, cotton clothing is best to protect against the heat. It’s also customary to cover your shoulders and knees for temple visits. To be on the safe side, leave valuables at home.
Solo travel advice for Cambodia
Cambodia is a tip-top place to put on your solo travel wishlist: depending on where you go, you’ll find serene temples, chilled-out beaches and lively city markets – all with opportunities to meet friendly locals and fellow travelers. It’s easy to get around, too. For a totally seamless snapshot of the country, with unique experiences and the support of a group, check out Flash Pack’s group solo trip to Cambodia. Led by local specialists, it showcases the country in a fun, secure and accessible way.
Is it safe to travel solo in Cambodia?
Thousands of visitors travel to Cambodia every year and most trips are trouble-free. However, do check out the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK), the Department of State Travel Advisories (US) or your country’s local government guidelines for the latest advice before traveling.
Once there, follow local advice and be aware of your surroundings at all times. Keep a watch on your belongings, especially along the waterfront area of Phnom Penh, and around Sihanoukville’s popular beaches and bars. To travel in full-wattage comfort and style, opt for a group solo holiday to Cambodia with Flash Pack and enjoy all this country has to offer in the company of a local guide and other like-minded solo travelers.
Ready for your next adventure? Try group solo travel in Cambodia with Flash Pack – designed exclusively for people in their 30s and 40s, seeking the independence of solo travel within the safety of a group.
A cool 98% of Flashpackers arrive solo to join our group adventures. So, you’ll be in good company – whether a first time solo traveler or a seasoned pro looking for like-minded new friends.
Images: Adobe, Flash Pack and Unsplash