Part 2: Phnom Penh to Koh Rong | A Photographer’s Travel Itinerary for Backpacking in Cambodia & Vietnam

We’re on to the second stage of our blog series with photographer Sian Owen. This time she takes us through her journey from Phnom Penh to Koh Rong in Cambodia. She gives us suggestions on where to stay, what to do and shares great insight on what backpacking through Southeast Asia is like. This is a fantastic read for anyone wanting to travel or teach in Vietnam.

← Part 1: Siem Reap to Battambang        |       Sihanoukville to Ho Chi Minh City via Chau Doc: Part 2

A backpacking route through Cambodia and Vietnam

Backpacking route through Southeast Asia.

Phnom Penh

After an awesome day in Battambang, a $10 US minivan bus trip and 6 hours later, she was in Phnom Penh.

This is the capital of Cambodia, “Phnom Penh is like any other big Asian metropolis: busy streets, thousands of motorbikes and lots of interesting street foods. But still so much to do and see here.”


15 sleaper guesthouse in the heart of Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

A guesthouse and party venue in Phnom Penh.


Dj Guesthouse. This hostel is the only music themed hostel in the whole of Phnom Penh. It only houses 15 beds, which means it’s got a very close knit and homely feel. This makes it very easy to connect with travelers from around the world.  


Live Music, Food and great vibes is what you’ll find at Dj Guesthouse.


What to do and see

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum


Renamed S21, More 13000 people were executed here.

High school turned into a torture, interrogation and killing center.


This is a museum chronicling the Cambodian genocide that happened between 1975 and 1979 during the infamous Khmer Rouge regime. The site was a high school turned into a torture prison, at one time it held more than 1500 prisoners.

A tuk tuk from the hostel here is about $20, its entrance to the center is about $6. This is just to enter into the whole complex. The tour is about 2 hours long.


Bed used to tourture and execute victims at Tuol Sleng.

One of the many torture rooms that the executed victims in at Tuol Sleng.


“You get given headphones and walk from platform to platform and listen. It really is such a deep insight into the very worst of humankind. The whole experience in the museum though is very moving, definitely worth a visit.”

Sian only spent one night in Phnom Penh. But these are some of the other things she wishes she’d have gone to had she stayed longer:

Visiting The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda – Official residence of the Cambodian royal family and houses numerous religious relics.

Visiting Silk Island – only a short drive and ferry away, Silk Island’s peaceful and therapeutic aura feels a million miles away from the city’s hustle and bustle.

Koh Rong

After a very hectic day in Phnom Penh, the next day Sian took a minibus van to Koh Rong which cost her $15 and took +/- 5 hours.


Scenic views from the the Cambodian coastal town.

Views from the Monkey Island resort.


Monkey Island – “We’d booked to stay here for three nights, but when we got here it was not what we were expecting. Hundreds of bars and pubs playing Cambodian house music pretty much all night, so we just stayed for 1 night instead.”

“If you like partying then you’re in for a treat in Koh Rong, we were so exhausted after a hectic day on the minivan which explains why we did not enjoy it.”

After a day in Koh Rong, Sian took a ferry for $6 which took 20 mins to neighboring Koh Rong Sanloem.



Simple thatch cabins at eco Village, Koh Rong.

Simple thatch cabins at Eco Village, Koh Rong Sanloem.


Eco Village – “We spent 2 nights here, it was very basic but it was everything we needed – our thatch cabin was literally 20 meters from the edge of the ocean, it was absolutely beautiful!”


Touching the ocean from cabin in Koh Rong

Waking up to unbelievable view in Cambodia.


Paradise Villa – “We decided to treat ourselves for 1 night here. Slightly more expensive but also more secluded on the other side of the speed ferry pier. Definitely a breathtaking experience as it feels like you are completely alone on the island.”


Undisturbed sea views in Koh Rong Snaloem.

Stunning beaches from the Paradise villa in Koh Rong Sanloem.


What to do and see


Picture perfect beach views in Koh Rong Sanloem.

Relaxing and undisturbed sea views.


Chilling, tanning and relaxing is what this gorgeous island is for. “This place is perfect for just vegetating on beautiful beaches all day long. It’s very mellow, so quiet and exactly what we needed at this point of our trip”


beach swing in Koh rong Sanloem.

Riding a very peaceful beach swing.


“If you stay on the sunrise side, you can walk through the jungle (beautiful path) to the sunset side which only takes about 30 minutes”


Swinging on a a beach swing on a magical island.

A not to miss swing on this stunning island.


“You can usually organize a day tour to go snorkeling, fishing and swimming with the luminous phytoplankton, but we unfortunately went during full moon so we couldn’t see the phytoplankton sadly.”


A perfect sunset at Koh Rong Sanloem - Cambodia.

Perfect sunset at Koh Rong Sanloem.


← Part 1: Siem Reap to Battambang


Sian Owen is a South African Business Science graduate and photographer. She specializes in wedding and lifestyle photography. This series of bog posts follows her recent trip through Cambodia and Vietnam, showcasing the incredible beauty of these two fascinating countries.

To see more of Sian’s amazing photography, here are her contact details:


Instagram: @sianowenphotography@sian_owen
Phone: +27 79 981 0981


Interested in Teaching English, volunteering or interning abroad? We’ll send you more info!






About Ntobeko Ntombela

Ntobeko is TravelBud's marketing intern and is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) in Digital Marketing. Read more about him and other TravelBud authors.

He handles TravelBud's social media, blog writing and general content creation. Check out the inspiring stories he's created on the TravelBud Instagram page, featuring TravelBud alumni and their incredible experiences teaching and volunteering abroad.

He's done a fair bit of travel in his life, having explored Thailand, the UK, Italy, France and Germany.

His favorite place so far? That would be Rome, Italy but coming in a close second, thanks to a few memorable nights out, would be Phuket, Thailand.

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