- Added on: September 22nd, 2012
This sounds like a sweet trip, I hope I'm not responding to this too late to be of help to you, but I got a few suggestions for you. Forgive me for being long winded. I came to Cambodia over a year ago (first I went to Thailand in 2006) and I got a few suggestions for ya. First off, you are already planning on northern Thailand, so don't miss Pai, its a special feeling place. You have also said that you want to be off the beaten path, which I could argue Laos and Cambodia both are in their entirety, Angkor Wat drives tourism to the north of Cambodia but I really think you should visit there anyways. Siem Reap is a cool town, besides the Angkorian Temples you got a lively scene for young people on around the Night Market and on Pub Street, Check out; Temple Bar, Angkor What? or around the corner Top Banana Beach Bar for easy places to meet other people your age. The other two main destinations in Cambodia are Sihanoukville (the beach) and Phnom Penh (the capital). Sihanoukville is great for your desire to get off the beaten path, there are beaches south of the city that are still almost untouched, and the islands off the coast will have huge commercial resorts soon and its a great chance to catch them without more constructions than a set of bungalows or hammocks on the beach. Look up Koh Ru a nearby island (called "Bamboo Island" sometimes) or Koh Rong which is farther away, the boats to the islands should begin running again around the beginning of October as the rains all settle down. In the Kingdom of Wonder, all roads lead to Phnom Penh. You may find traveling around the country that to go where you want you have to first go to Phnom Penh, this is unfortunate as some times you have to go out of your way to get to a destination, but it also makes Phnom Penh an epic hub for southeast Asia. Phnom Penh is the capital city, and rocks some great places and scenes for travelers. Up on the riverside you have many of the good bars and fancy restaurants, but also some of the seedier types of bars as well. I want to specifically suggest to you the BKK1 (boeung keng kang 1 the foreigner district) where you have Golden Street (278) and tons of surrounding businesses that cater to westerners. On street 278 you have Equinox, which is a popular hangout for the french Expats and also hosts live music and dancing a few nights a week, next to it you have Liquid, more of a cocktail lounge, and opposite those 2 stories up is the original Top Banana, I met tons of my friends there and its the easiest environment for networking and finding travel buddies. It's a guesthouse and it is a party place for backpackers, so if you want somewhere quiet to sleep look at some of the other places in walking distance, Mini Banana, Mad Monkey, White Rabbit, Blue Dog or One Up. Unlike the Riverside or other areas in the city, it still remains a mostly lady friendly nightlife. A few other suggestions around Cambodia, check out Kampot a beautiful sleepy town on the river (search for Bokor Casino, Greenhouse, Bodhi Villa and Utopia in Kampot) and finally Kep, the Beach that was the popular destination in the colonial era. I'm really passionate about Cambodia and I hope you visit and then inspire more people to do so, I love this little spot off the usual travel maps. Please just ask if you have any questions or comment if you are reading this and have something to add. I hope this helps you!