Kingdom is the sure way to go. However, if you’re an outdoorsy person with an affinity for nature, you might prefer to travel somewhere else where you can bask under the wonders of not just five but thousands of stars.
There’s a problem, though. You’re new to camping and don’t know the first step to planning a camping trip. Fret not, because we are here to guide you on how you can enjoy the great outdoors to the fullest extent.
Looking for the right tent
If you are going on a camping trip to a tropical country like Cambodia, the first thing that you must pack will be a tent that will be suitable for such a hot and humid climate. Choosing the wrong one can result in a terrible experience, including waking up soaked in sweat or worse, lose what should have been a good night’s sleep outdoors.
We recommend the lightweight Mountainsmith Morrison 2 Person Tent, with windows that provide great ventilation. It also has a comfortable and spacious interior and can withstand a range of weather conditions. For an even better experience, buy the top-quality and waterproof Marmot Tungsten 3 Person Tent, which has taped seams and a full-coverage rain fly. Although more expensive, this tent is sure to make you feel as comfortable as possible while with nature.
You can order these tents via Amazon or buy them at local camping shops such as Decathlon Cambodia at AEON Mall Sen Sok and Cambodian Camping on Street 202.
What to bring
While many may be tempted to pack as much as they can prior to a camping trip, this is less than ideal as hiking to your destination will surely be a tough endeavour; not to mention how it will defeat the purpose of reconnecting with nature. You should stick to the minimalist concept by only bringing what you need.
There are five must-haves when camping: a sleeping bag, a picnic mat, a multi-tool kit, a lantern and some utensils. Only after you’ve secured these should you start thinking about other things. When faced with options, select the lighter or smaller one or the one that can serve multiple purposes.
For instance, a smartphone can stand in place of numerous devices – an mp3 player, a camera, a flashlight, a video game console and so on. Of course, this would still depend on your preferences. If you’re a wandering musician, feel free to bring a guitar that can liven up and accompany those campfire songs.
The camping meals
When we think of the ideal campfire food, we think of grilled meat. But can you imagine sitting next to the fire, grilling meat for hours under the sweltering heat? For safety and comfort, you should stick to something quick and easy and limit the use of your camping grills to nighttime or when the weather is relatively cooler.
Food can spoil easily in hot weather, so you have to handle the storage of your food thoroughly by packing them in tight, waterproof bags or containers and keeping them in an insulated cooler. In addition, cook your food to the right temperature (for example, beef and chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of at least 160 degree).
We recommended long-sleeve shirts and pants, which are perfect for both camping and hiking. They can help protect you from mosquitoes and other pesky insects. It’s a plus if your clothes are made from light cotton as those will surely be breathable and will keep you cool. Jeans and tight clothes are to be avoided because the former could weigh you down when wet and do not dry easily while the latter could restrict your movement.
Wear appropriate and comfortable shoes because even something as minor as a blister can easily become infected. It is always a good idea to bring an extra pair of shoes. Oh, don’t forget to look into your shoes before putting them on.
You have to pay closer attention to your well-being when you are camping in a tropical region. Mosquitoes, ticks and other insects can be carriers of certain diseases. To help prevent bites, apply insect repellent containing DEET to exposed skin. Be sure to follow directions written on the package. Check for ticks daily and remove them promptly. In addition, drink at least two litres of water a day while camping and add in an extra 0.5 litre if consuming alcohol.
Fuel-burning equipment such as gas stoves, heaters, lanterns and charcoal grills can cause dangerous levels of carbon monoxide to build up. So, avoid using them inside a tent, camper, or other enclosed shelter to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Know your limits and take steps to avoid sustaining injuries while engaging in camping activities, especially by wearing protection gears. You must never hike or swim alone either. Remember James Franco from 127 hours?
Where to camp in Cambodia
Okay, campers! Now that you have a rudimentary understanding of camping, it’s time to answer the most important question: Where will you go? Here are some of our recommendations:
- Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island)
A small patch of land off the coast of Kep town and accessible only by boat, Koh Tonsay is the perfect getaway to hide from the bustling city. On the island are local fishermen and families who run the bungalow cottages and eateries. Here, you can reconnect with nature while filling your belly with fresh seafood for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- Virachey National Park in Ratanakiri province
This is a great place to experience nature, where you disconnect from the city life to a point where even a mobile phone service is unavailable. Trekking only with the official National Park trekking provider, you may choose from and enjoy kayaking, indigenous homestay, camping in the forest, community-based ecotourism and so on.
- Bokor Hill Station in Kampot
This signature landmark is famous for so many things; from the clouds swirling around the mountain that offer cool weather regardless of the season to Than Sour Bokor Resort, with its luxurious accommodations, not to mention the breathtaking views which can be sighted from the mountain top. Part of the hotel complex is a camping site with tents for rental, which come quite handy if you do not have time to buy your own.
- Phnom Kulen National Park in Siem Reap
This is the most well-known and most popular camping site in Cambodia. The campsite is well designed for travellers who have a passion for trekking, camping and wish to explore the jungle of the holy Phnom Kulen and Beng Mealea temple complex.
- Khnong Phsar Mountain
Khnong Phsar shares three provincial boundaries; Kampong Speu, Koh Kong and Pursat. Hikers from Phnom Penh usually visit Khnong Phsar via the Kampong Speu entry point as it’s the closest one to reach from the city. It is at the top of the list of eco-tourism destinations as shown by the number of people heading out there every weekend to camp.