The Itinerary. (To be confirmed.)
16 Oct 2016 | Explore Phnom Penh
This is the day before the tour starts and is an optional day at an optional extra cost (Details/Costs TBC). We’ll take you to see a few of the local sights and attractions including The Royal Palace, Central Market and Choeung Ek – The Killing Fields. This last one is a very sobering experience and has purposefully been left out of our official tour for this reason, but for those of you not familiar with Cambodia’s history, it will offer you a valuable insight into the country’s tragic past.
Otherwise the tour starts with check in to our hotel ready for an early pre-breakfast start the next morning.
(Overnight in Phnom Penh.)
If you happen to fly in earlier and require accommodation, please contact us and we will do our best to help you out with this.
17 Oct 2016 | The City Run
Enjoy a relatively modest, early morning run through the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. We’ll leave early to beat the heat and traffic, and run past some of the city’s major landmarks including The Royal Palace, The Independence Monument, Riverside and Diamond Island (where the Tonle Sap meets the Mekong), Naga World Casino and finishing at Wat Phnom (temple). We’ll stop at the temple, have a quick look around and release some ‘good luck birds’. Then it’s time to head back to the hotel and get freshened up for the 3hr bus ride down to Kep.
(Overnight in Kep)
18 Oct 2016 | Bike Ride & Cave Temple.
Starting in Kep, we drive further East almost all the way to the Vietnamese border to discover one of the hidden gems of the area… a series of small limestone mountains that were one of the last Khmer Rouge holdouts. We’ll go for a ‘figure 8’ 10km route past the mountains, through rice fields and back past the local villages, and our ‘finish line’ will be inside the main cave to see the hidden cave temple. Don’t worry about the word ‘mountains’, our route dead flat. We go around the mountains, not up or over them. OK, there’s one small pass that requires pushing the bikes up and down a few stairs, otherwise it’s flat. We promise. (Can also be done as a run if you’re feeling energetic.)
In the afternoon, you’ll have time to relax by the pool or even wander down to the nearby beach for a swim and have a meal at the legendary crab shacks.
(Overnight in Kep)
19 Oct 2016 | Rock Climbing & Caving.
Today we’re off to another one of the local limestone mountain outcrops to do a spot of rock climbing and some slightly more serious caving. Before you panic, here’s what our scaredy cat Chief Swashbuckler Sputnik has to say about this activity: “Let’s get something straight, I hate heights. But I did this activity and survived. The climb up is physically demanding, about a 7/10, but it is over with pretty quickly and once you reach the ‘top’ the real physical stuff is done. Form there you use a secure line to pick your way across the top of the mountain. This is a bit fiddly, but you’re strapped in at all times and isn’t that different to making your way across a rocky surface, you just happen to be up the side of a mountain when you do it. You finish by abseiling down a natural ‘chimney’ where, if you don’t like heights you can just shut your eyes and dangle while you get lowered to the bottom! If you want to pass this part of the activity, you can spectate and then join us for the caving afterwards. We’ll make our way through a series of caves. About 70% of this is pretty straight forward walking around, about 20% of it involves some more energetic scrambling and squeezing, and about 10% of it is squeezing through tight spaces – but never for longer than a few seconds at a time.” This activity is definitely not for the faint-hearted (or claustrophobic), but is highly recommended. Physically, this activity is relatively modest, the main difficulty is in dealing with the heights and tight spaces.
Have the afternoon off, or if you’re still feeling energetic, head up nearby Kep Mountain for a stroll on the 9km mountain trail with an option to enjoy the sunset from the aptly named Sunset Rock.
(Overnight in Kep)
20 Oct 2016 | Kayaking & River Cruise
We’ll have the morning off before heading over to nearby Kampot for lunch. After lunch we’ll visit one of the local fishing villages, then head up river to The Green Loop – a narrow and spectacular offshoot of the main river where we’ll go for a nice, gentle kayak through palm trees and jungle. We’ll then have dinner on a boat as we float back down the main river at sunset to the city of Kampot before making our way back to Kep for the night.
(Overnight in Kep)
21 Oct 2016 | Explore Mt Bokor
Today we have an easy day touring the top of Bokor mountain. You’ll have time to explore all the mountain top sights, including the old resort ruins, Popokville waterfall, the clifftop Buddhist temple, and the abandoned Catholic church. We’ll also take you on a drive of the half marathon course so you can see where you’ll be running the next day. (If you’re a cyclist, and not a runner, we can look to enter you into the 17, 34 or 51km bike race on this day, and you can do your sight seeing on the 23rd.)
(Overnight on Bokor)
22 Oct 2016 | The Bokor Mountain Half Marathon
For our final day you’ll have guaranteed entry into the Bokor Mountain Half Marathon. And don’t panic, if you’re not up for the 21.2km distance of the half marathon, there’s also a 3, 5 & 10km run so there really is something for everyone. This event will take you past jungle and the clifftop ruins of the old resort. This may not be the biggest race going around, but it’s a great place to notch up a half marathon and collect some bling.
This is the final day, so after you have a shower and check out, we’ll come back down the mountain, and finish in Kampot. You can either stay there, head back to Phnom Penh, over to Sihanoukville, or make your own arrangements to do… something else. Depending on what you choose to do, we can help arrange transport for you. Please note, transfers from Kampot are not included in the tour as there are too many variables, but let us know what you need and we’ll do our best to help and get you here you need to go.
Frequently Asked Questions.
What kind of person will love this tour?
If you like being active, spending time in nature, discovering new things, having a laugh, taking photos, running a bit, warm weather and just generally seeing/doing cool, unusual or slightly adventurous things, you’ll pretty much love this tour.
If you’re happy to go with the flow, fly by the seat of your pants, and make things up as you go along, you’ll have an absolute blast.
If you like hanging out with (mostly) like-minded people from all over the world and don’t mind running at a pace that’s possibly slower than your usual pace so everyone can keep up, and roughing it a little at times, you’ll be just fine and have a really, really good time.
If you’ve ever been to South East Asia before and liked it, or think you can cope with local Asian food, go without most of your usual comfort foods and mod-cons, don’t mind the warm weather (ie bloody hot), crappy roads and at times stupid traffic, and things never going quite according to plan, then yep, by all means sign up, this tour has got your name written all over it.
If you’ve ever wanted to go to Cambodia but don’t know how to go about seeing some of the absolute highlights of the country, this is a pretty cool way to do it and you should sign up for sure.
If you’re a single traveler and want to travel in a safe, fun and friendly environment, this will be right up your alley and we’d love to have you along.
That pretty much sums up all the people who are going to love this tour. Probably some others as well, but it’s a good start.
What kind of person should NOT come on this tour?
OK, let’s be clear here, out loud we say everyone is welcome and will have an amazing time, but we don’t really mean that. What we really mean is almost everyone is welcome and will have an amazing time. There are a few exceptions.
So if you don’t like running, runners or being active, this may not be your best choice of tours. You can absolutely have a great time without the running, but the other activities we have planned are still activity-based, so if your idea of a great holiday is sitting on the beach drinking cheap beer, it might be better for all of us if you save your money and pass on this tour. Likewise, if you don’t like Asian food, the odd insect bite, muddy shoes, hot weather or sweating like a mad man (or woman).
If you like your tours to run like clockwork, with everything going perfectly smoothly, this tour may challenge you. We run a pretty tight (and safe) ship, but there are lots of things that are out of our control, (like the traffic, weather etc), so if improvising as we go is likely to upset you, maybe give it a miss.
If your idea of roughing it is 4.5 stars, you might find some of the hotels we stay in below your usual standards. Even though we stay in good quality hotels, it’s a fair bet that sometimes the hot water won’t work properly, the shower pressure will be a bit rubbish or the electricity will go out. That’s Cambodia. If these sorts of things are likely to ruin your day, you may want to try New York or Las Vegas instead.
Or if you’re just a bit of a whiner and like to complain about everything, maybe save all of us the trouble and do a different tour. Don’t get us wrong, we’re here to make sure you have the most ridiculously good time ever and our mission is to make sure you have such an amazing time you tell all your friends about it and come back and do one of our other tours next time. But some people are never happy, and if you’re one of them, we’d love it if you didn’t come.
NOTE: One more thing. Now this is a slightly tricky one, but we’re going to say it anyway. On the off chance you’re a smoker, Cambodia is one of those places where you can still smoke pretty much wherever you like. But on our tour, we implement a common sense smoke-free policy. That means if you want to smoke, and are happy to bugger off and do it where it doesn’t affect anyone on our tour, then by all means puff away. However, if you light up where the people on our tour can smell it, we consider that a health (and happiness) risk and will ask you to refrain. We can’t control what every single person in Cambodia does, but we can do our best to keep our people happy and healthy so you will be asked to comply with this or risk being politely frowned at and in extreme cases, told you smell. In really extreme cases you will be asked to leave the tour without refund.
Will it be hot?
Yes, very. At times, it will be so hot you’ll think you’ve run to the gates of hell. But we can confirm we don’t actually go anywhere near the gates of hell, it might just feel like it. So bring sunscreen. And a good, protective hat. And drink enough water to drown a fish.
Will it be cold?
Weirdly enough, despite the previous answer, at times, quite possibly. Most of the time it is much more likely to be hot. But there may be a few times when it will be cooler. So bring something suitable for these conditions. You’re unlikely to need a down jacket and gloves. But a light sleeve may come in handy.
What kind of hotels will we be staying in?
It will be a bit of a mixture, but let’s go with ‘decent’. We won’t be in the high-end luxury hotels, but you won’t be sleeping on the ground under a tree either. Think of them as ‘mid-range’ which means they will have hot water and air conditioning. Possibly even a fridge and a TV.
Why don’t we just stay in one hotel the whole time?
Really good question, and the truth is, we would love to have done this. It would have made life a lot easier, but Cambodia is just too big to do the range of things we want to do and be based in one hotel. For this reason we’ve decided to move hotels during the tour. We know staying just one night at a hotel can be a bit of a pain but it means we spend a lot less time on the bus!
Can you find me someone to share with?
Possibly. If you’re travelling alone but you’re happy to share with someone else to save a few dollars, let us know and we’ll try match you up with someone else travelling on their own. Obviously we can’t promise this as it depends on who’s coming, but email us and we’ll see what we can do.
Can more than two people share a hotel room?
It depends on the hotel. If you have a group of 3 people let us know, and we’ll check with each of our hotels to see which one allows 3 people in the same room.
Is this trip suitable for children?
If you’re interested in bringing your children along, let us know and we’ll go through each day with you to let you know what they will be able to join in on and what the applicable rates will be. Funnily enough, other than the running, kids could probably join in on most activities. We haven’t actually costed the kids option as we have had no requests to date, so please contact us if you’d like more information on this option and we’ll look into it and see what’s possible.
Are all my meals included?
No. But a lot of them are. Breakfast is always included. Lunch is included where specified – which is most of them. Most dinners aren’t included. We did this for two reasons: Firstly, it was just too darn difficult to calculate with so many options available and secondly, it made sense to give you more freedom to eat what you want, where you want in the evenings so you’re not stuck with the same bunch of people every minute of every day. Not that the people won’t be lovely of course, as a general rule, runners usually are. But this gives you time and space to do your own thing if you wish. On most nights we will nominate a place to eat where you can still hang out with the other runners if you like. In our experience, this is what happens most of the time.
What will the food be like?
They’re not actually that big on salad or vegetables in Cambodia, (although there’s usually plenty of fruit!) so it’s not likely to be the healthiest food you’ve ever eaten, although obviously we’ll do our best to eat at places where the food is as good as we can possibly get. We should note that while our own eating preferences are relatively healthy, this certainly isn’t a health retreat so please don’t expect the food to be too healthy! Besides, you’ll burn off all the carbs as you go, so try not to get too worked up about it
What if I’m vegetarian or have other special food requirements?
Sputnik, your host, is vegetarian and he manages just fine. If you’ve seen pictures of him you’ll know he certainly doesn’t go without his food. (Although admittedly he does cheat and eat a bit of seafood. He calls it ‘Vegaquarian’ apparently. Whatever.) Rest assured, there’ll still be plenty to eat even if you don’t eat meat.
Breakfast will usually be something like pancakes and/or eggs. Some of the places we stay have a breakfast buffet which means you can choose from all kinds of things. Lunch will usually be local. And since you can do whatever you want for dinner, you can eat pretty much anything you like and we can certainly do our best to point you in the right direction if there’s something specific you’d like to eat. As a general rule, local food is pretty good value and if you want something more Western (steak, burger etc) it’s a bit more expensive.
If you have a more complex food requirement or allergy (vegan, lacto etc etc) we’re sorry, but we have no way of catering for this. The places we’re going to and eating at simply aren’t sophisticated enough to cater for this. Potentially you could buy some of your own food supplies – with one or two exceptions most of the places we’ll be going have good access to supermarkets etc – but that’s the best we can do. Sorry. If you’re not sure, this might be one of those things you need to email us about.
Is it safe to drink the water?
No, not really. The safest thing to do is always use bottled water for drinking and even for things like brushing your teeth. Within reason, we’ll make sure you have a basic supply of safe drinking water pretty much all of the time. If you need more water at 2am, you’re on your own.
How much money will I need to bring with me?
Hmmm… good question. Cambodia is a relatively ‘cheap’ country in the scheme of things. We can’t comment on how much you’ll need for shopping, that bit’s entirely up to you. While you’re on tour, the main things you’ll need money for are food and drinks.
Drinks like water, soft drink/soda and beer are usually only US$1-$2. (Spirits, cocktails and wines can all be comparatively expensive… $7-$10+ depending on where we are.)
With the exception of some really fancy places or if you’re going to order the most expensive, Western thing on the menu, a decent main meal will usually cost you less than US$10.
So 10 days of Dinners with a few basic drinks will be about US$150. And buying extra drinks at lunch or during the day may be up to another US$100 for the week. (We’ll make sure you have drinking water included but if you want a Coke etc you’ll usually need to pay for that yourself.)
Will I have any spare time to do my own thing?
Yes, a bit. We’ll run a fairly full itinerary but on most days this will be more morning-based and sometimes you’ll have the afternoon to relax, explore, hang by the pool or do whatever it is else you’d like to do. The day by day breakdown will give you a good idea of when this free time is available. Although Cambodia is a relatively small country, getting to and from places can take a little longer than expected due to the roads and traffic.
If there’s something you’d really like to do, you may like to consider adding a few days or even a week on the end of the tour to allow for some real relaxation. Or more running!
Where should I stay if I want to stay longer?
There’s plenty of amazing places to stay while you’re in Cambodia. And all kinds of hotels, from the very cheap and basic through to five star luxury. If you want some advice on what to do and where to stay, by all means email us and we’ll do our best to point you in the right direction.
What do I need to bring with me?
We have a suggested gear list on our website. Check that out.. It will tell you pretty much everything you need to know.
Do I need travel insurance?
Absolutely, you’d be silly not to. And, in fact, we won’t confirm your place until we see proof that you have it. This isn’t us trying to be difficult, it’s just one of those tricky subjects we have to cover off. While we all hope none of us will ever need it, it’s a really good idea to have it. Naturally, we’ll go above and beyond to make sure you stay safe and well while you’re with us, but as everyone knows, sometimes things can and do go wrong and it’s time like these we all need insurance. Whether that’s for something like a lost bag or a medical expense. So please send us a copy of your insurance details as soon as you have them. We’ll keep these on file for you on the off chance something does go wrong.
What if something bad happens?
OK, so this is a really good question. The reality is that despite our best efforts to make sure you stay safe and sound 100% of the time, life is unpredictable. Sometimes even more so in these parts of the world. Mostly, it’s not likely to be anything life threatening, but when we’re out and about all kinds of things can go wrong. From tummy problems to sprained ankles… or other injuries and ailments.
So here’s what you need to know: There will be no doctor on this trip. Your hosts will have basic first aid training but that’s all. If something goes wrong there are several good medical centres in Cambodia and we will get you there (or somewhere nearer for minor issues etc) as fast as we possibly can. From there, your travel insurance will kick in and you’ll be well looked after. Sorry if that all sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s best to be up front about it.
(And yes, as awkward as this subject sometimes is, we may as well get this out of the way now – we do make you sign a form saying it’s not our fault if something serious goes wrong. This is one of those crappy legal things we have to cover off and what your travel insurance is for. All you’re doing is joining us and we’re showing you the way.)
What if I don’t want to do one of the runs or activities?
Don’t. This trip will still be pretty awesome even if you only do 37% of the things we have planned! You can choose to have an entire day off and rejoin us the following day, sleep in and meet us for the activity afterwards or pick and choose the bits that sound the best.
Do I get any discount if I don’t do all the runs/activities?
Sorry, but no. The way we’ve put this tour together means it’s an all up inclusive cost no matter what. If for any reason you decide not to, or are unable to complete the tour, you’ll have to rely on your travel insurance for any possible refund as we will already have well and truly spent your money booking everything for you. Sorry.
Will the free T-shirt be awesome?
Yeah, pretty awesome.
How fast will we be running?
This isn’t a race so we’ve designed it for people of ‘moderate’ running ability – which means we won’t be racing it. Every run will be speed limited by Sputnik’s pace and the pace of the group in general. This may mean we’ll need to stop every now and then to make sure everyone can keep up.
If you want to run faster than the pack this will be possible on some runs where the track/path/trail is well-defined and easy to follow. On other days it’s too difficult to navigate without a guide so you’ll need to stick with the pack or risk spending the rest of your life in the woods being raised by monkeys.
As a guide, if you can run 10km ‘comfortably’ you should be fine. This means running 10kms in something like 60 or 70 minutes and not be limping around for a few days afterwards. Keep in mind, there’s something on every day, so you won’t get the rest day(s) you usually do when you’re running at home.
We’ll also be running on trails on some days, so if you’re not used to trails, this is something you may want to factor into your preparation.
A half marathon training program with some trails/hills/stair work thrown in would be good preparation.
Can I wear normal road running shoes?
Yes, absolutely. Some of the places we’ll be going will be a little rough and possibly even slippery if it’s a bit wet or muddy. Ideally you might consider bringing one pair of regular running shoes and one pair of trail running shoes. (See gear list.)
Having more than one pair may also come in handy if one pair gets wet as it can be difficult to dry shoes and clothes when we’re on the go and it’s humid.
How do we get from one place to the next?
We’ve booked a bus to take us from place to place and we’ve gone out of our way to make sure it’s a really nice, comfortable bus. But here’s the thing: Unlike the hotels and trips that we check out personally, we don’t personally, hand-pick a specific bus. We just book one from the bus company so there’s a slight variable here.
We’re actually not all that fond of buses, so we’ve gone out of our way to make sure you won’t be crammed in like sardines by booking a bigger bus than we actually need. The company we’ve booked through are supposed to be one of the better ones going around as well, so other than cross our fingers we’ve done as much as we possibly can to make sure the bus is a good one.
(If for whatever reason you decide not to take the bus with us, it will be up to you to make your way to the next destination. We strongly recommend you don’t do this.)
Do I need to have any vaccinations before I go to Cambodia?
There are plenty of things we’re good at here at The Swashbucklers Club, unfortunately being doctors isn’t one of them. Many people who go to Cambodia choose to have various shots/vaccinations but you’ll need to check with your own doctor as to what they may suggest and make your own decisions on this one.
Do I need a VISA to get into Cambodia?
One of the reasons we let you book your own flights is so we don’t have to be experts in the different rules that apply to different people from different countries. As a general rules, yes, you need a VISA but how you go about arranging this may vary from country to country. You should confirm the details of your VISA requirements yourself or with your travel agent.
What if I book, then can’t come?
At The Swashbucklers Club we really, really like being nice. So we’ll always do our absolute best to do ‘the right thing’ and help you out in any way we can. But here’s the thing – we need to book, and pay for, quite a bit of stuff quite a long way in advance. That means when you pay a deposit, or your full amount, we spend quite a big chunk of it making sure you’ve got a seat on the bus, a bed to sleep in, a place in a raft and all that. And we are bound by everyone else’s cancellation policies as to how much money we get back if we cancel your place. That means if we don’t get any money back from those companies, we won’t have any money to give you back. Unfortunately that means we have to have our own ‘Terms & Conditions’. Which we hate doing, but there’s simply no way around it.
What are the Terms and Conditions?
Your deposit is 100% non-refundable. It basically costs us more than your deposit to secure your place. So once you’ve paid that, we’re afraid it’s not coming back. Even if you say “pretty please”.
We’re also going to officially state here that any balance paid is also 100% non-refundable. (This is not because we’re mean or looking to retire to the South of France with your money any time soon, but rather because we are also subject to quite a lot of cancellation fees ourselves. We will consider any cancellation requests, but regardless of how good your reason is, we simply may not be able to offer you a refund. This is another one of those times where you travel insurance will come in handy!)
If we have to cancel the tour for our own reasons, obviously you’ll get a 100% refund. No question about that. If the tour is cancelled due to external factors, (extreme weather, act of God etc) no refund will be given – sorry, but again, that’s what your travel insurance is for!
Is there any other official/legal stuff we need to know?
Sadly, as much as we’re all about fun and adventure, we do have to say some official stuff, and it’s this: We reserve the right to cancel the tour or alter the itinerary if necessary.
The other thing we need to make clear is that while The Swashbucklers Club is a division of Soul City Pty Ltd, a highly reputable Australian company operating several well known and successful businesses, we’re not a ‘Licensed Travel Agent’ (which is why we get you to do all your own flights etc), but rather just a ‘club’ that organises stuff to do in cool places. Our tour is purely Cambodia-based and we simply invite you to come join us while you’re there and we have ‘Club Hosts’ who will help make sure things run as smoothly as possible along the way. This is one of those local governance things we need to make clear to comply with rules and regulations here in Australia. We do, however, partner with local tour companies and guides in Cambodia at times.
How do I pay?
The best/easiest/cheapest way to pay is by direct deposit into our company account.. Within Australia this is free for us and free for you, which means you pay the exact amount on the invoice. We can also accept payments directly into our ANZ Royal Cambodian bank account if this is easier for you.
If you pay from outside of Australia there is usually a small fee associated with your payment, but it is paid by you at your end, so again, you just pay the regular amount.
If you want to pay by credit card we can process that through PayPal but those guys charge a fee that we have to pass on to you. Which makes it a little more expensive. These fees vary depending on where you are. To confirm the exact amount, please contact us and we’ll confirm the final amount. (They are usually between 2.4% and 3.4%.)
Got any other questions we haven’t answered here? Ask away!