Top 10 Places to Visit in Cambodia
Planning a break to Cambodia? Although this country might look small on a map there are so many places you should visit, not just Angor Wat! Don't leave Cambodia without visiting our top 10 must visit places...
1. Siem Reap
World famous Cambodian hospitality awaits you in the capital and also Siem Riep - both offer a huge range of cultural and historical attractions including the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, Angor Wat and the National Museum. This is where a lot of tours start, or stop due to the close central location to explore the rest of the country. A vibrant and lively city, Siem Reap should be explored for a few days before heading on to Angkor. Cambodia has so much to offer, and people now want to experience first hand just what makes these two countries so special. There are now more hotels than temples in the city, a response to increasing demand from tourists and tour operators.
2. Angkor Temples
One essential no condition stop for any trip to Cambodia is Angkor and you should dedicate a full day or more to visiting the famous temples complex located close to Siem Reap (Cambodia's second city and the nearest to Angkor). Most overland tours include free days where you can explore Angkor and its hugest temple Angkor Wat which among the most famous buildings on the planet. Angkor Watt is hugely symbolic of the country’s glorious past and the Khmer Empire. The temple’s brilliant architecture ensures the Angkor Wat is recognised as one of the eight wonders of the World. Also there are more than 1,000 temples located here, with the crowning glory being the Angkor Wat, a site regarded as the planet's largest religious monument. Many temples have been meticulously restored, with the Angkor ruins attracting approximately two million visitors a year.
You will be just awestruck when discovering the sight the first time and the amazement continues when you realise that what you see is only a fragment of something gigantic. Angkor was in its time (up to the sixteenth century) the biggest city in the world. You can get a private driver/guide or see the temples independently and visiting Angkor is something better done on several days, one bit at a time ideally! Angkor Watt is the most famous, try to go here for sunrise for a very mystical and spiritual experience. You can visit for a day or buy a longer pass and there are lots of temples to explore including Angkor Thom which was featured in the film Tomb Raider and looks amazing as its covered in really huge tree roots.
3. Aki Ra's Landmine Museum
Located in Siem Riep, Aki Ra's landmine museum is a really recommended place to visit where you can learn more about Cambodia's brutal past. Aki Ra is a man who used to be a child soldier in the Khmer Rouge and who planted landmines across the county during the past conflict. When he got older and when the conflict ended he worked for the UN to help remove the landmines he and the Khmer Rough planted. He become frustrated with the complicated process and cost of removing the mines and so started voluntarily to remove them himself with just a knife and a stick. Aki Ra has helped save hundreds of lives and made Cambodia a safer place with is bare hands. You can view more information and see some of the mines he has made safe at the Landmine Museum in Siem Riep.
Cambodia might not strike you as having good beaches but believe us, it does. Travel to Sihanoukville and you will find a relaxing coastal town with a backpacker vibe, white sandy beaches and also the opportunity to learn to scuba dive. Sihanoukville has become more popular in recent years and therefore more busy with tourists, you can now find luxury resorts and hotels here. If you are looking to escape the crowds and mainland head to the deserted islands located nearby. This is a great place to stay and go scuba diving in Cambodia.
5. Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is a large city and also the capital of Cambodia. There is lots to see and do here and these are our top tips, aim to see a show at the National Museum or if you are interested in wildlife and animal conservation head to the Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre. For an insight into Cambodia's brutal past visit the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleung Genocide Museum which are both quite disturbing places but you will learn a lot about the Pol Pot regime and how Cambodia is moving on since these times.
Kep is located on the coast and is very quiet compared to Sihanoukville. Try the local seafood or just kick back and relax in Kep and you will love it, you could visit for a day or even choose to stay longer.
Wildlife is another of Cambodia's draws, with the picturesque town of Kampot located close to Bokor National Park. You can visit Mondulkiri Province to see elephants in the jungle or watch Kratie's dolphins.
If you have been looking up places to visit in Cambodia you might not of heard of Kratie which you might end up passing through, there isn't much here for tourists but this is a great place where you can experience the not so touristy side to the country. Explore the local markets and also join a river dolphin tour which is really amazing.
9. Foating Villages
There are a few floating villages in Cambodia and you will get to experience a way people live unlike many places in the world. People live in wooden huts and structures on the river, you'll see some basic houses which have incredibly large tv's which are quite a sight. We would recommend avoiding the Chong Khneas floating village, this is a bit of a touristy trap where you might be charged a lot of money, always be sure to shop around for the best price.
This is an off the beaten track destination and great if you are looking to escape the crowds of tourists in Siem Riep and Phnom Penh. You will get to see rural villages on the way here where locals will wave and greet you and so the journey is worth the experience alone. In Battambang you can see some old temples and just take in the local culture.