Top 10 Places to Visit in Cambodia
Planning a break to Cambodia? Wondering what are the essentail places to add to your itinerary? Although Cambodia looks small on a map there are so many incredible destinations you should visit.
Whether you are planning a short or long break to Cambodia, don't leave without visiting these places below:
1. Siem Reap
Cambodia has so much to offer and you will experience some magical things first hand in Siem Riep. This city is vibrant and lively which should be explored for a few days before or during visiting the Angkor temples. There are now more hotels than temples in Siem Riep, a response to increasing demand from tourists and travel operators and you can find options for all budgets.
Located close to Siem Riep you can also do a day trip to The Cambodian Landmine Museum 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.
Siem Riep is also one of the best places to start your Cambodia adventure due to the connections available to explore the rest of the country.
2. Angkor Temples
One essential stop for any trip to Cambodia is Angkor and you should dedicate at least a full day or more for visiting the famous temples which are located close to Siem Reap (Cambodia's nearest city to Angkor). Most overland tours of Cambodia include stops here where you can explore ancient temples including Angkor Wat which among one of 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. View more tips for visiting Angkor Wat.
Cambodia might not strike you as having good beaches but believe us, it does. Travel to Sihanoukville and you will find a once relaxing coastal town with white sandy beaches and also the opportunity to learn to scuba dive. Sihanoukville has become more popular in recent years and has become a bit overdeveloped but it is still a great place to visit and there are lots of luxury resorts and budget backpacker 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. Koh Rong
Koh Rong is an amazing island located off the coast of Sihanoukville. This is a great island which is far less busy and developed than the mainland of Cambodia and is also a lot more relaxing than the Thai islands. Expect beautiful beaches, coral reefs, dense jungle terrain, coconut palm trees and waterfalls.
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 destinations 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 being a great stop off. You can visit Mondulkiri Province to see elephants in the jungle or see wild dolphins.
If you have been looking up places to visit in Cambodia you might not of heard of Kratie. This is a destination which a lot of international tourists end up passing through as there isn't much here. But this is a great place where you can experience the not so touristy side to Cambodia by exploring local markets and also join a river dolphin tour which is really amazing.
9. Floating 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.
Battambang is an off the beaten track destination and great if you are looking to escape the crowds in Siem Riep and Phnom Penh. You will get to see rural villages on the way here where locals will wave and greet you as they aren't so used to seeing tourists. The journey is worth the experience alone. In Battambang you can see old temples and just take in the local culture and spectacular scenery.