Are you planning a trip to Cambodia and wondering where you should visit? If it’s your first time in the Kingdom of Wonder you’re probably going to see Angkor Wat and the hundreds of ancient temples inside the Angkor complex. But there is so much more to see and do in Cambodia than that, and we don’t want you to miss out!
The temples of Angkor are the most important cultural and religious site in Cambodia and the most popular reason to visit Siem Reap. In fact, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world! Seeing Angkor Wat at sunrise is an incredible experience that should not be missed. There is lots more to do in Siem Reap city and province beyond seeing the Angkor temples. One of our top recommendations is to see a performance at Phare the Cambodian Circus (no animals!). Their shows are a blend of storytelling and arts, unlike anything we’ve ever seen! See the amazing story of how Phare got started.
Battambang is the second largest city in Cambodia (after Phnom Penh) and has a rich, interesting history. It is also one of the cleanest cities in Cambodia due to local cleaning initiatives. The most well known Battambang activity is to speed through villages and the countryside on the Battambang bamboo train. Note that the location of the bamboo train changed in 2018 and it is a bit further out of town now. In town, you can walk around and see the French Colonial architecture in Battambang, much of which has been lost to development in Phnom Penh, but remains intact here.
Cambodia’s capital is a vibrant, quickly emerging city in Asia. In Phnom Penh, you can visit significant historical sites like the Royal Palace, Wat Phnom, the Central Market, Independence Monument, and the National Museum. Although they are both very sad and difficult sites to visit, going to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Cheung Ek Killing Fields is important to do during your trip to Phnom Penh. Both will give you a glimpse into the horrific atrocities Cambodians endured under the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975-1979, and a better understanding of Cambodia today.
OUDONG MOUNTAIN IN KAMPONG SPEU PROVINCE
Oudong Mountain, in Kampong Speu Province, is a great day trip from Phnom Penh. From 1618 until 1866, Oudong was the capital of Cambodia and served as the Royal residence for the kings and their families. The stupas atop the hill house the remains of kings from across centuries. There are stunning views of the surrounding countryside from the top of the mountain. The climb up is not too strenuous, and there are ancient pools and lookout points along the way, and plenty of monkeys to spot.
OTRES BEACH IN SIHANOUKVILLE
We now recommend spending as little time as possible in Sihanoukville and heading straight to Koh Rong or Koh Rong Samloem island. You can book a ferry to the islands online so you don’t have to wait around on the pier for too long once you arrive in Sihanoukville. This beautiful, long 7km stretch of beach outside of Sihanoukville has everything you need for an amazing time. Bungalows, restaurants and sun beds are just meters from the ocean. Cambodian women walk the beach offering manicures and pedicures, massage, threading, even natural aloe to soothe a sunburn.
KOH RONG SAMLOEM ISLAND
Koh Rong Sanloem is an island off the coast of Sihanoukville, Cambodia, 4 km south of Koh Rong island. There are two discernible villages on the island; one in the north, called M’pai Bai and one in the south, called Koh Rong Sanloem Phumi Kang Khnong, which is little more than a fisher’s hamlet. Another little hamlet is situated in the southwest, called Phumi Kang Krau. The things to do on Koh Rong Samloem are snorkel offshore, go diving, learn to SCUBA dive, swim with the phosphorescent…
Many expats have made Kampot their home and opened businesses there, so there are great international restaurants in the city. We highly recommend Baraca tapas restaurant, the Fish Market on the river, and the Portuguese restaurant called Tertúlia. The former street-side authentic Italian food restaurant, Ciao, has moved out of town to their own space, close to the entrance to Bokor Mountain. Epic Arts Cafe and Cafe Espresso are great spots for breakfast. The expat community in Kampot is active and there are events on each week and weekend such as festivals, live music, trivia nights and more. When you get into town ask around for what’s going on in the city! Ladies, I highly recommend going to Banteay Srey Women’s Spa for an incredible and affordable day of pampering. They also have yoga classes in the mornings (also open to men) and evenings (women only).
Famous for crab and the popular Kep Crab Market. This small beachside town has a beautiful strip of beach to swim at, lush green mountains, the Kep National Forest, and delicious seafood restaurants. Kep is the southernmost province in Cambodia, and you can see several islands, including Phu Quoc in Vietnam, off the coast.There are also dozens of abandoned mansions along the coast and in the hills dating back to the 1960s. At that time the city was a popular weekend retreat for elite Cambodians, French and other foreigners, and the Cambodian Royal family. The mansions are a future UNESCO heritage site.You can visit nearby Rabbit Island 30 away minutes by boat and even stay the night there.
Located in northeast Cambodia, Kratie is where you can see the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins in the Mekong River. There are thought to be between 78-91 Irrawaddy dolphins left in the world. Local boatmen in Kratie make their living taking people out to view the dolphins, limiting the use of their motors so as not to disturb them. You can also take a kayak trip to see the dolphins.
Located in the northeast of Cambodia, on the border of Vietnam, Mondulkiri is seldom reached by travelers but is still one of the best places to visit in Cambodia. The landscapes and climate change as you increase in elevation on the way there, and it is a bit cooler than in other parts of Cambodia. You can check out Mondulkiri’s waterfalls and ride a 100-meter long zipline over Bousra Waterfall, visit a coffee bean farm and try Cambodia’s most famous coffee straight from the source, look out at views of an endless forest and Vietnam in the distance at the Forest Sea. There are also treks, wildlife viewing, and opportunities to meet people from the indigenous Bunong Tribe, a Cambodian minority ethnic group.
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