Cambodia, a Southeast Asian gem, is a country rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. With the SEA Games kicking off on 5th May, now is the perfect time to explore Cambodia and all it has to offer. From ancient temples to pristine beaches and bustling cities, this guide will take you through the top 10 must-visit destinations in Cambodia.
The Temples of Angkor: Spiritual Wonders
Cambodia’s crown jewel, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor, is home to some of the most iconic and awe-inspiring temples in the world. Explore the magnificent Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building, and marvel at the enigmatic stone faces of the Bayon temple. For a more off-the-beaten-path experience, venture to the lesser-visited temples of Banteay Srei, Beng Mealea, and Prasat Thom at Koh Ker.
Cambodia’s Southern Islands: Beach Bliss
Escape the crowds and discover Cambodia’s idyllic southern islands, where turquoise waters and powdery sands await. Spend your days relaxing on the popular islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem, or explore the lesser-known gems of Koh Sdach Archipelago and Koh Kong. For a luxurious experience, head to Koh Russey, or enjoy a laid-back vibe at Koh Ta Khiev.
Phnom Penh: A City of Contrasts
Cambodia’s bustling capital, Phnom Penh, offers a mix of fascinating history and vibrant modernity. Enjoy fine dining, nightlife, and boutique shopping along the picturesque riverfront, or delve into Cambodia’s past at the National Museum and the harrowing Tuol Sleng prison.
Kampot and Kep: Foodie Paradise
Kampot and Kep, two neighboring provinces in southern Cambodia, are perfect for those seeking a mix of adventure and local charm. Explore Kampot’s French colonial architecture and tranquil river, or indulge in Kep’s famous Crab Market and beautiful national park. Don’t miss a visit to rustic pepper farms and the atmospheric Bokor Hill Station.
The Cardamom Mountains: Wild Adventures
For adrenaline junkies and nature lovers, the Cardamom Mountains offer a thrilling experience. Embark on a motorbike adventure through the vast protected rainforest, home to stunning landscapes and a wealth of biodiversity. Discover the Stung Areng Valley, Khnong Phsar, and eco-lodges in Botum Sakor National Park and Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary.
Siem Reap: Family Fun
While known as the gateway to Angkor, Siem Reap offers much more than ancient temples. Enjoy the lively atmosphere of the town, with its diverse dining scene, bustling markets, and unique boutiques. Venture to floating villages on Tonlé Sap lake, or participate in cooking classes and martial arts courses. For a truly local experience, opt for a homestay in a traditional village.
Mondulkiri: Wildlife Encounters
The wild, rolling hills of Mondulkiri in northeastern Cambodia offer a unique opportunity for wildlife spotting. Walk with the herd at the ethical Elephant Valley Project, or trek through the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary to spot rare primates. Waterfalls and jungle ziplines round out this eco-tourism adventure.
Battambang: Timeless Charm
With its well-preserved colonial-era architecture and relaxed atmosphere, Battambang offers a glimpse into Cambodia’s past. Discover French shophouses, art galleries, and ancient temples, or attend a performance at the inspiring Phare Ponleu Selpak arts NGO.
Preah Vihear Temple: A Mountain Marvel
The majestic Preah Vihear temple, perched atop the Dangkrek Mountains, offers breathtaking views and a fascinating insight into Angkorian carving and sculpture. This remote, hard-to-reach temple is well worth the effort for its incredible location and historical significance.
Kratie: Mekong River Wonders
Kratie, a charming colonial town on the Mekong River, is the perfect base for dolphin spotting and riverside adventures. Visit nearby Koh Trong island for an authentic homestay experience, or explore the Mekong Discovery Trail with its community-based homestays, bike rides, and boat trips.
Cambodia’s diverse attractions make it a must-visit destination for travelers in search of history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether exploring ancient temples, relaxing on pristine beaches, or immersing yourself in local life, Cambodia promises an unforgettable journey.