Cambodia has an abundance of awe-inspiring sights and experiences to offer tourists. From the UNESCO wonders of Angkor Wat to the buzzing capital Phnom Penh, this country is sure to take your breath away.
In addition to these tourist-friendly destinations, there are plenty of hidden gems in the countryside that offer an authentic Cambodian experience. The pristine mountainous areas of Kampot, Mondulkiri and Kep are some of my favorites for hiking and jungle exploration.
Siem Reap is arguably Cambodia's most thriving city. It's the gateway to Angkor Wat, and its burgeoning popularity has created a plethora of activities and things to do in the city.
Whether you're a sight-seer, a temple buff, a foodie or a party animal, there are plenty of ways to fill your time in Siem Reap. And if you're planning on staying for longer, there are a lot of amazing local tours to get you off the tourist track and see Cambodia in its truest sense.
For something unique, head out of town for the lesser-known Beng Mealea or Koh Ker temples. They're a lot less busy than the popular temples, making them feel like they've been left unspoiled by time.
Cambodia’s capital is a whirlwind of a place: it is home to fabulous food, stunning architecture, ancient temples and magical Mekong views. It is also a remarkably safe city, which has seen many positive changes since the brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge.
Despite this, Phnom Penh still has some grim memories from its past. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a must-visit if you’re interested in learning about the horrors of this infamous period.
It’s also essential to visit Ta Prohm to experience the relics of this brutal regime first hand. Here you’ll find the actual cells where the people were detained and tortured, and photos of their dead bodies.
Kampot is one of Cambodia's hottest chill-out destinations, a slow travel haven where you can take your time to enjoy the slower pace of life. The region's landscape is awash with natural attractions, from cloud-topped mountains to salt flats and misty offshore islands.
For a slice of time-worn, arty history, the old French colonial buildings in Kampot's Old Quarter are worth seeking out. They're a reminder of a heyday of prosperity, and of the city's resilience in the wake of the war.
A highlight of the town's thriving cafe scene is Simple Things, a vegetarian eatery loved by carnivores as well. There are plenty of wholesome dishes to choose from including their 'best veggie burger' in Asia--a spicy mix of lentils, beans and vegetables--and homemade pasta, such as pumpkin and blue cheese tortellini.
Kep is a cute little coastal town in Cambodia where you can relax on quiet beaches, indulge in tasty seafood, and slow down. There’s also plenty to do if you want to explore the countryside and experience Cambodian culture.
It’s a sleepy destination with lots of crumbling villas from its former glory as a French colonial resort, but as it becomes more popular it will slowly be restored. Riding a bike or scooter around looking for these old buildings is a fun way to spend an afternoon in Kep.
Another great attraction is the Crab Market, a refreshing local marketplace that offers mouth-watering crabs that are cooked and served in various restaurants around the bay. The crabs are freshly caught and sold at a price per kg.
About 120 km northeast of Siem Reap, Koh Ker is a temple site that’s been left to the jungle for a millennium. The site consists of 42 ruined structures scattered across a large complex.
The ruins are largely concentrated around the 30 m Prasat Thom pyramid. This stepped-pyramid temple is the apotheosis of an eccentric building style that originated here, and whose architecture would soon be emulated in Southeast Asia.
There are also a number of other structures worth a quick stop at, including the Neang Khmao sandstone temple. It lies on a small hill to the east of the entrance path.