Top 9 Things to See in Cambodia
Considered the jewel of South East Asia, with a rich heritage dating back to the 11th century, Cambodia has to be your next destination. It is also known as the Kingdom of Wonders, exhibiting many captivating views, people, and experiences that will leave you with memories for a lifetime. To make sure you don’t miss out, we’ve compiled a list of the top 9 things to see in Cambodia.
Here you can find many exciting and inexpensive destinations, visit beautiful beaches, picturesque cities and gorgeous landmarks and temples. Cambodia is the best destination if you are looking for adventure, history, relaxation, and culture all in one place.
Transportation in Cambodia
Cambodia Angkor Air and Bassaka Air offer internal flights from Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Buses only run in the cities and are limited to certain areas. Your best bet to explore the cities is via taxi, but make sure to agree on the price with the driver in advance. For a cheaper and more flexible option, you could also choose to rent a car or bike. Most car rentals in Cambodia include a driver, but in Phnom Penh they are also available without. You can also try traveling by tuk-tuk or ferry to explore the country.
Best time to visit Cambodia
You can travel to Cambodia any time of the year. It ultimately depends on what you want to do when you get there, the weather, and number of tourists. The high season runs from November to March. But if you have a small budget and want to avoid the crowds, it is best to visit between May and early October. Check out this article for a more in-depth look at the seasons and weather in Cambodia.
Now, with some basics out of the way, let us take you through our top 9 things to see in Cambodia.
#1 Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is one of the most impressive places and absolutely one of the top things to see in Cambodia. Thanks to its legendary pagodas and vine-clad stupas, it has been elevated to the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tourists travel from all over the world just to see this great landmark. The entire complex is surrounded by wetlands, rice fields, and dense jungles. You can also explore the historic Khmer towers with their enchanting Hindu shrines. The highlight of the Angkor Wat is its elaborate sandstone bas-reliefs of mythical animals.
#2 Phnom Penh
The capital of Cambodia and heart of the nation has also made it onto the list of top things to see in Cambodia. Phnom Penh will welcome you with its chaotic streets full of car horns and motorcycles. Under the Khmer Rouge, Phnom Penh was forcibly evacuated in 1975. After they were driven out in 1979, the city was able to recover and became one of the most dynamic destinations in Southeast Asia. Phnom Penh hosts a variety of modern and historical sights.
The best part is the National Museum, consisting of many Khmer sculptures. Here you can get a sense of the nation’s history, tracing all the way back to the god-king of Angkor from the pre-Angkorian era. Some other places to visit are the Royal Palace, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.
#3 The Beaches at Sihanoukville
When it comes to beaches, we put Sihanoukville as one of the top things to see in Cambodia. Located in the Kompong Som province, Sihanoukville has a busy central district and a beautiful coast with many seaside resorts. The beaches here are perfect if you want some time in the sun. This is a common place for both locals and foreign tourists. If you are looking for luxury hotels, the best beaches to check out are Sokha Beach and Independence Beach.
If you are travelling on a smaller budget but still want to go sunbathing, try Brash Ochheuteal Beach and Serendipity Beach. For a more restful and relaxed experience, we recommend Otres Beach, with its stylish boutique hotels and numerous restaurants.
Battambang is located north-west of Cambodia and is surrounded by rice fields and small villages. Compared to other cities, it is rather quiet and rural. However, it is home to many historical riches; the perfect place if you are a history buff. Temples like Phnom Sampeau, Phnom Banan, and Wat Ek Phnom are only a day trip away.
We recommend taking a trip down the railway line on the simple, bamboo platforms. These run from Battambang to the small village of Ou Srav. This village is ideal if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, while also providing a good base from which you can explore the country.
Kratie is a relaxing destination and is considered to be one of Cambodia’s original backpacker hubs. When you get here, you will see why tourists travelling on a budget love the place. Typical Kratie accommodation usually consists of inexpensive wooden cabins and guest houses. Some of the best places to visit are the ancient ruins of Sambor and the traditional craft markets on the water. Kratie is also becoming increasingly popular because it is one of the best places to see the Irrawaddy dolphins. Your best shot at seeing these magnificent animals is taking one of the Mekong River boat trips, which are offered daily.
#6 Siem Reap
The city is especially popular because of the spectacular Angkor Wat, and has developed greatly, thanks to the influx of tourists. Nowadays, it is one of the best places to visit in Cambodia. Some main attractions are the old town, filled with stunning French villas and fascinating Chinese shops, and the Psah Chas market, where you can sample the local cuisine.
There are also numerous backpacker bars where you can find like-minded people. For history lovers, there are a number of great museums, such as the impressive Cambodia Landmine Museum and the War Museum Cambodia.
#7 Koh Ker
Although it is smaller and less popular than Angkor Wat, the Koh Ker is considered one of the best sights in Cambodia. Lying deep in the northern Cambodian jungle, it was the capital of the powerful Khmer Empire for almost twenty years. Here you can see elaborate stupas protruding from the canopies and tiers of the Prasat Thom temples, which tower more than 30 meters above the ground. You can also visit the many 10th century forts and the shrine ruins.
#8 Sambor Prei Kuk
Sambor Prei Kuk is a pre-Angkorian temple complex dating from the early 7th century, and was the capital of the Upper Chenla Empire at that time. It is filled with over 100 stone temples dedicated to Hindu gods, half-hidden by sequoia roots. This site is very important to archaeologists as it is home to many of the oldest surviving buildings in Cambodia.
This is a place for you if you are a nature lover, as the trees alone are awe-inspiring. Make sure to check out the Prasat Sambor, Prasat Yeay Peau, or Prasat Tao. These temples all have beautiful, clear carvings on their walls and impressive views. You can also reach Sambor Prei Kuk from Kompong Thom.
#9 The Elephant Valley Project
The Elephant Valley Project is located in the heart of the jungle in the north-eastern province of Mondulkiri. It’s a unique experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories. Here, you can meet the rescued elephants up close and learn more about the negative effects of elephant tourism. Overworked and neglected elephants are given a permanent or temporary rest and can enjoy life in their natural habitat. Tourists can come here for the day and watch these animals wallow in the mud and wash themselves in the river.