Best Places To Visit In Cambodia – Top 7 Most Beautiful Places
Best known as both the home of the colossal temples of Angkor Wat and for the brutal Khmer Rouge era of the 1970s and later civil war, Cambodian history encompasses both some of humanity’s greatest artistic accomplishments and most horrific deeds. The history is what draws most travelers here, but this Southeast Asian nation has more to offer for those who linger longer than a short temple hop to Siem Reap. Beyond the temples, and recovering from the atrocities that rained down on the country in the late 20th century, Cambodia is an emerging destination for Southeast Asia travels that manages to charm all who come. Plan your sightseeing in this fascinating country with our list of the best places to visit in Cambodia.
Best Places To Visit In Cambodia
1. Angkor Wat
This temple city is Cambodia’s number one drawcard. Accessed from the town of Siem Reap, the temples of the Angkorian period are so ambitious in scale and in the majesty of their construction, that Angkor Wat is rated as one of the world’s must-see ancient sites.
Built between AD 802 and 1432, this was the largest city in the world during the medieval age and the vast powerhouse of the Khmer kings who endeavored to outbid their predecessors in the beauty of their construction. As the city’s wooden dwellings were encroached and then decayed by the surrounding jungle, what remains today, are just those mighty temples.
The temple of Angkor Wat itself, the world’s largest religious building, is only one sliver of the site in total, and the sprawling circuit of temples deserves three days to explore if you want to understand the scope of the Angkorian period’s architectural achievements.
For those short on time though, the main highlights after Angkor Wat are the tree-root clasped temple of Ta Prohm (which first found international fame as a location used in the movie Tomb Raider), the Bayon Temple for its 216 stone-carved faces, Angkor Thom, and Preah Khan.
2. Phnom Penh
Cambodia’s capital is the frenetic heartbeat of the nation; a city of chaotic streets abuzz with motorbikes and car horns that can frazzle at first glance. Deserted completely during the Khmer Rouge madness and left to wither and decay, Phnom Penh has bounced back to become one of Southeast Asia’s most dynamic cities.
For visitors, this is Cambodia’s most cosmopolitan destination, with a café and restaurant scene unrivaled in the rest of the country. It’s also home to a scattering of important historic sites that help unravel both Cambodia’s modern and ancient history.
The National Museum is home to a swag of Khmer sculpture that traces the nation’s history from the pre-Angkorian age right through to the phenomenal majesty of the god-Kings of Angkor. The Royal Palace provides gorgeous examples of traditional artistry, while Tuol Sleng Museum and the killing fields of Choeung Ek speak of the horror and brutality the people of this country suffered under Khmer Rouge rule.
3. Sihanoukville Beaches
In Kompong Som Province, Sihanoukville is a tale of two halves, with a bustling but drab central district and its shoreline area home to a vibrant beach resort. The beaches here are Cambodia’s top destination for sand and sun holidays and are popular with both local and foreign tourists.
There’s something for every kind of beach-goer here. Sokha Beach and Independence Beach boast luxury hotels.
Brash Ochheuteal Beach and the Serendipity Beach area are the most popular sandy strips and in recent years have emerged as one of Southeast Asia’s backpacker party areas.
For a much quieter scene, just to the south is Otres Beach, with beach huts huddled directly on the sand, a sprinkling of classy boutique hotels, and a number of up-and-coming restaurants.
One of the best places to visit in Cambodia, and the endless red-dirt roads of the region, leading to ethnic minority villages, are an intrepid traveler’s delight.
For those with an adventurous streak, the province is one of the best places in Cambodia for trekking, from spotting gibbons at Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area, where overnight trips involve sleeping in hammocks and early rises to track buff-cheeked gibbons, to hiking in Virachey National Park, home to elephants, tigers, and sun bears.
There are more relaxing options on offer as well. The emerald water of Yeak Lom Crater Lake just outside of Ban Lung town is a tranquil swimming spot, while the waterfalls of Chaa Ong and Ka Tieng are fun diversions that provide more opportunities for getting wet.
Ratanakiri is a nature-filled reprieve for travelers suffering from temple-fatigue.
5. Koh Rong Samloem
Beach bums are doing themselves an injustice if they miss Koh Rong Samloem. Why? Because the relatively undeveloped tropical island is home to isolated beaches that are postcard-perfect, soft powder-white sands, and breathtaking crystal-clear waters. If you’re looking to kick back with sundowner cocktails, then for the best sunsets head to – yep, you guessed it – the aptly named Sunset Beach.
6. Prasat Preah Vihear
The temples of Angkor Wat may gain all the glory, but Prasat Preah Vihear wins the prize for the most dramatic location. Sitting atop the Dangrek Mountains, on an escarpment with dizzying views across the Cambodian floodplains, Prasat Preah Vihear is a monumental temple complex of intricately carved pavilions linked by long causeways, built originally to honor the god Shiva.
Tensions have dissipated in the last few years, meaning this UNESCO World Heritage Site can now reclaim its rightful role on the tourist trail. Access is from Sra Em, although most visitors come on a day trip from Siem Reap (200 kilometers south).
Located on a river not too far from the Gulf of Thailand is more famous for its peppers than for tourists, though it is gaining more tourists all the time. Kampot’s black peppercorns are famous with gourmet cooks around the world because of their unique flavor.
Kampot is the gateway to Bokor National Park, famed for its abandoned French hill station, pleasant climate and lush primary rainforest. Kampot also offers visitors the opportunity to go boating and rafting on the river that winds through town, as well as take in scenic waterfalls along the route. The Kampot Kompong Trach caves offer spelunkers the chance to see ancient ruins. Crab curry is a popular local dish.
In addition to best places to visit in Cambodia, there are a wide range of delicious foods you should try here
- Baking Magic: A DIY Guide How to Make Your Own Sourdough Bread
- A Comprehensive DIY Guide to Making Your Own Homemade Kombucha
- Candle Crafting Mastery: DIY Instructions for Making Your Own Beeswax Candles
- Baking Love: How to Make Your Own All-Natural Dog Treats
- Weave Your Aspirations: DIY Instructions for Making Your Own Dreamcatcher