Cambodia is a country with a fascinating heritage, a graceful charm and magical allure. Bordered by Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia has a mysterious past and rich present.
If you love adventure, you will find an abundance of activities like trekking and mountain biking, and you can even catch a close up glimpse of local hill tribal life and explore the country’s natural beauty.
From the peaceful surrounds of the secluded Bamboo Island, to the astounding Angkor Wat and the remains of an ancient temple city; from one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes to the to the jungles; it doesn’t matter what kind of holiday you’re after, Cambodia will not disappoint.
Things to see and do
Siem Reap has become one of the world’s most popular travel destinations with over a million travellers every year visiting. The city is fast growing and there are plenty of quality accommodation and dining options which only enhance the breathtaking sights that await visitors.
You cannot visit Siem Reap and not see both Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.
Angkor Wat complex is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Angkor was the former capital of the ancient Khmer Empire and it is by far one of the greatest Hindu sites in the world. The temple’s construction began in AD879 and was completed in 1191. It was re-discovered in 1860 and the Angkor Wat complex was found to be a 66 metre central tower, surrounded by 4 smaller towers.
Watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat is by far one of the most popular things to do, and is well worth getting out of bed early for. But if you can’t get yourself up, be sure to be there at sun down.
Angkor Thom was the last capital city of the Khmer empire and along with the temples, palace, elephant terrace and big gates, its defining feature is the entry bridge which is flanked by 54 stone warriors, though many of the heads were stolen after the Vietnam War. At the centre of Angkor Thom is The Bayon tower which is flanked by more than twenty smaller towers and hundreds of stone chambers.
You can also explore the city’s floating villages, bird sanctuaries, take a walk through the Old Market – the heart of the city’s tourist district where you will find plenty of food and shopping, bars and nightclubs, as well as the popular Siem Reap Night Market, and enjoy a tuk-tuk ride - a popular, and cheap, way to get around the see the sights. And you should take the time to visit Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and the only river in the world that flows in both directions (during monsoon season it reverses its flow).
Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and is as exotic as the name sounds. It has one of the region’s most beautiful riverfronts and there are plenty of things for you to admire as you journey throughout the city. Located at the confluence of three rivers, the mighty Mekong, the Bassac and the Tonle Sap, the city provides a beautiful contrast of French colonial mansions and Angkorian architecture.
The Phnom Penh Royal Palace and the extravagant Silver Pagoda – including the Khmer style Throne Hall, the Royal Treasure and the Villa of Napoleon III – are highlights of the city, while the National Museum will take you into the world’s largest collection of Khmer art, including bronzes, sculptures and ceramics. If you love nature, the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre is home to a wide range of animals that have been rescued from poachers and traffickers, including tigers and elephants.
To get a real glimpse of the history of Phnom Penh and Cambodia, the The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is a real eye opener into the time of Pol Pot and the Khomer Rouge who were responsible for the deaths of almost 3 million Cambodians in the 1970s. Doctors, professors and intellectuals wore the brunt of this regime, being tortured to death. The museum serves as a memorial to those who died and while you will certainly find yourself feeling emotional as you take a look around, it will give you a lesson you will never forget. You might also visit the Killing Fields, just outside the city, where you will see a monument to those who died, including unearthed skulls.
Sihanoukville is a laid back port city and one of Vietnam’s most popular beach-side destinations. On the mainland, Sihanoukville includes the popular central beach of Occheuteal, the quieter Otres Beach, Victory Beach, Independence Beach, Sokha Beach, and Serendipity Beach – a favourite with backpackers.
Offshore you will find the nearby islands with resorts, Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem and the beautiful Bamboo Island, which has a population of just 30 people and limited tourism.
Must do Activities
The Temples of Angkor
Elephant Valley Project, Mondulkiri
Mekong Discovery Trail
Prasat Preah Vihear temple
Feast on Khmer cuisine
Watch the sunrise at Angkor Wat
Ta Prohm - the "Tomb Raider" Temple
Siem Reap Night Market
Floating Villages of Tonle Sap Lake
Royal Palace, Phnom Penh