Southeast Asia is in one straightforward bundle with Cambodia. Please spend a few weeks traveling the entire country since it offers the finest of everything the area has to offer in a bite-sized package.
Checking the pulse of modern life in Cambodia is best done in Phnom Penh, the country’s once-ravaged but now-thriving capital. With its fancy restaurants, vibrant bars, and fashionable stores, Siem Reap, the entryway to the magnificent Angkor temples, is beginning to challenge the capital. A World Heritage Site, Angkor is also the location of some of the most stunning temples on earth. The South Coast is home to several brand-new beach resorts and tropical islands that are beginning to grow.
- The Temples of Angkor
Very outstanding for spirituality
The temples of Angkor frequently hold the top rank on lists of the world’s top sights, making them one of the most recognizable destinations in the world as a whole. The two most famous structures in this area are Angkor Wat, the most important religious structure in the world, and the Bayon, one of the oldest temples with a strange collection of carved stone faces. Then there is Ta Prohm, where unrestrained nature has overtaken centuries-old carved brickwork.
It pays to take your time and visit since the ancient Khmers packed as many cathedrals as there are in Europe into a space the size of Los Angeles. There are several remote temple locations with fewer visitors, such as the intricately carved Banteay Srei, the overgrown ruins of Beng Mealea, and the Mayan-style pyramid temple of Prasat Thom at Koh Ker.
2. Cambodia Southern Islands
Perfect for Beaches
Sand covers the entire Cambodian coastline. It may not be as well-known as the beaches in Indonesia or Thailand, but it offers the same sense of a tropical refuge without the crazy crowds. The most famous islands are Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem, which are close by, and have a lot of powder-white sand and turquoise waters.
There are other further islands close to the coast, such as the massive, mainly unexplored Koh Sdach Archipelago and Koh Kong. The smaller islands near noisy Sihanoukville, such as Koh Ta Khiev with its modest backpacker bungalows and Koh Russey with its expensive resorts, should be considered.
3. Phnom Penh
Highly Popular for Good Food and Nightlife
The capital of Cambodia is a chaotic yet endearing city that has emerged from the shadows of its bloody history to embrace a more promising future. Thanks to its outstanding selection of boutique hotels, gourmet restaurants, and boho bars, Phnom Penh, one of Southeast Asia’s most alluring riverfronts, is quickly becoming a sophisticated, modern city.
Urban explorers can indulge in daytime feasting and nighttime revelry or experience emotional highs and lows at the moving National Museum and the gruesome Tuol Sleng jail, which showcase the finest and worst of Cambodian history. Phnom Penh formerly referred to as the “jewel of Asia,” is beginning to sparkle again!
4. Kampot and Keh
Preferred by Foodies
These twin provinces in the south provide the perfect blend of travel conveniences and authentic culture for those seeking a more in-depth experience than the stop-and-flop vibe on the islands. Charming Kampot town offers a variety of budget hotels, riverfront resorts, and guesthouses where you may base yourself while taking in the French architectural legacy, exploring the lovely river by paddleboard or kayak, or exploring the rural region on two wheels.
In addition to the city’s well-known Crab Market and trekking opportunities in Kep National Park, Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island), the charming beachside boutique is a terrific place to get away from it all. Rustic pepper farms, secret cave pagodas from the 7th century, and tortuous ascents to the atmospheric Bokor Hill Station are just a few of the rural excursions available. Spend some time cruising around the salt flats at dusk while laborers gather the area’s white gold with a traditional yoke and baskets.
5. The Cardamom Mountains
Best Suited for Motorcycle Adventures
The vast 20,746 sq. km (8010 sq. mi) Cardamom Rainforest Landscape Protected Area, shaped like the isolated Cardamom Mountains, is one of Southeast Asia’s last substantial wilderness areas. This green corridor, surrounded by awe-inspiring natural beauty and an astounding diversity of wildlife, is home to several of Cambodia’s most remarkable landmarks and protected areas.
You should head to the Cardamom Mountains if you want a wacky ride. Take a motorcycle tour if you can to fully experience the surroundings. Highlights include the remote Stung Areng Valley, the sweeping grasslands and dramatic drop-offs of Khnong Phsar, award-winning ecolodges in Botum Sakor National Park and the Tatai Wildlife Sanctuary with its iconic waterfall, as well as a variety of eco-adventures and accommodations fit for a princess.’
6. Siem Reap
Best for Families
The only reason Siem Reap exists is to serve as the entrance to the Angkorian temples. Still, this quaint town has grown to become a top travel destination in its own right because of its excellent selection of restaurants, cafes, and bars, vibrant markets, chic boutiques, and cutting-edge galleries. Outside the town center, there are otherworldly floating villages on the Tonlé Sap Lake, adventure sports like quad biking and ziplining, and cultural activities like culinary workshops and martial arts training. Visit the adjacent traditional villages for a unique experience, where you can stay in basic but comfortable homestays and taste daily life there.
Most Suitable for Spotting Wildlife
In place of the endless rice fields and sugar palms that make up most of Cambodia’s geography in the northeast are the untamed rolling hills of Mondulkiri, inhabited by the indigenous Bunong people, who still follow animism and venerate their ancestors.
The abundance of wildlife makes this place very popular. Visitors can “walk with the herd” at the Elephant Valley Project (an excellent alternative to dangerous elephant riding) or glimpse douc langurs or gibbons while hiking through the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary. The ideal elements for an ecotourism trip are roaring waterfalls and a zipline through the bush.
The Most Ideal for Evocative French Architecture
As the traditional face of urban Cambodia and one of the best-preserved colonial-era cities in the nation, Battambang winds along the banks of the Sangker River. Although not on par with the Angkorian temples, a group of old temples are outside the town in the countryside. Tourists typically overlook these temples. You can find fair trade cafes and art galleries on the streets of French townhouses.
It is worthwhile to go off the main drag to see Battambang, which is a very different experience from the press of Phnom Penh and the crowds at Angkor. A renowned arts NGO that teaches performers and presents motivational performances, art performances that incorporate circus skills with theatre and storytelling is based in Battambang as well. Phare Ponleu Selpak is another inspiring institution there.
9. Preah Vihear Temple
Most suitable for antiquities with a view
The views of northern Cambodia are just spectacular. The Bangkok Mountains, a forested ridge that historically served as a border between Cambodia and Thailand, are home to Prasat Preah Vihear, the mother of all mountain temples, which rises majestically from the mountaintop. The temple’s foundation stones extend to the cliff’s edge, dropping off abruptly into the plains below.
The temple, built over 300 years, is a three-dimensional portrayal of Mt. Meru, which, according to Hindu mythology, sits at the center of the cosmos. It reveals fascinatingly how carving and sculpting developed during the Angkorian era. However, location is everything, and this one is ideal — it’s far away, challenging to get there, and well worth the trouble.
Best for adventures on the Mekong River
Kratie is a busy intersection on the overland route between Phnom Penh and north-eastern Cambodia or southern Laos and also serves as the starting point for excursions to see the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins on the Mekong River. Despite the lack of dolphins, the town is home to some of the most excellent Mekong sunsets in the nation.
The nearby island of Koh Trong is a pleasant location to enjoy genuine Khmer friendliness at a local homestay or to explore by hired bike. North of Kratie is where you’ll find the Mekong Discovery Trail. It offers a variety of activities centered around the mother river, including homestays in the local community, bike rides, and boat tours.
Whether you’re looking for a stress-free adventure or want to relax on beautiful beaches sipping cocktails all day long—Cambodia has something for everyone! Now that you know our top 10 places to visit in this beautiful country, what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and start planning your trip today!