Best Places to Visit in Cambodia
Unspoiled Cambodia may be one of the lesser known countries in Asia. Aside from the Angkor Wat, albeit truly remarkable, Cambodia has more to offer.
Cambodia is open to the world. Despite seeing less tourists than neighbouring Thailand, Cambodia is fast becoming a holiday destination in its own right.
With beautiful beaches, historic monuments and bustling cities, Cambodia is said to be similar to what Thailand was like twenty or thirty years ago.
This is not to say it is backward in any way, but more retains the old-world charm of Indochina that attracted so many visitors in the first place. Here are the best places to visit in Cambodia.
Related: “Ultimate Travel Guide to Vietnam”
How to Travel in Cambodia
Although the country has fully opened its doors to all travellers, independent travel can be difficult, mainly because of the language barrier and logistics of travel but there are ways around this.
Looking at all the escorted tours of Cambodia and vacation packages available, you can find something that meets with your requirements for a holiday in this part of the world. You can generally select your dates, what you want to see and what type of accommodation you would like to stay in.
If you are unsure of the places to visit or the most rewarding things to see, your tour operator will be more than happy to provide you with some recommendations.
The Best Time To Visit Cambodia
To put it specifically, the best time to visit Cambodia is now. As previously mentioned, the country hasn’t been overrun with tourists like it’s bigger neighbour but it won’t be long before tourist numbers increase exponentially.
Thailand is getting very expensive and more and more people who were planning to go on holiday there are sure to look into other options soon.
In regard to the weather and visiting Cambodia, the monsoon season runs roughly from May to October but do not despair, it generally only rains for a short period of time before the sun comes out and everything dries up quickly.
Best Places to Visit in Cambodia – Destinations That Sould Be On Your Cambodia Itinerary
There are several places that are worth visiting in Cambodia with the most popular choices being Siem Reap and the capital city Phnom Penh, but there are some hidden gems.
The town of Kampot in southern Cambodia is well-known for producing best pepper in the world but it also provides the traveller with a relaxing riverside experience. Preah Vihear, in the north of Cambodia is another place where you can actually enjoy solitude providing you arrive early enough. The ancient Hindu temple straddles the border between Cambodia and Thailand and puts the province on the map.
The best thing to do before you book your trip is to research Cambodian destinations and find which ones you want to visit based on your budget and time constraints. You can then tell your tour operator what you want to see and they will facilitate it for you.
1. Siem Reap
This is a popular resort town located in northwestern Cambodia. King Ang Chan, oral tradition shares, had named this town Siem Reap, which means “defeat of Siam” when he was able to ward off Thai king Maha Chakkraphat’s army in 1549. The town’s Old French Quarter and the surroundings of the Old Market boast of an architectural mix of colonial and Chinese-style buildings.
You can enjoy a performance of traditional Apsara dance in the city, or head over the countryside to see the rice paddies, check out silk farms and fishing villages, the bird sanctuary near Tonle Sap Lake and even try eating insects just like the locals. The town is also a gateway to the region of Angkor.
Don’t miss: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, The Cambodia Landmine Museum and Relief Center, War Museum Cambodia, Angkor National Museum, Artisans Angkor.
2. Phnom Penh
Cambodia’s capital city was founded in 1372 and is noted for its influence on New Khmer Architecture as well as the surviving French colonial buildings that are scattered along the grand boulevards. The city used to be called Krong Chaktomuk Serimongkul, which means The City of the Brahma‘s Faces.
You should not forget to try their Ka tieu Phnom Penh, a variation on rice noodle soup. Music events are held throughout the city, especially because the emergence of private music schools have produced a growing number of “Indie” bands.
Don’t miss: The National Museum, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, Wat Phnom, the Royal Palace with the Silver Pagoda, The Independence Monument.
Located in southern Cambodia, Kampot is famous for its high quality pepper, fish sauce and durian. Under the French rule, it was the capital of Circonscription Residentielle de Kampot
After the loss of the Mekong Delta and before Sihanoukville was founded, Kampot was the country’s most important seaport. The downtown is small and easy to navigate, you can explore the city centre through a bicycle ride.
Don’t miss: The Fish Market, The Old Market, The Durian Roundabout, Old Royal Cinema, The Salt Miners Roundabout, The Lotus Pond, National Bank of Cambodia, The White Horse Monument, The Kampot Provincial Museum
4. Preah Vihear
Located just below the Cambodia/Thailand border and the Dangrek Mountains, the province is part of the unique ecological phenomenon Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve. It is known for its Prasat Preah Vihear temple, from which the province is named after and which is the reason of Cambodia’s disagreements with Thailand.
While the mountain temple serves as the symbol of Meru, believed to the sacred mountain where the Hindu gods live, it was built mainly in honour of the supreme deity Shiva.
Don’t miss: Preah Vihear Temple, Koh Ker Complex, Bakan or Preah Khan Kompong Svay Complex, the 5 Noreay Temples, Phnom Pralean Temple, Neak Buos Temple, Krapum Chhouk Temple, Kork Beng Temple, Wat Peung Preah Ko
Named after a former king, Norodom Sihanouk, Sihanoukville is the most popular Cambodian beach resort on the Gulf of Thailand. Also known as Kompong Saom, Sihanoukville is where the United States fought its last battle in the Vietnam War. This southern Cambodia city offers both sandy and rocky beaches.
Though none of Sihanoukville’s beaches would qualify as southeast Asia’s finest it is one of best places to visit in Cambodia after visiting all the Khmer and other attractions in the rest of the country. The beaches are popular with a variety of travelers from backpackers who stay in huts on the beach to those who prefer the luxury of five-star hotels. Snorkeling is popular on some of the offshore islands.
That’s our best places to visit in Cambodia! Where is you favourite place in Asia? Let us know in the comments below.
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