8 Best Places to Visit in Cambodia

Planning to go for an international trip and that too in the laps of nature? Then, plan for Cambodia this time. Cambodia is a beautiful country with nice and friendly people. There are many interesting places to visit in Cambodia. It is a paradise for history and nature lovers. First of all you need to be very specific and focused what exactly you want to visit in Cambodia.

December is an ideal time to visit this destination as there’s not much rainfall and you can enjoy clear skies and temperatures of around 20 degree Celsius. Like other destinations in Southeast Asia, Cambodia boasts of pristine beaches such as Koh Rong Samloem and offers many water activities such as kayaking and snorkeling.

Cambodia is also famous for the Angkor Wat temple complex and the best part is that a holiday here is relatively pocket-friendly. This country has amazing tourist destinations and you will have a relaxed time over here. Are you traveling to Cambodia on your own and still do not have a defined itinerary? How many days to dedicate to this country if you are traveling through Southeast Asia?

The panoramic view of the country is good for taking great pictures for posting on Instagram. Among the interesting places in Cambodia are Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Mekong, Tonle Sap, Bantayi Srai. Cambodia is a mix of tradition, wildlife, and quintessential rural life.

A good trip to Cambodia involves more than visiting Angkor Wat and taking the S21 tour. Few countries offer a more raw or honest travel experience, and learning the country’s history since the reign of Pol Pot is a must in order to properly engage. Once there, its rich cuisine, cultural sites and temples, and exciting on-the-ground experience make Cambodia unique among Southeast Asian destinations.

Phnom Penh, its capital city, is home to a bumping commercial district along its waterfront. The coastal town of Sihanoukville is a popular beach and party destination, while in Siem Reap, pub conversations over amok and a cold Angkor beer are the best way to meet fellow travelers and young locals. One tip – seek out the local rum while in the country.

Known best for its large temple complex - Angkor Wat - and its Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, its rural country life is just as spectacular. If your plan is to travel Cambodia in 3 days and to visit only the Angkor temples, the organization of the itinerary is simple, and this post will not be of great help. Here are the must-visit Cambodia tourist attractions that you must see and make up your mind to visit this beautiful country.

Best Things to do in Siem Reap Let us see the best places to visit in Cambodia and its attractions.

1. Preah Sihanouk

It is a port city and beach resort and is one of the top places to visit in Cambodia. It's another name is Kampong Som. You will love to see the sight of the white-sand beaches and tropical islands over here. Located on the Gulf of Thailand, Sihanoukville is a wonderful place to relax. If you are planning to visit Cambodia during your vacation time to relax yourselves then this is a must place to visit.

Better plan your trip as you might find a quite healthy rush over here during peak season. Cambodia is a major landlocked country with a shorter coastal area in the southwest. Sihanoukville is a small province on the Gulf of Thailand. It boasts of beautiful white sand beaches and few sparsely inhabited islands, making it a favorite tourist place after Angkor Wat.

The best place to hang out in Sihanoukville is Otres village. It is a tiny village known as Backpacker Paradise. This place is full of expats running small homestays and offering budget rooms to travelers who look for budget long-term accommodation. They have nice cafes with one entrance by the river. People kayak all the way to the restaurants. It’s quite unique.

The expats in the village also organize a night market which is full of fun and activities. There are live bands, performances and delicious food. It’s a nice place to hang out and socialize with people who have come from every corner of the world. It is a festival like atmosphere.

Last but not the least, it has got some of the nice beaches and small islands. There are beachside and island accommodations ranging from budget to luxury. There are also underwater activities in case you are interested in them.

2. Tonlé Sap

It is another wonderful place to visit for sure. It is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. The size of the lake expands and shrinks with the seasons. During the dry season, you will see very less water as the lake will have drained into the Mekong River at Phnom Penh.

During heavy rain, an enormous lake forms here. Many ethnic Vietnamese and Cham communities reside at the bank of this lake and many of them even reside in floating villages around the lake. There are 4 floating villages in Tonle Sap Lake, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. They take you back in time and make for a perfect afternoon tour.

The peacefulness of the calm waters and the rustic life here is truly a unique experience. It is amazing to see how these people live ‘normal’ lives in the middle of the water. Touring floating villages is a cultural extravaganza. Each village narrates a different life story and is an authentic experience.

3. Preah Vihear

Want to go to the mountains in Cambodia? Then include this place in your itinerary list and you will be there. This Khmer temple is situated in the Dângrêk Mountains at the height of 525 meters. It is located on the border of Cambodia and Thailand.

It is believed that these temples were constructed during the reigns of the Khmer kings Suryavarman I and II and was dedicated to Shiva. Thailand and Cambodia are having a long-running dispute over this place and several soldiers were killed in a fight.

Cambodia's hidden archaeological park of Koh Ker has only really opened up to tourism over the last few years since being declared free of landmines. It's an absolute delight - temples that pre-date Anchor Wat and almost completely free of tourists. The grand finale is a pyramid style temple in the middle of the jungle!

This place was the capital of the Khmer empire earlier. When it was the capital, many spectacular buildings and sculptures were constructed. The Koh Ker site is dominated by the Prasat Thom, a 30-meter-high mountain temple rising above the plain and the surrounding forests.

Prasat Thom is a tall temple pyramid and it dominates this site. It is 98 feet tall and rises high above the surrounding jungle. You will see a giant Garuda over here which is carved in stone blocks. It is a half-bird and half-man creature.

Earlier, it was one of Cambodia's most remote temple destinations but now tourists can visit it due to demining and the opening of a new toll road.

4. Phnom Penh

There are many ways to travel between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, by road, air and water. If you have leisure time and want to explore the rural part of Cambodia then you can take a ferry boat (about 9 hours). It takes about 5 hours by road (bus) and 30 minutes by flight. Sometimes the flight is damn cheap.

It is an amazing city even if it does not look like in the first impression. Let’s start with the glamorous life of Phnom Penh. You do need a lot of money though. But it’s worth experiencing it at least once. There are many bars in Phnom Penh but there are some famous ones popularly known as girly bars. Don’t go by the name, they are quite decent.

You have a choice to sit in an open space or get a private space especially if you are in a group. You will be accompanied by around 5–7 Cambodian girls. The drinks are on you for everyone. Spend as much time as you wish with those girls without being indecent, play board games and have some food and drinks. Beware, those girls have got a huge capacity to drink and you are the host.

They are paid heavily just to drink. So, don’t be surprised with a hefty check at the time of checkout. But the experience is quite unique unlike what you see in Bangkok. You can also visit the night market that takes place by the river.

One of the beautiful and wonderful architectures of Cambodia is the Silver Pagoda. It looks simply astonishing and you will love your visit over here for sure. Your visit to this pagoda will be peaceful and relaxing due to the serene atmosphere here. It is located in Phnom Penh within the Royal Palace compound. It has many Buddha statues and houses many national treasures. There is an idol of Buddha studded with 9584 diamonds.

The golden and white color of the pagoda looks perfect! There is a detailed mural of the Ramayana myth painted on the internal wall of the pagoda which looks nice. It was painted by 40 Khmer artists. You can even take a stroll around the pagoda which is situated on a hillock and in the centre of the city. They have a nice garden where you can sit and relax.

Phnom Penh has plenty of nice restaurants, bars and pubs. It’s markets are worth visiting especially the Russian Market and the Night Market.

5. Krong Kracheh

And if you're really looking to connect with local traditions, head to Kratié, a small market town that has quickly sprung into a place for travellers to find inns and cafés with Cambodian touches. Among places to see in Cambodia it is a small town. It has the beautiful Mekong River flowing through the town. There is a central marketplace that is surrounded by French colonial buildings.

This town doesn't have that much big large scale tourism but you will see rush during the peak season. If you want to see dolphins then Kratie is the best place to see. You will find plenty number of dolphins in the Mekong River. Watch a stunning blood-orange sunset, or even take a boat ride that gives you a chance to see a floating Vietnamese village.

6. Kirirom National Park

If you're a wildlife enthusiast, then take a chance be venturing into Kirirom National Park. It is a wonderful spot for peaceful treks, stunning alpine views, history enthusiasts - and also a great chance to taste some local, homemade cuisine.

7. Chhak Saracen

Saracen Bay is one of the finest and most picturesque beaches where you can go holidaying. Its hill-backed shoreline features an intrigue-inducing resort with the strangest layout. Rooms that are actually futuristic domes, interiors straight out of Star Trek and circular pools – this resort is the perfect spot to shoot your next sci-fi TV show. Or to come on a holiday. The possibilities are endless here.

8. Preah Monivong Bokor National Park

This hill station was built by the French near Kampot. The main purpose of building this hill station was to remain free from the heat of Phnom Penh. This place has been abandoned two times. It was abandoned first when Japan invaded Cambodia and the second time when it was engulfed by the Khmer Rouge. It has eerie, ghost-town feel currently. You can see hiking tours arranged for this place by the local travel agents.

So, here were the top places to visit in Cambodia and tourist attractions that you must visit during your next trip to Cambodia. Plan your itinerary in such a way that you have enough time to visit these places and not in a rush! If Southeast Asia is on your mind, consider Cambodia. Plan your vacation spots in Cambodia properly and have lots of fun!

Cambodia has two major international airports, Phnom Penh (Capital) and Siem Reap. Almost all the South East Asian airlines fly to Cambodia and the airfares are usually not expensive. You can plan your trip to arrive in Siem Reap and depart from Phnom Penh.
Kalyan Panja