Firmly on the tourist trail of Southeast Asia, Cambodia is one of this region’s most magical countries. With history dating back thousands of years (and the landmarks to prove it), plus friendly people, a lively culture, and incredible nature, adventure can be found in every corner of Cambodia. Here are some of the country’s best bits.
Cambodia’s bustling capital is the classic picture of Southeast Asia that you see in your dreams: busy streets with traffic whizzing by, smells of street food floating through the air, and shimmering palaces abound. Phnom Penh makes a good place to start when travelling to Cambodia; spend a few days here pottering around the Royal Palace, National Museum of Cambodia, and sampling from the varied food scene.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most famous landmarks in the country, perhaps even this continent, Angkor Wat is one of the main reason people visit Cambodia. Travellers arrive in droves at sunset or sunrise to witness magical golden light kissing this beautiful collection of ancient structures, and lots of people also choose to hire bikes to glide around the complex too.
Angkor Wat can get very crowded, so think carefully about the time you choose to visit and expect lots of other people around. You can organise tours in nearby Siem Reap to help you make the most of your experience here.
Tonle Sap is a freshwater lake just south of Siem Reap and to visit it is to witness rural Cambodian life. The floating and stilted villages clustered around this body of water give a fascinating insight into Cambodia as it has been long before travellers caught onto this country. There are also dozens of waterbirds that you should look out for here, skimming their way across the shallows.
However, as it’s so close to Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, tourism is rapidly taking over this part of the country, and the villages closer to Siem Reap might not show you an authentic picture of humble fisherman life here. For more of a chance of seeing this slice of Cambodia as untouched as possible, head as far as you can away from Siem Reap, to the villages at the southern end of the lake. It’s worth the trek, we promise.
Kirirom National Park
The national parks on Cambodia’s southeastern shores are some of the most beautiful parts of the country, and slightly more off the beaten path. One of the best is Kirirom National Park, where you’ll find a relatively undisturbed part of Cambodia. Here you can hike the many walking trails to find lakes and waterfalls, or go mountain biking if you’re looking for more of a thrill. There are also elephants, leopards, and other wildlife species living in the depths of the forest here. Stay here for a couple of days in the lodge or resort to feel cut off from the world and in the heart of nature.