Top Things to do in Cambodia

With its troubled past and various historical and cultural sites, Cambodia is a great tourist destination with many monuments to marvel at and many lessons to learn.

Go for cruise and boat rides in inland waters

Cambodia has major rivers and lakes which form an important part of the country’s geography. There are many river cruises and boat rides for tourists in these inland waters. These are an amazing experience, with rivers passing through forests and offering scenic journeys. You can opt for luxury cruises with excellent accommodation facilities and amenities, or go for a boat ride in a traditional Khmer boat. In many places, the traditional Khmer boats are still used for day to day transportation, and you can hop on one of them for very cheap price. You can find river cruise or boat rides in many major tourist places such as Siem Reap, Angor and any other towns and cities along Mekong River.

Visit Angkor Wat

Of course, we are talking about Cambodia, and you saw this one coming. This ancient temple is such an iconic feature for Cambodia that they put a diagram of it right in the middle of their flag! The temple complex is the largest religious monument of any kind in the world, but now only the temple has survived in good shape. It used to be the epicentre of the Khmer empire. Its splendour, grandeur and history have to be appreciated in person. And as a bonus, you can catch some of the most picturesque sunrises and sunsets you will ever see.

Tour the capital

Once referred to as the “Pearl of Asia”, Phnom Penh is a chaotic yet booming city with a unique charm. While the city’s many colonial era buildings and several ancient Buddhist temples offer a window into the past, the modern hotels and cafes are a sign that the city is looking ahead towards a bright future. You can spend your time treating your taste buds in the street food markets, or enjoy some picturesque sunsets by Tonle Sap Lake, the largest in Cambodia.

Visit Battambang

While most visitors flock to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, it would be a real shame to miss this city, especially if you take interest in French Colonial history of Cambodia. The second most populous city in Cambodia, this has a lot of preserved French Colonial Era buildings, along with various Khmer style temples and Buddhist shrines. You can easily navigate this city on foot or rent a bicycle. Just beyond this city is the country side littered with many smaller and less visited temples that you might want to check out, especially if you hate crowds. There is also Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary nearby, which is definitely worth a visit.

Visit Ratnakiri province

If you wish to explore the lives and traditions of some of the ethnic minorities and rural people, this is one of your best bet. The province of Ratnakiri is a border province, situated about 580 km from the capital Phnom Penh. While you may not find hordes of tourists here, more and more tourists are opting to tour this province of Cambodia. This province offers plenty of opportunity for trekking and wildlife tours, with Virachey National Park being situated here.

Kratie

Kratie is the town to visit if the idea of seeing rare animal species interests you. This is a small riverside town situated on the banks of the Mekong River. There are estimated less than 100 Irrawaddy dolphins left in the Mekong River, and you can get a chance to see them by taking a boat ride from Kratie. The town also offers a pleasant environment for exploration on a bicycle. If you wish for some calm relaxation, you can head to the nearby Koh Trong Island to relax in a nice homestay.

Beach escape in Sihanoukville

If beaches are your thing, then you would love to visit the town of Sihanoukville, located on the Cambodian shoreline by the Gulf of Thailand. Once a battle zone in the Vietnam War, this town is now a popular tourist attraction featuring rocky as well as sandy beaches. There are attractions for travellers of all budgets, from inexpensive beach huts for backpackers to 5 star hotels for the affluent travellers. There are a few small offshore islands with some good snorkelling spots.

Explore the Bokor Hill Station

Got fed up by the tropical heat? Apparently the French also faced this problem. So they built the Bokor Hill Station in the 1920s as a cool hill resort for respite from the heat of Phnom Penh. But this place faced twisted fate when it had to be completely abandoned during the Japanese invasion and after the Khmer Rouge. Despite having beautifully constructed apartment complex and the Bokor Palace Hotel & Casino, decades of abandonment have made this place resemble a ghost town.

Get to know the history of the country

Cambodia is a nation with a troubled past, and one can learn many lessons from its history. A good place to start is the War Museum Cambodia located in Seam Reap. Here you can learn about the various historical regimes, revolutions, occupations and wars in Cambodia. Your tour guide will be an actual war veteran, and they have various weapons used in war such as helicopters, fighter aircraft, tanks and artillery on display. Then you can visit the Cambodia Land Mine Museum, where you can get to learn the various long lasting dangers and risks of landmines, especially for civilians. Cambodia, with its history of many wars, has many minefields and has a vast experience about these deadly weapons to share with the world. Then you can visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, also known as S-21, which highlights the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge.

Khmer Cuisine 

While Thai and Malaysian cuisines have garnered worldwide attention, Cambodian cuisine usually flies under the radar. It would be a shame to miss some great traditional Khmer dishes. Freshwater fish and rice are the basis of many of the dishes. Be sure to try the Fish Amok, which is the most famous Cambodian dish. It consists of fish, rice and coconut cooked along with lemon grass and some other herbs. And as is characteristic of many South East Asian countries, you will find some great street food dishes in many major cities, including some oddities like deep fried spiders and crickets. But don’t worry, there are plenty of rice, vegetable and fish based dishes for those who like to stick to conventional tastes.
 

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