With a culture and traditions steeped in history, you can expect a fusion of local traditions with religious customs. Set in the northwest, the luxury resort city of Siem Reap is perfectly poised for sightseeing tours, with the magnificent relics of the Khmer Empire, Angkor, just outside the city limits. One of the mightiest empires to ever rule the world, the Angkor complex is proof that Khmer architectural genius is comparable only to the world’s most stunning wonders, such as Machu Picchu. The Angkor temples, set between the Kulen mountains to the north and the serene Tonle Sap Lake to the south, are typical examples of Khmer-style architecture, and include UNESCO-listed gems such as Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple, Banteay Srei, Beng Mealea, Ta Phrom and Preah Khan.
Much of the spurt in Cambodian tourism may be owed to these ruins but, there’s a lot more to Cambodia than Angkor Wat temples. In Siem Reap itself, beyond the tourist trails frequented by motorized tuk tuks, or the night markets where street food stalls hawk exotic delicacies, luxury hotels, spas and a dizzying number of foreign travelers, lies a dizzying cultural scene that can rival any other in Southeast Asia. In Phnom Penh, on the banks of the Mekong River, unravel Asian mysticism, romance and heritage – right from the glittering Royal Palace to saffron-clad monks lined up at the morning alms giving ceremony, to the Silver Pagoda, and the Killing Fields from the Khmer Rouge era.
Beyond these urban jungles and ancient ruins, rural Cambodia offers lush rice paddies, distant mountains, and untamed wildernesses inland. Remote Kratie, set far away from the crowds, is known for its delightful French colonial buildings. Set on the banks of the Mekong, glorious sunsets await you in this sleepy town, as do the rare pink dolphins. to the west, just outside the quiet town of Battambang, lush rice fields pave the way to floating villages on the Tonle Sap Lake. The eastern highlands near Mondulkiri or Rattanakiri are replete with grassy hills and pine forests, crisscrossed by gushing waterfalls and tranquil rivers. Sparsely populated, its the ideal region for giving way to your digital detox plans.
To the south, Cambodia’s palm-fringed tropical islands and beaches may not be as well-known those in Thailand or Vietnam, but therein lies their charm! Sihanoukville, set on the east coast, leads the way with its forest backdrop, sandy shores and clear blue waters at beaches such as Otres. Nearby, the coastal town of Kep offers a rugged coast surrounded by mangrove forests while Kampot boasts a long, serene coastline. The jewel in the Cambodian crown however, is the pristine Koh Rong archipelago, which is just a short boat ride away from Koh Kong. Expect turquoise blue waters framed by the Gulf of Thailand, silken white sand under your feet and an incredible underwater world – what’s not to love!
- Visit the old town market in Siem Reap to see row after row of souvenir shops, local eateries and buzzing nightlife!
- A tuk tuk ride is a great way to experience the local lifestyle. Bear in mind that tuk tuk drivers are not always familiar with the names of streets so it is best to remember the names of famous temples and pagodas close to where you wish to go. Remember also to always negotiate the price beforehand!
- While larger cities such as Siem Reap and Phnom Penh offer good hospitals and medical facilities, in smaller towns such as Kratie, Kep and Battambang, facilities are basic. We advise you to purchase travel insurance before you set out on your Cambodian vacation.
- For tourist arrivals at border towns, obtaining a visa upon arrival may be inconvenient. We recommend that you obtain your tourist visa or e-visa before you arrive in the country.
- Tourist attractions such as the Angkor temples are best explored with multi-day tours. Our team are happy to plan the perfect travel itinerary with trusted local guides who can help you experience the best of the country.
Did you know?
Ta Prohm, began as a Buddhist monastery and university. Unlike most other Angkorian temples, this hauntingly beautiful site boasts a pristine, other-worldly atmosphere with trees growing out of the ruins surrounded by dense jungles.
Just a few hours away from Angkor, picturesque Prasat Preah Vihear temple is set atop on the Dângrêk Mountain. This beautifully preserved site has the most stunning setting out of all temples from the Khmer era.
Banteay Srei, dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, includes buildings that are much smaller in scale than others in the Angkorian collection. Built from red sandstone, it is often lauded as the ‘jewel of Khmer art’.
Prasat Thom temple in Koh Ker boasts the highest temple tower ever to be built by the Khmer, at 36 meters from the ground!