Millions of visitors go to Cambodia every year to see the biggest and most beautiful temple in the world – Angkor Wat. Although it is a beautiful sight and we will be talking about it in this post, it’s a shame that this is usually the only place visitors know about. This amazing country can offer a lot more to explore. Let’s explore the best places to visit in Cambodia together and I hope you will stay in Cambodia a bit longer and see more than Angkor Wat.

The Kingdom of Cambodia, home to more than 16 million people, is one of the poorest countries in its region. It is associated with the ruling of the Khmer Rouge, who committed genocide that resulted in the death of more than 2 million of its inhabitants. Although this happened almost 40 years ago, the country is still trying to overcome its sad past.

Despite this, Cambodia is a very popular destination in South-East Asia, mostly because it has something for everyone. You can spend your trip in wild nature, lying on the beach or enjoying sightseeing. These are our best places to visit in Cambodia and if you are not sure what to pack to Cambodia, trust us you don’t need much – check this great Southeast Asia packing list.

Angkor Wat – The largest temple complex in the world

Angkor Wat is one of the most breathtaking sights worldwide. The first temple was originally built as a Hindu shrine and rebuilt into the Buddhist temple during the 12th century. The whole complex is a part of World heritage, and it is so important for the country itself that you can even find it on the state flag. Just a little warning, you won’t be the only visitor in the temple. In fact, there will be at least a few hundreds anxious tourists, and most likely, the place will be very crowded. Check out our tips what you should know before going to Angkor Wat.

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Angkor Wat is the symbol of all of Cambodia

Don’t forget to find out as many information as possible before your trip. It is always wise to plan your vacation ahead, and if you’re struggling, choose from our list of the best temples in Angkor Wat. We recommend that you rent a motorcycle or a bicycle so you can move faster. You can also pay for a guided tour, we recomend GetYourGuide where you can book tour online.

eva_profilThe official language in Cambodia is Khmer, but you can also use French or English. Cambodia was a French colony for almost 100 years, and they left a significant mark. Not only can you speak French, but you can also enjoy fresh baguettes and other French pastry. It is a bit strange to eat a baguette in Asia, but it is a part of the country‘s history.

Phnom Penh – things to do in the capital of Cambodia

What to do in Phnom Penh? Brace yourself because you’re about to experience life in a city full of people riding motorcycles and bicycles in its tiny, dusty streets. As anywhere else in South Asia, the traffic is a bit crazy. Phnom Penh doesn’t have any skyscrapers or other tall buildings, but it does have the Royal Palace, National Museum, and the second best sight in Cambodia – Security Prison S-21 Tuol Sleng along with the Killing fields.

The Royal Palace

This palace from 1813 is home to the Cambodian Royal Family. The king doesn’t have any real power in the country, the prime minister does. The Royal Palace is also famous for its treasures, such as a giant face of Buddha and Silver Pagoda (the most visited sight of the whole complex). The floor in the Pagoda is made of silver tiles (rumour has it that there are more than 5000 tiles, and each one of them weighs more than 1 kilogram). The other favourite thing to see in Phnom Penh Royal Palace is a life-size golden Buddha ornamented with more than 95,000 diamonds. It is often called the Emerald Buddha. The palace is open every day, and the tour will take approximately three hours.

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Majestic Royal Palace in the capital of Phnom Penh

The National Museum

The museum guards well-known artifacts from the golden age of Cambodian history – The Angkor era. The whole building looks almost like the Cambodian State symbol, already mentioned Angkor Wat. Although it might feel like you have already seen it before, don’t forget to stop by anyway. The entrance fee is cheap and it is only steps away from the Royal Palace.

Security Prison S-21 Tuol Sleng and the Killing fields

If you find yourself wondering about other places to visit in Phnom Penh, this is the one you simply can’t miss. Only seven people survived the cruel stay in the Security Prison S-21. The repressive policy of the Khmer Rouge regime led to the genocide of the Cambodian population. The prison building today serves as a memorial to this terrible genocide. You will see the torture machines, chains that were used for holding down the prisoners – mostly intellectuals, opponents of the regime or simply educated people with their families. For more information click to the official website of Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

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Former S-21 Prison Tuol Sleng remembers very bad times of Khmer Rouge

The last room shows a map of Cambodia made from the bones of tortured Cambodian children. Part of the prison is called The Killing Field, situated 15 km from the city centre (the best way to get there is to use a Tuk-Tuk). As the name itself reveals, the Killing fields were used for mass executions and also as mass graves for tortured prisoners.

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The Giant monument in honor of the victims of genocide Khmer Rouge- The Killing Fields 

Jungle experience in Virachey National Park

The Virachey National Park is located in a deep and isolated jungle in northeast Cambodia. Most of its three thousand kilometre area is waiting to be explored. The park is a very popular destination because it has everything you want from wild nature – mountains, lakes, waterfalls and wild animals. It may sound like a dream come true but the truth is, the park is closely coming to its end because of illegal logging and damage to rare trees and plants. Cambodia logged 29% of its original forests within 5 years, and the kingdom doesn’t have the finances to motivate the park administrator to guard the park properly.

tom_profilWe recommend you hire a guide from the local touristic office and stay in the park, at least for three days. It is truly a unique experience. The local guide will prepare meals in the middle of the jungle, you will sleep under the sky, hunt tarantulas, and the whole stay will end in a small poor village, where you can see the life of locals.

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If you like to hiking, you will love Virachery National Park

Kep – the city of salt and crabs

One of the most well-known cities in Cambodia is Kep. We are certain that you will read about Kep in every article about the best places to visit in Cambodia. You can’t leave the country without walking on the salt and pepper field and eat crabs. Local fishermen catch thousands of them – fresh from the sea, and Kep’s restaurants serve them in hundreds of ways. When you are full of crabs and spent a lot of money on fresh salt and pepper, go for a trip to the close-by mountains or explore caves near the city.

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View of salt plains

Kratié – the home of rare river dolphins

The Khmer Rouge regime has decimated not only Cambodian residents but also Cambodian animals. Local rivers used to be full of river dolphins, but these days, they are very rare. The best chance to see river dolphins is in Kratié, a small city by the Mekong River. You can rent a small boat or walk to a popular view on the hills. If you spot a dolphin, you can come back down and enjoy the city itself with its colourful houses, nice locals and good restaurants serving Cambodian cuisine

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Freshwater dolphins are very unique in the world

Sihanoukville – beautiful beach resort

Sihanoukville is definitely one of the must-see places in Cambodia. The only navy harbour in the whole kingdom and also a popular beach resort. Visitors say that the sand beaches in Sihanoukville are just as beautiful as in nearby Thailand, but there are significantly fewer people enjoying them in Sihanoukville. If you find yourself sick of swimming and doing nothing at the beach, visit some of the nearby villages, go to a market or check out some rice fields. Just a bit further down is a forest reserve Raem.

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Typical fishing village in Sihanoukville

Beautiful island Koh Rong with crystal clear sea

Koh Rong was a modest and lonely island until 2016 but then the protection period (used for holding down the island’s development) ended and the developing boom started. Nowadays it is a home of luxurious resorts inviting you to enjoy some relaxation and privacy along with a bit of partying and adventure. From the hotels, you can easily reach the jungle or waterfalls. There are some things you can’t buy for money, but in Koh Rong, you can buy almost anything. Boat trip, diving, yoga at the beach – you name it. If you want to enjoy the authentic atmosphere, leave the resort and visit some of the small villages on the island and taste one of the best traditional dishes.

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Koh Rong Island is a paradise on Earth

And now you know what to do in Cambodia, here is short etiquette lesson.

  • When you visit a Buddhist temple, cover your elbows and knees and take your shoes and hat off.
  • Women can’t touch monks, not even by accident.
  • If you are not swimming, don’t wear a swimsuit.

If you are still not sure if you want to visit Cambodia, here are 15 Photos to Inspire You to Visit Cambodia.

Do you know other great places to visit in Cambodia that we haven’t mentioned? Let us know in the comments. We have no doubt that there are a lot of interesting places to see and things to do in Cambodia.

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