The Southeast Asian nation of Cambodia often loses out in a travel popularity contest to its neighbor, Vietnam. This hugely popular destination attracts millions of travelers every year to cruise on the emerald waters of Halong Bay and explore its fascinating temples, bustling cities, and the reminders of the war which swept through the country from 1955 to 1975. But Cambodia also has plenty to offer intrepid visitors. From mighty Angkor Wat to reminders of its own troubled history in the form of the Khmer Rouge Killing Fields, Cambodia makes for an incredible travel destination. More so when paired with Vietnam, Laos, or both. Here are five of the best places to visit in Cambodia.
Best Places to Visit in Cambodia
The temple city of Angkor is undoubtedly the most popular destination for travelers to Cambodia. And the crowning glory of the site, Angkor Wat, is so important to the country that it is even featured on the Cambodian flag. Yes, it will be busy. Nevertheless, no traveler to the country can leave without paying a visit to this UNESCO-listed masterpiece. If you time things well, you can watch the sunrise over Angkor Wat. A truly magical experience, and you can take guided tours of the site to learn more about its rich history. Located just a stone’s throw from the resort town of Siem Reap, it is easy to incorporate Angkor into your Cambodia holiday itinerary.
The Cambodian capital has plenty of attractions to keep travelers busy. The city of Phnom Penh is one of contrasts, with burgeoning wealth living alongside some of the world’s poorest communities, and ancient temples sitting next to glittering modern skyscrapers is one of the Best Places to Visit in Cambodia. Visitors will want to head to the Royal Palace, where they can see the resplendent Silver Pagoda at its heart. There’s also the bustling Mekong-side markets of Sisowath Quay. Visitors can see what life is like for normal Cambodians, shopping in the busy markets. And no visit to Cambodia would be complete without delving a little into the troublesome history of the Khmer Rouge regime, which committed mass genocide, killing around a third of the Cambodian population in just four years, from 1975 – 1979. Toul Sleng prison and the Killing Fields are just some of the places where this terrifying history can be understood.
For laid-back beach bars, parties, and cheap drinks, many tourists head to neighboring Thailand. That said, Cambodia is emerging as an alternative beach party destination in Southeast Asia. Sihanoukville is the closest the country gets to rivaling Thailand, with a plethora of cheap hostels and beach bars aplenty to choose from. Whether you’d like to spend a few days unwinding on the beach or taking to the waves with a jet ski or surfboard, the choice is yours. Sihanoukville isn’t the most cultural place in Cambodia, but it’s worth a visit if you’re after some downtime.
Angkor Wat is majestic, but if it has a downside then it’s that the site can get massively busy. Especially during peak times, as travelers flock from all over the world to tick the site off their bucket lists. In Cambodia’s northern jungles lies an alternative, the smaller but just as impressive Koh Ker. Until recently, the site was near-impossible to reach. However, a new highway has opened it up to travelers and the site is increasingly popular. A former capital of the Khmer Empire, the 1,000-year-old temples rise up from the steamy jungles of the site, crowned by the stepped Prasat Thom temple. It can’t replace Angkor Wat, but it can certainly add something else to your Cambodia trip.
Battambang is regarded by many as Cambodia’s second city. Although it doesn’t have the charm of places such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, it remains a popular stopover for visitors to the country. There are plenty of bars and hostels to keep backpackers fed and watered. More cultural attractions include the chaotic Central Market and the temples of Wat Baydamran and Wat Samraong Knong, which was once used as a prison by the evil Khmer Rouge. A ride on the famous bamboo train is also recommended for a dose of Cambodian culture.
Five Best Places to Visit in Cambodia Review
Cambodia will never best Vietnam in a popularity competition. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean it should be ignored by travelers to this part of the world. The country is packed with exciting things to see and do, crowned by Angkor Wat, one of the most stunning examples of human architecture anywhere in the world. Many tour operators combine Vietnam and the best places to visit in Cambodia into one trip. Whilst backpackers can explore the country just as safely and easily as they can in Vietnam. Thank you for making Skycap News™ your choice for travel tips from around the globe!
What should I avoid in Cambodia?
Cambodia is a beautiful and safe country to visit. But there are a few things that tourists often get wrong. As a rule of thumb, if you interact with the locals and try to respect their culture, you will not have any problems.
How many days do you need to see Cambodia?
You will need at least 5 days to see Cambodia. The reason behind this is that The country is huge and there is a lot of points you could visit. You will have to fly to Phnom Penh first, then Ho Chi Minh City and then Siem Reap which is the most important tourist destinations. If you want to visit the south of the country then you will have to go via Ho Chi Minh City.
I would suggest you to plan your trip in a way that you visit Siem Reap for 2 days then go to Phnom Penh for another 2-3 days and then back to Siem Reap again. That way you will get to see the main highlights in the country.