Compiling a list of the best places to go in Cambodia is a tough task because so much of the country is great for exploring. I’ve only visited once, as part of a wonderful Intrepid Travel tour through Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand. I’ve assembled a list of awesome fellow bloggers to help pull together a list of their favourite Cambodian destinations to help you design your ultimate holiday in this South-East Asian kingdom.
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The Cambodian capital city has a lot to offer travellers wanting to learn about the culture and history of the country. In the same day, it’s possible to explore the grandeur of the Royal Palace and then experience the horror and sadness at the infamous Tuol Sleng prison where so many were imprisoned and perished under the Khmer Rouge regime. There’s a number of beautiful French colonial buildings left standing from the French occupation starting way back in the 1860’s.
As in most areas of Cambodia, visiting sites like the Royal Palace, temples or any of the museums commemorating the genocide committed by the Khmer Rouge, requires respectful dress – usually meaning shoulders and knees should be covered. About 30 mins drive from the city centre is the heartbreaking Killing Fields complex which should be visited, but comes with a warning that the site (like Tuol Sleng) can be overwhelming and upsetting. Finally, Phnom Penh is also an amazing spot to sample local foods – head to the Russian, Central or Orussey Markets for cheap, bustling food courts to try some local dishes. The variety here truly makes Phnom Penh one of the best places to go in Cambodia.
Cambodia is known for its Khmer Empire ruined cities and temples, but the “real” jungle temples are mostly gone because of restauration. Prasat Preah Khan of Kampong Svay is a city & temple complex which is the last remaining that really gives you the Indiana Jones feeling. It’s a place highly recommended adding to a Siem Reap itinerary or Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap itinerary.
Prasat Preah Khan of Kampong Svay is located 100 kilometers east of Angkor Wat but it takes almost 3 hours to get there. Make sure to bring lunch as it’s difficult to get a decent lunch in that area. Roads have improved and the site can be visited in a sedan but a 4×4 makes it easier to check out smaller jungle roads as well. The entrance fee is just a few dollars which is low compared with the high fees at Angor Wat.
Once you arrive, you’ll notice that Prasat Preah Khan of Kampong Svay isn’t visited often. If you’re lucky, you might be the only one visiting. There are locals working the lands, kids playing games and elderly watching cattle graze. The route is easy as after entering through the arch you can only circle the boardwalk around. That’s not all though as you can go explore the structures but be carefully not to slip on the rocks. Count 2 hours for the main complex and about 30 minutes for each of the 4 outlying structures. After you have seen Prasat Preah Khan of Kampong Svay you’ll understand why it’s a tentative UNESCO site. It’s worth going and definitely is one of the best places to go in Cambodia.
– Chris W. from CTB Global® (Chris Travel Blog)
Kampot is a sleepy little French colonial town in the south of Cambodia. It’s a great place to stay as there is so much to see and do in the area. The town itself is nice to walk around to see the old colonial buildings, though a lot of them are not in a good state of repair. The river though that runs through the town is a popular place to watch the sunset and lots of locals and tourists walk along the promenade and sit on the walls to watch it.
The area around Kampot has lots to do, it is very popular to see the pepper fields and see the salt fields. This you can do as part of a day trip to Kep a town 30 minutes away which has a great market and is the place to get the boat to the beautiful Rabbit Island. You can also hire a scooter or a driver as I did to go to Bokor Hill Station, there are abandoned buildings to explore, a small waterfall and some amazing views of the valley. Just a few reasons why Kampot is one of the best places to go in Cambodia.
– Claire from Travels In Peru
Sambor Prei Kuk
I visited quite a few places in Cambodia over the years but the place that always comes to mind as my favorite and the city that humbled me the most was Battambang. The city of Battambang is known by several tourists, but not many give it much thought these days when planning their southeast Asia itinerary and it often goes overlooked. I can’t even remember why I headed there.
There are plenty of things to do in Battambang for travelers, but it is definitely a sleepier place than several other cities in Cambodia. I did find amazing food and several historical sites in Battambang that make it worthy of a visit. The Killing Caves are one of the most chilling places I have ever been to and it left me curious and better-informed after a trip to them. There is also the Bamboo train that gets a lot of recognition from those traveling to Battambang. If you’re heading to Cambodia and have some time to spare, definitely head to Battambang and see a different side of this stunning country.
– Megan from MeganStarr.com
Choeung Ek (The Killing Fields)
The Temples of Angkor
The UNESCO listed temples of Angkor truly deserve their heritage status and should be your top pick not just in Cambodia, but in Asia. To make the most of your visit, my advice is to rise early, hire a local tuktuk and explore at a relaxed pace with the 3 day pass (cost 62usd).
Must have experiences include watching the sunrise at Angkor Wat and exploring the ancient kingdom of Angkor Thom which contains most of the other temples.
My personal favourite was Ta Phrom, where monstrous gigantic tree roots entwined around the ancient temple walls will leave you spellbound. Bayon, with its enigmatic stone heads is another must visit spot especially for sunset. A morning tuktuk ride will take you through the countryside to the small temple of Banteay Srei which is famous for its delicate and beautiful stone carvings. If you have the time and energy, check out the other smaller temples that include Preah Khan (a Buddhist-Hindu fusion temple), Banteay Kdei with the royal pool (Sra Srang) directly opposite to it and Pre Rup (famous for its sunset views).
Angkor is one of those “once in a lifetime places”, so make sure to plan properly to have a great experience in one of the best places to go in Cambodia.
– Neha from Two Flashpackers
Kampong Cham is one of my favourite places to get off the beaten track in Cambodia. I love it so much, I ended up travelling there three times when I was living in Phnom Penh. A peaceful town set on the Mekong River, Kampong Cham can be reached by bus in a little under 3 hours from the capital. The centre is characterised by wide boulevards, roundabouts and colonial architecture—all leftovers of French colonisation. Kampong Cham’s main phsar wet market is a vibrant display of seafood, snails, and fresh produce. In the evenings, the snack bars and BBQ joints that line the waterfront come to life with local families.
The highlight of Kampong Cham (for me, anyway) is Koh Pen Bridge: the longest bamboo bridge in the world that connects the city with one of the larger Mekong islands. An incredible feat of engineering, the bridge is dismantled and painstakingly rebuilt every year on either side of the wet season. It’s robust enough to carry cars—but walking over the bridge is the best way to appreciate its workmanship and detail. Rumours that the bridge will be replaced with a concrete structure have been circulating for years. On the other side of the bridge, Koh Pen (‘Bamboo Island’) is a great place for cycling.
There are a couple of notable Buddhist temples to visit in Kampong Cham. Banteay Prei Nokor is a new temple nestled within an old shell, with vivid murals inside, and stonework that predates the temples of Angkor on the exterior. On the outskirts of Kampong Cham, Cheung Kok Ecotourism Village is a small community that welcomes visitors. Guided tours by a local NGO teach visitors about various aspects of daily life and industry: Weaving krama (Cambodia’s beautiful chequered scarves), rice farming, and other handicrafts.
– Emily from Wander-Lush
Koh Rong Samloem
On our recent trip to Cambodia, we visited many places but the one that stands out to me is Koh Rong Samloem.
Located just off the coast of Sihanoukville, this island is easy to visit but also feels like a world away. It has one of the prettiest beaches I have visited and it is definitely one of the cleanest I have seen in South East Asia. It has beautiful, soft, powdery white sand, blue water and the beach is surrounded by jungle.
We stayed in the main beach area, but it is still very low key. Low rise guest houses and eating establishments line the beach. We found it a beautiful place to unplug and just enjoy. If you get bored, you can go for a hike in the jungle or head out on the water.
There are plenty of eating choices with some great food available but note that it is a lot more expensive than on the mainland. If you are looking for one of the best places to go in Cambodia for the perfect beach getaway, this is it!
– Sharon from Dive Into Malaysia
In summing up, there’s obviously so much of this wonderful country to discover. Thanks to all the bloggers who contributed to this post by sharing their love and tips on Cambodia!
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