The name Cambodia immediately conjures up images of the massive Angkor Wat temples. Beyond the temples, Cambodia is a popular Southeast Asian tourist destination that manages to enchant everyone who visits. The vast low-lying plains, the maze of rivers that form the Mekong delta, green mountains, and a sparkling coastline contribute to its exquisite landscape and rightfully earn the title 'Pearl of Southeast Asia.'
And the wonders don't stop there. The village-centred lifestyle breathes new life into the Cambodian plains. Traditional music ensembles of wooden flutes and reed instruments, the royal ballet, and countryside drama troupes mark the distinct culture of Cambodia. Cambodia's ruling religion is Buddhism, and its philosophies are in practice throughout the country. While you are in Cambodia, you will be no stranger to the numerous tuk-tuks pulling up and down the streets. They generally consist of a motorbike pulling a trailer where the passengers ride. Getting around a tuk-tuk is a fun and safer way to explore.
To make you comfortable around the locals, we have a few tips. Get to know the locals by learning to say 'Hello' in their language. The sampeah is their usual form of greeting. It involves pressing the palms of the hands together in front of the chest, accompanied by a slight bow. You must know that Cambodians, by nature, are gentle and will avoid anger, conflict and simmering tempers at all costs. Therefore raising your voice and aggressive arguing will get you nowhere in the Kingdom. The last but most essential tip, say Chul Mouy before sipping a drink, and you'll capture the hearts of the locals in no time!
Know your Cambodia:
Let us take a quick look at some facts and figures before we get to the places to visit when you are in the Cambodia.
Capital: Phnom Penh
Dialing Code: +855
Languages: Khmer, English
Currency: United States Dollar, Cambodian riel
Weather: Average of 23° Celsius to 36° Celsius (73°F-96°F)
Best time to visit: Between November and May
Visa: Differs based on nationality. Visit for more information:
- hepatitis A and B
- measles, mumps, rubella (MMR)
- tetanus, diphtheria
Discover the best places to visit in Cambodia with our list of the top sights
1. Angkor Wat (Angkor Archaeological Park)
Location: Angkor Wat
This temple city is the most popular tourist destination in Cambodia. Even if you only have one day, Angkor Wat is well worth a visit. The temple will not only inspire and amaze you, but it will also provide you with a sense of human history that can only be obtained by visiting historic monuments such as this one.
For those with limited time, the main highlights after Angkor Wat are the tree-root clasped temple of Ta Prohm (which first gained international fame as a location used in the film Tomb Raider), and the Bayon Temple with its 216 stone-carved faces, Angkor Thom, and Preah Khan.
2. Phnom Penh
Location: Phnom Penh
Cambodia's capital is the frenetic heartbeat of the nation; a city of chaotic streets abuzz with motorbikes and car horns that can frazzle at first glance. For visitors, this is Cambodia's most cosmopolitan destination, with a café and restaurant scene unrivalled in the rest of the country. It is also home to a scattering of important historic sites that help unravel both Cambodia's modern and ancient history.
The National Museum is home to a haul of Khmer sculptures that traces the nation's history from the pre-Angkorian age right through to the phenomenal majesty of the god-Kings of Angkor. The Royal Palace provides gorgeous examples of traditional artistry.
3. Siem Reap
Location: Krong Siem Reap
This is the country's main activity hub, with a variety of tours available, ranging from cycle tours around the lush countryside just outside of town to Cambodian cooking classes. Shoppers will be kept busy as well, as central Siem Reap is teeming with opportunities to browse traditional crafts.
Before visiting Angkor Wat itself, stop by the Angkor National Museum to learn more about the site's history. The exhibits here explore the Khmer empire's rich culture and artistry.
Don't miss Phare The Cambodian Circus for some evening entertainment while in town. This internationally acclaimed circus troupe and social enterprise put on spectacular shows that combine theatre, acrobatics, and music.
4. Krong Kampot
Location: Krong Kampot
The laid-back riverine town of Kampot exudes an old-world charm. Kampot's allure stems from its extremely relaxed atmosphere, and many a traveller finds themselves staying longer than expected, having succumbed to its easygoing pace. However, for the more active, this is an excellent base for exploring the surrounding sights of the south.
The abandoned church and eerie, empty shell of a once-grand hotel at Boker Hill Station, as well as the limestone caves of Phnom Chhnork and Phnom Soria, both with old temples inside, are an easy day trip from town.
Location: Ratanakiri Province
Ratanakiri is a nature-filled respite for temple-fatigued travellers. This is rural Cambodia, and the region's endless red-dirt roads leading to ethnic minority villages are a traveller's dream.
The province is one of the best places in Cambodia for trekking, from spotting gibbons at Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area, where overnight trips include sleeping in hammocks and early rises to track buff-cheeked gibbons, to hiking in Virachey National Park, which is home to elephants, tigers, and sun bears.
There are also more relaxing options available. The emerald water of Yeak Lom Crater Lake, located just outside of Ban Lung town, is a peaceful swimming spot, while the waterfalls of Chaa Ong and Ka Tieng are enjoyable diversions.
Location: Mondulkiri Province
Adventurers flock to the hill country of Mondulkiri Province in Cambodia's far east for wildlife viewing, village life, trail-bike tours, and the Elephant Valley Project.
The Elephant Valley Project, the region's most well-known tourist attraction, allows visitors to walk with the sanctuary's elephants (no riding is permitted), while also providing an opportunity for local mahouts (elephant keepers) to earn a living without overworking their elephants. The Mayura zipline course skims right over the top of Bou Sra waterfall, while bird-watchers.
7. Banteay Chhmar
Location: Banteay Chhmar
Banteay Chhmar is ideal for a bit of Indiana Jones-style temple exploration. This massive temple complex is surrounded by jungle in Cambodia's remote northwest, providing the ideal opportunity to see the highlights without crowds.
The spectacular bas reliefs depicting Avalokitesvara on the south wall and the dizzying array of battle scenes depicted on the eastern walls, in particular, are prime examples of Angkorian artistry.