Cambodia is known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, located in the Southern portion of Southeast Asia. The country border by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Gulf of Thailand. The Kingdom is mostly recognized by Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. But, there are so much to see, here we want to show you the top places to visit in Cambodia besides the temple.
As for religion, the country is mostly Buddhist. The capital, Phnom Penh and they gained Independence in 1953. But, the history of Cambodia dates centuries ago, when the Khmer Empire accumulate immense power and wealth.
Cambodia was also a bloody history when the Khmer Rouge emerged in 1975. They carried the Cambodian genocide until 1979. After the fall was time for the country to rebuild, but things never were the same. According to foreign organizations, poverty, low human development, hunger, corruption, and lack of political freedom were some of the problems.
The country was some many beautiful places, mostly rural and very traditional. Biodiversity is largely founded. Although environmental problems still present, they have improved.
By: Stories By Soumya
At a 3-hour drive from Siem Reap in northwestern Cambodia, lies the sustainable commune of Banteay Chhmar, one of the top places to visit in Cambodia. The commune consists of 14 small villages on the Thai-Cambodia border. Life, here, revolves around the temple of Banteay Chhmar, a 12 th century shrine whose beauty has been equated to that of Angkor many-a-time. However, years of plunder and neglect have rendered most parts inaccessible.
Today, the people of the community along with Global Heritage Fund have taken up the herculean task of rebuilding their lost legacy in a sustainable manner. The effort has been named Banteay Chhmar’s Community Based Tourism (CBT) and that is what makes a trip here so special.
Once you arrive in Banteay Chhmar, everything is taken care of by the CBT. Homestays, locally-sourced homemade food, friendly hosts, knowledgeable tour guides, and an opportunity to get around in a Kuyon make the trip utterly memorable. You can choose to have your dinner under the starlit sky, join a cooking class, or be part of local festivals through the CBT. And the best part is you can do all this and give back to the community at the same time.
Sustainable tourism practices have increased local incomes by 20% while helping restore the ruined temples of Banteay Chhmar. A trip to this sustainable commune is definitely very fulfilling experience.
Once you have seen most in and out of Phnom Penh and you need a break from heartbreaking war stories, head out to Silk Island. Most Tuk Tuk drivers will know the way and including the ferry, a round trip will cost you around 20USD. That's for the whole Tuk Tuk so the more join the better.
From the town centre, you will pass the Wat Phnom and drive on the high way along the Mekong River to a small, rustic beach. An old ferry ship will come all the way to shore and everybody just walks or drives onto it.
Once across the Mekong River, it is only another short ride to the little outdoor museum. Here Here you will be able to see the whole process of making silk in a traditional way. It is truly a unique experience seeing how so much silk can come out of these little silkworms. There are a few huts to relax in, some snacks and drinks to buy and also a few animals to photograph.
After we had toured the whole ground, our Tuk Tuk drive brought us to the real village where the locals live. Buffalos, rice fields, old ladies on bikes and many happy children make it such a nice getaway from busy Phnom Penh. There is a magnificent but a bit run down temple complex as well making Silk Island a unique and not too overcrowded day trip worth your time, that makes it one of the top places to visit in Cambodia.
By: Travel For Life Now
Located halfway between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, Kampong Thom, one of the top places to visit in Cambodia, is the perfect place to stop for a day or two. Located beside the Steung Sean River, it is the definition of a sleepy town.
In the centre of town, you will find Wat Kampong Thom (Wat Indrisamvora). This temple has some recent buildings and statues that are interesting to see. It also has an area that dates to the 1600s. The Kampong Thom Museum is small but contains some excellent pieces from Sambor Prei Kuk, Angkor Wat and other ancient temples from around Cambodia. You can also take a cruise along the Steung Sean River.
There’s plenty to do from this location. Longing to see ancient temples without the crowds of Angkor Wat? Kampong Thom is close to both Sambor Prei Kuk and Phnom Santuk.
In 2017, UNESCO designated Sambor Prei Kuk as Cambodia’s third UNESCO World Heritage site. The complex pre-dates Angkor Wat and has hundreds of temples. While many temples are being restored, you can see some of the unique eight-sided structures. Sambor Prei Kuk is located in the forest and you can spend time with the ruins in quiet and solitude.
In addition, Phnom Santuk (Santuk Mountain), one of Cambodia’s most sacred mountains, is a short drive away. After a climb of hundreds of steps, you’ll reach the top of the mountain to see wonderful views of the countryside, a Buddhist monastery, and many carvings and statues.
One of the most wonderful things about these two sites is that they are rarely visited and you can see them without huge crowds. That will likely change over the coming years.
Koh Rong Samloem
By: Don’t Forget To Move
No trip to Cambodia is complete without a stop by the gorgeous island of Koh Rong Samloem. Just a short speedboat ride from the mainland city Sihanoukville, Koh Rong Samloem offers soft white sand beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters and countless opportunities to relax and take in that small island vibe.
The island is still relatively undeveloped, so don’t expect a lot of fancy resorts and definitely no chain restaurants. But what it might lack in activities and happenings, it more than makes up for in quiet living and the chance to escape the fast-paced tourist spots like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
While on the island there are some snorkelling trips you can do, along with just swimming in the water and enjoying the serenity. If you get a little restless you can always hop on a five-minute boat ride to neighbouring Koh Rong Island, where there’s much more of a nightlife scene. There you’ll find a backpacker crowd that has come to enjoy the island’s beauty, as well as its parties.
By: Dream Big, Travel Far
If you are visiting Cambodia this year, then one place you really cannot miss is Phnom Penh, one of the top places to visit in Cambodia! It is the place to stay in order to visit many of Cambodia's most famous sites. Most notably, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center. These two spots will give you an in-depth account of the horrors committed under the Khmer regime.
It is startling to see just how far they went in their pursuit to cleanse the country and the atrocities that were committed. However, it is also a valuable lesson in recent history as to what happens when people are manipulated and turned against one another. Back in Phnom Penh city, you’ll also find a number of other interesting places to visit and the city itself is a wonderful place to walk around.
It’s filled with plenty of shops and restaurants for you to choose from. But without a doubt, the best thing to do whilst in Phnom Penh is to visit the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre. It is a couple of hours outside of town, as such is often overlooked by far too many tourists. Which is a massive shame as it is easily the best animal rescue center we have been to anywhere in the world!
It is filled with animals from all around Asia, all living in their natural environments, as opposed to the typical zoo-like enclosures. You can find out more about our experience and how to get there in this post here.
You’ll have to invest a little bit more time and effort to reach Mondulkiri Province in remote north-eastern Cambodia. But once you get there, the rewards are high.
Mondulkiri is Cambodia’s largest and most sparsely populated province, home to some of the country’s most biodiverse landscapes. But sadly, illegal logging is a major threat to Mondulkiri’s virgin forests. In recent years, a number of ecotourism initiatives have sprung up in response, engaging both visitors and indigenous Bunong people who call Mondulkiri home.
This is a wonderful place to learn about the culture of the Bunong and other minority groups, which is intimately intertwined with nature and conservation.
Mondulkiri’s biggest town, Sen Monorom, has daily bus connections with Phnom Penh (5-6 hours travel time), making it an ideal jumping-off place for tours and lodge stays. Several companies in town offer packages that combine ethical elephant encounter with forest trekking.
The most well-known is the Elephant Valley Project, a sanctuary for 10 rescued elephants. The NGO has strong ethical principles (no riding or bathing the elephants) – instead, visitors trek with a local guide, ‘shadowing’ elephants and observing their behaviour. The organization also welcomes volunteers. Nature Lodge Cambodia, an ecotourism training centre, is locally run and offers bungalows and forest tours.
By Vicki Viaja
Kampot definitely became my favourite top places to visit in Cambodia. Even though we originally only had planned to stay one night in this small town in the south of the country. In the end, we stayed for 5 days.
Although Kampot is not home to any truly outstanding landmarks, it is the vibe of this city that we loved so much. In addition to walks along the river, delicious food on every corner, many expats who have settled here, the river cruises, which take place every evening is a real highlight.
Kampot is also a great starting point for various day trips. In addition to the pepper plantations, the crab market of Kep, as well as the Bokor National Park, are worth a visit. It is best to drive to Bokor National Park with a scooter, which you can rent for little money in Kampot.
There you will find all sorts of attractions such as waterfalls, temples and an abandoned casino from the French colonial times, which is located on the top of Bokor Mountain.
By Swedish Nomad
Koh Rong is a paradise island in Southern Cambodia that used to be a backpacker haven as most other tourists didn't know about the place. In some parts of the island, you can still get that backpacker feeling, but nowadays, you also have the option to stay in better accommodation.
The Long Beach of Koh Rong stretches for 7 kilometres, and along the way, there are some hotels that have popped up. My personal favourite is the one at the far end, known as Sok San Beach Bungalows.
What makes Koh Rong one of the best places to visit is definitely the beach white pure white sand and turquoise water as well as the jungle feeling. In fact, to reach the Long Beach from the pier you either have to take a boat or walk through the jungle.
The jungle walk takes about 40 minutes and is moderate in terms of difficulty. Make sure to bring water, and look out for snakes as there are some venomous snakes roaming the jungles of Koh Rong.
If you have a couple of days in Koh Rong, I also suggest visiting its nearby sibling island Koh Rong Samloem. To get to either of these islands, you have to hop on a boat from Sihanoukville.
By: Horizon Unknown
Siem Reap is one of the top places to visit in Cambodia, and it’s pretty easy to see why it’s so popular. This bustling town sees over a million tourists pass through each and every year.
Being on the doorstep to the world’s largest religious complex, Angkor Wat makes for one of the most popular and beautiful
day trips possible from Siem Reap. Hiring a tuk-tuk or a bike are two of the best ways to explore these ancient ruins – sunrise over the from behind the main temple of Angkor Wat is an unforgettable experience.
Siem Reap is also home to a lively nightlife, with markets and beer gardens open into the early hours of the morning. If you’re up for it, look for the small vendor selling grilled snakes, tarantulas and scorpions. There are plenty of transport options to Siem Reap from all around Cambodia, making it very accessible.
If you’re after an ancient temple, perfectly preserved, with a fun and friendly vine – make sure you check out Siem Reap!
Phnom Kulen National Park
Phnom Kulen National Park is home to a magnificent waterfall, gorgeous jungle scenery and a great way to experience Cambodia outside of Siem Reap!
Along the way, you can stop at the Bantas Srei Temple, one of the most delicately carved Temples of Angkor or spend the whole day exploring this lush national park. There are a few trails that lead to viewpoints, Buddhist and other temple relics but most people come here for the waterfall. This massive deluge is great for swimming, photos or just cooling off in the Cambodian heat. There were some friendly vendors nearby selling fruit, jewellery, and other souvenirs, the red bananas tasted incredible and I highly recommend trying some!
Walking along the rocky path to the waterfall you find local boys playing around you and a handful of other tourists swimming too. But, the journey to Phnom Kulen is over an hour and keeps hoards of tourists away.
If you are a nature lover like me and want to see more than just temples in Cambodia then you better add Phnom Kulen National Park to your list! I recommend booking a private car for the drive since the last stretch of road inside the national park were muddy trenches and we saw a number of broken-down bikes along the way.
If you like this blog post please share or leave a comment below. Also, for any questions about Cambodia, you can contact us on social media or here on the website.