It may be smaller than its Southeast Asian neighbours but there’s certainly no shortage of things to do in Cambodia. On your holiday you can take your pick from various historic sites and serene natural wonders, as well as getting to know more about local life and sampling new exotic dishes. To help you narrow down the list and plan your holiday accordingly, here are our favourite things to do in Cambodia:
Undoubtedly Cambodia’s most famous attraction, Angkor Wat is an awe-inspiring Khmer temple complex in Siem Reap. Often topping the world’s best travel lists, the complex sprawls across 402 acres, making it the largest religious monument in the world. While Angkor Wat is the main draw card, the surrounding ruins within the Angkor Archaeological Park are equally as impressive. During your visit don’t miss setting eyes on Angkor Thom, a walled city that was the last capital of the Khmer Empire and home to a range of unique temples. Another highlight is Ta Prohm (pictured above), a crumbling and jungle-clad temple which forms one of the largest monuments in the Angkor complex.
How to do it: Angkor Wat is open from 5am to 6pm. You can purchase an admission pass upon entry. While the temple is beautiful throughout the day, it’s particularly picturesque in the early hours during sunrise. Most travellers will dedicate at least two days to visiting Angkor Wat, although you could easily spend more time there. To help you get the most out of your visit, our Cambodia Explorer Journey includes a private Angkor Thom & Angkor Wat tour, as well as a separate private Ta Prohm and Preah Khan tour.
Also located in Siem Reap, Tonle Sap is an expansive freshwater lake, the largest in Southeast Asia. The lake is also connected to the Tonle Sap River which spans 74 miles long and reaches the Mekong River. The banks of the lake and river are home to around three million people, most of which enjoy a unique way of life living in floating villages or stilted houses, earning their living through fishing and agriculture.
How to do it: Tonle Sap Lake is a fascinating place to visit and witness the lake’s unique ecosystem and way of life. The easiest way to reach and explore the lake is via a Tonle Sap Lake boat tour, which is included in our Cambodia Explorer Journey.
Phnom Penh Royal Palace is a gleaming gold palace located in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. Built in 1866, the palace is the royal residence of the King of Cambodia and features opulent décor. Notable parts to visit include the intricately decorated Throne Hall and the Italian marble Silver Pagoda, which houses an Emerald Buddha made up of Baccarat crystal and solid gold, and adorned with 9,584 diamonds.
How to do it: You can visit the palace on our Cambodia Explorer Journey, which includes a Phnom Penh Royal Palace & Cyclo tour.
For all of its current day beauty and welcome locals, Cambodia’s history has a dark side, namely when the Khmer Rouge regime ruled from 1975 to 1979. Led by Pol Pot, the regime carried out a genocide and civil war that resulted in the deaths of approximately three million people. Today the country preserves this harrowing history in a number of sites, including the Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields, which once housed a mass grave of over 9,000 people. Visiting these sites is obviously quite a solemn affair, but also crucial in learning about Cambodia’s past and hopeful future.
How to do it: A tour of the Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields is included in our Cambodia Explorer Journey.
Once you’ve taken in the iconic sites and landmarks of Cambodia, we won’t blame you if you feel like taking some time to chill on the beach. And the best place to enjoy some sand and sunshine is in the southern coastal city of Sihanoukville. With a number of stretches of soft, white sand, Sihanoukville is at the heart of Cambodia’s burgeoning beach scene with resorts offering fantastic value for money. For peace and quiet by the sea, try the picturesque Otres Beach or for true rest and relaxation, set sail on a sailing getaway to the outlying islands, many of which are so secluded that they don’t even have electricity.
How to do it: Our Cambodia Explorer Journey includes four nights in Sihanoukville, staying at the 4-styar Sokha Beach Resort.
For more ideas on the best things to do in Cambodia, check out our tailor-made Cambodia holidays.