Activities, Tours, Day Trips, and Things To Do in Cambodia
Cambodia is a Southeast Asian nation whose landscape spans low-lying plains, the Mekong Delta, mountains and Gulf of Thailand coastline. There's a magic about this charming yet confounding kingdom that casts a spell on visitors. In Cambodia, ancient and modern worlds collide to create an authentic adventure. Phnom Penh, its capital, is home to the art deco Central Market, glittering Royal Palace and the National Museum's historical and archaeological exhibits. In the countries northwest are the ruins of Angkor Wat, a massive stone temple complex built during the Khmer Empire.
Contemporary Cambodia is the successor state to the mighty Khmer empire, which, during the Angkorian period, ruled much of what is now Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The remains of this empire can be seen at the fabled temples of Angkor, monuments unrivalled in scale and grandeur in Southeast Asia. The traveler's first glimpse of Angkor Wat, the ultimate expression of Khmer genius, is sublime and is matched by only a few select spots on earth, such as Machu Picchu or Petra. Cambodia's Angkor Wat is, quite simply, one of the most splendid attractions in all of Southeast Asia. Long considered lost, the ruins of Angkor were never really lost to the Khmers, who have used the monuments as religious sites throughout their history.
Given Cambodia has an Angkor Wat motif on the flag, it's difficult not to think Cambodia equals Angkor. While it's true that Angkor Wat and the surrounding historical park are one of Cambodia's highlights, they are not the only one. The country also has some outstanding tropical islands, a budding ecotourism scene, and some fascinating and historical urban centers. While the country lends itself to a quick trip to see the ruins, it deserves more.
Just as Angkor is more than its wat, so too is Cambodia more than its temples, and its urban areas can surprise with their sophistication. Chaotic yet charismatic capital Phnom Penh is a revitalized city earning praises for its sumptuous riverside setting, cultural renaissance, and world-class wining-and-dining scene. Second city Siem Reap, with cosmopolitan cafes and a diverse nightlife, is as much a destination as the nearby iconic temples. Up-and-coming Battambang, reminiscent of Siem Reap before the advent of mass tourism. Immerse yourself in the culture at Battambang, which offers a rich architectural heritage, an increasingly confident art scene providing a cradle for many of Cambodia's top talents, and stunning surrounding countryside. See the beautiful Sihanoukville Peninsula, ringed by pretty whitish-sand beaches and surrounded by a smattering of attractive islands, Sihanoukville is Cambodia's premier beach location. Stop in Koh Kong, overlooking the peninsula that links Cambodia to Thailand. Koh Kong is a breezy town, and makes for a pleasant and relaxing base from which to explore the surrounding hills, seas and all that lies in between. Enjoy Kampot, a lively tourist destination, with plenty of good restaurants, bars and music to be found. Take in the sights at Central Kompong Chhnang province, which is home to Cambodia's most sublime and easily accessible scenery, while the provincial capital of the same name is one of Cambodia's most picturesque, photogenic and fascinating regional towns. Relax on a tropical island. In recent years the islands off the coast of Cambodia have become a tourist destination in their own right, with new accommodation being built on nearly all of them, along with a host of bars, restaurants, dive shops and so on. While they're no longer deserted island paradises, they do still possess a serenity not easily found elsewhere in mainland Southeast Asia. Top island choices include Koh Rong, Koh Ta Kiev, and Koh Totang.
Cambodia has a number of must see places to keep you in awe during your trip, from ancient ruins to a tropical paradise escape, with a bit of cultural cooking classes, entertainment options, and exciting nightlife thrown in to the mix. There's something for everyone here and this is a great destination to experience.