Although Cambodia is less famous than its neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam, this country still has its authentic beauty with lots of religious temples and other magnificent sightseeing. Moreover, Cambodia has vestiges of history and incredible local inhabitants. If you are planning to visit this nation, you should review our list of 10 best things to do in Cambodia and places to enjoy.
An overview of Cambodia
Cambodia located in Southeast Asia shares the border with Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. After being destroyed by the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia has rebuilt in the past 20 years. Due to great tourism development policies, the country is one of the most visited destinations in the region.
From the capital (Phnom Penh) to the historic city (Siem Reap), you will fall in love with the natural beauty and historic sites. While exploring the Angkor Wat, the Battambang countryside, the Mekong River, and paradise islands; you may get a lot of unforgettable moments from Cambodia’s trip.
What will you do in Cambodia?
Here is the list of 10 best things to do in Cambodia; you can add these in your plan before starting your trip.
Discover the Angkor Archaeological Park
Ta Prohm – Instagram@jamesyauu
When having a trip to Cambodia, you should visit the Angkor Archaeological Park. Covering around 400 kilometers of the forest, the Angkor Complex is built from the 9th to the 13th centuries.
This masterpiece is truly a human heritage in Cambodia as well as the world. The city of Angkor is a fascinating witness to the eminence of the Khmer Empire. The most incredible sites of the Angkor Complex are Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Prohm Temple. It would be great if you can visit these destinations because you possibly understand Cambodian’s culture.
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Impress the Apsara dance performance – the symbol of Khmer culture
Cambodia has a rich culture which is valuable in discovering when you visit this country. The most widespread cultural activity is the Apsara dance. This is a traditional dance of the Khmer people. You should not miss this spectacle in Cambodia’s journey.
Apsaras are fairies who enter to the Earth to provide entertained performance to Gods and Kings, according to Hindu mythology. They dressed in silk tunics and golden headdresses, all dancers have flexible movements and attractive performances to convey their stories. Enjoy this show to recognize why Apsara is the symbol of Khmer culture. This is also one of the best things to do in Cambodia.
Explore Siem Reap – the city of UNESCO temples
When coming to Siem Reap, you ought to rent a bike or take a tuk-tuk to go around the city. Nevertheless, you should get a map or a guide to know where the temples are. These temples are accredited as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On the forest trails, you will have a chance to find out a bundle of an ancient temple and other religious structures and relics. It is a greatly essential place to see how all temples are different from others in the world.
Take a short excursion on the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake
The cruise experience on the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake is fantastic and necessary. Because you may discover the local’s cultural and historical heritage while being fun and relaxed.
In Southeast Asia, Mekong is a recognizable symbol because it spreads to six countries, from Tibet to Vietnam. Transnational cruises, which extend over many days, are available to take tourists along the Mekong River (between Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam).
Moreover, visitors also select a breathtaking sunset cruise in Phnom Penh. This is a perfect opportunity to observe dolphins of Irrawaddy and all of aquatic mammals. Tonle Sap Lake in Siem Reap, on the other side, is the biggest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia region.
The lake makes a huge and really unique natural environment, including wetlands and flooded forests. These are wide ranges of exotic flora and fauna surrounding the lake. On the cruise board, we could discover daily lives of the local inhabitants in floating villages.
Discover the capital of Cambodia – Phnom Penh
The capital of Cambodia located at the confluence of the Tonle Sap, the Bassac, and the Mekong Delta. Phnom Penh is known as the pearl of Southeast Asia during the French colonization period. It gradually regained charm images with wide avenues, which carefully preserved gardens and old buildings.
During your discovery time in Phnom Penh, you should not miss some famous sites such as the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda complex, the Tuol Sleng Museum, the Wat Phnom Pagoda, the national museum, the central market, and the Choeung Ek. The list goes on and on, so do not think that you have nothing to do in Phnom Penh.
Relax on the beaches
Cambodia also has a lot of wonderful tropical beaches and small islands in this region. You can count some such as Sihanoukville, Kep, Koh Rong (this is the party island), and Koh Rong Samloem (this is a calm and peaceful little sister of Koh Rong). Bask in the sun by sitting on hammock, relaxing and strolling on the white sand, and enjoying outdoor activities (diving, fishing, boating, etc.) – things to do in Cambodia are various!
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Taste Cambodian cuisines
Thai and Vietnamese food is more popular than Cambodia in the world; Cambodian’s cuisines are also worth a try. A common Khmer meal consists of fishes and rice. Furthermore, Cambodian cuisine has several variations which are called the kitchen of contrasts. This is the reason travelers also fall in love with this local cuisine.
This nation has a wide range of traditional and local dishes, so you can try all the food. However, if you have a short trip only, here are some typical dishes that you should not skip.
- Amok (fish steamed with lemongrass, lemons, coconut milk, and wrapped in banana leaves)
- Samlor Machu Trey (sweet soup with fishes)
- Nom Banh Chok (a type of Khmer noodle)
- Num Anksom Sach Chrouk (sticky rice cake)
Visit the Mondulkiri Elephant Project
This is managed by a group of passionate people whose work is paid attention to elephant protection – abandoned, injured, orphaned, and overworked elephants. In other words, this is a home where elephants live again. This project helps them revitalize by feeding and offering shelter.
Walk alongside the jungle and their houses, you will identify how great they are when they swim in the streams or how they take care of their babies. In a nutshell, you probably get an incredible experience in their natural habitat.
Trek and hike to Ratanakiri and Cardamomes
The Cardamom Mountains are the largest rainforest in the Southeast Asia region and this is a good place to learn the diversity of Cambodia’s landscapes – from the rice paddies to the jungles, pine forest, or the green hills. During your trekking time, you will travel off the beaten track and sleep in the jungle. Also, you can hear some songs from gibbons and birds in the forest.
The Ratanakiri, on the other hand, located in the Northeast of Cambodia, is the most remote region. Far from the crowded tourist sites, dense forests cover 80 percentages of its surface; this is a great opportunity to observe the rich fauna and local flora. Picturesque natural beauty, wild animals and ethnic minority villages may occur in your trekking trip.
Exploration of Battambang – a well-preserved colonial town and a typical Cambodian countryside
Far away nearly 300 kilometers from Phnom Penh, Battambang is a well-preserved colonial city. This place has typical rural town with ethnic people, good landscapes of rice paddies, and religious temples.
Visiting to this peaceful area, you will see a well-known bat cellar, the local markets, bamboo trains, and ancient temples – Wat Ek Phnom, Wat Domrei Sor, and Wat Banan.
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Enjoy Cambodian spa and massage therapies
Another attractive destination is the Cambodian spa and massage. The traditional Khmer massage therapies are different from therapies in Southeast Asia. These have a variety of unusual treatments and therapies.
Most of resorts and hotels in major cities in Cambodia like Phnom Penh always serve spa services, including Aroma spa, Khmer herbal massage, slimming massage, and many types of facials or scrubs.
When is the best time to visit Cambodia?
In Cambodia, there are two main seasons – the dry season (between November and April) and the rainy one (from May to October).
In the rainy season, the temperature is pretty high (between 25 and 30 degrees). At this period, the winds are gradually strong and rains are too short. Nonetheless, the jungles are rich while the waterfalls are nice and all the sites are less touristy.
The temperature is quite pleasant in the dry season (from 35 to 49 degrees). This period is also the hottest time of the year. Although this time is hot and rivers are at the lowest level, tourists can come to some sites in Cambodia.
In general, the best time to go to Cambodia is not clear. It is usually hot in this country whether the season is dry or rainy. If you would like to avoid rains, you will go during the dry season. If you do not like the crowds in the tourist sites, the rainy season will be better for you. This time is also the low tourist season.
- By tuk-tuk: this is the most common transportation mode for locals and travelers in Cambodia. Negotiating price is vital before you get into a vehicle. Like taxis, tuk-tuks are suitable for short transfers within a city.
- By train: travel or going around the city is not as popular as the rail service in Cambodia still needs to develop.
- By bus: it is common when getting from one city to another.
- By taxi: taxis are ideal for transferring between airports and hotels. Some travelers take taxis in the city.
You have already reviewed the 10 best things to do in Cambodia. All you need to do to the next level is selecting the activities. With our practical information above, we hope that you probably prepare well for your journey to this ancient authentic country in Southeast Asia – Cambodia.