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20 Most beautiful places to see in Cambodia

Cambodia is a fascinating country that left me wanting much more. From beautiful natural landscapes, cities with a lot of life like Phnom Penh, architectural wonders that will leave you speechless like the archaeological site of Angkor Wat and much more.


The vast majority of travelers who arrive in Cambodia do so through the Siem Reap airport to exclusively visit the archaeological site of Angkor Wat. But it really is a country that has many interesting places to visit and you cannot miss it.

Making such a long trip here to see only Angkor Wat is to miss the opportunity to learn about a wonderful history, culture and people.


In this post I talk about the 20 essential places to see in Cambodia. Here you will find a complete travel guide to Cambodia where you will find several articles from my two trips, which will help you organize your trip.



20 BEAUTIFUL PLACES TO SEE IN CAMBODIA


To make it easier for you to locate each place, I will differentiate them by cities or areas. In addition, I add links that will take you to other much more detailed articles and where not only the most essential places are found, but others that I also recommend and that you cannot miss.


What to see in Siem Reap


The chaotic city of Siem Reap is located between rice fields and jungle in the middle of the Angkor region. To visit the region I recommend a minimum of 4 days. Although it is advisable to add some more to enjoy calmly and not miss anything.


1. The archaeological site of Angkor Wat


The Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia is one of the most incredible places to see in Southeast Asia and is the main tourist attraction in Cambodia. Angkor is a huge complex of Hindu and Buddhist temples located about 5 km from the city of Siem Reap, in northern Cambodia.

These temples were built at the height of the Khmer Empire during the 9th and 15th centuries. The most important temple in the complex is Angkor Wat, a symbol of Cambodia and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992.

Although the main temple is Angkor Wat, you can't like the other temples; Bayon Wat, Ta Prohm, Baphuon Wat, Phimeanakas Wat, Banteay Samre Wat, Pre Rup Wat…


The ideal way to not miss any temple is to buy a 3-day ticket to visit the complex.



2. Visit a floating village on Lake Tonlé


A great activity to do in the afternoon is to visit the floating village on Lake Tonlé. Lake Tonlé is a huge lake where several floating villages are located. The best option to enjoy it is to take a boat ride in the afternoon, just before sunset, and enjoy the sunset.



3. Visit Phnom Kulen National Park


Phnom Kulen is a spectacular national park filled with incredible waterfalls and plenty of trails through the Cambodian jungle. The park is only an hour and a half from Siem Reap and if you decide to visit it I recommend that you get up early and leave the city around 4:30-5:00am. In the park you can bathe in the pools that are created under the waterfalls and it has designated areas for picnicking.


The park is considered a sacred place in Cambodia and attracts many people who seek healing in its holy waters, especially the waters of Kbal Spean because they are said to help couples conceive.



4. Visit the city of Siem Reap


The city of Siem Reap has several interesting temples to visit such as; Wat Svay Dongkum, Wat Bo Temple, Preah Ang Chek Preah Ang Chorm Shrine, Wat Reach Bo, Wat Damnak... In addition, in the center you will find the night market and the Street pub, a mandatory stop when night falls.




Things to do in Battambang


Another of the great cities of Cambodia is the colonial city of Battambang. And despite being a city with great cultural and heritage value, it is not one of the most visited cities. If you are thinking of taking a tour of the country, at least I advise you to invest a full day to visit it.


5. Get to know the old town of Battambang


The historic center of Battambang is full of French colonial houses and mansions from the early 20th century. However, after the Jerem Rouge period, many of these mansions were destroyed and today the French government is financing their rehabilitation in order to become house museums. Some of the most characteristic buildings are the post office and the governor's residence that can be glimpsed from the gate (since the latter cannot be visited or seen up close).

In general, the old town has a lot of charm, the colonial essence is combined with Cambodian daily life and the new buildings. Here, on the banks of the river, is the central market, another essential thing to see in the center of Battambang.



6. Banan Temple


Near Battambang is the Banan Temple. If you have already visited the temples of Angkor before arriving in this city, you will clearly see the similarities. The Phnom Banan is from the Angkorian period and is located on the top of Mt. You have to climb 358 stone steps and with the heat and humidity the task is complicated. But don't give up, keep going, it's worth it.

This 11th century temple, built under the mandate of Udayadityavarman II, has some of the best bas-reliefs in Cambodia and is located in one of the best areas of the city to contemplate its surroundings.

It is a very well preserved temple and a must see in Battambang.


7. The Bamboo Train in Battambang


The old bamboo train track is now abandoned. The locals went in a kind of improvised bamboo vehicles (that's why it became famous). The original line no longer exists, but a kind of replica has been created just for tourists.


What to see in Phnom Penh


Phnom Penh is an essential stop to make on your trip to Cambodia. Despite the fact that many say that the capital is not very graceful, from my point of view it does have a lot of charm, many incredible temples to visit, markets... In addition, in Phnom Penh you will get to know a large part of the country's history.


8. Visit the Royal Palace of Phnom Penh and the Silver Pagoda


This beautiful Palace has been a royal residence since its construction in 1866, when the capital was moved from Oudong to Phnom Penh.

The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is divided into three enclosures. The main one is the Throne Room. It is a spectacular building. Inside is the royal throne and the busts of the kings of Cambodia. To the east of the Throne Room is the Khemarin Palace and it is where the kings of Cambodia reside. And finally, the third building is the Silver Pagoda, a beauty.

The Silver Pagoda is located within the grounds of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. The vihara houses several national treasures and many sculptures of Buddha. The one that stands out the most is the Emerald Buddha of Cambodia. Its name refers to the fact that the floor of the pagoda is covered with silver tiles.

It is a working Buddhist temple and is used in many ceremonies. In the same enclosure is the Bopha Stupa and in it are the ashes of Norodom, one of the most illustrious kings of Cambodia.





9. Tuol Sleng Prison


Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge ruled Democratic Kampuchea (formerly Cambodia). Led by dictator Pol Pot, they established a very radical and authoritarian communist system based on Stalinism and Maoism. They wanted to end all urban civilization and ruralize the country. Its economic system was based solely and exclusively on the countryside. So their main enemies were bourgeois, students, multinationals or foreign companies that had established a headquarters in the country... Anyone who was related to the cities or connected with foreign governments or professionals.




10. Wat Phnom, one of the most beautiful places to see in Phnom Penh


In Cambodian it translates as mountain temple. It is located on a small hill of 27 meters and you will have to climb some steps to reach the top. It is the tallest religious building in Phnom Penh.


Legend has it that in the year 1373, a wealthy widow found four Buddha statues in a tree by the river. To protect these statues, he built a tiny temple on an artificial hill. And since then this place became a sacred place.


Today it is an active temple where hundreds of faithful come to pray daily. In addition, the Cambodian New Year is celebrated there.

The main temple is Buddhist, although right next to it in the same enclosure you will find a small Chinese Taoist temple with a lot of charm.


11. Visit Wat Langka, one of the most beautiful temples in Phnom Penh


Right next to the Independence Monument you will find this beautiful Buddhist temple. Wat Langka is one of the original five temples founded in the city by Ponhea Yat in 1442 and is one of the most important and beautiful temples in Phnom Penh. As soon as you enter, to your right you will find a huge Dong that attracts a lot of attention.

Some days of the week meditation sessions are held. They are supervised by English-speaking monks and admission is free.



12. Silk Island


Silk Island (Koh Dach) is about 45 minutes by tuk tuk plus about 10-15 minutes by ferry from central Phnom Penh. It is a perfect opportunity to get to know a more rural and authentic area, as well as being able to disconnect a bit from the hustle and bustle of the city.

There you can learn about the history of silk weaving in Cambodia and see how the locals live in some villages.


The most comfortable way to visit the island is with an organized excursion. Although we visited it for free. We hired a tuk tuk that took us to the port from where the ferry left for 3 US dollars. We took the ferry and as soon as we got to the Silk Island at the same time we got off the ferry we saw that they rented bicycles for 2.5 US dollars a day.


The road that surrounds the island has a total of 40 kilometers and you will pass through temples, beautiful towns, fields...


Of course, don't forget to visit one of the factories where they weave clothes with silk threads, or one of the farms where silkworms are raised.



14. Phnom Baset and Udong


The Pagods and the temples of Phnom Baset and Udong are an essential visit to do if you travel to Phnom Penh since they are very close.

The best option is to take an excursion. The first stop on the tour is at the Cham Muslim village where the village will be visited and the customs and traditions of the Muslim community in Cambodia will be known. Once you have visited the town, you will head to the city of Phnom Baset where you will visit the pre-Angkorian temple of the 8th century and the Phnom Baset Pagoda where the reclining Buddha is located. The next stop is in Udong, where there are three great stupas that house the ashes of the three great kings.



If you have more days to continue getting to know Cambodia, do not miss…


15. Preah Vihear


A few kilometers from the border with Thailand is located this beautiful temple. Construction began in 893 and was completed 300 years later. Being located on a hill the views are incredible, you will be able to appreciate the fields and rural areas of Cambodia.


A few years ago the temple suffered damage due to the armed conflicts that have taken place between the two countries to keep it rather than for anything else. According to several maps, it was not clear where the border between the two countries was and several conflicts have taken place. Don't be surprised if you see soldiers in the area. If you dare to visit it, you can hire an excursion that leaves from Siem Reap.





16. Phnom Kulen National Park


Near Siem Reap is the Phnom Khulen National Park. It is located on a sacred mountain for the locals. There are a total of 56 temples, most in a regular state. In the national park you can enjoy a day surrounded by nature by entering the Cambodian jungle, follow the path to reach all the waterfalls in the Park.... For me the main attraction of the park is the huge waterfall and the great statue of Buddha reclining 8 meters long carved into a rock dating from the sixteenth century.


To visit the Phnom Kulen National Park, the best option is to do it with an organized excursion from Siem Reap. However, if you don't have many days, it is best to visit all the temples of the Angkor Wat Archaeological Site.




17. Phnom Chisor and Tonle Bati


In Phnom Chisor, near Phnom Penh, there are some ruins of a temple dating back to the 11th century.

To get to the hill where the ruins are located you will have to climb more than 500 steps and with the heat and humidity it is somewhat overwhelming, but do not give up, it is worth it. The views are incredible and you will also get to know the ruins of this temple and its history.

It is advisable to book an excursion departing from Phnom Penh. The tour also stops at Tonlé Bati, where the ancient Angkorian temple of Ta Prohm is visited.



18. Koh Rong, the best beaches in Cambodia


Do you want to add a beach to your trip to Cambodia? One of the best options is to spend a few days on Koh Rong. A beautiful island with white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and emerald green vegetation.

There are a few more islands in Cambodia but the most popular and with the most accommodation options is Koh Rong. It is located in the southern part of the country and has white sand beaches and crystal clear waters. To get here, you will have to go from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville (another coastal area). From this area you have three options; a local plane that takes about 40 minutes (I recommend it), the longest option; 7 hours by bus to the pier from where the ferries leave for the island (the ferry takes about 1 hour more approx) and finally you can take a speedboat from Sihanoukville to Koh Rong. The speedboat ride is about 2 hours if the sea is completely calm. Although this service does not work at all times of the year.





19. Sihanoukville, another option with a beach


If you want to go to the beach in Cambodia without having to travel to the island of Koh Rong, another option is Sihanoukville. The area is not as beautiful or idyllic and the city reminded me a bit of “Cambodian” Vegas. There are casinos on every corner. It is not a particularly pretty city, but it is one of the cheapest beach options in the country.


Daily boats depart from Sihanoukville for the island of Koh Rong Sanloem, a more interesting beach alternative.



20. Kampot


Out of the list of the most touristic places in Cambodia we find Kampot. A small city that stands out for its architecture based on a mixture of French and Chinese colonial styles, with a wide variety of colors.

Its main engine is the river, where in the past they used it as a road and traded in it in the different nearby towns and cities. Currently, the river is mainly used as a beach. In addition, you can do various activities in it such as Kayak.


In Kampot you must try their pepper crab. A traditional dish from the area. In addition, it is very common to taste crab. Yes, this is how you read it. You may have tasted cheese, chocolate, wine before... but what about crab? Well, in Kampot it is a must.


It is a fairly rural area, and if you have time you can walk through rice fields, take a bike route through the outskirts where there are several villages with traditional houses made of mud and wood.



PLAN YOUR TRIP STEP BY STEP



I hope you enjoy your trip to Cambodia a lot and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.


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A hug and see you soon!

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