In recent years, tourists have started to venture to Cambodia in ever-increasing numbers. For those who have been fortunate enough to visit Cambodia, this comes as no surprise. The country is a land of many charms; the people are very warm, friendly and welcoming, there are many beautiful things to see and do, the food is fantastic, and there is something to be said for the tropical weather as well!
Here is a guide to the top attractions and places visitors can enjoy in Cambodia
Many tourists consider a visit to Angkor Wat to be the highlight of their trip, and this is one of the most stunning temple complexes in the world. There is no more complete ancient temple complex found anywhere in Asia and Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage site that attracts more visitors to Cambodia than any other attraction.
At the height of its power, Angkor Wat was the largest city in the world. The ruins of this ancient city are largely intact, but they are spread out over quite a large area. It is best for visitors to hire a local guide to help them see all the best spots of Angkor Wat, and there are many English-speaking guides who do a great job.
The beautiful Throne Hall building at Phnom Penh was built as the royal reception hall for the King of Thailand in the late-19th century. It is a fascinating example of Khmer-style architecture. Next door to Throne Hall is the lavish Silver Pagoda. The majority of the pagoda is actually built from wood, but it gets its name from the 5,000 plus silver tiles that make up the floor of the building. Of course, the highlight of Phnom Penh is the Royal Palace. This is a building that was designed to show off the city’s wealth. There are priceless artefacts spread all over the place, and some of the most fabulous include a crystal Buddha dating to the 17th century and a huge gold Buddha made from 90 kilograms of gold! Away from the cities there are plenty of other options, including cruising the Mekong River. For those who are keen to relax, a visit to one of Cambodia’s exquisite beaches is a must. Blessed with soft, white sand and pristine ocean views, Cambodia’s shoreline offers beautiful luxury and stunning beachside living for all.
Located on the Bay of Thailand, about halfway between Thailand and Vietnam and four hours from Phnom Penh, the area of Sihanoukville is the most popular of beach Cambodia’s beach communities. Those on holidays in Cambodia will often head to Sihanoukville for a refreshing beach experience. Sokha Beach is known as the most glamourous, with white sand stretching into lovely blue waters. Swimming and snorkelling are popular here and relaxation is guaranteed, since the beach is hawker free. If you want to liven up your holiday Serendipity Beach is where all the action is. With many restaurants, cafes, clubs and bars lining the sandy shores, people flock here for beach parties and fun in the sun. At the opposite end of the scale, Otres Beach is an unspoilt heaven. A small and pristine beach tucked away from civilisation, Otres allows you to explore the tranquil waters, relax on the immaculate sand and tuck into seafood and drinks at one of the local beach bars.
The second largest island in Cambodia, Koh Rong is an island paradise situated 25 km off the Sihanoukville coast, or 2.5 hours by boat. With only seven sets of bungalows and guesthouses, it has a distinct “remote island” feel. On the island, Lazy Beach, with its golden sand and fringing pine trees, is particularly stunning. Make sure you stick around until after the incredible sunset for evening dip in the waters, where you can swim with the bio-luminescent plankton that glow eerily in the moonlight.
One of the most important things about travel is the food and if you have ever been on a holiday to Cambodia, you know that once you try the food, there’s no going back! Here are our favourites that we think you should try…
Red Tree Ants with Beef and Basil
To prepare this dish, a generous helping of red ants is added to a stir-fry of ginger, lemongrass, garlic, shallots and thin slices of beef. While the ants may be small, they help infuse the beef with a delicate and surprisingly tempting flavour.
Cambodia is blessed with an endless variety of fresh seafood, so it is no surprise that one of the most popular dishes here is grilled squid. In seaside towns, such as Sihanoukville, you will easily find street vendors and restaurants selling this specialty. After brushing the squid with lime juice or fish sauce, it is barbequed on wooden skewers and covered in a delicious sauce made from garlic, chillies, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar.
If you love crab and are heading south on your holiday in Cambodia, check out the crab market in the town of Kep. This market consists of a series of restaurants next to the sea, where vendors simply wade in, grab a crab from inside a trap and cook it for you before your eyes!
A popular and refreshing dish Lap Khmer is filled with thinly sliced beef that is 'cooked' by marinating it in lime juice. If you are not interested in eating raw meat, look for the same dish with grilled beef instead. The salad is then dressed with lemongrass, shallots, garlic, fish sauce, basil, mint, green pepper, green beans and plenty of red chillies.
Cambodia is safer than it used to be, but just like when travelling anywhere, there are a few things to keep in mind. Remember these safety tips, and you’ll have a successful trip.
Beware of Landmines
A remnant from Cambodia’s tragic past, government agencies suspect that around six million active land mine explosives are still scattered across the country. Many rural areas are yet to be searched, so if you are travelling in the countryside, stick to defined paths and roads and avoid wandering off into fields.
Just trying to cross the street on your holiday in Cambodia can feel like trying to cross river rapids. Like many other Asian regions, drivers do not pay attention to traffic laws and pedestrians do not have right away. Cross when you are sure it’s safe and walk across roads quickly and confidently.
Eaten some disagreeable food? Be wary of clinics, especially regionals ones, as public health facilities in this country can be very low quality. Ensure you bring any required medication with you and treat dehydration orally; do not let anybody inject anything directly into your body, as equipment is often not sterilised.
Pickpocketing is common in Cambodia. As a rule, keep your belongings with you at all times and do not leave anything valuable where you can’t immediately see it. Consider attaching velcro or other fastening devices to your pockets and keep a limited amount of cash on hand.
If you are interested in a trip to Cambodia, talk to one of our experienced agents.