by Vincent I. Porter
6 Places in Cambodia You Shouldn’t Miss
Despite its turbulent past, Cambodia has become a mainstay on the Southeast Asia backpacking route and sees million of international visitors every year. While neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam are ostensibly more popular, Cambodia has an under-stated charm that captivates visitors. Indeed, Cambodia is one of those places that has everything, from mouth-watering food, to world class scenery. If you are planning a trip to Southeast Asia, you would be crazy not to dedicate a decent chunk of time to exploring this fascinating country.
If you’re looking for inspiration for your trip to Cambodia, here are six places that you absolutely have to visit while you’re there.
Angkor Wat, Siem Reap
Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s pride and joy and the number one reason why people travel to the country. The Angkor Wat complex consists of dozens of temples, ruins, shrines, palaces, and mausoleums, dating back to the 12th century. Visitors spend up to three days exploring the various buildings and admiring the rugged landscape that surrounds them. The best way to explore the site is to hire a driver to take you around in a car or tuk-tuk or rent a bike and cycle around.
Tuol Sleng, Phnom Penh
Tuol Sleng is the high school turned extermination camp that was set up by the Khmer Rouge during Pol Pot’s regime. Today, it is a genocide museum that depicts the horrors that occurred under Pol Pot’s rule. While the experience is deeply harrowing, it is a fascinating insight into what happened and an important reminder of how humanity can be completely lost under a dictatorship.
Koh Rong is Cambodia’s most beautiful island and it is exactly what you would expect a tropical paradise island to look like. Think white powder sand, sparkling turquoise water, and plenty of beach bars where you can quench your thirst (and then some). If you need somewhere to chill out and forget about the outside world for a bit, Koh Rong will do the trick.
Ka Choung Waterfall, Ratnakiri
Who doesn’t love waterfalls, am I right? If you can’t get enough of water cascading over rocks, the Ka Choung Waterfall will take your breath away and give you some outstanding photo ops. The journey to the waterfall is an adventure in itself and involves hiking through the jungle. Once you’ve built up a sweat and arrived at the waterfall you can cool off under its refreshing cascade.
Otres Beach, Sihanoukville
Sihanoukville is Cambodia’s premier seaside spot and unlike the beach hubs in Thailand, it has retained a lot of its natural beauty. On Otres Beach you’ll find super soft sand, lapped at gently by the Gulf of Thailand, that isn’t covered with garbage and doesn’t have a million other people jostling for space on it. But, that doesn’t mean Sihanoukville is quiet. Beach bars and a fun vibe are staples on and around Otres Beach.
Botum Sakor National Park
This national park is one of the largest in Cambodia and boasts an astonishing level of biodiversity. Take a guide along with you to point out the monkeys, birds, and tigers that call this park home. In addition to its wildlife, the vegetation in the park is rich and varied. In just one hour of walking, you could encounter jungle, woodland, mangrove, and evergreen forest.