There’s so many things to do in Cambodia. It’s a popular hotspot on most South East Asia travel itineraries and rightly so.
I always talk very fondly of Cambodia, it was the first country I travelled to solo and a place that has left marks in my heart. The people, the culture, and history pulls you in and makes you realise just how small you are in this world.
I am dying to go back to Cambodia and explore it all again. I have put together a list of thing you should not miss on any trip to Cambodia
1. Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat Temples are probably the most popular temples in the world. And within good reason, It’s the largest religious monument stretching over 402 acres of land. Today it attracts millions of visitors from all over every year.
It’s worth getting up early to catch the sunrise over the main complex. Although there are still a lot of people there at that time, you can sneak away and explore around and inside the main temple whilst everyone is still watching the sunrise on the other side of the lake. This also means, that as you make your way around the other temples, there will be fewer people at them as they haven’t reached them yet.
Ticket prices vary; for a 1-day pass it is $37, a 3-day pass is $62 and a week pass is $72. You can upgrade at any time
2. S-21 Prison
I’ll be honest, I had never heard of this or any of Cambodia’s history before going. S-21 prison shreds a lot of light on what can only be one of the most terrible genocides of modern history. But, yet no one really knows what happened in Cambodia back in the ’70s.
S-21 is located in the heart of the capital Phnom Penh. What used to be a school turned into a prison during the Khmer Rouge, where it was used to imprison and torture over 20,000 people, although the exact number is still unknown.
It is a haunting visit to walk around a place, where some of the most horrifying acts took place. Probably one of the parts of the visits that will stick with you is the walls upon walls of portrait shots of the prisoners that passed through the prison.
Visiting the prison is a must because you learn a lot about the past of this beautiful country and you gain a deeper appreciation for the people of Cambodia and there warm welcoming of you in their country. As well as an appreciation of the life and upbringing that you have.
3.The Killing Fields
The Killing Fields comes hand in hand with the S-21. Another place where millions of Cambodian people were tortured and killed, who the Khmer Rouge suspected to have connections with the former government. This included government workers, academics, people who wore glasses as it was a sign of intelligence and their families, which sadly included their children. Age didn’t discriminate in the years that the Khmer Rouge were in power. The new government wanted to radically push Cambodia to be a communist country.
It is a visit that will stay with you forever, walking around listening to the audio that you are given at the gate, learning about the horrors that happened and the stories of survivors.
I have never in my life seen people leaving a somewhere crying before.
It is worth a visit for the same reasons I stated about the S-21 prison. It will educate you and make you appreciate the things that you have. The Cambodian people are some of the most welcoming and hospitable people I have ever come across on my travels. Still, most of the population today have been affected by the genocide because it happened less than 50 years ago. If these people can be as welcoming as they are when the world literally turned their back on them when they needed it the most…then we in the Western world can be too.
4. Battambang Bat Caves
People flock to Battambang to witness one of the natures greatest spectacles. Every night at sunset, people gather to watch millions of bats exiting the caves and zooming across the skies.
You will need to get a tuk-tuk to the caves which should cost no more than $1.
5. Bamboo railway
Another popular attraction in Battambang is the famous Bamboo railway, you may have seen it on ‘Jack Whithall’s travels with my father’. Better known as ‘Norry’ in Khmer. It was originally built as a logistical measure for the UN after the devastating time of the Khmer Rouge reign.
The train trudges down a bamboo rail and can reach up to speeds of 50 mph. Because the track is a single line if another train is coming your way, you have to stop, dismantle the train from the tracks, let the train by and then put it all back together again before setting off again.
If anything you should take a trip on the Bamboo train even if it’s just for the novelty.
6. Floating Villages
Just outside Siem Reap lies several communities who live on floating houses on Tonle Sap lake. Rumour has it, the villages have got quite popular with tourists since I visited back in 2014.
The villages are mainly made up of floating buildings that move according to the water levels, the villages have schools, restaurants and shops. The locals can get food from other boats. The villages are interesting places to visit to see another unique side to life in Cambodia.
There are four main villages that are nearby Siem Reap; Chong Kneas, Mechrey, Kampong Phluk, and Kampong Khleang.
7. Sihanoukville beaches
Head south to Sihanoukville, where there is a town called Sihanoukville. There are several beaches here depending on what you after. If you are after a party scene then head to Serendipity beach, which is more in the centre of Sihanoukville. Or if you want to just chill then the beaches of Otres Beach is the place to be where you will find bamboo huts lining the beach and quiet, laid -back bars.
8. Koh Rong
If you are down south then there is no place you should be going than Koh Rong. Dubbed as the Maldives of South East Asia, Koh Rong is a rustic paradise island with fine white sand beaches. That should be on anyone’s itinerary when visiting Cambodia. The beauty of this place will blow you away.
It’s the ideal place to escape reality, with electricity limited, especially at night. The island is easily accessible from Sihanoukville via speed boat.
Have you been to Cambodia?