If you travel to Cambodia and within Cambodia you will enjoy the wide views on rice fields, interrupted only by the occasional palm tree while on the road during your Cambodia vacation.
Cambodia is also rich in history with the Khmer empire, that was here a thousand years ago. But also the unfortunate recent past with the Khmer Rouge regime can be seen all over the country.
Amongst many other things to do in Cambodia, this country offers you wonderful local dishes like Amok fish curry and many more.
And finally you can find plenty of uncrowded, unspoiled beaches here.
So what to do in Cambodia? You better don’t miss those 5 places to visit in Cambodia.
Why: It is the best preserved, but also the most touristy, old temple complex in Cambodia and entire South East Asia. Read more about the Angkor Wat temples here.
Description: Find your hostel in Siem Reap and stay at least three days/two nights. There are so many temples to have a look at, that it’s just not doable in less time. Fans of the Khmer culture should stay for a week, so that they can also reach the attractions a bit further away but still connected with that big city and those palaces and temples that used to be there 1000 years ago in the time of the Khmer kingdom. It is a good idea to book a good Angkor Wat tour at least for one day, so you get some explanation on the background of the different temples. In the evening there are more than enough things to do in Siem Reap, the town next to Angkor Wat: You can combine your dinner with a cultural dance show performance, get a local massage or hang out in bars and clubs later in the night, if you still have the energy after a day of temple sightseeing.
How to get there: You can either take a plane from Bangkok to Siem Reap or if you are more adventurous take an overland bus or from Bangkok. If you take the bus, you will get a much better feeling for this county and its people. For example, you will notice that the area from the airport to Siem Reap and on to Angkor Wat is “made up” for the tourists, whereas the rest further west from towards the Thai border looks more authentic.
Why: Because it just fascinates to see this city develop each and every year and being so full of life since the end of the Khmer Rouge-regime in 1979. Find out more about the things to do in Phnom Penh here.
Description: Besides just strolling around along the Tonle Sap or Mekong river having a coffee every now and then you can also have a look at the following attractions:
- The royal palace and many more buildings around it
- The national museum is also worth a visit and nice to look at from the outside
- Wat Phnom lies in the centre of a “big roundabout” and is a nice temple with a beautiful park around it.
- The central market has a special architecture and lots of stalls with all imaginable goods to buy.
- Not so nice but still a must in my opinion is the more recent history of the Khmer Rouge that can be studied at the Tuol Sleng museum and the Phnom Penh killing field.
How to get there: Phnom Penh is reachable by plane from Bangkok, Saigon and other destinations. The more adventurous take a connection by bus from Bangkok or Saigon. The route from Bangkok is better, because you can first go to Siem Reap (Angkor Wat) and then go on to Phnom Penh and then – if you like – on to Saigon.
Why: To experience the bamboo train
Description: Battambang is the second largest city of Cambodia. It’s most famous attraction is the bamboo train, which is like a bamboo raft to put on the railway with a small motor attached. It is used for local transportation and as a tourist attraction. Besides that you can enjoy some of the old French houses in the city.
How to get there: You can take the speed boat from Siem Reap or by bus from Siem Reap, Phnom Penh or from the Thailand border.
Why: To see the Mekong Irrawaddy sweet water dolphins. Read my Kratie trip report here.
Description: The main attraction are the Irrawaddy sweet water dolphins that can be seen here with a bit of luck. Besides that it is just a small and relaxed town.
How to get there: You can reach Kratie by bus from Phnom Penh or from Kompong Cham
Why: To explore Cambodian beach and party life. Check out those lovely Cambodia beaches in Sihanoukville here.
Description: It’s a good place to enjoy some days of relaxing at the beach and for party. And you can watch the Phnom Penh elite enjoying their holidays. When you have enough of partying you can explore other attractions that South Cambodia has to offer.
How to get there: It is best reached by bus from Phnom Penh.
A remark regarding the question: “Do I need a visa for Cambodia?”
If you are a US citizen, you don’t need a visa for Cambodia. You also don’t need a Cambodian tourist visa, if you are from Western Europe, Australia or New Zealand. So you don’t need to prepare much. You can get a Cambodia tourist visa on arrival good for 30 days at the airport or land border and it will cost you 30 USD. Best bring relatively new US dollar bills with you. (So technically you need a visa, but you can simply get it on arrival in Cambodia.) At Phnom Penh or Siem Reap airports, the process is quite a smooth one. At land borders, especially at the Poi Pet border crossing, corruption is a big problem and the officials there will come up with all kinds of excuses and stories to charge you more than 30 USD.
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