Holiday in Cambodia: 10 Must-See Attractions and Activities
If you’re looking for an enchanting and unique travel destination, Cambodia should definitely be on your list. From stunning temples to idyllic beaches, a holiday in Cambodia has something for everyone.
So with the Dead Kennedys playing in your ears, here are 10 of the best things to do on your holiday in Cambodia and some tips for getting the most out of your trip.
10 Things to Do on Your Holiday in Cambodia
1. Explore the Temples of Angkor
No visit to Cambodia is complete without a trip to the temples of Angkor. Located in Siem Reap, the temples are a Unesco World Heritage site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in Southeast Asia. The temples were built between the 9th and 15th centuries and were once the centre of the Khmer Empire. Some of the most popular temples to visit include Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm.
Tips for visiting: To beat the crowds and the heat, it’s best to visit the temples early in the morning. You can hire a guide to help you navigate the complex and learn about its history.
2. Visit the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia, is home to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. The Royal Palace is a stunning example of Khmer architecture and was built in the 1860s. The Silver Pagoda, located within the palace grounds, is named after its floor, which is covered with over 5,000 silver tiles. It also houses many valuable Buddhist relics, including a life-sized gold Buddha.
Tips for visiting: Remember to dress modestly and remove your shoes before entering the pagoda. There is an entrance fee to visit both the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda.
3. Relax on the Beaches of Sihanoukville during your holiday in Cambodia
Sihanoukville is a coastal city in Cambodia that is famous for its stunning beaches. There are several beaches to choose from, including Serendipity Beach, Ochheuteal Beach and Sokha Beach. However, in recent years the Cambodian coastal resort has been taken over by casinos. Head to the islands off the coast instead.
Tips for visiting: The best time to visit the islands of the coast is during the dry season (November to April). Be aware of beach safety, and avoid swimming in the water if you see warning signs for dangerous currents.
4. Take a Cruise on the Mekong River
The Mekong River is the lifeblood of Southeast Asia. A cruise along the river is a great way to see Cambodia from a different perspective. You can take a day trip or a longer cruise that will take you through the heart of the country, past floating villages and lush landscapes.
Tips for taking a river cruise: The best time to take a river cruise is during the dry season (November to April). Make sure to bring sunscreen and a hat, as it can get hot on the boat.
5. Explore the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
The Khmer Rouge regime, which ruled Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, is one of the darkest periods in the country’s history. The Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum are both located in Phnom Penh and offer a sobering reminder of the atrocities committed during this time.
Tips for visiting: Visiting these sites can be emotionally difficult, so be prepared for that. Remember to be respectful and quiet while you are there.
6. Trek Through the Cardamom Mountains for an adventure holiday in Cambodia
If you’re looking for adventure, the Cardamom Mountains in southwest Cambodia offer some of the country’s best trekking. The mountains are home to some of Cambodia’s most pristine rainforests, waterfalls and wildlife.
Tips for trekking: Make sure to hire a local guide who can help you navigate the trails and avoid any potential dangers. Bring plenty of water and insect repellent, and wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing.
7. Visit the Kampot Pepper Farms
Kampot pepper is renowned for its quality and flavour, and visiting one of the many pepper farms in Kampot province is a must-do for foodies. You can learn about the cultivation process and sample the pepper in various forms, from freshly ground to infused oils.
Tips for visiting: Make sure to call ahead and schedule a visit to the farms, as some of them are not open to the public year-round. You can also find Kampot pepper at local markets and restaurants throughout the country.
8. Experience Cambodian Street Food
Cambodian cuisine is a fusion of influences from neighbouring countries, such as Thailand and Vietnam, as well as French colonial cuisine. Trying Cambodian street food is a great way to experience the local flavours and culture. Some popular street food dishes include fish amok (a type of curry), beef lok lak (marinated beef), and num banh chok (rice noodles).
Tips for trying street food: Look for vendors who have a lot of local customers, as this is a good sign that the food is fresh and safe to eat. Also, be prepared to try some new and unfamiliar flavours.
9. Shop at the Markets during your holiday in Cambodia
Cambodia is home to many vibrant and bustling markets, where you can find everything from traditional handicrafts to fresh produce. Some popular markets to visit include the Central Market and Russian Market in Phnom Penh, and the Old Market in Siem Reap.
Tips for shopping at the markets: Bargaining is a common practice in Cambodian markets, so be prepared to negotiate prices. Remember to keep an eye on your belongings, as pickpocketing can be a problem in crowded areas.
10. Attend a Traditional Dance Performance
Traditional Apsara dance is an important part of Cambodian culture, and attending a performance is a great way to experience it first-hand. The dances often tell stories from Cambodian mythology and history, and are accompanied by traditional music.
Tips for attending a dance performance: Check the schedule of performances in advance, and make sure to book tickets early. Dress appropriately, as some venues may require more formal attire.
Tips for Your Holiday in Cambodia
Before you embark on your Cambodian adventure, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Plan Ahead
While Cambodia is a relatively small country, there is a lot to see and do, and planning ahead can help you make the most of your time. Decide which cities and attractions you want to visit, and research transport options and accommodation in advance.
2. Stay Safe during your holiday in Cambodia
Cambodia is generally a safe country for tourists, but it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and take precautions. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash or wearing expensive jewellery, and be cautious of pickpocketing and scams. Follow our tips on how to stay safe in Cambodia.
3. Respect Local Customs and Traditions
Cambodia has a rich cultural heritage, and it’s important to respect local customs and traditions. When visiting temples or other religious sites, dress modestly and remove your shoes. Also, avoid touching people on the head, as it is considered disrespectful.
4. Learn Some Basic Khmer
While many Cambodians speak English, learning some basic Khmer phrases can go a long way in making connections with locals and showing respect for their culture. Some useful phrases include “sok sabai” (hello), “aw-kun” (thank you), and “som tuk jol krohom” (can I have a glass of water please?).
5. Be Prepared for the Climate
Cambodia has a tropical climate, with hot and humid weather year-round. Be prepared for high temperatures and humidity, and bring sunscreen, a hat, and lightweight clothing. During the rainy season (May to October), be prepared for occasional downpours and plan your activities accordingly.
Cambodia is a developing country, and things may not always go according to plan. But if you approach your trip with an open mind and a sense of adventure, you’re sure to have a memorable experience.
So what are you waiting for? Start planning your holiday in Cambodia today and get ready to be amazed by this wondeful country!