Cambodian history is best known as the home of the colossal temple of Angkor Wat, but it also includes some of humanity’s greatest artistic achievements as well as some of its most horrific deeds. Most visitors come for the history, but this Southeast Asian country has more tourist attractions to offer.Plan your sightseeing in this fascinating country with our list of the top 10 places and attractions to visit in Cambodia.
1. Banteay Chhmar
This massive temple complex is surrounded by jungle in Cambodia’s remote northwest, making it the ideal place to see the highlights without crowds. It was built by Angkorian King Jayavarman VII in the 12th century, and the remarkable stone reliefs along its walls are among the most intricately detailed in the country.
2. Sambor Prei Kuk
This pre-Angkorian temple site was the capital of the Upper Chenla Empire in the early seventh century. Over 100 brick temples dedicated to various Hindu gods are scattered throughout the forest, many of which are half-swallowed by massive tree roots.
3. Prasat Preah Vihear
Prasat Preah Vihear is a massive temple complex of intricately carved pavilions linked by long causeways, built originally to honour the god Shiva and perched atop the Dangrek Mountains on an escarpment with dizzying views across the Cambodian floodplains. The temple is close to the Thai border and has long been a source of contention between the two countries, which both claim ownership.
4. Siem Reap
Because it is the starting point for the Angkor Archaeological Park, travellers consider Siem Reap to be one of Cambodia’s top destinations, but the town itself offers more than just the mighty temples. This is the country’s main activity centre, with tours ranging from cycle trips around the lush countryside just outside of town to Cambodian cookery tours.
5. Angkor Wat
The temples of the Angkorian period are so ambitious in scale and majesty of construction that Angkor Wat is rated as one of the world’s must-see ancient sites. Built between 802 and 1432, this was the largest city in the world during the mediaeval era and the vast powerhouse of the Khmer kings who sought to outbid their predecessors in the beauty of their construction.
6. Koh Rong Samloem
The long, sandy Saracen Bay on Koh Rong Samloem is home to a dozen beach hut resorts that provide a welcome respite from the world. It’s all about hammock time here, but for the more active, there are plenty of scuba diving activities to choose from.
The countryside of rice fields and tiny villages surrounding the northwest city of Battambang contains some of Cambodia’s most tranquil rural scenery, as well as a plethora of historic treasures. All of this has made the city a popular stop on traveller itineraries.
If you’re looking for the full Mekong experience, you’ve come to the right place. Kratie, located along the banks of the mighty Mekong, has become a popular tourist destination due to its dolphin-watching tours. The endangered Irrawaddy dolphins are endemic to the Mekong, and environmental measures are now in place to help their dwindling numbers.
9. Koh Kong Conservation Corridor
The Koh Kong Conservation Corridor runs through the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia, south of the border town of Koh Kong in the country’s southwest. The highlands here, which are home to dense rainforest, winding rivers, and waterfalls, provide numerous hiking and boat tour opportunities.
10. Tonlé Sap Lake
Tonlé Sap is Cambodia’s main waterway and the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. The lake itself is home to 170 floating villages that rely on fishing for a living, with homes built directly on the water.