Get a taste of ancient Southeast Asia on your trip to Cambodia. The erstwhile Khmer empire boasts of stunning landscapes, pristine beaches and exotic temples.The coastline of sandy white beaches tempts every sun sloth. Jungle-swathed countryside is geared up for the more intrepid, and the buzzing capital of Phnom Penh envelops visitors in the frenetic pulse of contemporary Cambodian city life.
Beyond the temples, and recovering from the atrocities that rained down on the country in the late 20th century, Cambodia is an emerging destination for Southeast Asia travels that manages to charm all who come. Here’s our list of some of Cambodia’s top must-see destinations
1. Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh still retains its charm as the leafy capital city of Cambodia with its palaces and wats. Located at the conjunction of three grand rivers- the Tonle Sap, the Mekong and the Bassac river, this city now houses a number of hotspots like cool cafes and bustling bars. For visitors, this is Cambodia's most cosmopolitan destination, with a café and restaurant scene unrivaled in the rest of the country. It's also home to a scattering of important historic sites that help unravel both Cambodia's modern and ancient history. The National Museum is home to a swag of Khmer sculpture that traces the nation's history from the pre-Angkorian age right through to the phenomenal majesty of the god-Kings of Angkor. The Royal Palace provides gorgeous examples of traditional artistry, while Tuol Sleng Museum and the killing fields of Choeung Ek speak of the horror and brutality the people of this country suffered under Khmer Rouge rule
2. Tonlé Sap Lake
Tonlé Sap is Cambodia's most important waterway and Southeast Asia's largest freshwater lake. As well as being an important source of food and a vital tool for Cambodian irrigation, the lake itself is home to 170 floating villages that depend on fishing for their livelihood, with homes built directly on the water. The houses, shops, churches, schools, and temples of these villages are built on rustic buoy foundations of lashed together barrels and bamboo, and all transport is by boat. They're a fascinating place to spend a day exploring. One of the most interesting is the sprawling village of Kompong Luong, near the town of Pursat on Tonlé Sap's western shore, although the most popular village to visit is Chong Kneas near Siem Reap
3. Angkor Wat_Explore one of the world’s greatest temple complexes
One of Cambodia’s greatest tourist attractions, the Angkor Wat temple lies in Angkor and is one of the largest religious monuments to behold. Regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the UNESCO World Heritage site Angkor Wat is a definite must visit on a holiday to Cambodia. It lies to the south of Angkor Thom that is also one of Cambodia’s tourist spots. It pulls a huge crows as it is one of the sites where Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider movies were shot.
Angkor Wat has a 650 feet wide moat, a stone gateway with guardian lions, a seven headed naga and the Mt Meru tower. Around 300,000 workers and 6,000 elephants were used to construct this temple whose sandstone blocks were brought all the way from the holy mountain of Phnom Kulen.
For those short on time though, the main highlights after Angkor Wat are the tree-root clasped temple of Ta Prohm (which first found international fame as a location used in the movie Tomb Raider), the Bayon Temple for its 216 stone-carved faces, Angkor Thom, and Preah Khan
Sihanoukville is a tale of two halves, with a bustling but drab central district and its shoreline area home to a vibrant beach resort. Relax at the shores of these less populated beaches and enjoy watersports like snorkelling and kayaking. Spend the day at a beach shack on any one of these pristine six beaches here to enjoy a fun holiday
5. Koh Rong Samloem
Just off Cambodia's south coast lie a scattering of islands just as beautiful as their Thai counterparts to the west, but much less visited. Of all the islands, Koh Rong Samloem is one of the most beautiful with the long, sandy Saracen Bay home to a dozen beach hut resorts that offer a welcome respite from the world.
Here, you can go snorkeling and see diamond fish, seahorses, sergeant fish, parrot fish, jumping fish, diamond fish, blue-spotted ribbontail rays, and squids. If you are a hardcore water sports lover, go diving and kayaking. Also, pay a visit to the rope adventure park where you can go zip lining. To witness some abundant wildlife head over to Police Beach that has a butterfly farm and mini zoo