It has a rich cultural and historical heritage, as typified by places such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Furthermore, Cambodia also has some great beaches and islands down south where you can chill out.
Most people who go to Cambodia, do so to check out Angkor Wat and the ruins around it. Siem Reap is definitely one of the most famous places to visit in Cambodia. However, to only explore Angkor Wat is to miss out on several other great locations in Cambodia.
According to me, the top 5 places to visit in Cambodia are Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, the Sihanoukville Beaches, the Cambodian Islands, and the small towns of Kampot and Kep.
In this article, I’ll briefly tell you about the 5 best places to visit in Cambodia.
Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia. This is where a lot of people start their journeys. In fact, this is also where I started my journey.
I didn’t particularly like Phnom Penh because of how dirty and spaced out it is. However, I do think this is one of the most important places to visit in Cambodia for one sole reason. On the outskirts of Phnom Penh lies the Choeung Ek Genocidal Center, aka, the Killing Fields.
It’s an absolute necessity to visit Cambodia’s Killing Fields and learn about the country’s history. That’s because not long ago, Cambodia went through a genocide in which one-third of the country’s population was wiped out because of one dictatorial ruler. To this day, you can feel the tremors from that horrific event color all of Cambodia’s current situation.
As such, Phnom Penh is one of the most important places to visit in Cambodia.
However, while you’re at it, there are several other activities in Phnom Penh that you can also engage in.
You can find affordable Phnom Penh hotels in Booking.
Siem Reap is the most popular destination in Cambodia, and for good reason. This was my personal favorite place to visit in Cambodia.
The prime attraction in Siem Reap is the neighboring Angkor Wat and all the ruins surrounding it. Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it draws people from all over the world. There are thousands of temples and ruins here for your to explore. You can get a 1-day, 3-days, or 5-days pass to explore Angkor Wat.
Once you’re done exploring, there are a lot of things to do in Siem Reap. You can check out their famed Pub Street which is comparable to Bangkok’s Khao San Road — both of them are a backpackers paradise. There are also some great queer bars and hotels that you can check out.
Siem Reap is a fun little city to explore. However, you’ll be pretty tired by the end of it and you’ll simply want to chill.
However, you can also find other affordable Siem Reap Hotels in Booking.
Exploring the Sihanoukville beaches is the best way to unwind after traveling through Cambodia.
Sihanoukville is a city and a province along the Southern coast of Cambodia. I didn’t particularly care about Sihanoukville city. However, you must explore the best Sihanoukville beaches around it.
Some of the beaches are pure party beaches whereas some are quaint and peaceful. Whatever you’re into, you’ll find it here.
Personally speaking, I found Otres 2 Beach to be one of the most peaceful places to visit in Cambodia. It was sparsely populated, had gentle waves, clear waters, and was right next to a quaint little coastal town.
You can find some great accommodations in Sihanoukville in booking.com.
There are a lot of great Cambodian Islands located off the southern coast.
You can get a ferry from the Sihanoukville pier. You can either take a round trip on the ferry through the primary Cambodian islands, or you can go and stay on a particular island.
The most popular Cambodian Islands to visit are Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem. However, there are a few other Cambodian Islands that you might also want to check out.
All of these islands come with a distinct vibe and a personality all of their own. You can read more about it in my detailed blog about the 5 best Cambodian Islands to explore.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t explore all of them because I got bit by a stray dog in Koh Rong Island. And so I had to take the first ferry back to Sihanoukville for the rabies shots.
Word of advice, don’t try to befriend stray dogs while traveling.
Anyway, I totally intend to return to these Cambodian Islands and explore all the islands I missed out on!
Kampot and Kep are small coastal towns in South Cambodia.
I personally didn’t have the chance to go to either of them However, many backpackers I met told me that these are the best places to visit in Cambodia. So I decided it wouldn’t be right to neglect to mention them.
Even though Kampot and Kep are separate towns, I’ve grouped them together because of their similarities.
They’re both small towns you can go to as a day trip from Sihanoukville. Both of them are coastal fishing towns. And both of them fairly rustic in nature.
Kampot is famous for some quiet beaches, waterfalls, and for its pepper farms. Kep is popular for its archaic aesthetic as it features several tumble-down French colonial villas lined along the coast.
Well, these are some of the best places to visit in Cambodia.
I’m sure Cambodia has a lot more hidden treasures to offer. But when you’re wandering off the beaten path, it’s anyway better to do so based on instinct and the word of strangers you meet on the road.
However, if you want to add any other destinations to this best places in Cambodia list, let me know down in the comments and I’ll check it out!
I can be quite socially awkward occasionally. Sometimes, during these intermittent periods of social waywardness…