The best places to visit in Cambodia
You’ll never forget your first glimpse of Angkor Wat; its crumbling temples, intricate carvings and encroaching jungle are far and away the number one reason for most visits to Cambodia. But while it’s all very Indiana Jones, don’t overlook the country’s other charms. The Khmer people are some of the friendliest in Asia, while the peaceful waters of the Tonlé Sap, coupled with the mountain-backed beaches of the south, make Cambodia’s countryside delightfully photogenic. To see it all you’ll need a couple of weeks at least, but if you’re short on time then Angkor Wat can easily be tacked onto a Vietnam or Thailand holiday.
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One of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia, Angkor Archaeological Park, home to the superb ruins of Angkor Wat as well as the atmospheric jungle-clad remains of Ta Prohm, is the world’s greatest tourist attraction. You simply cannot come to Cambodia and not see it. Angkor Wat is best accessed from nearby Siem Reap, and you’ll need at least two days to do it justice, although we’d recommend longer.
Siem Reap is the main access point for Angkor Wat, and consequently has no shortage of high-end hotels, spas and restaurants here to suit all tastes and budgets. Although most are here to admire the temples, it’s worth taking a look around the town itself, where you’ll find the informative Angkor National Museum, or touring the floating villages and markets on the nearby Tonlé Sap Lake.
On the banks of the Mekong River, Cambodia’s exotic capital was once known as the Pearl of Asia, and it’s easy to see why. With a breezy riverside location and wide, leafy streets, dotted with the occasional golden spire, its relaxed feel makes a refreshing change from the freneticism of most other Southeast Asian cities. Top sights include the Royal Palace, the Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.
Although Cambodia may not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of Southeast Asian beaches, the undeveloped, peaceful and refreshingly empty sands of Sihanoukville are set to change all that. Otres and Sokha are the stand-out do-nothing beaches, while scuba diving and snorkelling are possible around the outlying islands.