20 Jaw-Dropping Sites to Explore in Cambodia

Wat Phnom Cambodia

20 Awe-Inspiring Sites For An Unforgettable Adventure Holiday in Cambodia

Cambodia Travel Tips

With the growing popularity of adventure tours to Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia, which is located between the two, may be overlooked.  This would be a big mistake as Cambodia is home to a unique culture, history and the largest historic religious site in the world, Angkor Wat.  Cambodia will fascinate travelers with an array of dramatic temples and pagodas, Buddhist monasteries, floating villages, bustling markets, lush terraced growing fields and some of the friendliest people on the planet.  There is so many wonderful sites to discover in Cambodia, let’s take a look at 20 of the most famous sites to explore.  With Covid restrictions easing soon, the less touristy country of Cambodia makes a great place for a multi-week adventure!  Here’s our recommended Cambodia itinerary to see all the top sites.

Sites To Explore From Phnom Penh

The largest international airport is in Phnom Penh the country’s capital city, making it the most likely starting-off point.

Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom Cambodia

A visit to the impressive Buddhist Pagoda of Wat Phnom should be your first introduction to the fascinating historic sites of Cambodia.  Built by the Khmer civilization in the late 1300s to house statues of Buddha, this temple lends its name to the city of Phnom Penh.

Phnom Penh’s Night Market

Phnom Penh Night Market Cambodia

Phnom Penh’s riverside night market is a great place to connect with the vibe of Cambodia, its people, the food, clothing, and music.  This stop will make a great introduction on your first evening in the country.

The Royal Palace

Royal Palace Cambodia

Cambodia’s Royal Palace built in the 1860s is the official residence of the King of Cambodia.  Be sure to see the Silver Pagoda which houses treasures such as gold and jeweled Buddha statues. A small crystal Buddha (the “Emerald Buddha” of Cambodia) is the most prized.

National Museum of Cambodia

Located just north of the Royal Palace, the National Museum of Cambodia houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of Khmer sculptures and artifacts.  Ranging from prehistoric times, through the vast Khmer Empire to recent history, the museum is an impressive collection of the art and culture of Southeast Asian empires.

Exploring Natural Wonders

After visiting temples, palaces and museums, it’s time for some fresh air visiting some of Cambodia’s beautiful natural setts.

Sothy’s Pepper Farm – not far away, it’s fun to visit Sothy’s Pepper Farm or La Plantation to witness the organic cultivation of the famed Kampot Pepper in Green, Black, Red, and White. 

Kbal Chhay Waterfall – This waterfall is best viewed during the wet season between July and October.  During the middle of dry season, it can decrease to just a trickle, but during the rainy season it is an impressive collection of 3 to 5 meters high waterfalls fed by mountain sources.

Beaches, Beaches, Beaches

While the Cambodian coastline is not terribly long, it is still home to some dramatically beautiful beaches.  Take a day or at least a few hours to relax on the white sand beaches of Cambodia.  Here are a few of the best to consider:

Saracen Bay Beach Cambodia

Saracen Bay – peaceful and tranquil, surrounded by lush tropical jungle.
Sok San Beach – a secluded island that has not been ‘discovered’ by the tourist crowds yet.
Otres Beach – once a laid-back area, but now is peppered with luxe beach resorts.

Sites To Explore Near Siem Reap

Temples, Temples, and MORE Temples. Located in the northwest region of Cambodia, Siem Reap is a popular resort town and gateway to the famed ancient Angkor ruins.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat Temple Cambodia

The mysterious temple ruins at Angkor are the largest land-based religious structure in the world and should not be missed.  Many travelers come to Cambodia just to view this awe-inspiring site.  The structure originated as a mausoleum for the King Suryavarman II, and was later dedicated to the Vishnu in the early 12th century, and finally converted into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century, as it remains today.  This is the place to spend multiple days exploring the many fascinating sculptures and temples.

Phnom Bakheng

This temple-mountain is dedicated to Shiva, and was built at the end of the 9th century, during the reign of King Yasovarman. Since it’s located atop a hill, it is a popular tourist spot for spectacular sunset views of the much bigger temple Angkor Wat, which is located in the midst of the jungles 1.5 km to the southeast.

Angkor Thom

This site was the last and longest-running capital city of the Khmer Empire from the 12th century.  In addition to the Bayon and Baphuon temples, other sites of interest are notably the Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King, and the five entrance gates, one at each ordinal compass point and the Victory Gate in the east wall.

Temples, Temples, and MORE Temples.

If you still have energy and time to visit more unique temples structures….here are a few more to consider:  Preah Khan, Neak Pean, Ta Som, East Mebon, Pre Rup, Bateay Kdei, Ta Prohm, Banteay Samre, Banteay Srei, Kbal Spean, Prasat Thom and Beng Mealeau.  Each of these is an impressive structure and has unique features to appeciate and explore.  To find more complete information, visit karambol.io for full descriptions of each.

Visit A Village Built on Stilts

Kampong Phluk Village Cambodia

Kampong Phluk is a commune village where houses are built on wooden stilts.  These homes rise six and eight meters high over areas that flood during the rainy season.  In dry season some villagers build temporary homes on land, but return to the elevated homes when the rains start to fall.

Rolus Temple

Rolus Temple Cambodia
Roluos, the first capital of Khmer Empire north of Tonlé Sap, is a group of 9th century temples that mark the beginning of the Khmer civilization, dating from the late 9th century. Today it is composed by three major temples (Bakong, Lolei and Preah Ko) along with tiny Prasat Prei Monti.  This is an impressive site well worth visiting.

Angkor National Museum

This is an archaeological museum dedicated to the preservation of a wide variety of Angkorian artifacts. It also provides information about art and culture of the Khmer civilization. Most of the artifacts are discovered in and around the nearby Angkor archaeological sites.  Visit here to get a broader understanding of the temples and Khmer life.

Made in Cambodia Market

This is the place you will want to stops to shop for souvenirs and quality artisan products to remember your journey through Cambodia.  The market Made in Cambodia Market was established to sell handicrafts from residents of nearby villages and to producing jobs and encouraging interactions between tourists and locals.

Angkor Silk Farm

Angkor Silk Farm

Southeast Asia has long been known for its production of brightly colored silk clothing and fabric.  Visiting Angkor Silk Farm is a rare opportunity to learn about the cultivation of silkworms in mulberry buses through to producing the thread, weaving of fabric and production of silk goods for sale.  The farm is actually a cooperative effort of many silk workshops that belong to Artison Angkor.

Wat Banan Temple

And finally to wrap up your temple visits, be sure to include Wat Banan, the best-preserved of the Khmer temples in Battambang Province. The five towers are similar to the much larger and more famous temple of Angkor Wat but more compact and easier to tour. At the base of the mountain, you want to stop and take photos of the step laterite staircase flanked by nagas.

As you can clearly see, Cambodia is not a country to be rushed through.  You can easily enjoy this itinerary for a 21 day tour of Cambodia to experience all of the iconic sites.  Cambodia is due to open again following the Covid shutdowns, and is anxious to welcome visitors to explore their fascinating culture and country.

Image Source:  karambol.io, pixabay.com


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