Best of Cambodia

Travel the Countryside

Phnom Penh

flickr image by by Caligator

Taking a journey off the beaten path can be as easy as renting a bicycle, motorbike, or motorcycle and finding a map. Rough county roads can take tourists to a diverse batch local attractions, including small villages and geographical wonders. Stop through one of the many rubber plantations found outside Phnom Penh or one of the refreshing waterfalls found in the jungle, including Popokvil Falls outside of Kampot.

Take a Cooking Lesson

Often considered the original cuisine of the subcontinent, Khmer cuisine is a delicious step into the timeless art that has been passed through the generations. Shredded vegetables, exotic fruits, fresh seafood, and thin strips of spicy beef are the some of the essentials to this often overlooked style of cooking. Tossing ingredients into a hot wok with traditional herbs and spices is a great way to enjoy Khmer culture in all of it’s deliciousness. Cooking classes are available in most major cities and villages, see if you have what it takes to whip up a delicious dish.

Killing Caves

Killing Caves

flickr image by Nolan Betterley

Reflecting some of the darkest of cruelties, the Killing Caves outside of Battamburg, are a a grizzly reminder of Cambodia’s all but recent past. The site where thousands were careless murdered by their indoctrinated peers. Although sites like these may be a bit unsettling, they are essential to visit if you are looking to truly understand the Khmer.

Dolphin Watching in Kratie

Watch the playful Irrawaddy dolphins of Kratie torpedo through the waters of the Mekong. Relax in this small village and try to catch a glimpse of this endangered fresh water friend. The dolphins have become a symbol of rejuvenation in a once dying town. Kratie can also be a great pit stop for weary travellers between Laos and Phnom Penh,

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

flickr image by Arian Zwegers

The magnificent Khmer Empire of the 9th to 13th century, Cambodia was one of the greatest civilisations of it’s time. Most notable of it’s achievements is Angkor Wat, the magnificent capital city of the empire. The massive structure is built entirely from finely carved stone, placed snugly and precisely, without the use of mortar. The great spires reach far into the sky and the maze of dark corridors wind around the centre chamber for miles. The many carved murals on the stone walls depict major battles, royal lineage, and other key moments in ancient Khmer history.

Tuolong Sleng

Located in the middle of Phnom Penh, Tulong Sleng looks relatively peaceful from the exterior. The former high-school served as a Khmer Rouge prison in the 70’s and is a testament to Cambodia’s dark past. Several rooms were dedicated to the most “dangerous” of the prisoners, while torture chambers decked out with steel bars, spikes, and stretching racks were dedicated to finding other victims of the regime’s reign of tyranny of death. Wide hallways and classrooms were converted into individual prison cells with thick wood panels. Prisoners were chained to the floor and forced to suffer their remaining days in complete isolation, void of sunlight, food, and water. Each open window bay was strewn with barbwire, preventing escape, and allowing for a particular extreme manner of torture.

Killing Fields

Killing Fields

flickr image by ernestoborges

The Killing Fields, outside Phnom Penh, is where common Khmer citizens were taken by their Khmer Rouge captors to be brutally murdered. The large field is covered with large divots in the ground, the mass graves of thousand. This site served as nothing more than a place where the evil regime could dispose of the bodies of those that they had murdered. In most cases, bullets were not wasted, instead these villains commonly used shovels or the butt of a gun to kill their victims. A memorial in the middle of the field was filled with thousands of skulls and bones of those struck down during this horrifying event, reminding visitors of Cambodia’s tragic history.

Bamboo Train

Bamboo Train

flickr image by by Daniel Massie

Also known as a Norrie, these homemade flatbed train cars are crudely fashioned from bamboo planks and recycled tank wheels. Propelled by an old motorcycle engine the train whisks travellers down wobbly tracks through dense jungles. Stop into some remote villages, that are virtually untouched by the outside world, and enjoy a bit of culture. In the case of oncoming traffic, cars are simply lifted off the track.

Koh Ta Kiev

Koh Ta Kiev

flickr image by toddssnaps

Taking a long boat from the shore of Sinaukville will take you out upon the Gulf of Thailand where a number of small islands dot the coastline. One of the most treasured of these islands is the undeveloped Koh Ta Kiev. Enjoy the tranquillity of the bay and peacefulness of an uninhabited island. Stay in one of the tree houses and enjoy communal dinners with fellow visitors.

Banteay Chhmar

Banteay Chhmar

flickr image by daveperkes

Deep in the Banteay Meanchey Province outside of Sisophon is the magnificent temple complex of Banteay Chhmar. These temples from the 12th and 13th century are some of the least understood and most beautiful of the Angkor Empire. Marvel at the towering temples of carefully wedged stones and recreate Angkor history through the deeply carved murals that depict ancient traditions, lavish celebrations, and epic battles.

Koh Paen

Koh Paen

flickr image by michelluso

Connected to the town Kompong Cham by a trembling bamboo bridge is the small rural island of Koh Paen. Formed by the raging waters of the Mekong River, the island is dotted with a number of temples and is inhabited by families that thrive on fishing and farming tobacco and sesame.

Royal Palace

Royal Palace, Cambodia

flickr image by by Paul Boscher

Take a step into the exalted halls of the Royal Palace, a building that has been serving as the Royal residence since the 19th century. A classic example of Khmer architecture, the building complex lends an eye into the richness Khmer history and culture. Visit the Throne hall, lined with the busts of former Kings, to meet with the king and his many advisors and generals during times of unrest. Waltz into the Moonlight Pavilion, the site of over 150 years of classic Khmer dance performances, or stop into the Silver Pagoda to pay homage to the reverent emerald Buddha peaceful and completely at ease.

Prasat Preah Vihear

Prasat Preah Vihear

flickr image by Chipollata

Cambodia is full of temples resting in the most rural and rough landscapes, Prasat Preah Vihear is that will not disappoint. Sitting upon a cliff high atop the mountain range that creates the Thai and Cambodian border.,the castle like temple was built in the early days of Angkor and is a shrine to the Hindu god Shiva. As with most rural locations in Cambodia, getting to Prasat Peah Vihear may be the true adventure. Watch out for heavy rains which will close the primitive roads during monsoon season.

Take a Walk on the Wildside

The Phnom Ta Mao Wildlife Preserve is not only Cambodia’s largest zoo, it is also a sanctuary for animals unable to survive in nature, usually rescued from poachers and the black market. Malayan sun bears playing tug and Siamese crocodiles basking in the sun, come see the wonderfully exotic animals found throughout the jungles and waterways of Cambodia. Tigers, Leopards, vibrant coloured birds, make up over the two dozen endangered species that are featured at this popular attraction.

Buy Khmer Crafts

Check out some local merchants for the finest quality of goods. Baskets woven from the thick vines of the forest, marvellously detailed carvings of Buddha, or silver pieces inscribed with ancient writings and mythological characters. Delicate textiles, woven from the finest silks in Asia, vibrant colours and complex patterns in all. Despite their rocky past the Khmer have been able to keep their age old artistic traditions.


Kirirom National Park

flickr image by seasoakingwaterfalls

Trudge over the rolling hills and through the thick forests of Kirirom National Park. Sift through the banks of the Mekong, or discover ancient Angkor ruins off the beaten trail. Enjoy the sites and sounds of the jungle while staying with local tribes along the way. Many touring companies can offer experienced guides for very little money.

Explore French Culture

French colonialism of the 19th and 20th has left it’s mark upon this small South East Asian country. Scope out some grandiose French architecture and munch on a fresh crepe. Watch a poodle or two pass by your feet and don’t be surprised if some of the conversations you overhear are in the language of love.

Psar Tuol Tom Pong (Russian Market)

Psar Tuol Tom Pong

flickr image by mbmplayhard

Racks of clothing towering overhead, shoes piled to the ceiling, and cases of cheap jewellery. Car parts, motor bikes, and electronics can all be found at this diverse market in Phnom Penh. Bushels of vegetables, baskets of chills, and piles of exotic fruits are just a few of the tasty treats that will have your taste buds watering.

Visit a Kantha Bopha hospital

Cambodia is a country stricken with poverty and diseases such as HIV and Tuberculosis. Visit a children’s hospital, started by a Swiss doctor, that has revolutionized healthcare in Cambodia. Dr. Beat Richner came to the country after the ravages of the Khmer Rouge had left Cambodia’s infrastructure in shambles, today, puts on a program every week that will inspire and delight.

Combing the Beaches of Sinaukville

People lounge, sunbathe, and swim all day long as giant long boats bob in the light ocean current. Youngsters walk the beach selling bracelets, sunglasses, and shells, while pick-up football games and fresh drinks can be enjoyed by all. This small beach community has much to offer anybody looking to kick their feet up and enjoy a bit of the good life.

Date posted: 16th January, 2014

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