For many years Cambodia was only on the itineraries of the most intrepid independent travelers. But this has all changed. Cambodia is still a mecca for backpackers, but more and more people are discovering the charms of this hidden country.
You can stay in style in five-star hotels or travel by bike and sleep in a tent under the stars. Check out the famous temple sites or go deep into the jungle to explore hidden treasures. Cambodia has something for everyone. Use our guide to get the best from the country on your next trip.
Places You Must Visit in Cambodia
The one place you really cannot miss when you visit Cambodia is Angkor Wat. Indeed, this ancient site is often packed with visitors, but you really cannot skip it. The ruins of Angkor are impressive – try to explore over as many days as possible so you can get to the outlying sites where there are fewer people and plenty of hidden gems. Angkor Wat is next to the small town of Siem Reap, which is also a must-visit due to its proximity to the ruins and also to its excellent restaurants, great bars, and easy-going atmosphere.
But these are by no means the only places you should see. Phnom Penh is a buzzing, chaotic, wonderful city for exploring great food and interesting people. Battambang and Kratie are both charming towns with less of the hustle and bustle of the cities and more of the country’s rich culture and artistic heritage. You can also see the river dolphins in the Mekong at Kratie.
And the beaches and islands of Cambodia are also not to be missed. Sihanoukville, for example, is the most popular beach location and has some beautiful islands surrounding it.
Off-the-Beaten-Track Locations in Cambodia
Visit the river town of Kampot on an excellent rest – this is becoming more lively but still retains its laidback, and it is famous for its riverside relaxation opportunities. Kompong Chhnang province is a beautiful, scenic place and the town of Kompong Chhnang is equally as lovely to visit. Sen Monorom, the capital of Mondulkiri province, is surrounded by thick forest and beautiful hills, waterfalls, and wildlife that will keep you entranced in the heart of nature. And Chi Phat is close to the Cardamom Mountains range and a wonderful little town worth exploring.
And while Angkor Wat provides the focal point for the Khmer ruins in Cambodia, there are lesser-known ruins that you should visit. For example, outside Siem Reap, there are Beng Mealea, Banteay Srei, Koh Ker, and more. There is also a fascinating ruins group at Banteay Chhmar, which is outside of Siem Reap but worth making a destination in its own right. There is also Preah Khan, and close to Battambang lie many different temple groups that were very important in Khmer times.
Outdoor Beauty in Cambodia
You are spoiled for choice when it comes to adventures in the great outdoors in Cambodia. There are many national parks, including Virachey National Park, located in the northeast of the country. There’s also Ream National Park, a coastal park, and Bokor National Park, plus various trekking opportunities in the Cardamom Mountains and out of Sen Monorom.
When to Visit Cambodia
The high season for tourists in Cambodia is the months between November and February. Most people visit in December and January. There is very little rain at this time, and the temperatures are not too hot. But of course, this is a busy time and reservations at the most popular places are essential.
If you want a better deal on accommodation and tours, you can try the shoulder season between the end of October and December or between the beginning of February and the end of March. You will get little rain and the temperatures will still be good.
The wet season in Cambodia is between May and October. Some accommodation on islands may be closed, and the seas will be rough. There are often heavy rainfalls, and sometimes flooding is a problem.
Your Budget in Cambodia
Your budget for travel in Cambodia depends on how you like to travel. You can get by with spending very little by staying in hostels with shared facilities, not eating inexpensive restaurants, and traveling using the cheapest options. It is a very affordable place to travel by these means. Or you can choose hotel rooms with air-con, fly to some locations, and eat in lovely restaurants. But you still wouldn’t spend half as much as compared to other places for high-end travel choices.