Are you wondering what there is to see in Cambodia? Everyone knows about the Angkor Wat temple but did you know that there are dozens of other architectural gems, and Instagram-worthy area’s. Cambodia has so much to offer, and next to nothing is promoted about this magnificent country. Come with me on this journey, read on and find out more on this bucket list of the highlights of Cambodia.
See the rare Irrawaddy Dolphins at Kratie
In the Mekong there is a large chance that you will see some of the very rare Irrawaddy Dolphins. There are only about 50 of these magnificent creatures left. The only thing is that the dolphins are scared off very fast, the boats try to keep their distance, but seeing these creatures isn’t always a given. Also, if you just go to photograph them, you’ll probably be disappointed, the dolphins are almost the same colour as the water and are incredibly fast!
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Sanctuary
This is a large wildlife park just south of Phnom Penh. It is a sanctuary for animals retrieved from traffickers and poachers. It is a great way to learn more about Cambodian animals, and you get to support the care of tigers, elephants, gibbons and way more!
Bamboo bridge at Kampong Cham
Rabbit Island or Tonsai Island is one of the smaller island off the coast of Cambodia. With quiet sandy beaches and a thick jungle, the island is the perfect place to get out of busy streets of Cambodia’s mainland. Staying in a jungle on this island can cost you anything from $7. If you are looking for an untouched island, with little to no other visitors, this is the place for you! You might wonder how to get here? Boats leave daily from the Kep pier.
Even though it is often seen as a backpacker valhalla, the real appeal can be found on its beautiful beaches. Nearby islands are all covered in resorts and beach bungalows, where Sihanoukville tries to keep some of natural attractions.
Kampot and Kep
The Kampot province has been said to be one of Cambodia’s most attractive destinations due to the plethora of natural attractions, easy transport and beautiful old colonial architecture. Kep, which is close to Kampot is full of limestone caves and temples that are century’s old, some are even pre-Angkorian period!
Killing fields of Choeung Ek
Cambodia has a rich history, the brutal reign of Pol Pot is visualised in the killing fields just outside of Phnom Penh. During his reign more than 3 million Cambodians died in these places.
Prasat Preah Vihear
The biggest mountain temple in Cambodia is the Prasah Preah Vihear. It can be found on the top of the Dangkrek mountains, forming a controversial border between Cambodia and Thailand. The 300-year-old building offers a beautiful view of the surroundings and the carving and sculptures made during the Angkorian period.
Mondulkiri is often called the wild east, an area full of hills and home to the Bunong people. One of the great attractions of this area is the Elephant Valley Project, here you can experience ‘walking with the herd’ (this is a very mindful project, which in no way hurts the elephants or takes them out of their natural habitat). Together with a landscape full of waterfalls and a jungle filled with endangered primates, it becomes a sight that cannot be skipped!
Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Visiting the temple of Angkor Wat is almost a given when yo go to Cambodia, visiting the temple around 5:30AM is somewhat less of an attraction to most. Going at this time will give you some stunning views and amazing photo opportunities. However, don’t stay on the main walk, go to the outpost buildings for some more privacy and unobscured views!
Locals pronounce this temple “Uncle Tom”. Angkor Thom’s defining feature is the entry by bridge on which 54 stone warriors seem to be playing tug-of-war with the sacred Naga Snake. Most of the warriors’ heads are missing, taken by looters after the Vietnam War.
This is the last of the Angkor temples. It is often referred to as the “Tomb Raider” Temple. This temple is still mainly in its original state, the crumbling walls are now one with the intertwined roots of the tree that made its home in the temple.
Tonle Sap Lake – the Floating Villages
One of the poorer villages can be found on the Tonle Sap Lake. One of the primitive fishing villages is a real eye opener when it comes to poverty in Cambodia. The shacks in the village are all on stilts, and in the rainy season the water will rise to the front doors of these shacks. Livestock can be found in floating pens, and as soon as you enter you will be approached by women and children trying to sell you food and souvenirs.
Are there any things I’ve missed? Do you have a recommendation? Let me know in the comments!