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.
1. 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!
2. 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!
3. Bamboo bridge at Kampong Cham
4. Rabbit Island
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.
5. Koh Rong Samloem
The most undiscovered island just off the coast of Sihanoukville. Go see it while it’s still undiscovered!
6. 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!
7. S21 Prison & Killing fields
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.
8. Prasat Preah Vihear – The Mountain Temple
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!
10. 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!
11. Beng Mealea & Koh Ker
The Koh Ker temples are located about 130km outside of Siem Reap. On the way there after about 80km you can find the Beng Mealea Temple.
The main temple at Koh Ker is a 7-tier step-pyramid that would not look out of place on the Yucatan Peninsula. A wooden walkway to the summit has improved access and safety and the views from the top are rewarding. Beng Mealea was built during the reign of King Suryavarman II and is contemporary with Angkor Wat and Thommanon. This period of temple design is considered the ‘Golden Age’ of classical Khmer architecture and represents the high water mark of the Angkorian empire.
12. 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, in rainy season the water will rise to the front doors. Livestock is found in floating pens, and you’ll be approached by women and children trying to sell you food and souvenirs.