Top Things To Do in Cambodia
Cambodia is a Southeast Asian nation rich in history, heritage and culture. Timeless architectural wonders, beautiful beaches, spectacular temples and dense jungles make the destination one of the most visited destinations. Astonishing are those 1000 temples and its ruins in the Angkor region which stands as an exemplary example of architecture that dates back to the 12th century.
The other side of Cambodia reflects serene landscapes, secluded islands and awesome wildlife. River Mekong flowing through Cambodia offers some freshwater experience like cruising and boating. From shopping in the local markets, learning Khmer era’s art and culture through museums, indulging in local food, getting adventurous through water sports, going on a jungle safari with elephants, kayaking with dolphins in Mekong and many cherish-able experiences awaits every traveler visiting Cambodia. Here is a comprehensive list of top things to do in Cambodia:
- Angkor Archaeological Park :
Stunningly attractive and magnificent architecture marvel Angkor archaeological park sprawls around a vast area of 400 square kilometers. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The massive space includes scores of temples, reservoirs, canals, parks, forest areas and communication routes. Khmer empire ruled the region with Angkor as the capital from the 9th to 15th centuries. The structure stands as a testament of the Emperor’s civilization. The temples Angkor Wat, Bayon, Preah Khan and Ta Prohm are a major attraction here. Hire a bicycle or a tuk-tuk driver to move around and an accredited guide can help understand about the monumental carvings. Watching a sunrise or sunset in Angkor Wat is one of the best things to do in Cambodia with family,
2. Relax and Refresh in Beaches :
Cambodia has 300 miles of coastline and 60 offshore islands along the Gulf of Thailand. Sihanoukville, Kampot, Koh Kong and Kep are the four regions where the country’s beaches can be found. A range of beach bungalows, luxury villas, resorts, guest houses, wooden huts and camping options are available for the tourists on the islands and beach. Cambodia things to do at Beach include sunrise, sunset watching, scuba diving, boating, fishing, snorkeling and island hopping. Dining options are available in food shacks and beach sidebars.
3. Visit National Parks :
For animal lovers and wildlife enthusiasts, National parks in Cambodia are a retreat. Rich in flora and fauna, Cambodia tourist attractions are also home to a lot of rare endangered animals and birds. One of the top national parks, Phnom Kulen National Park on Kulen mountain comprises rich wildlife, giant waterfall and sacred temples. Bengal slow loris, Indochinese tiger and hundreds of species of birds can be seen in Botum Sakor National Park. Covering an area of 3,300 square kilometers and listed under ASEAN Heritage parks Virachey National Park is popular for its biodiversity and wildlife. Kirirom and Kep national parks are known for mountain and hiking trails. Ream and Preah Monivong are other wildlife parks in the region.
4. Apsara Dance – The Khmer culture:
The dance form belonging to Khmer culture has deep roots to the ancient era and dates back to the 7th century. According to Hindu and Buddhist mythology, Apsaras is a type of female form of clouds and water. They feature in dance, literature, sculptures and painting in South Asian culture. It is believed that they visit Earth from Heaven to perform a delightfully charismatic dance before Gods and Kings. This emerged as the Cambodian classical ballet dance ‘Apsara Dance’ comprising mainly of slow dance moves and hand gestures. The dancers wear attractive costumes reflecting the culture and style of the region. Art lovers can witness the daily shows conducted in the dedicated theatre of the Cambodia National Museum.
5. Kayaking and dolphin watch in Mekong :
By making it way from Tibet to Vietnam, the mighty river Mekong flows across Cambodia passing through Phnom Pen on its way to Vietnam. Cruising Boating options are available. Trans-country cruises take through the mix of neighboring countries from several days to weeks. Sunset cruise along the Mekong is a pleasant experience while enjoying Cambodian music, food and drink. Private boats with refreshments and food can be hired. During the daytime, cruises take for dolphin watching along Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. The rarest aquatic animal Irrawaddy river dolphins can be spotted here that makes it one of the fun things to do in Cambodia with kids.
6. Plankton glow in Koh Rong :
Plankton Glow is a stunning natural phenomenon that happens in Koh Rong beaches. Planktons are a large collection of microorganisms that lives in water bodies like an ocean and do not have the capability of swimming. They stay in the same place all time. At night bio-luminescence effect takes place radiating light from them. They rise up in the warm water and shine like a starry sky. Its best viewed on no-moon days and lesser light pollution. Nighttime ferries and boats take tourists to witness this fascinating scenery. Underwater snorkeling and swimming with planktons are aquatic activities encouraged with caution.
7. Engage in Rural life :
Beyond temples, the countryside of Cambodia has incredible natural landscapes and serene rural life. 85 percent of Cambodia is rural and agriculture is the main development here. Hire a bicycle to tour around the fine paddy fields and pepper plantations. Siem Reap homestays are available to engage with locals. Learning about cultivation, walk around coconut groves, cooking with villagers, eat local food, bullock cart ride and meeting the artisans of ancient handicrafts are some interesting activities in the region.
8. Eco-Tour in floating villages :
Seam Reap floating villages are fascinating and provide an insight into the rural community of Cambodia. The settlement of Cambodian villagers on the shores of Tonle Sap Lake lately became the largest monument in the World and the most visited place by tourists. Eco-tours are operated from Siem Reap to the main four floating villages. Chong Khneas has floating houses, school and churches that move according to the level of water. Crocodiles can also be spotted in the lake’s muddy water. Kampong Phluk is a photographic village site with mangrove forests. Beautiful blue lake and colorfully painted houses form the Kampong Khleang floating village. Mechrey village serves as a gateway to wildlife in the nearby forest area. A floating garden is the main attraction here. Go shopping, dine on floating restaurants and cherish local food while on eco-touring these villages.
9. Swim with elephants at Mondulkiri :
Elephant Valley Project, EVP at Modulkiri that protects, provides shelter and care abandoned elephants. The project started by a group of individuals aims to provide awareness to the Bunong people indigenous to the region about the conservation of forests and wildlife. Orphaned, overworked and injured elephants are cared by providing them a revitalizing habitat int the sanctuary located inside the jungle. EVP does not encourage riding on these gentle creatures. Tourists can hike alongside them, swim and bath on the muddy waters of the waterfall swimming hole. Prior booking can be made for eco-tours inside Modulkiri which includes hiking hills and forests, discovering rivers and waterfalls, collecting wild food like bamboo shoots and mushrooms, cook and dine at farmers’ home, learn about Bunong cultivation and overnight stay in a jungle lodge. It is one of the best things to do in Cambodia in December to make your tour memorable.
10. The traditional Khmer Spa :
Cambodian spa are distinctive and a popular Southeastern therapy that focuses on maintaining the balance in the body. A blend of ancient Ayurvedic medicine and Chinese practices, the healing technique uses naturally cultivated plants, local herbs and minerals indigenous to the region. Siem Reap has many certified spa centers that provide holistic treatments, spa therapies, yoga classes, detoxes and meditation practices.
11. Cuisine of Cambodia :
Seafood dominates Cambodian cuisine and travelers love to relish on these delicacies. The staple food being rice served with fish recipes there are a lot of authentic recipes to try and taste. Fish Amok, the steamed coconut fish in banana leaves is popular here. A sweet-sour soup made of fish – Samlor Machu Trey, the Khmer noodles Nom Banh Chok are a must-try. Sampling street food gives an insight to Cambodian cuisine and there are food tours organized in Siem Reap for travelers visiting the country.
12. Go shopping:
Shopping in Cambodia leaves an awful experience as the country produces unique souvenirs and artifacts. Textiles, Krama scarves, Mekong quilts, Angkor War replica painting, Kampot pepper, palm sugar, silk scarf are some of the must-buy items. Angkor night market gets alive after sunset with live music leaving tourists with the cherish-able shopping experience. Pottery classes, Khmer cultural show and locally made products are attractions in Fair Trade Village.
Beyond temples, this incredible country has it all. With so many cool things to do in Cambodia, it is definitely an awe-inspiring destination. Now you know exactly what to do in Cambodia, go ahead and plan your tour now.
About Author: Banupriya Nagarajan