Phnom Penh

The must-see attractions of Cambodia

  • Monks Angkor Wat
    Cambodia is a great place for both culture and beach tours.

Our latest guest blogger, Jackson, writes about the best spots in Cambodia for beach and culture fans:

My boyfriend, Sergei, and I are avid Southeast Asia fans. For the last 5 years or so, we’ve holidayed exclusively at Thailand and Vietnam. Last month we decided to tour Cambodia. Unfortunately, most people don’t seriously consider touring this wonderful country. On the flip side, that means less tourist crowds to worry about. Cambodia wowed up both with its tranquil beauty and quirky attractions. Here are the places we loved the most:

 

Monks Angkor Wat

First time in Cambodia!

  • Siem Reap

Siem Reap maybe a small town, but it has unbelievably cheap spas and street food. Tourists come here because it’s a great place to explore the nearby Angkor Wat temple complex. TripAdvisor didn’t rank it #1 on their “best landmark in the world” list for nothing. This UNESCO designated site is an iconic symbol of cultural pride, and a great place to go on an adventure. We combined touring Angkor temples with exploring Siem Reap to avoid temple burnout.

 

Angkor by bicycle

All ready to explore Angkor Wat!

We got a 3-day Angkor pass valid for a week. Travablue arranged an air-conditioned car and a guide for us, which was very pleasant because this area is very hot and dusty. Our guide explained all the stories and legends surrounding each temple we saw. The biggest draws here are the main Angkor Wat temple, the mysterious Bayon face temple and the Ta Prohm jungle temple featured in the movie “Tomb Raider.” Travablue’s local agent organized our route in a way to avoid the busloads of tourist groups, which was very nice.

 

Bayon temple

Dazzled by the many-faced Bayon temple.

After our temple tours, we went go back to Siem Reap and treated ourselves to aromatherapy massages, really cheap beer and wonderful street food.

 

Cambodian Food

Browsing the Siem Reap food stalls!

We also toured the Bantey Srei temple, a great place to discover Cambodia’s Hindu heritage. If you are an architect or an interior designer, you’ll go crazy here. The temple walls are covered in millions of absolutely exquisite carvings. It’s hard to believe they were made by human hands.

 

Banteay Srei temple

Banteay Srei temple was simply stunning.

Do you know what inspired the breathtaking Angkor Wat temples? It was the Sambor Prei Kuk group of temples, tucked away on the eastern bank of the Tonlé Sap. These spectacular temples are probably the oldest cultural sites in Cambodia. They are almost completely overtaken by the jungle, so we were never bored here.

 

Sambor Prei Kuk temple

Felt like Indiana Jones at Sambor temples.

  • Phnom Penh

After Siem Reap, we headed south to Cambodia’s western coast. On the way, we stopped by the bustling capital city of Phnom Penh. This lively city is where you’d learn about Cambodia’s recent, and very dark, past. We toured the Genocide Museum, and later went to the glitzy Royal Palace compound to feel better. We also made a detour to the Silk Island about 15km from the city, to see amazing traditional artisans at work!

 

Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh was more beautiful than we thought.

 

  • Kep

We drove all the way down to Kep, Cambodia’s own Cancun. The beaches here are utterly unspoiled and crowd-free. We went on a splendid excursion to the Rabbit Island, where the secluded, white-sand beaches are hidden away. Here we sunbathed, tried some snorkeling and went on a safari at the nearby Bokor National Park.

Beautiful beach in Cambodia

Chillaxing at Kep!

 

 

  • Sihanoukville   

This is our favorite beach in Cambodia. Oh, how we wished we chose Sihanoukville for our honeymoon. Sihanoukville’s milky-white sand beaches shaded by coconut palms are breathtaking. The beaches here are relatively underdeveloped without much tourist facilities. So they remain tranquil and pristine.  It’s easy to lose track of time being pampered by the tropical sun at this part of the world.

 

Sihanoukville beach cabanas

Awestruck by Sihanoukville.

Our Cambodia tour went way better than expected (partly due to excellent coordination on Travablue’s side). We are already planning another tour for next Christmas!

Jackson and Sergei exclusively tailor-made their Cambodia tour with Travablue.