12 beautiful places to see in Cambodia

Cập nhật: 01-01-1970 12:00:00 | Blogs about Cambodia | Lượt xem: 711

Cambodia is a stunning country offering so many extraordinary destinations; and here below are the 12 most beautiful places to visit when you make your trip to Cambodia. Visiting these spots of what is Cambodia best known for that spread over different provinces in Cambodia, you shall learn and enjoy varied experiences and knowledge. 

  1. Angkor Temples
  2. Royal Palace
  3. Preah Vihear Temples
  4. Tonle Sap Lake Biosphere Reserve
  5. Koh Rong Samloem Island
  6. Battambang Town
  7. Kulen Mountain
  8. Apsara Dance Show 
  9. S-21 Tuol Sleng
  10. Siem Reap Pub Street
  11. Freshwater Dolphin in Kratie
  12. Cardamom Mountains

Angkor Temples

Angkor-temple-Cambodia
 

Angkor Temples belong to a complex of religious constructions in Siem Reap Province of Cambodia. These temples make Cambodia unique and famous to the world. Disguising themselves under the thick jungle, Angkor Temples present a civilized world. Among 72 major temples in the Angkor complex, the most outstanding constructions are Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, Bayon, Banteay srei, Preah Khan and so on. In 1992, the Angkor Temples in Cambodia were designated as a UNESCO Heritage Site. The attractive charm of these values makes Angkor Temple the very first choice in the list of places to see in Cambodia.

The Khmer Empire ordered the construction of these Angkor Temples, as Hindu temples, in the period between 9th and 15th century. This prosperous Kingdom city was ruled by the Jayavarman Kings for hundreds of years. The Kingdom remained unified and independent after both internal strife and neighbor invaders such as the Champa from Vietnam. The end of the Angkor Kingdom was marked by a battle against Ayutthaya from Siamese in 1431. The Angkor Temples accordingly were sacked. Most of their statues were taken and transferred to Ayutthaya. The Hindu temples then also became Buddhist temples. The largest temple - Angkor Wat thereupon turned from a Hindu to Buddhist Temple. 

Buried in the jungle for years, the Angkor Temples in Cambodia were then discovered by the explorers in the 19th century. Since then, they have become famous and must see spots in Asia. The Angkor temples are located around 10km (6,2 miles) from Siem Reap center. You can explore the temple complex in Siem Reap by car, bicycles, motorbike or local tuktuk. The Angkor Temple map includes big and small circuits. Depending on your travel days, you might choose to explore the highlights or cover the big circuit. 

Royal Palace in Phnom Penh

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Following the history stream in Cambodia, after the end of the Khmer kingdom, Phnom Penh succeeded Siem Reap and became the country capital. It had been abandoned for a couple of times; and then resumed by King Norodom in 1865. Phnom Penh these days is one of the must-see spots in Cambodia. Royal Palace is a truly outstanding attraction in the city for your exploration. 

The Royal Palace, constructed in the 1860s, is the royal residence. This spectacular place showcases typical Khmer architecture and culture. The constructions are decorated with typical colors of orange, sapphire and green. According to Khme culture, these colors represent prosperity, nature and freedom. Covering nearly 175,000 sqm, the Royal Palace comprises 9 constructions and 4 entrance gates. Visitors and commoners are allowed to enter by the South Gate which is close to the Silver Pagoda area. Not all buildings in the premises are open to the public. When touring the Royal Palace of Cambodia, you can admire the 7-tiers roof Thone Hall, Chanchhaya Pavilion - the area for royal dancers, Napoleon III Pavilion, Silver Pagoda, Stupa of King Norodom I, Statue of King Norodom, etc. 

Preah Vihear Temple

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Preah Vihear Temple, meaning holy shrines for religious offerings, is a Hindu temple of the 9th century. It is a sacred temple in Cambodia constructed with gray and yellow sandstone. Situated on the edge of a 525m (1722 ft) high mountain, the temple offers a stunning view over a greenish plateau and Thailand mainland. The constructions in Preah Vihear Temple complex are distributed along an axis of 800m (2,600 ft). When visiting the premise, you shall walk through the large staircase and pillared causepath to its sanctuaries. Besides the impressively majestic Khmer architecture, you also find historical inscriptions depicting temples’ stories. 

Prasat Preah Vihear is around 150km (93 miles) from Siem Reap. It takes more than 3 hours to drive by car from Siem Reap to Preah Vihear. This travel destination in Cambodia can be input in the trip with Thailand or Southern Laos. There is also a day trip to Preah Vihear Temple from Siem Reap too.

Tonle Sap Lake Biosphere Reserve

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Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve in Cambodia is an area on Tonle Sap Lake which is known as the largest fresh-warter lake in SouthEast Asia. This designation of the Tonle Sap UNESCO Biosphere Reserve was made in 1997 in order to conserve the natural landscape, biological diversity, ecosystem and the wildlife. The main terrain in this area is mainly floodplains and swamps. Along with changes of water level due to the Mekong River’s flow, the environment provides habitats for diverse species and rich vegetation. There are 225 bird species of which 17 are endangered in Tonle Sap’s flooded forests. Therefore, in addition to taking a boat trip to visit local villages on Tonle Sap Lake, you can venture to the Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve to explore the wetland and enjoy bird watching early in the morning.

With biodiversity, Tonle Sap Lake Biosphere Reserve is a wonderful place to see in Cambodia. Located around 35km (22 miles) from the Siem Reap center. You can drive by car or have a tuk tuk ride from Siem Reap to the reserve area. There are eco-homestays nearby this Biosphere Reserve for you to spend a night. Apart from bird watching, exploring the forest, you can do kayaking, visiting local villages, etc. 

Koh Rong Samloem Island

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Koh Rong Samloem Island is a worth visiting island for its pristine vibe of crystal sandy beach and blue ocean, a relatively less known tropical paradise. This 9km (6 miles) long island is mainly covered by thick jungles and surrounded by coastline formed by the succession of limestone rock. Saracen Bay and M’Pai Bay are the prominent spots on the island. These places are available with choices of resorts and bungalows for overnight. Along with its sister Koh Rong Island situated 4km (2.5 miles) from its north, this southern coast city of Cambodia is an ideal beach destination in Indochina. 

Koh Rong Samloem Island is located in Koh Rong City of Sihanoukville Province. Sihanoukville city with Sihanouk Airport is the entering point. Travelers can take domestic and international flights, or have a drive by land to Sihanoukville Province. From there, they can get to Koh Rong Samloem Island by ferry. There are 3 piers in Saracen Bay and 1 pier in M’Pai Bay for ferry access. Koh Rong Samloem Island offers exciting experiences of beach leisure, sunset admiring, jungle trek, kayaking, snorkeling and diving. 

Battambang Town

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Battambang is worth visiting as it’s an unspoiled tourist spot in Cambodia featuring exotic and laidback countryside landscapes. Being the second largest province of Cambodia, Battambang is leading in rice production in the country. Its history dates back to the 11th century, when the Khmer Empire founded this city as a trading spot. Battambang was then occupied by the Siamese from 1795 to 1907.  The French colonization ended the Siamese’s annexation and reunited this land back to Cambodia. During WWII, Battambang became Thai’s colony again and became independent in 1953. 

As above highlights in its history, this river town showcases the best preserved colonial architecture and Khmer culture with slight influence from Thai. Getting along Sangker River in Battambang town center, you will find the pretty colonial style shop houses. The other things to do in Battambang include visiting temples in town, seeing the local market, riding the bamboo train, hiking to bat cave and visiting the Phare Ponleu Selpak where the Phare Circus show originated. Battambang Town is an ideal place for authentic local experience. It’s around 170km (105 miles) in the south-west of Siem Reap Province, taking roughly 3 driving-hour. You can go by boat from Siem Reap to Battambang which takes a bit longer. 

Kulen Mountain

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Phnom Kulen or Kulen Mountain is one part of Kulen National Park, located around 50km (31 miles) in the north-east of Siem Reap. What makes Phnom Kulen special is that it’s the most sacred mountain in Cambodia. Visiting Kulen Mountain, you will admire the Khmer symbolic and cultural relics dated back to the early 9th century. There are numerous constructions, brick temples, sculptures, prehistoric paintings and so on. Local people come to this pilgrimage mount to pray, make offerings and enjoy the landscape of lush jungle and waterfalls. 

Phnom Kulen means Mountain of Leeches in Cambodian language. The Kulen Mountain Tour can be done with a day trip or spending further time to venture the loops. The main spots to see on Kulen Mountain include a thousand lingas valley, Preah Ang Thom, Elephant Pond Srah Damrei, Kulen mountain’s waterfalls, etc. 

Apsara Dance Show 

Apsara-dance-show-siemreap

Traveling to Siem Reap as well as some other parts in Cambodia, you can delve into the indeginous culture by enjoying the Apsara Dance Show. The images of Apsara  stone bas-reliefs are presented at almost all Angkor Temples. This elegant dance is a traditional dance of the Khmer Empire. It has been listed as UNESCO intangible heritage in 2003. The ethereal hand gestures and body movements of Apsara dancers show different meanings in Khmer culture. 

The history of Apsara Dance can be traced back to the 7th century as per the carving found at Sambor Prei Kuk temples. This dance rooted from Indian mythology reveals an artwork of Hindu and Buddhist. These show performances are available in both Siem Reap, Phnom Penh city. Visitors can combine watching Apsara Show and having dinner. 

S-21 Tuol Sleng

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Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is located in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. This place is suggested for those who are interested in history. While the Angkor Temples area is considered as the outdoor exhibition of the Angkor Empire, Tuol Sleng reveals the dark times when the country was under Khmer Rouge regime. From 1976-1979, the secondary school was turned into Security Prison No 21 or the S-21 to imprison and torture people. Beside prisons, there are execution areas in Phnom Penh called killing fields. 

The entrance fee is USD5/ ticket. There are options of audio guides with variable choices of languages with an extra fee. Despite some image might cause offensive feelings, S-21 Tuol Sleng is suggested in top 12 places to see in Cambodia as it preserve the historical facts of the country. 

Siem Reap Pub Street

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Siem Reap Pub Street and the nearby Angkor night market are funny places for nightlife in Siem Reap. There are bars, pubs, restaurants and lively music where you can have local beer, intermingle with locals and enjoy Cambodia’s food. Most bars and pubs are open till 12am; and some are operated later. Strolling around the night market, you can shop for souvenirs, good quality silk with moderate prices and so on. 

Freshwater Dolphin in Kratie

freshwater-dolphin-in-kratie-cambodia

Kratie, a province in the north-east of Cambodia, is situated along the Mekong River. There are around 140km (87 miles) of Mekong River’s flow spread from north to south of this province. The river then plays a significant influence toward Kratie province’s fisheries and agriculture.  Traveling to Kratie, you can admire the serene landscape of Mekong river, rural villages, the rice fields, and also can take a local boat to see the playful freshwater dolphin in Kampi Village. There are 15 - 20 of these rare mammals living in Kratie by now. You can spend one hour on a local boat to cruise closer by the dolphin area or take a kayak and ride quietly on your own. 

Cardamom Mountains

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Cardamom Mountains covering 4.4 million hectares is located in the south-east of Cambodia. This mountain range is a biodiversity place to get into nature. It houses many endangered animals like elephants, Indochinese tigers, bears, gibbons, Siamese crocodile, clouded leopards, etc. Exploring Cardamom Mountains, you can go with an abundance of activities like jungle trekking, mountain biking, kayaking and swimming. You also can explore caves and learn of history as well as prehistoric culture via the paintings on caves. 

There is the ecotourism village Chi Phat on Cardamom Mountains where travelers are welcomed and provided basic services. For a higher-end travel budget, Shinta Mani Whild is a life-time experience. It’s high-end resorts with full-board services for a stunning vacation in lush jungle. Despite there being issues of logging and poaching, the Cardamom Mountains is a calling travel destination in Cambodia. 

Above are 12 beautiful places to see in Cambodia which reveal the rich culture, history, architecture and local lifestyle. Depending on your interest, you might design your own Cambodia Trip including some of the above suggestions. Feel free to reach out if you wish to know any further information.

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