Top 5 Cambodia Highlights
Cambodia, a country filled with magnificent ancient temples, stunning scenery and some of the most beautiful beaches we have seen. Whether you are there to party, or immerse yourself in the tragic history and vibrant culture of this amazing country, you will not be disappointed. Cambodia bewitches every traveler who visits, and we too fell under her spell!
We have compiled a list of our Top 5 Cambodia highlights.
1. Angkor Wat & Ta Prohm
No trip to Cambodia would be complete without a visit to its most remarkable and famous site – Angkor Wat, the largest religious building in the world! We opted, like so many others for the sunrise tour. Standing there at 5am, amongst the crowds of backpackers eager to get the perfect shot of the sun rising over this majestic temple, and despite the hustle and bustle nothing could dull the breath taking beauty of Angkor Wat.
We spent a few hours exploring the grounds of this UNESCO world heritage site. Inside the temple you can make a donation to the monks, and receive a blessing of luck and longevity. Be warned, however, one of the more playful monks giggled as he drenched me in holy water!
Originally a Buddhist monastery, Ta Prohm has now been devoured by the Cambodian jungle. We spent hours discovering this unique and stunning temple ruins, and we all voted it the firm winner of our Top 5 Cambodian highlights.
The whole Angkor site has gained massive popularity recently, due to the appearance of Ta Prohm in the Angelina Jolie movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. I have to admit, it was after watching this movie that I became fascinated with Ta Prohm and desperate to visit this sacred site.
The ruins of Ta Prohm are bound by massive roots of huge trees, creating an eerie man versus nature element that so many of us find awe inspiring.
2. Koh Rong Samloem
Koh Rong Samloem is a tiny island off the coast of Cambodia. You can access it via a short boat ride from the party destination of Sihanoukville. The island has four main beaches, each of them offer a completely different atmosphere, yet all are as stunning as each other.
The speed boat will drop you off on Saracen Bay located on the east side of the island. A three kilometer stretch of dazzling white sand, Saracen Bay was our main stop on the island, we spent Christmas 2016 in adorable little beach huts, the ideal spot to catch some amazing sunrise snaps.
Sunset beach and Lazy beach.
To reach the Western beaches you have to trek through jungle paths, here you will find Sunset beach and Lazy beach. The western side is the chill-out coast and hosts a relaxed, indie vibe. The still warm waters of Sunset beach are to die for, and the food in the small resort there is incredible.
Finally the beach on the northern peak of the island. M’Pai Bei is a seaside fishing village with a handful of local shops and restaurants. Another stunning sandy beach awaits along with plenty of places to organize your snorkeling and diving. Koh Rong Sanloem has it all, and is firmly number two on our Top 5 Cambodian highlights list!
Mondulkiri is an eastern province of Cambodia, a rural area and the least populated in the entire country. Full of natural beauty, with gigantic waterfalls and forested mountains. The province made our Top 5 highlights of Cambodia list for a few reasons, primarily for its stunning scenery! Visit Boo Sra and Monorom waterfalls, and truly experience the beauty of this region. Our favourite stop in the province was the Mondulkiri project. The project is a locally operated Elephant sanctuary, who allow their Elephants for the majority of the day to roam free and do just what elephants do. You can join in walks alongside the Elephants and have the opportunity to wash and feed these magnificent creatures.
4. Party in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh
Both cities have a vibrant nightlife offering a wide range of party hangouts to suit all tastes.
Head to Siem Reap and party down the aptly named Pub Street! Pub Street is Siem Reap’s most prominent night time party spot, here you can find bars and nightclubs that cater to all budgets and of course, sample the exotic street market delicacies. We recommend The Top Banana Bar, located on the rooftop of the Mad Monkey Hostel. Tuk Tuk Bar, located along Sok San road and Angkor Wat Bar are also popular backpacking hangouts.
We had a few great nights out in Phnom Penh, with a dusk-till-dawn nightlife, the city will certainly keep you well oiled. Head to street 172 to dance the night away in Pontoon, or check out the heaps of exciting and varied bars down street 51. We recommend the Eclipse Sky Bar on street 232 and Hangar 44 down street 308.
Battambang is a city on the Sangkae River in north-western Cambodia. It is less the city that has compelled us to add Battambang to our Top 5 Cambodia Highlights list, but more the scenic river trip that which links the city to Siem Reap. The boat trip is the best in Cambodia, where beautiful scenery and floating villages line the river banks. Battambang is also home to the internationally acclaimed circus of Phare Ponleu Selpak, which gives youths the opportunity to channel their energy into learning circus skills. A trip to this circus is a must when visiting the city, it hosts performances several nights a week with dance, music, juggling and acrobatics. The shows are funny, death-defying and very lively.
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