The 10 most beautiful places to visit in Cambodia

Cambodge

Planning a visit to Cambodia? Check out our selection of must-sees to enjoy the many wonders the Land of Smiles has to offer!

Few countries are as authentic as Cambodia. Less visited than its neighbors Thailand and Vietnam, it is now experiencing a genuine blossoming after the dark days of the Khmer Rouge.

The raw beauty of its landscapes, its rice paddies speckled with sugar palms, the majestic vestiges of its ambivalent history and the incredible kindness of its people are what make this country so special.

Without delay, we present the most beautiful places to discover Cambodia in all its subtlety!

1. The temples of Angkor

Angkor Wat

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Symbols of the country, the temples of Angkor in Siem Reap are vibrant witnesses to the grandeur of theKhmer Empire, which dominated medieval Southeast Asia. Angkor (« the city ») was the empire’s capital, and at its peak had a population of 750,000, making it one of the world’s largest cities.

Angkor Wat is without doubt the most emblematic temple on the site. Considered the eighth wonder of the world, it is dedicated to the Hindu deity Vishnu. We advise you to come early to admire the sunrise over the temple. The view is splendid… Another remarkable temple, Ta Prohm, is engulfed by vegetation. Cheese trees, home to gibbons and parrots, curl up on the ancient stones: it’s as if visitors are discovering the site as it was left centuries ago.

The combination of Khmer architecture and wild jungle creates a very special atmosphere. The site is huge, and you can plan your visit for 1, 3 or 7 days. To visit the temples at Angkor and avoid the crowds, don’t hesitate to explore the less famous temples of the Angkor complex.

2. Phnom Kulen

Phnom Kulen

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To the north-east of the Angkor archaeological site, Phnom Kulen is a massif rising to an altitude of 487 metres. It is home to the springs of the rivers that flow through the ancient city. Its micro-climate produces delicious fruit, renowned throughout the country. It is a place of pilgrimage for the Khmers, who regard Phnom Kulen as a sacred site.

A visit to the massif reveals archaeological remains that have the particularity of mixing with spring water. The River of a Thousand Lingams is lined with bas-reliefs and Kbal Spean is an incredible carved riverbed. At the top of the mountain is a small temple housing a reclining Buddha. You can also bathe in the majestic waterfalls, an opportunity to mingle with the local population, who are very numerous here.

3. The Tonle Sap

Tonlé Sap

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The Tonlé Sap is a river and a large lake located in the center of the country. Its seasonal flow pattern is unique in the world: the water empties and fills according to the monsoons. During the rainy season, the flow of the Tonlé Sap River changes direction and the lake’s surface area is multiplied by four! Cambodians celebrate the water festival, or Bon Om Touk.

But the great feature of the Tonlé Sap lake is that it is inhabited. Indeed, several communities, mainly Vietnamese, have sprung up on the lake, living in what are known as floating villages. The businesses and homes of these unusual villages move around the lake with the seasons. Visiting Cambodia is an opportunity to discover these villages and observe the curious daily life of their inhabitants.

4. Koh Rong Island

Koh Rong

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The Gulf of Thailand is home to several paradise islands attached to Cambodia. Among them, Koh Rongis renowned for its dream beaches and festive atmosphere.

Sip delicious cocktails, enjoy a snorkeling session to admire the seabed, bask on white sandy beaches and swim in crystal-clear turquoise water… What’s the most beautiful beach on Koh Rong? Long Beach is a little harder to get to than the others, but offers a truly picture-postcard landscape.

Nearby, the island of Koh Rong Samloem is even more beautiful. Isolated and small, it is bordered by crystal-clear waters. Accommodation here is more expensive, but you’ll enjoy a wilderness environment, and above all, it’s quieter than Koh Rong after dark.

5. Cardamoms

Cardamomes

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The Cardamom Mountains are ideal for those wishing to visit Cambodia through a wide variety of landscapes: jungle, pine forests, rice paddies and green hills. Whether on trek or motorcycle, the Cardamomes allow you to really get off the beaten track and sleep in the jungle, lulled by the songs of birds and gibbons.

Along the way, you can stop off at many local shops. Visit Koh Kong, a pleasant town surrounded by deserted beaches. Koh Kong Bay on the Gulf of Siam is dotted with rivers and waterfalls.

The village of Chi Phat is also a must-see experience in authentic Cambodia. This community has set up its village to welcome tourists and introduce them to their customs.

6. Phnom Penh

Musée national du Cambodge, Phnom Penh

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Visiting Cambodia also means discovering its history and culture. For this, the capital is a destination of choice. Although it has a bad reputation in the eyes of tourists, it abounds in treasures that give visitors the opportunity to immerse themselves in Cambodian life. Its arteries are clogged with thousands of motorcycles, its markets are full of noise and smells, and its many monuments bear witness to the rich and dark periods of the country’s history… It’s best to let yourself be carried along by the current to appreciate the city.

When you’re in Phnom Penh, don’t miss out on the must-see sights, such as the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda. Nearby, the National Museum exhibits an impressive collection of Khmer artifacts and features traditional Khmer dance performances. The Tuol Sleng Museum is a must-see, offering a better understanding of the painful period of the Khmer Rouge. Finally, you can lose yourself in Phnom Penh’s Central Market, the largest in the country.

7. Kampot

Kampot

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This charming town is famous for its Kampot pepper. A haven of tranquillity for visitors to Cambodia, it has managed to retain a certain authenticity despite its tourist development. Its quiet streets come alive regularly to host various markets. A little secret for those who want a timeless, tourist-free experience: get up at the crack of dawn to go to the fish market on the banks of the river, run by the Cham Muslim community.

Rent a bike or motorcycle and get lost in the surrounding area. Visit Fish Island with its pretty fishermen’s cottages swept with red earth, the many water lily lakes, the salt marshes and the coastline with its very special character.

20 kilometers from Kampot, in Bokor Park, lies a colonial ghost town well worth a visit.

8. Kratie

Kratie

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Kratie is said to contain the Khmer soul. This small town in north-east Cambodia is surrounded by the arms of the Mekong River. In this region, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Irraway dolphins, which resemble belugas and swim in the fresh waters of the river. Unfortunately, this animal is endangered, and sightings are becoming increasingly rare.

The town of Kratie boasts a distinctive colonial architecture. On site, you can visit the Buddhist temple Phnom Sambok, overlooking a lush hillside. The steps leading up to the pagoda are decorated with large, colorful statues of monks. Once at the top, you can admire a magnificent panorama of the Mekong River.

9. Ratanakiri

Kachanh

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Ratanakiri, or Rotanah Kiri, is one of the country’s most beautiful and remote northeastern regions, and home to Virachey National Park. Its dense forests cover 80% of the area, which you can explore on treks and excursions, enjoying the welcome coolness of the region. An opportunity for nature lovers to observe Cambodia’s rich biodiversity, particularly dense in this mountainous province. Discover luxuriant jungles, waterfalls, wild animals and villages home to a mosaic of ethnic minorities.

Admire Yeak Lom lake, a veritable jewel of nature: its translucent waters are set in a volcanic crater, and the Cambodians consider it sacred. It is said to be inhabited by protective spirits… Don’t forget to visit Banlung, nicknamed the red city because of the characteristic color of its soil. The market is well worth a visit, if only to meet its friendly inhabitants.

10. Pursat

Pursat

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If you want to visit Cambodia while avoiding the more touristy areas, Pursat is the destination for you. A small country town renowned for its stonemasons and marble workers, Pursat is a great place to meet Khmer people and discover new things off the beaten track. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample delicious traditional Cambodian dishes. Not far from here, you can take a pirogue to sail on the Tonlé Sap and visit the fascinating floating village of Kompong Luong, and why not spend the night!

Another of Pursat’s attractions is the Bamboo Train, on which you can take a short ride. It’s made up of bamboo platforms, loaded with goods, which move along rails powered by a motor. A great opportunity to meet the locals while watching the beautiful Cambodian countryside unfold before your eyes.

Map of hotels and accommodation – Cambodia