Why You’ll Love Cambodia

Wild water Buffalo Cambodia #asiabuffalo

Although centuries have passed since the Country was torn apart by the Civil War, the Land of the Khmers still captures hearts, and those who visit Cambodia can never let go. Cambodia boasts diverse, astonishing landscapes, charming villages, incredible sites, and wondrous temples. It is also home to the Mekong Delta, the longest Delta in the world, and lush jungles teeming with wildlife. Whether you unwind in a hammock on a secluded island or spend slothful days recovering from all-night raves, Cambodia has something for everyone. After exploring parts of this unique Country, we’ve gathered our top Cambodia bucket list experiences to help you plan your ideal Cambodia trip itinerary.

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Cambodia bucket list experiences

Cambodia is a tourist destination you won’t want to miss. It is home to Angkor Wat, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and the largest religious monument in the world. Despite being overshadowed by its famous neighbour, Thailand, charming Cambodia is filled with incredible attractions. The fascinating Country is renowned for its kind, warm-hearted people and delicious Khmer food. Apart from its breathtaking ancient temples, the appealing big cities, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and charming villages, there are lush jungles and stunning beaches. Everywhere you turn, there are incredible sights just waiting to be discovered. Here are the things not to miss when travelling to Cambodia.

Angkor Thom Baphuon Temple Cambodia
Angkor Thom Baphuon Temple Cambodia

Discover The Cambodian Culture

Besides Cambodia’s fascinating history, Khmers are renowned for their kindness, generosity, and positive outlook. They prioritize the needs of others over their own, and family and relationships hold a significant place in their lives. Cambodians tend to live without strict schedules and believe that fate governs all aspects of life, accepting whatever happens as part of their destiny. 

Cambodia’s cuisine might not be as well-known as its neighbouring countries, but it’s equally healthy, flavourful, and delicious. Although each Country is unique, my mouth waters just by writing about flavourful Khmer food. I especially love Amok, a dish made with coconut milk, meat, or fish, with its spicy curry flavour. It is served with jasmine rice wrapped in a banana leaf.

They use lemon grass in many dishes, and I got hooked—so much so that we weren’t home for a week when I bought a Lemon Grass plant. Cambodian food Tours are led by experts who will take you to local markets and eateries to sample authentic Khmer food. Remember to Include a Cambodian Cooking class in your Cambodia travel itinerary.

Tip: Discover the convenience and get Cambodia’s best eSIM data plans. You can activate your eSIM anywhere during your journey.

Visit Phnom Penh, the Capital of Cambodia

A trip to Cambodia would not be complete without a visit to its bustling capital city, Phnom Penh, whose vibrancy and energy will capture your heart and leave you eager to return. Phnom Penh is where most refugees fled during the Vietnam War before the invasion of the Khmer Rouge in 1975. Exploring Phnom Penh City on foot is a great way to immerse yourself in Cambodian culture, stunning architecture, and culinary experiences.

Royal Palace Phnom Penh in beautiful garden
Royal Palace Phnom Penh

Best things to do in Phnom Penh

  • Explore the riverfront area with beautiful parks, restaurants, and hang-out places.
  • Book an Ultimate Street Food Tour by Tuk Tuk to sample a variety of delicious Cambodian foods.
  • Visit the beautiful Royal Palace complex and museum, or go on a Phnom Penh City walking tour.
  • Experience the Mekong Delta, the third-longest river in Asia and the longest Delta in the world. Originating in the Himalayas and passing through six countries, about 18 million people rely on the fertile Mekong for agriculture and other purposes. The best way to experience the Mekong, Tonle Sap, the Tonle Sap Fishing Village, and the people who live along the riverbank is by one of the famous Phnom Penh Sunset River Cruises.
  • Although a visit to the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum may not be a cheerful way to spend your morning, it is a testament to the extreme violence of the Khmer Rouge. 
  • Embark on a half-day guided Mekong Island cycling tour and explore the countryside.
  • Visit the bustling markets in Phnom Penh.
The National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh is a beautiful terracotta coloured Khmer style building.
National Museum of Cambodia Phnom Penh
Flowering Cannonball trees at Phnom Penh Palace
Flowering Cannonball trees at Phnom Penh Palace

Other Top Attractions in Phnom Penh

The Best Location To Stay In Phnom Penh

If you are visiting Phnom Penh for the first time, the best area to stay is in the Riverfront District or near the lively riverfront. The location is conveniently near attractions, restaurants, bars, and attractions. Phnom Penh is one of the places you have to add to your Cambodia Trip Itinerary.

Our recent stay in Phnom Penh was at the Guest-friendly hotel Phnom Penh Okay Boutique Hotel. Conveniently within walking distance of the National Museum and Riverfront, it is peaceful. The hotel boasts a rooftop bar and swimming pool with stunning views of the city and palace, good breakfast, and free wi-fi.

If you want other options, check out more Places to Stay in Phnom Penh.

Explore Siem Reap

Besides the extraordinary, astonishing Temples, Siem Reap is worth spending at least a few nights in.

Siem Reap Place to Visit: Angkor Wat

The Cambodia Angkor Wat temple complex is one of Cambodia’s most famous attractions. You can explore the temples at your own pace or join one of the many guided tours. Arrive early before sunrise, and crowds arrive to experience the mesmerizing Sunrise at Angkor Wat. Ensure you don’t miss the experience, and book an Angkor Wat Sunrise tour.

Experience the most remarkable temples of Angkor Wat, Bayon, Angkor Thom, and the jungle temples of Ta Prohm before watching the sunset from Phnom Bakheng Mountain. To book a full-day tour, visit Angkor Wat Sunset and Temples tour

Explore famous Cambodia Temples Angkor Wat on a Cambodia trip Itinerary
Famous Cambodia Temples Angkor Wat

Top Attractions in Siem Reap

Experience a floating Village.

Visiting one or more of the floating villages in Cambodia is a truly authentic experience, offering a glimpse into the unique lives of the people in this Country. Cambodia has over 170 floating villages, providing homes for over 80,000 Cambodians. During the monsoon season, these villages stay in one place; however, during the dry season, the Villages move to deeper waters as the water levels drop.

The Tonle Sap Lake is a large freshwater lake in Cambodia’s heart. It is home to several small floating villages whose inhabitants have adapted to the environment. They spend their entire lives on the lake along with their pets. Fishing and related activities such as marketing, transportation, smoking, drying, and fish processing are their primary source of livelihood and food. Book a Siem Reap Floating Village Tour.

Floating villages in Siem Reap Cambodia trip Itinerary #Mekongdelta
Floating villages in Siem Reap Cambodia #Mekongdelta

Visit the Markets in Cambodia

Cambodia is known for its bustling markets, and visiting one or more of them is one of the highlights. The markets range from day markets to Cambodian night markets and floating markets. So, depending on the region you visit, there are several Cambodia markets to explore. Markets are part of the best Cambodia trip itineraries.

What to buy at Cambodia Markets

The best things to buy in Cambodia include clothing, silver jewellery, lemon grass oil, precious gems and stones, betel nut boxes, trinkets, rice paper prints, various bags, weaving silk, and carved wooden items. However, it can get overwhelming and irritating, making me leave without buying anything. If I like something, I will buy it, and I am not necessarily looking for something specific.

Made in Cambodia products: 

What to buy in Cambodia markets besides Kirum Pepper is silver jewellery and trinkets, rice wines, teas, lemongrass oils, and palm sugar sweets; Confirel produces and distributes authentic Khmer products. Cambodia is the sole producer of inflorescence pepper tea in the world.

Tip: Cambodians start their day early (like in Vietnam) and give their first customer a reasonable price.

One of the best Tuk Tuk Siem Reap services. Tuk tuk Cambodia with music to your taste.
One of the best Tuk Tuk Siem Reap services. Tuk tuk Cambodia with music to your taste.

Where To Stay In Siem Reap

The Wat Bo area is an excellent location in Siem Reap. We stayed at the La Niche D’Angkor Boutique Hotel. It is centrally located within walking distance of restaurants, the famous Pub Street, and the Old Market. The hotel features rooms adorned with Cambodian art, overlooking a beautiful pool. The hotel offers delicious breakfast options and has an on-site restaurant. Siem Reap is the top destination to add to your Cambodia Trip Itinerary, and you should stay there for at least three nights.

“After staying there, I cannot recommend any other place in Siem Reap. If you’re seeking accommodation options in Siem Reap, varying from budget to luxury hotels, you can visit “The Best Places to Stay in Siem Reap” for more options.”

Adventurous things to do in Cambodia

For an ultimate experience, book one of the following Cambodia Siem Reap tours that include the following top attractions in Siem Reap:

  • Main Angkor Wat temple’s name was originally Vrah Viṣṇuloka or Parama Viṣṇuloka, which means “the sacred dwelling of Vishnu”.
  • Bayon Temple.
  • The jungle temple of Ta Prohm is featured in Tomb Raider.
  • Ancient of Khmer Empire, Angkor Thom.
  • Watch the sunset from the top of Bakheng Mountain.

Explore the Countryside

Cycling in Cambodia is one of the best ways to explore the Country’s Countryside on a bike, and it is an enriching experience. In countries like Cambodia, most of the population lives outside the bustling cities. Experience local farms and lily fields, rice paddies and water buffalo. All towns and villages in Cambodia offer bikes and bicycle rentals at reasonable prices.

Hotels in Cambodia often provide bike rentals, but if you prefer to have a guide or are concerned about getting lost, book one of the cycling tours available. You can check out the Biking in Cambodia tour. Cycling through the countryside and exploring Cambodia is so much fun. Don’t forget to include some time for it in your Cambodia Itinerary.

Watch the Sunset from a Rooftop Bar

Ta Prohm Temple ruins in Cambodia Trip Itinerary
Ta Prohm Temple ruins in Cambodia.

We were privileged to spot the critically endangered Hornbill bird known as “Keng Kang” in Khmer during our first sunset in Phnom Penh.

King Kong Birds in Cambodia #KingKongBirdsinCambodia
Keng Kang Cambodia Birds at Sunset in Phnom Penh
King Kong birds in Cambodia #cambodiabirds
Keng Kang Cambodia Birds #cambodiabirds#cambodiabirds

Cambodia’s south coast islands

The Islands and beaches of Cambodia are easily reached by plane from Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and Saigon via the Sihanoukville airport. One can access the island from Sihanoukville by ferry or high-speed boat. Cambodia boasts 60 islands, and although some lack electricity and other amenities, they have plenty of beach bars, restaurants, and dive shops. Add a few days on the beach to your Cambodia trip itinerary with the following island options.

Hang Out In Sihanoukville

Its warm, sunny skies, long stretches of coastline, and crystal blue waters make the Cambodia South Coast Islands a paradise for beach lovers and water sports enthusiasts. Also known as Kampong Saom, Sihanoukville is the gateway to the best beaches on serene islands off the coast and is near the Ream National Park. Cambodia boasts about 60 islands. 

For tours and trips, visit Excursion from Sihanoukville Excursions.

Koh Rong & Koh Rong Sanloem Island

Cambodia’s largest island, Koh Rong, is often called the Country’s party island paradise. In addition to the buzzing nightlife, Koh Rong offers plenty of beach bars with cheap drinks and budget-friendly accommodation. Koh Tuch Beach is the main tourist area on Koh Rong Island. Unfortunately, litter is a problem in Cambodia. As a result, you may come across litter on the beaches, and although the resorts do their best to keep their part of the beaches clean, it remains an ongoing problem.

Long Beach Koh Rong is a stunning white sandy beach with swaying palm trees near Sok San Village, off the coast of Sihanoukville. The 14 km-long beach is on the south coast of Koh Rong. Although several resorts, hotels, and hostels exist, the environment remains relatively peaceful. The beach has even been featured in the popular television series Survivor. However, developers have taken advantage of the opportunity and have opened a luxury resort at the beach’s southern end.  

Koh Rong Sanloem is a stunning jungle-clad island with white sandy beaches. It used to be a peaceful haven for backpackers, but now it’s home to various resorts. Unfortunately, the Cambodian government is developing the island without much consideration for the environment, which is shameful.

Saracen Bay Resort is the main resort on the Koh Rong Samloem and is known for its sheltered location, white sandy beaches and crystal-clear blue waters. It is also famous for its lush jungle and appearance in some parts of the popular TV series Survivor. Unfortunately, there are ongoing developments, especially on Saracen Bay Beach. Known as the sweethearts (Khmer language), Koh Ouen and Koh Bong are small islands forming part of the Song Saa Private Island. 

The best time to visit Koh Rong Island is between November and February when temperatures range between 25°C-30°C.

Where to Stay in Koh Rong and Sihanoukville

Visit Koh Kong Island, Long Beach Resort, Koh Rong Resort, and Sihanoukville for accommodation options.

Sunset Beach Koh Rong Samloem, Best Beaches on Koh Rong to add to your Cambodia trip Itinerary
Sunset Beach Koh Rong Samloem

Crusoe Koh Ta Kiev Island

If you want to add a remote Island holiday to your Cambodia trip Itinerary, I suggest you consider spending a few days on the untouched Koh Ta Kiev Island. The largest island in a small group of islands, Koh Ta Kiev, is a secluded paradise nestled in the jungle along a stunning coastline about 4 km from Otres Beach, Sihanoukville, and about 1 km from the Ream National Park.

The surrounding islands offer fantastic snorkelling opportunities, and during the appropriate season, you can even witness the beauty of bioluminescent plankton at night! The Koh Ta Kiev hostel offers basic accommodation with time restrictions on running water and electricity.  

Koh Krabey

Located only 15 minutes by boat from Ream National Park’s pier, Koh Krabey is a tropical island paradise off Cambodia’s southwestern coast. Click Accommodation options for the best places to stay in the Sihanoukville region, including Koh Rong Island Long Beach, Sok San Beach, Koh Rong Sanloem, Koh Ka Tiev Island, Koh Kong Island, and others. Koh Thmei is known as the Nature Watching Island and is south-east of Sihanoukville.

Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary Cambodia

Cambodia’s Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary is home to rare water birds that delight ornithologists and bird enthusiasts. The sanctuary is a tiny area where many rare breeds can be spotted, including greater adjutants, milky storks, and spot-billed pelicans. The best time to visit the Cambodia bird sanctuary is between December and February when the concentration of birds is high.

Even those unfamiliar with birds, will still be amazed by the birds vast wingspan and enormous nests. Altogether, it allows one to explore the fascinating floating village of Prek Toal, between Siem Reap and Battambang, where everything from shops to schools is built on water. Cambodia is also home to the rare Hornbill birds, known in Khmer as Keng Kang birds.

Explore the remote temples of Preah Vihear. 

For an extraordinary adventure, consider taking a road trip to visit the remote temples in Northern Cambodia. Preah Vihear is a must-see destination at the top of the Dangrek Mountain range. Additionally, the pyramid temple of Prasat Thom at Koh Ker is a UNESCO World Heritage Site worth visiting. If you’re up for a more challenging journey, you can also travel to Preah Khan Kompong Svay, the most remote Cambodian temple. Exploring destinations like Siem Reap and Kampot on smaller bikes is fun and an unforgettable experience.

Where to stay in Preah Vihear, visit Booking.com

Cambodia Trip Itinerary

Three Days in Cambodia

A three-day trip Itinerary to Cambodia’s Phnom Penh provides ample time to visit the city’s top attractions, relax, and unwind by the pool. If you want some leisure time in between exploring the markets, stay for at least five days. During our five-day Siem Reap itinerary, we experienced the lake, temples, markets, and fantastic town with enough time to relax at your hotel’s pool and chill at a bar with an ice-cold draft. One can quickly get templed out” after exploring temples all day.

provides ample time to visit the city’s top attractions, relax, and unwind by the pool. If you want some leisure time in between exploring the markets, stay for at least five days. During our five-day Siem Reap itinerary, we experienced the lake, temples, markets, and fantastic town with enough time to relax at your hotel’s pool and chill at a bar with an ice-cold draft. One can quickly get templed out” after exploring temples all day.

backpacking Southeast Asia

If you plan to backpack across Southeast Asia, I suggest booking a flight ticket without a fixed return date. This way, you can easily modify your return date since most backpackers tend to extend their stay in the region. You should also check out the recommended must-visit places in Vietnam. It’s a good idea to include Vietnam in your Cambodia travel itinerary.

There are many unique places in the region, so Check out posts on Must-Visit Places in Vietnam. It is a good idea to include Vietnam in your Cambodia trip Itinerary. Oh, I cannot wait to return. Please let me know your thoughts and share your experiences!


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14 Comments

  1. Is né. Baie dankie vir tyd wat jy afgestaan het en jou comment.

  2. Amazing ….N Wereld wat oop le om te explore….

  3. marietjie kruger says:

    wow a must visit. stunning place

  4. Hester Joubert says:

    What an adventure, Mimmie. Thanks for all the information. Your blog is very inspiring.

  5. Beautiful places to visit. Very interesting, love those water buffalos.

  6. Joey Oosthuizen says:

    Sounds wonderful and very interesting!! Thank you for all the information, beautiful places to visit.

  7. Babsie nel says:

    Thank you for the information would love to visit.

  8. You can – just save for the flight ticket – Cambodia itself is very affordable.

  9. Thanks for taking the time – glad you’ve enjoyed the post (its one of a few Cambodia posts I’m busy with).

  10. Thanks for taking the time Rina – you can also go to Cambodia one day 🙂

  11. Very interesting, would love to be able to visit Cambodia one day🌿

  12. I’m jealous!

  13. Sounds amazing!

  14. Wish I could go there