Cambodia is often thought of in terms of brutal dictators and civil wars, but those terrifying times (thankfully) are now in its past. This beautiful country has lots to offer as a tourist destination, from pristine beaches to stunning temples and some of the most breath-taking vistas in all of Southeast Asia. Here are the top 10 destinations for you to visit when in Cambodia:
This small seaside resort is perfect if you enjoy beach activities. You can go snorkeling to enjoy a view of coral on the bottom of the shallow sea, lap up the sun or take a day trip to Rabbit Island to enjoy a rustic, pristine beach. Kep was founded as a colonial retreat by the French elite in 1908, and remnants of the villas they constructed can still be seen today. When you’re there, also be sure to visit Kep National Park to take in panoramic ocean views.
If you’re a more adventurous type, you’ll thoroughly enjoy a trip into the jungle from Banlung. This will allow you to get up close and personal with the spectacular flora and fauna in the region – just watch the leeches! Pictured above is the Yeak Laom volcanic lake, which is truly a sight to behold. In addition, you can pick up a hand-woven basket when you’re back in town.
The second most populous city in Cambodia is especially popular with visitors that are intrigued by Cambodian history. Battambang was established as a trading center in the 18th Century, and later became part of French Indochina. Some remnants of the colonial past are still visible in the city. Buddhist shrines and Angkor-style temples abound, as do statues of animals and gods. The Central Market is also worth a visit.
Kampot is more well-known for the unique variety of pepper that grows there than anything else, in spite of its location close to the Gulf of Thailand. Nevertheless, its popularity as a tourist destination is growing with each passing year.
The city is the gateway to Bokor National Park, which is famous for its abandoned French hill station, pleasant climate and lush rainforest. You’ll also have a chance to go boating or rafting on the river that winds through the city, taking in scenic waterfalls on the way. The Kampot Kompong Trach caves are perfect if you’d like to do a little exploring.
Located on the banks of the mighty Mekong River, this small town is dominated by a central marketplace and old, French colonial buildings. Although there’s no mass tourism to speak of here, it’s a highly popular destination with backpackers, especially during peak season. This is a prime location to see rare Irawaddy dolphins, which are threatened by extinction. There are only around 80 specimens thought to be left in the upper Cambodian Mekong area.