There are many places in Cambodia that have preserved the county’s culture. Great temples, palaces, and shrines still stand even after the country being under Thai and Vietnamese influences. What we see today is what’s left of the Angkor Empire, still preserved of its natural beauty, despite being damaged during the World War II.
Built on more than six centuries of culture and heritage, these places in Cambodia is perfect for a relaxing and spiritual stay:
Angkor Archaeological Complex
Where: Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia
Cambodia’s Angkor is one of the most splendid attractions in all of Southeast Asia. With more than enough temples and shrines to last you a lifetime, the Angkor Archaeological Park contains what’s left of the 9th-15th century Khmer Empire. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, as well as the Bayon Temple. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) even has set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings. The Angkor Archaeological Park remains a see-at-least-once-in-your-life destination.
Entrance fee: Get an ‘Angkor Pass’ to visit the temples and sites in the Park. Passes may be purchased at the main entrance on the road to Angkor Wait. Passes are sold in one-day ($37), three-day ($62), and a seven-day ($72) blocks that must be used on consecutive days. Visiting hours are 5:00 am – 6:00 pm, where we suggest you visit in the morning as to avoid the heavy traffic of tourists.
How to get there: You can get a tuk-tuk that costs $3 to the bus terminal, center of the town, and take a bus there with ‘Siem Reap’ that usually costs from $1 – $15.
Killing Fields of Cambodia
Where: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
With its promise of peace in the country that never came, the Pol Pot-led Khmer Rouge regime is one of the darkest times in modern day history. Residents were rounded up and sent to the countryside as part of the communist regime’s plans to create an agrarian society. It is still hard to imagine that the orchard now filled with longans used to be a place that harboured horrors. Gentle breeze surrounds the fields, flowers are in bloom, and birdsongs rise from the trees that envelop the site, making this still a popular tourist spot in its hauntingly beautiful allure.
Entrance fee: Entry is $5 ($3 for 10 – 18-year-olds) which includes the audio tour in several languages.
How to get there: A tuk-tuk will take about 50 minutes from central Phnom Penh and cost about $15 to $20.
Viyahe tip: Visitors are urged to be respectful during their visit and not to smoke, drink or eat while touring the site. Several small eateries and stalls selling drinks and snacks, though, can be found at the entrance.
Preah Vihear Temple
Where: Preah Vihear, Cambodia
You’d have to do a bit of mountain climbing to enjoy this scenery, but it is certainly worth your while. This 9th-century Angkorian temple on the border between Thailand and Cambodia has been recently declared safe to visit after being the subject of conflict between the two countries since 2008. Since it has only been recently opened to the public, these temples dedicated to Shiva have not yet been flocked by tourists.
How to get there: GST Express Bus runs a service from Phnom Penh, Kampong Thom, and Krong Preah Vihear. Tickets are $8.75 from Phnom Penh.
Sambor Prei Kuk
Where: Kampong Thom, Cambodia
This is a site older than Angkor, hidden in tranquil forests, and even more mysterious than the more famous temples in the west. Cold and peaceful, these temples combine with nature to create an environment that fuses the best of both worlds. It is also one of the recent attractions that became the country’s third UNESCO World Heritage Site. This encompasses more than 1,200 mainly brick temples atop each other in the forest, among them some of the oldest structures in the country.
How to get there: A tuk-tuk will take you to Sambor Prei Kuk for about $20 while a moto (motorcycle taxi) costs $15; a taxi at $40 for a return trip. The normal route is along Route 6 before heading up to Route 64, and then taking a right about 15 kilometers up. There are signs along the way.
Viyahe tip: Hire a local guide for $6 to tell you the best stories behind the shrines.
Where: Sihanoukville, Cambodia
After nourishing your spirit, one of the places in Cambodia you must certainly visit is their beaches. Otres Beach raises the standards of the beach scene in Sihanoukville. It’s worth the out-of-town visit and continues to flourish over time. Both Otres One and Otres Two beaches are extremely relaxing and family-friendly compared to the other beaches in Sihanoukville. Otres One, the first stretch of beach, is more affordable and slightly busier than Otres Two. It features quaint reclining chairs on the beach with views of the river and a few fine dining spots. Otres Two is at the southern end of this stretch, offering a tranquil atmosphere that couples might find more fitting.
How to get there: From Phnom Penh, the travel time is about 4 hours. You may opt to get on the Giant Ibius, a mini-bus company that you can book online in advance, where you can pick and reserve a seat for less than $1. The bus stops once along the way for snacks and a bathroom break.
Bassac Lane Bars
Where: Phnom Penh 12301, Cambodia
Want to experience the night scene in Cambodia? Bassac Lane Bars is a sure thing on the list: an alley that leads south off St. 308, and the brainchild of Kiwi brothers the Nortbert-Munns who have an aptitude for drinks and designs. There are half a dozen or more hole-in-the-wall cool bars in this spot, from cool and intimate bars to hot and modern restaurants. It has proved itself to be the new bohemian district of Phnom Penh and very much well worth a visit at night.
Central Market of Phnom Penh
Where: Phsar Thom Thmei, Cambodia
The Art Deco-inspired Phsa Thmei is also referred to as the Central Market, a reference to its location and size. Recently renovated in 2011, it is one of the cleanest markets of all the places in Cambodia. Get your souvenirs and trinkets from the locale, and sample an abundance of street food. Sift through small yet enchanting shops, proving the place worthwhile with the aroma of food enticing your every turn.