Traveling to Cambodia is associated with contrasts, mystery, and diversity. Cambodia, located south of the Indochina peninsula in Southeast Asia, has become a popular tourist destination in recent years, despite being virtually unknown for decades. And it is that, an authentic treasure with a plethora of attractions that make a visit to Cambodia a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
But what are the reasons for traveling to Cambodia? Below you will find the five main reasons why you should visit Cambodia:
1. The Angkor Wat Temples
If there is an attraction for which tourists travel to Cambodia, it is, without a doubt, the temples of Angkor. It is the largest complex of Hindu shrines in the world and one of the most impressive, whose construction dates from the 12th century. These temples are located in the north of the country, specifically about 6 kilometers from Siem Reap, the starting point for this excursion.
The Angkor Wat temple is a representation of the spirituality and Hinduism characteristic of Cambodia in the 9th century, the period in which, precisely, Angkor Wat was the capital of the kingdom. Later, in the 19th century, this impressive construction would be discovered by western archaeologists and declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1992.
The archaeological complex of Angkor has 72 temples and sanctuaries that stretch for 25 kilometers. For its part, the decoration, details, and sculptures of each construction make this visit one of the most prominent and popular when traveling to Cambodia, with some of the best-known temples being Ta Prohm, devoured by nature and the roots, precisely the most iconic temple of the Angkor temples; the Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, one of the most beautiful and characteristic, also known as the Temple of the Faces, where you can see 51 towers with the faces of Buddha in each of them; or Banteay Srei, which although it is a smaller building, it may be one of the prettiest in the whole country.
2. Phnom Penh, the Country’s Capital
In addition to being the capital, Phnom Penh is the most populous city in Cambodia and is the economic, commercial, and political center of the country due to its location between the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. It is also a very attractive place for tourists as a sample of Asian culture and spirituality, as well as Cambodia’s historical past. Proof of this is the buildings and colonial architecture that can be found in its streets.
During a stay in Phnom Penh, there are some essential visits, such as, for example, the National Museum of the city, where you can discover one of the best archaeological collections in the world, with more than 5,000 pieces rescued from the fourth century; the Silver Pagoda, or the “Temple of the Emerald Buddha”, known for its golden roof, which reaches 90 tons; or the Buddhist temple “Wat Phnom,” built-in 1373 on a hill in the city.
Other interesting activities in Phnom Penh include taking a boat ride on the Mekong River, visiting a traditional market such as the Kondal Market or the Central Market, or visiting the Genocide Museum or the Killing Fields, a memorial to victims executed during the Khmer Rouge regime.
3. Cambodia: The Best Beach Vacation
This Asian destination has some impressive beaches, and to enjoy them, the best time to travel to Cambodia is between November and April, i.e., during the dry season. Keep in mind that February, March, and April are the hottest months in this country, so it may be the perfect time to enjoy both the coast and the paradisiacal beaches of Cambodia.
One of the best places to enjoy the tranquility of the sea when traveling to Cambodia is the white-sand beach of Koh Rong. It is usually a destination less traveled by tourists, so it is perfect for a relaxing and intimate trip.
To get to Koh Rong, you need to take a ferry from Sihanoukville, a city in the south of the country. Once on the island, there are options for all tastes, such as bars and establishments where you can enjoy delicious cocktails, restaurants where you can eat fish and seafood, or more than 20 beaches where you can relax in the sun or do water sports.
As for accommodation, the Song Saa Private Island Hotel, located on a small island next to Koh Rong, is ideal for a few days of relaxation and rest. The hotel is made up of villas with all kinds of amenities that offer stunning views of the sea and the sunset.
But if there is something that really stands out about Koh Rong, it is the fluorescent plankton that can be seen at night on the beaches. This luminous plankton creates a unique landscape that will not leave you indifferent and will make your stay in Koh Rong an unforgettable experience.
4. Cambodian Gastronomy
Asian food is a delicacy in general, as is Cambodian gastronomy. The most traditional dishes of the country are made with rice and fish, although it must be taken into account that its cuisine has undergone variations due to the influence of French colonization. However, there are some preparations that are worth trying when traveling to Cambodia.
One of these typical dishes is Amok, which consists of a base of chicken, fish, or squid served with various vegetables. Amok is sometimes served with rice and sometimes coconut milk. Kuyteav is also another of the most popular meals in Cambodia. It is a noodle soup prepared with meat or fish whose peculiarity is that it is eaten for breakfast.
Finally, one of the most common elaborations among the locals is the Nom Bahn Chok (Khmer Noodle), a meal that consists of rice noodles, curry sauce, and a base of fish cooked with lemon, turmeric, mint, and other vegetables, so it has a great taste.
5. The Friendliest People and Cultures
Cambodia’s people and culture will make your trip even more special. The locals are quite conservative since their way of life is still quite traditional. However, they are characterized by being close and friendly with tourists, a plus when traveling to Cambodia, especially for those who do it with children.
On the other hand, it must be borne in mind that Cambodia is a country with a very believing Buddhist religion and, therefore, when visiting temples and sanctuaries, it is important to be respectful of their customs, for example, entering these types of buildings with covered arms or bare feet. Following the basic rules of coexistence, Cambodians are very nice, so we recommend that you also interact with them during your trip.