Cambodia Attractions

Cambodia attractions are intriguing and exotic, rivaling the allure of neighboring countries. Once thought to be a country off-limits for tropical vacations, Cambodia is now a safe and welcoming destination surrounded by an aura of intense intrigue, peaceful simplicity, and fascinating culture. The many things to do in Cambodia are reminders of what the country once was and what it is today - a transformation that couldn’t be more black and white.

Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh, capital and largest city, offers a look at modern Cambodia. It is both charismatic and chaotic. As the political and economic hub of the country, it’s where the taste of old and new merge together ideally. Plenty of history is ripe throughout the city streets; beautiful French colonial buildings blend with modern hotels and restaurants, creating an edgy and super-trendy destination showing off a host of new bistros, boutique Phnom Penh hotels, galleries, and shops along with plenty of cultural sites and sounds. It is the gateway to Angkor Wat, Sihanoukville, and coastal villages like Kep and Kampot.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat

An amazing labyrinth of 12thcentury stone temples built in the jungle by the ancient Khmer people, Angkor Wat is one of the most important and mesmerizing ancient temples in the world, built amid a mass complex of other cities and temples shrouded by lush jungle for centuries. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Angkor is the most famous temple city in the world, and one that is visually stunning. It lies outside Siem Reap, drawing thousands of annual visitors. Angkor Wat represents the height of ancient Khmer art, architecture and civilization. It is top on the list of things to do ini Cambodia for virtually all visitors.

Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom
Angkor Thom

As Angkor Wat’s neighbor, Angkor Thom is one of the ancient Khmer capitals within the temple complex first established by the King Jayavarman VII. Central to Angkor Thom is the Bayon temple, another of the most famous Cambodia attractions win this region. It lies on a tributary of Tonle Sap lake called of the Siem Reap River. Sandstone, laterite, and stone are some of the main building materials of the city and within the area there was a system of intricate canals. There is a great amount of detail to be explored here.

Killing Fields

Killing Fields
Angkor Thom

Just nine short miles from Phnom Penh lies the Cheoung Ek Killing Fields, one of the darkest and most disturbing of all Cambodia attractions. Equally fascinating and horrifying, like a bad accident one cannot stop looking at, the fields are not for the faint of heart. Cheoung Ek, along with thousands of other sites around Cambodia, are where the Khmer Rouge committed countless acts of genocide between 1975 and 1979 under the rule of Pol Pot. Almost two million nationals, including children, were executed. At Cheoung Ek, more than 20,000 bodies were dumped into mass graves in the fields, many after being tortured endlessly. For more in depth history on the Khmer Rouge regime, many pair a visit to the Killing Fields with a look at the high school-turned-torture-center in Phnom Penh called Tuol Sleng, or S-21, a former prison and execution center operated by the Khmer Rouge.

Tonle Sap Lake

Tonle Sap Lake
Tonle Sap Lake

As the largest freshwater body of water in Southeast Asia, Tonle Sap gets a lot of attention. It is of special interest as home to several minorities including Cambodia’s small Cham, or Khmer Islam. It changes dramatically in size during the different seasons, creating an incredibly varying backdrop in the northwest reaches that both drains into, and fills up via from the Mekong River. Visiting to explore the floating villages of Chong Khneas, Kampong Phluk, and Kampong Khleang by boat tours is one of the top things to do in Cambodia - and the lake makes an ideal day trip from Siem Reap, only eight miles away.

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