Ascend to the realm of the gods, Angkor Wat. Descend into the hell of the Khmer Rouge at Tuol Sleng. Thanks to a history both inspiring and depressing, Cambodia delivers an intoxicating present for adventurous visitors.
An Empire of Temples
Contemporary Cambodia is the successor state to the mighty Khmer empire, which, during the Angkorian period, ruled much of what is now Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The remains of this empire can be seen at the fabled temples of Angkor, monuments unrivalled in scale and grandeur in southeast Asia. The traveller’s first glimpse of Angkor Wat, the ultimate expression of Khmer genius, is sublime and is matched by only a few select spots on earth, such as Machu Picchu or Petra.
The Comeback Capital
Just as Angkor is more than its wat, so too is Cambodia more than its temples. The chaotic yet charismatic capital of Phnom Penh is a hub of political intrigue, economic vitality and intellectual debate. All too often overlooked by hit-and-run tourists ticking off Angkor on a regional tour, the revitalised city is finally earning plaudits in its own right thanks to a gorgeous riverside location, a cultural renaissance, and a wining and dining scene to rival anywhere in the region.
Siem Reap and Phnom Penh may be the heavyweights, but to some extent they are a bubble, a world away from the Cambodia of the countryside. This is the place to experience the rhythm of rural life and timeless landscapes of dazzling rice paddies and swaying sugar palms. The South Coast is fringed by tropical islands, with just a handful of beach huts in sight. Inland from the coast lie the Cardamom Mountains, part of a vast tropical wilderness that provides a home to elusive wildlife and is the gateway to emerging ecotourism adventures. The mighty Mekong River cuts through the country and is home to some of the region’s last remaining freshwater dolphins. The northeast is a world unto itself, its wild and mountainous landscapes a home for Cambodia’s ethnic minorities and an abundance of natural attractions.
The Cambodian Spirit
Despite having the eighth wonder of the world in its backyard, Cambodia’s real treasure is its people. The Khmers have been to hell and back, struggling through years of bloodshed, poverty and political instability. Thanks to an unbreakable spirit and infectious optimism, they have prevailed with their smiles intact. No visitor comes away without a measure of admiration and affection for the inhabitants of this enigmatic kingdom.
Best places to stay in Cambodia
Cambodia travel guide
Ascend to the realm of the gods at Angkor Wat, and descend into the hell of the Khmer Rouge and its killing machine. Welcome to the conundrum that is Cambodia: a history both inspiring and depressing, a future yet to be shaped.
Most action-packed jungles
Make like Tarzan and take on one of these truly original rainforest adventures. This article is adapted from Lonely Planet's 1000 Ultimate Adventures. Battlefield crossing, Kokoda Track, Papua New Guinea Hiker on the Kokoda Track. Image by Andrew Peacock / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images.
Volunteering in Cambodia
Cycling in Cambodia
Angkor Wat & Siem Reap Encounter guide
There is no greater concentration of architectural riches anywhere on earth. Choose from the world’s largest religious building, Angkor Wat; one of the world’s weirdest, Bayon; or the riotous jungle of Ta Prohm.
Phnom Penh: the name can’t help but conjure up an image of the exotic.
Set-jetting: top 10 movie and TV destinations for travellers
Rather than dreaming about the sometimes stunning, often gritty destinations in your favourite flick, why not get off the sofa and experience it yourself? Set–jetting, visiting the places where movies and TV shows are shot, is easier than ever thanks to dedicated tours and heaps of rabid fans willing to point you in the right d.
Hidden islands on Cambodia's south coast
Cambodia - Plan your trip (Chapter)
Your journey to Cambodia starts here. You’ll find the tools to plan your adventure: where to go and when, how much to budget, plus indepth info on exploring jungle-covered temples and travelling with children.
Touchdown in Vietnam amid the chaotic streets of Ho Chi Minh City, travel through Cambodia and arrive in Thailand's vivacious capital. In Cambodia, visit the spectacular temples of Angkor Wat and Siem Reap, and reflect on Cambodia's tragic history at the sobering sites of Phnom Penh.
Cambodia & Vietnam on a Shoestring
Begin in Bangkok—a city that never sleeps—and end by braving Hanoi's bustling streets. Plug in to Cambodia and Vietnam on this electric journey with breaks to bliss out on white sand beaches. Get a history lesson exploring Angkor Wat or walking Ho Chi Minh City’s streets.
The perfect trip to Cambodia
From its ancient temples to its elegant capital and all the rich village life in between, Cambodia is a small country with a big soul. Join Amy Karafin of Lonely Planet Traveller magazine and explore a kingdom where family, community and pagoda life reign supreme. Photography by Mark Read.
Cambodia - Northwestern Cambodia (Chapter)
Stretching from the Cardamom Mountains to the Dangkrek Mountains, with Tonlé Sap lake laying in the middle, Northwestern Cambodia offers outback adventure, pristine jungle, rare wildlife, and some of the country’s most inspired temples, including spectacular Prasat Preah Vihear and Banteay Chhmar, currently under consideration for Unesco World Heritage Site status.
Sights in Cambodia
Activities in Cambodia
Tours in Cambodia
Restaurants in Cambodia
Budget hotels & hostels
Guesthouses and B&Bs
Back in the 1960s, Siem Reap (see-em ree-ep) was the place to be in Southeast Asia and saw a steady stream of the rich and famous.