Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s resurgent capital, is the place to check the pulse of contemporary life. Siem Reap, gateway to the majestic temples of Angkor, is starting to give the capital a run for its money with sophisticated restaurants, funky bars and chic boutiques. World Heritage Site Angkor houses some of the most spectacular temples on earth.
Down on the South Coast are several up-and-coming beach resorts and a smattering of tropical islands that are just beginning to take off, unlike those of neighbouring countries. Northwestern Cambodia is home to Battambang, a slice of more traditional life, and several remote jungle temples. The country’s wild east is where elephants roam, waterfalls thunder and freshwater dolphins can be found.
French bistros abound, and outstanding fusion restaurants blend the best of Cambodian and European flavours. Ubiquitous Cambodian barbecues offer a local experience, or try gourmet Khmer cuisine in a designer restaurant.
Get started early in a breezy establishment overlooking the Mekong, move on to a live-music bar, and dance till dawn in a club. Phnom Penh is 24/7, one of the liveliest capitals in Asia.
Choose from colourful local markets where bargains abound or check out the impressive collections of local designers. There are plenty of good-cause shops where your spending assists Cambodia.
It’s not just all about Angkor Wat. True, it’s one of the world’s most iconic buildings, but down the road are the enigmatic faces of the Bayon and the jungle temple of Ta Prohm.
Eclectic Epicurian Experiences
Contemporary Khmer cuisine, spiced-up street food, fine French dining and more: Siem Reap is a dining destination in itself. Continue the night along Pub St and the gentrified lanes beyond.
Adventures Beyond Angkor
Take to the skies by helicopter to see Angkor from a different angle. Zipline through the jungle or quad bike through rice fields. Experience a cooking class or unwind with a massage.
Claim a strip of sand all to yourself or relax in a beachfront bar. Choose life in the fast lane in Sihanoukville, the slow lane in Kep or forget the roads altogether and escape to the islands.
Land or Sea
National parks and protected areas dot the region, offering trekking, mountain biking, kayaking, rock climbing and kitesurfing. Water sports abound or venture underwater to experience snorkelling or scuba diving.
Each coastal town has its speciality. In Kep, it’s delectable crab. In Takeo, it’s river lobster. In Kampot, it’s anything cooked with the region’s famous pepper. Sihanoukville offers a seafood extravaganza.
Beyond the Crowds
Heard enough about Angkor Wat? Don’t forget the pre-Angkorian capital of Sambor Prei Kuk, the jungle temples of Preah Vihear Province and atmospheric Banteay Chhmar.
The Real Cambodia
Riverside Battambang has some of the country's best-preserved French architecture, while Kompong Chhnang and Kompong Thom are off the tourist trail and offer a slice of real Cambodia.
One of the best boat rides in Cambodia links Battambang to Siem Reap following the Sangker River. Explore the largest floating village on the Tonlé Sap lake, Kompong Luong.
The Wild Things
View rare freshwater dolphins around Kratie, walk with a herd of elephants in Mondulkiri or spot primates in community-based forest treks around Mondulkiri or Ratanakiri.
A World Apart
Northeast Cambodia is home to a mosaic of ethnic minorities. Encounter the Bunong people of Mondulkiri or venture up jungle rivers to visit the remote tribal cemeteries in Ratanakiri.
The Mighty Mekong
The Mekong cuts through the region’s heart and includes the Mekong Discovery Trail, a community-based tourism initiative. Beyond the Mekong is the Tonlé Srepok tributary, as depicted in Apocalypse Now.