Cambodia, the land of mystic temples, urban sophistication, beats of rural life and rich history.
It’s a state which has seen and experienced so much and yet has been able to sustain its optimism and half eyed smiles. Highly influenced by the Indian culture, the Cambodians have carved out a niche culture for themselves, over the centuries. They are highly passionate about religion and spirituality. Festivities are the epicentre of their culture.
The locals usually commune through mopeds, while the tourists take tuk-tuk. The country loves its produce. Owing to which, the Cambodians have a palate for quite a few weird feasts.
Here’s a list of what to do in Cambodia to make the most out of your experience:
1. Hues of Gold at Angkor Vat
This 11th century sanctum was vastly unexplored and very well preserved until the French colonised this place. In the middle of the woods, this is a temple which will readily export you to the old world. It’s a religious monument, with stunning details and a mythical charm. It’s been in use ever since it was constructed and till date stands tall and plush. The carvings depict the beautiful apsaras and other flowy details, which are still clean, even though made originally of sandstone. The entire monument is surrounded by a moat. There’s a certain temple etiquette which has to be followed too. The place is swarmed with tourists in the early mornings. Breathing and soaking in the freshness and glow of the magnificent rising sun.
The temple is open all throughout the year. December to February is the most favorable time to visit as the weather is cool and dry then.
2. Backpack to beaches at Sihanoukville
This place has gained a hedonistic reputation as backpackers drop-by, but this tropical expanse is the perfect hangout place for you if you happen to have the sun and sands bug in you. It doesn’t promise to be the most picturesque or pristine, but it’s circled with white beaches and coconut palms. You could stretch and find a large chunk of sand expanse all to yourself. There’s bohemian styled guesthouses adjacent to beach style resorts, complementing the rustic and the ornate. They make the most solitary grounds for sun bathing and nice beach-y getaway. Check out these 11 beaches in Cambodia that are perfect for your next vacation!!
3. Explore villages and cafes in Battambang
This is a classic laid-back town. There's really nothing out of the world to explore here, except for earthly cafes, hilltop villages and a scenic river to visit. Don’t go by the look of it. This place makes the perfect evolving ground to the country’s best singers, artists and actors. There’s an air of urban approach in the veil of small town friendliness. You just cannot miss out on this riverside town, when in Cambodia. Plan a vacation to Cambodia with our triphobo tripplanner.
Checkout: Cambodian Cultural Village
4. Camping close to Nature at Mondulkiri
This is one exotic destination if you wish to get in touch with nature, up close. It transports you to the world of wooden huts and camping nights. These are organized by Mondulkiri Tour Accommodation, in collaboration with the locals. Your stay will get you closer to the natural flora, while the tours and trips organized by them will take you closer to the fauna. There’s the famous waterfalls, where you could enjoy a good trek. Also, the native elephants in their own ecosystem are quite a sight.
5. Pub Crawl in Phnom Penh
The city has a not too over the top but vibrant nightlife. Here’s a dusk to dawn affair of the city and it’s party people. It is a thrilling party down with an array of flavors to choose from, including, hostess bars, sports bars, pubs, karaoke bars etc. For those of you who wish to shake a leg, there’s dance bars too. You will get all the city’s event listings in "The Phnom Penh Underground" website, which reflects on the stretching nightlife of Phnom Penh.
6. Quad bike Tour at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center
They say, "all roads lead to home". But when in Cambodia, they could be a fun-filled joy-ride. It's simply an exhilarating journey. In fact, it will involve getting murky and will leave you grinning! If you are the rider, storm away and if you are the pillion, hold on, tight. You could roar around the countryside if you have the grit of a rider. Also, you could totally satiate your senses with the visual treats that follow as exquisite scenery and greens. So snatch away a quad bike for a tour of the country’s villages, forests and paddy fields. Cherry on the cake is the sunset thrown in!
Find more on the quad-biking adventure destination in Cambodia
7. Festivities in water at Phnom Penh
Hailing in the month of November usually, Water Festival is one of the grand occasions to celebrate and rejoice for the Cambodians. It is referred to as "Bon Om Touk” by the Cambodians. All the cities join in the celebrations but the festivities at the capital go a step ahead with Boat Racing along the Sisowath Quay. Celebrated by all and sundry, this festival is gladly reckoned and celebrated all day long. It signifies the end of rainy season. The merry making includes: concerts and racing, along with: Illuminated Float, Moon Salutation and the savoring of pestle new special rice with coconut or banana juice. The festival lasts three days.
8. Trek yourself at the Cardamom Mountains
Hidden deep in the southern Cardamom Mountains, post crossing the Chi Phat village is a lush, wild and natural forest. Crossed by gushing rivers and coy wildlife. It’s beauty and grandeur was revealed only recently to the tourists. The village itself is a quiet serene place to lounge and read a book, go for walks or ride a bike; all this in the soft lap of nature. Though the real thrill is entering the woods! You could enroll yourself into a variety of activities like, trekking, mountain-biking, sighting wildlife, dinner in a boat at sunset in the middle of a river, river-rafting and paying a visit to the old burial jar sites in the forests.
9. Short term volunteering
A lot of tourists get motivated to serve the community and help out the poor and orphaned kids in Cambodia. A short term volunteering session involves two months of work. It involves teaching english, along with other skills. Apart from this, there are other avenues too where you can volunteer, like conservation of animals and environment, health and HIV AIDS efforts, physical building and community development.
10. Relive History in Prasat Preah Vihear
This holy abode atop Dangkrek Mountains, forms a mystic spiritual aura. It stands on the controversial grounds between Thailand and Cambodia. The temple spreads across the plains to the edge below, beholding a history which is 300 years old. The temple unravels a world of mythical carvings and sculpture of Angkorian period. Treat to the history buff in you.
11. The Killing Fields at Phnom Penh
Not for the faint hearted, this monument is located 15 kilometers away from the capital. It’s skewered with skulls and unearthed skeletons. The government chose to leave most of the mass graves open and untouched. It’s a one of its kind sight to behold.
12. Boat to the floating village near Siem Reap
The floating village at The Tonlé Sap Lake makes for the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia. If visited during the rainy season, this lake exhibits an incredible aura of a rich and diverse eco-system. There’s a lot of floating villages in this lake and the best part being all of them are different. There’s an entire community living and thriving here. The tourists stop around here include, a souvenir shop, snack shop, Gecko environment center and just a basic feel of the richness and diversity of the village. There’s bird-watching tours and homestays available too.
13. Family time at Kampot & Kep
This is a great break-journey point if you wish to see more of Cambodia than just temples and beaches. Kampot is seen as a relaxed backpackers point. While Kep is for travellers with children and may give you the french feels. There’s evening shipping boat parade which highly compliments the beautiful sunsets by the rivers. You could boat, kayak or just dive right in. There’s water skiing, trekking in the woods, abseiling and climbing for fun filled activities too!
14. Lock eyes with the wild in Ratanakiri
Here’s Cambodia’s most secluded and pretty province. It houses the Virachey National Park, the largest expanse of protected area in the country. Trekking and animal encounters is a norm here. You could dive-in for a refreshing swim at the waterfalls and craters too. The inhabitants are usually ethnic-mosaic and hence a lot of cultural exposure awaits.
15. Savor The Khmer Cuisine
This is a hidden genre of culinary expeditions that must not be left unexplored. The Amok, which is basically baked fish with lemongrass and coconut, is the national dish. Sumptuous sea-food and dishes with fresh fish as the basic ingredient are plentiful. Since it’s an Asian country, street food is a massive attraction, wherein you get everything from noodle to rice porridge. You’d be amazed at the finger food variety which includes, roasted or deep-fried tarantulas, spider and other insects!
This country preserves its culture, architecture and charm with the most vivid grace. It’s as earthly in its temper as it is modern in its edge. A typical third world country with its affable nature and a pandora’s box of things to explore.
Do take a detour to Cambodia!
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