Cambodia in Brief

A Quick Guide to Cambodia

Cambodia is our home away from home. As soon as you step foot in the temples of Angkor you’ll understand why. Cambodia is a small country with a huge past. It’s history is complicated, enchanting and ever present. Voted the world’s friendliest nation, the Cambodian people smile their way throughout the day. Its blossoming art scene and funky bars and restaurants contrast nicely with its ancient temples and colonial decay. And its throbbing capital city and island beaches are the perfect place to relax and play.

With so much to see and do planning a holiday to Cambodia can be tough. That’s why we made the In Brief series. This series of mini guides gives you a flavour of each of Cambodia’s major destinations. We tell you all about the weather, food, accommodation, activities and feel of each place so you can easily map out a quick itinerary.

With so much to see and do planning a holiday to Cambodia can be tough. That’s why we made the In Brief series. This series of mini guides gives you a flavour of each of Cambodia’s major destinations. We tell you all about the weather, food, accommodation, activities and feel of each place so you can easily map out a quick itinerary.

What to do and see in Cambodia

See the sun rise over Angkor Wat

If you’re looking for something to really knock your breath away, head to Angkor Wat just before dawn and watch the sun rise above the ancient temples of Angkor. You can head back into town for breakfast before exploring the rest of Siem Reap’s iconic temples by bicycle, car, bus or tuk tuk.

Relax on island beaches

Dotted just off the central coast are dozens of little islands perfect for a day lounging on the beach, snorkelling for hidden treasures or feasting on grilled seafood. You can take a boat from Kep, Kampot or Sihanoukville and spend the night on the larger islands and the day exploring the smaller ones.

Explore Cambodia’s dramatic and moving past

Cambodia has only recently recovered from a brutal genocide. In the 1960’s and 70’s the tragic sequence of events of the Cold War spilled into Cambodia with Soviet, Chinese, American, Vietnamese, and Cambodian’s themselves all playing a significant role in the civil war. It’s estimated up to two million people perished. You can learn more about this dramatic and brutal past at the killing fields and genocide museum in Phnom Penh. While stagnant for almost thirty years, today Cambodia is safe, peaceful and currently experiencing a renaissance of sorts. Businesses are opening, construction is booming, and along with it comes a much needed increased standard of living and the challenges that come with rapid development.

Rip through the countryside on the back of a quad bike

Nothing is more fun than ripping through the rice paddies in Cambodia with the wind in your hair and smiling children waving you as you go buy. Our Quad bike tours will take you way off the beaten track and give you a real slice of local life.

Feast on creamy curries and the world’s best pepper crab

Cambodian cuisine hasn’t made a splash around the world in the same way as Vietnamese or Thai but it’s every bit as delicious. You can feast on creamy coconut curries made with secret family recipes, tuck into spicy beef ceviche salads and crack open a few kampot pepper crabs. If you are feeling a little adventurous the Cambodians also do quite a few insect based dishes which are surprisingly delicious.

See the sights from the back of a tuk tuk

Tuk tuks are small two wheeled carriages with comfy seats towed by 125cc motorbikes. They are everywhere in Cambodia. You can take a short journey for just a couple dollars or book them for the day for around $15 to $20. One of our favourite things to do is jump on the back of a tuk tuk with a tour guide and see the sites on Phnom Penh or Siem Reap in comfort and style.

Explore the floating villages along Tonle Sap

Tonle Sap is a 120km inland lake home to hundreds of floating village communities and some of Cambodia’s most stunning wildlife. A two hour drive from Siem Reap you can travel through the countryside, past stilt houses and lush green fields to the edge of the lake where our tour guide will take you on a boat to meet one of the floating villages.

Eat drink and play in its buzzing cities and funky towns

Cambodia’s funky towns and buzzing cities are perfect places to shop yourself silly, experience great culture & hospitality, feast on delicious meals and party late into the night. Its capital Phnom Penh is home to lively bars and clubs, cool coffee shops, museums, and historical monuments. The funky town of Siem Reap is home to plenty of creative coffee shops, cool cocktail bars and of course the infamous Angkor Wat.

Where should I go in Cambodia?

Phnomh Penh

Sitting at the confluence of four major rivers, the Capital city of Phnom Penh has been rapidly developing in the past decade and is bursting with activity. Home of a population of more than 2 million, it is a city of great contrasts and the seat of government, commerce, industry, and higher education. With Chinese, French, and Cambodian influence in everything from the architecture to food and a hip world-class food and café scene there is something for all tastes.

Siem Reap

Home of the majestic temples of Angkor, Siem Reap is a beloved destination for Cambodian’s and tourists arriving to get a glimpse of these ancient wonders. The vast temple network lies only 15km from the center of this small town where chic cafés, bars and hotels abound. Journey just a short distance from town and you’ll see a traditional way of life that mirrors the bas reliefs carved on the walls of the temples a thousand years ago! Many of the scenes of traditional farming tools, markets and houses from the Angkor era can still be seen today. Siem Reap has much more to offer than just temples, stay another day and enjoy the endless possibilities in this charming, friendly town.

Battambang

Although Battambang is the second largest city in Cambodia it has none of the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh and retains an authentic, relaxed provincial charm. Like it’s lost in time, this town feels like it’s still Cambodia in 1965. Enjoy the relaxed pace of life and journey out to the countryside and experience some of the lushest and most beautiful countryside dotted with shining golden temples.

Kep

Famed for it’s delicious seafood this tiny seaside area was a retreat for wealthy Cambodians and French Colonialists in the 1960’s and is still being revived. Dozens of gutted, empty modernist villas of the 1960’s elite dot the hill around the center of town. Crab with Kampot pepper is the delicacy to try while you’re here. With spectacular views of the coast and amazing sunsets, this is one of the most relaxing places to unwind from it all.

Kampot

This sleepy riverside town has a dreamy quality that continues to enchant visitors. While the town itself is small and sleepy with riverside lounging the main activity, there there are many fascinating attractions in the area. Visit traditional salt fields when in season, or a plantation and see how the famed Kampot Pepper is produced. Bokor mountain, a hill retreat from the French Colonial days offers beautiful views of the island of Phu Quoc in the distance and history buffs will love it. A sunset cruise on the river is a great way to end the day.

Sihanoukville

Named after the King Sihanouk, this town started as Cambodia’s first deep water port. It retains a bit of a heady party atmosphere in areas so make your way to Otres beach the quieter and more relaxed beach area. Dine of fresh seafood, get a massage on the beach, enjoy beautiful sunsets, or spend the day taking a boat trip to one of the nearby islands to relax for the day.

Quick Tips

Talk to us. Our Cambodia team led by Aaron Crandall who’s lived in the region for more than a decade. Our office Manager is Siem Reap native Dara Leng. We know Cambodia better than anyone in the region. Get in touch and we can plan your perfect holiday.

The best time to go to Cambodia

The best time to visit is late November to January, when the weather benefits from a pleasant dry heat and the countryside is still green from the rains. Cambodia varies from warm to very hot throughout the whole year. It is cool and dry between November and February; very hot and dry between March and May; hot and wet between June and August; and cool and wet between September and early November. May usually heralds the start of the Green season with spectacular and refreshing afternoon and evening rains that bring the temperature down, wash away the dust and cause everything to burst into bloom. The rains rarely last more than a couple hours, but the rains are intense monsoon downpours rendering rain coats and umbrellas utterly useless. By early September, the heat begins to dissipate and the evenings are cooler. Through October, the frequency of the showers slows and the humidity starts to lower. Although the wet season is low season for tourism throughout most of the region, visiting at that time does have its advantages. It is when the Angkor complex is at its most beautiful, the rice fields and vegetation are lush, crowds are relatively thin, and room rates are lower. If you want long sunny days at the beach on the Southern coast it should be avoided from June to October.

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