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Home Travel Guide Cambodia Travel Guide Top 12 Tourist Attractions in Cambodia

Top 12 Tourist Attractions in Cambodia

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The Kingdom of Cambodia, formerly known as Khmer, developed its civilization three or four thousand years ago. It’s the history that draws most tourists to Cambodia. But for those who stay longer, there’s more to discover in this charming Southeast Asian country, including pristine beaches, exotic temples, colonial architecture, elusive wildlife, and Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake.

Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, travel through a thousand years of time and space on a pilgrimage to dialogue with the ancient kingdom. Here’s our list of top-rated tourist attractions in Cambodia:

1. Angkor Wat

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, Angkor Wat is a beautiful tourist card of Cambodia. Known as Cambodia’s National Treasure, Angkor Wat is the largest religious structure in the world and the earliest Khmer-style architecture in Cambodia.

The south gate of Angkor Thom is usually the first stop for visitors to Angkor Wat, where visitors can see huge stone carvings and exquisite reliefs everywhere. In addition to the attractions in Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat is still home to more than 600 historic sites, the most visited of which include Ta Prohm Temple (where Tomb Raider was filmed), Phnom Bakheng (the best place to watch the sunset at Angkor Wat), Beng Mealea, Srah Srang, Preah Khan, Pre Rup Temple, and Ta Keo Temple.

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Exploring the ruins of Angkor by mountain bike is a unique way, which provides tourists with another perspective of Angkor Wat. Besides, tourists can enjoy the Kongkear Angkor boat trip on the Tonle Oum Lake to see the magnificent and mysterious Angkor Wat at sunset far away from the crowds.

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2. Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple, the centerpiece and quintessential part of Angkor Thom City, was built in the late 12th century. Here visitors can not only find the famous stone carvings of “Khmer Smile”, but also appreciate the colorful and vivid reliefs on the cloisters, depicting ancient wars, people’s life and the natural scenery of Tonle Sap Lake.

Since the Bayon Temple faces east, most visitors get up early to capture the beautiful sunrise. However, this temple is also worth visiting in the late afternoon, when visitors can enjoy its relatively quiet side as the sun gradually sets.

☛ See also: 10 Best Temples in Cambodia You Should Not Miss

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3. Banteay Srei

Dubbed the “Gem of Angkorian Art”, Banteay Srei is one of the most exquisite buildings in Angkor ancient sites, famous for its gorgeous colors and exquisite reliefs. Banteay Srei, which means “women’s castle”, is thought to have been built and carved by women.

The essence of the Banteay Srei is its richly decorated three central towers and the large library. Visitors can admire a large number of statues and beautiful filigree bas-reliefs. Visit the Banteay Srei early in the morning or in the evening. Prime photo hours are 9:00 – 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. until sunset.

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4. Tonle Sap Lake

Tonle Sap Lake, aka Phnom Penh Lake, is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, like a huge emerald inlaid on the Cambodian landscape. As the “lake of life” for the Cambodian people, Tonle Sap Lake supplies many local villages engaged in a large amount of carp raising and fishing industry.

 Tourists usually visit the floating villages by boat on the lake to see the houses, churches, schools, and temples on the water. In the evening, visitors could immerse themselves in the bewitching sunset view over the Tonle Sap Lake.

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5. Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh

Located on the southern side of the Phnom Penh Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda takes its name from the 5,329 silver tiles that cover the floor. The pagoda is home to national treasures, including lots of gold and Buddha statues. The most famous one is a small 17th-century emerald Buddha decorated with 9,584 diamonds, the largest weighing 25 carats. In addition, the Silver Pagoda houses a huge, life-size Buddha statue made entirely of gold.

The walls around the pagoda are decorated with elegant murals painted by Cambodian artists from 1903 to 1904. In addition to being a tourist attraction, the grounds of the Silver Pagoda have been used for various state and royal ceremonies.

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6. Bokor Hill Station

One of the best parts of traveling to Cambodia is discovering new delicacies. And taking a cooking class is the ultimate way to get insight into the country’s culinary specialties. Every careful step, from the selection of fresh ingredients to the completion of the preparation, builds up a delicious Cambodian dish.

Under the guidance of a professional chef, choose the authentic Cambodian food you most want to try and create it step by step. A typical Cambodian meal consists of rice and fish. In the process, you can not only enjoy the exotic food made by yourself, and most importantly, you can experience the unique cuisine culture of Cambodia.

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7. Battambang

Located on the western border with Thailand, Battambang is the second largest city in Cambodia, hailed as the “Breadbasket of Cambodia” for its fertile soil, rice and fruit. The lush countryside and elegant French colonial architecture make Battambang one of the top tourist destinations in Cambodia. Battambang’s most popular attraction is the bamboo train, which is powered by a small motorcycle or tractor engine.

Tourists can hop on a bamboo train running through the rice paddy fields & rolling bushes, as well as across the rickety bridges. Or enjoy a bike riding in the countryside, with a breath of fresh air. Visit a local cottage industry to get a better understanding of rural life in Cambodia.

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8. Sihanoukville

Lying on the southwest coast of Cambodia, Sihanoukville boasts the country’s largest seaport. It is a relatively young city, more modern than other Cambodian cities. It is also the most-visited tourist attraction in Cambodia after Angkor Wat. It is a holiday paradise for locals and foreign backpackers, with fine sand and clear water, blue sky and white clouds, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Sihanoukville offers so many activities to experience for tourists, such as relaxing on the beach, diving to explore marine life, and watching glowing plankton at night.

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9. Koh Kong

Koh Kong Island is about 30 minutes boat ride from Sihanoukville port. Decades of isolation have allowed the pristine natural environment to be best preserved. Koh Kong Island is rich in natural attractions, including coral reefs, tropical palm trees, rain forests, waterfalls, sparkling blue waters and 28 pure white beaches, one of the most spectacular being six kilometers (3.7 miles).

Besides, there is a wide range of activities on Koh Kong Island. Tourists can indulge in fishing, boating, kayaking, diving, hiking, quad bike tours, jungle expedition, and cooking lessons or just get a relaxing massage in the spa.

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10. Kampot

Kampot is a riverside city facing the Gulf of Thailand. It was Cambodia’s largest port in the 19th century. Today, it is famous for producing some of the best pepper in the world, and many of France’s top restaurants even use Kampot’s pepper.

Bokor National Park, another must-see attraction in Cambodia, is a popular summer resort in southern Cambodia. Standing at the highest point of Mount Bokor, visitors can overlook the wonderful seaside scenery of Sihanoukville and Kep, as well as the stunning natural landscapes of Kampot city.

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11. Koh Ker

Koh Ker is a 10th-century temple complex and the former capital of the Khmer Empire, northeast of Siem Reap. It is a sparsely populated, jungle-covered area with more than 180 archaeological sites, including 76 temples, civil buildings, ponds, and ancient roads.

Tourists are only allowed to visit several major monuments, as most are hidden in dense forests and the whole area has not been completely cleared. The grandest temple in this area is the Prasat Thom, a seven-story pyramid-shaped building. It is the tallest temple tower built by the Khmer, rising 36 meters (118 feet) above the forest floor. Visitors can climb to the top along the wooden steps to take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding pristine jungle.

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12. Preah Vihear Temple

This is definitely one of the best attractions in Cambodia to visit. The Temple of Preah Vihear stands on a 550-meter-high cliff overlooking the Cambodian plain. It is a vast Indian temple complex built in memory of God Shiva. Visitors can admire the elaborate stone ornamentation, walkways, staircases, and intricately carved sanctuaries.

From this temple, one is greeted with the most beautiful view of the surrounding countryside. Preah Vihear Temple was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.

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