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Top Attractions in Cambodia

Top Attractions in Cambodia

By Wendy Updated Sep. 30, 2022

Cambodia is a beautiful country full of incredible tourist attractions, including multiple ancient temple sites from the Angkorian and Chenla empires. The country also offers multiple national parks, stunning beaches, and a rich history. 

In this article, we explain the top attractions in Cambodia, to help you choose which will fit best into your trip.

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Quick Facts

  • The Angkor Complex in Siem Reap holds many incredible attractions, including Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, and Banteay Srei.
  • When traveling to temples and sacred places, it is important to dress modestly and make sure that shoulders are covered and shorts touch the knees.
  • The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh are where Cambodian royalty live.
  • In the 1970s, the Khmer Rouge regime took control of Cambodia and perpetrated a massive genocide from which the country is still recovering. Travelers can learn more about this history at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek.
  • Prasat Preah Vihear is a cliff-perched temple that predates Angkor Wat by 100 years.
  • Sambor Prei Kuk is one of the oldest ancient temple complexes in the country, located deep in the forests of Cambodia.
  • Sihanoukville is the place to go if you want to visit the beach. It is also a good jumping off place for Cambodia's tropical islands.

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Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is an incredible temple complex, attracting many tourists to the country every year. Visitors are often surprised by the temples' immense scale and incredible detail. These temples were built by ancient Cambodian kings who each built structures to be taller and better than their predecessors'.

Location: Angkor Wat is located in the Angkor Complex, about 6 kilometers north of Siem Reap.

Travel Essentials: There are many different tour options for exploring Angkor Wat and the surrounding area. Normally guides cost around 20 USD a day and it is best to get to the temples early, to beat the crowds and get the best pictures.

There is a suggested dress code; visitors are asked to dress modestly, meaning that upper arms are covered and shorts should reach the knees.

top things to do in angkor wat

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Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom is known as the last capital of the Khmer Empire and encompasses many structures, covering a total area of 10 square kilometers. The most famous monuments within this ancient walled city include Bayon, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, and the Terrace of Elephants.

Location:Angkor Thom is also located in the Angkor Complex near Angkor Wat.

Travel Essentials:  The best time to visit Angkor Thom is when there is plenty of light for good photographs; usually from 10 am to around 4 pm.

The same dress codes that apply to Angkor Wat also apply to Angkor Thom. It is important to dress modestly within the complex.

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Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm is also a part of the Angkor Complex, but unlike most other Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm is in near-perfect condition, almost the same as when it was first discovered. It is famous for its incredible atmosphere, with the jungle having reclaimed parts of the temple and growing out of the ruins.

Ta Prohm is often referred to as the "Tomb Raider Temple" because it was used in the blockbuster Tomb Raider film with Angelina Jolie.

Location: Ta Prohm is in the Angkor Complex, about 1 kilometer east of Angkor Thom.

Travel Essentials: Some tours offer the option of seeing many of the temple sites at the Angkor Complex, including Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat. The same rules about clothes that apply to other temples in the complex also apply to visiting Ta Prohm. The best time to see this temple is in the early morning when the light is good and it isn't so busy.

Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei is one of the smaller sites in the Angkor Complex, but it is known as the "precious gem", due to the presence of incredible ancient Khmer art.

It is made of stone with a pinkish hue and is adorned with some of the finest stone carvings found anywhere on earth. This temple and its three-dimensional carvings are well-preserved, and dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva.

Location : Also in the Angkor Complex, this temple is near Phnom Dei Hill, about 25 kilometers northeast of the main group of temples.

Travel Essentials: It takes about an hour and a half to explore Banteay Srei Temple and the surrounding area. The temple is open from 7.30 am to 5.30 pm.

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Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda

The Royal Palace is a beautiful Cambodian-style building accented with gleaming gold. It was constructed in 1866 and is the current residence of the King of Cambodia.

Since the king lives there, many parts of the palace are closed to visitors. The Silver Pagoda, however, located on the palace grounds, is open to visitors and is a beautiful piece of architecture. It contains a collection of priceless Buddhist artifacts such as the "Emerald Buddha".

Location :The Palace is located on Sothearos Blvd, between streets 240 and 184 in Phnom Penh.

Travel Essentials: Visiting the Palace normally takes about 1-2 hours. The buildings are open for visitors from 8-11 am and 2-5 pm every day. The admission fee is about 6.25 USD per person.

Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Killing Fields of Choeung Ek

The Tuol Sleng Museum was once a local high school, but during the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge regime, the school was turned into the S-21 prison, where 10,000 men women and children were tortured and later transported to other locations to be killed.

Today the former school/prison has been turned into a museum to commemorate the terrible tragedies that occurred there. 

The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek are one of the places where many people were taken from the S-21 prison to be killed. The fields are thought to be the biggest of many in the country, with the remains of over 8,000 people found buried in mass graves.

Visitors can explore the grounds and see the Memorial Stupa where people pay their respects to those who died during the brutal genocide.

Location :The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is easily accessible, in downtown Phnom Penh. The Killing Fields are about 15 kilometers from the city center. The two locations are often seen during the same tour.

Travel Essentials: The Tuol Sleng Museum is open daily from 7 to 11.30 am and from 2 to 5.30 pm and tickets cost only $2. The cost of entering the Killing Fields for a tour is $3. Tour guides can be hired at both locations, or alternatively self-guided audio tours are available.

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Prasat Preah Vihear

This temple is one of Cambodia's most beautifully located monuments, as it is perched on top of a cliff in the Dangrek Mountains. Located at about 625 meters' elevation, the temple offers incredible views of the surrounding area, as well as providing stunning photographs itself.

Prasat Preah Vihear was built over 100 years before Angkor Wat, and was named Cambodia's second UNESCO World Heritage site.

Location: The temple is about 2 and a half hours' drive by car from Siem Reap, near the border with Thailand.

Travel Essentials The price of entry into the complex ranges from $7-12. 

This temple was at the center of a land dispute between Cambodia and Thailand from 2008-2011 and is currently surrounded by heavily armed police, so it may be important to check political tensions before traveling there.

Sambor Prei Kuk

The Sambor Prei Kuk ruins date back to the Chenla Kingdom that ruled Cambodia from the 6th to the 9th centuries, and is one of the country's most stunning pre-Angkorian monuments.

The complex contains more than 100 brick temples which are some of the oldest in the country. It is picturesque and has a peaceful, serene atmosphere, with sandy trails winding through the temples and surrounding forest.

Location: This archaeological site is in Kampong Thom Province and is about 30 kilometers from the provincial capital, Kampong Thom.

Travel Essentials: The entrance fee for this temple is $3.

The best time to visit the temple is in the early morning before it is busy, while the morning light is still supporting the best pictures.

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Beaches of Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville, a provincial capital, is on a beautiful stretch of Cambodia's coast and contains many famous beaches as well as incredible national parks.

The city is located in a hilly area overlooking the ocean and offering incredible views. Near the city are four of Cambodia's famous beaches: Victory Beach, Independence Beach, Sokha Beach, and Occheutal Beach.

Sihanoukville is also very close to Ream National Park where visitors can hike with rangers or take a boat trip through the mangroves.

Location: Sihanoukville is a province in southern Cambodia, with 440 kilometers of coastline. Its capital city, also called Sihanoukville, is a coastal city on the Gulf of Thailand.

Travel Essentials :Sihanoukville is a desirable destination if you love the beach. The most peaceful beaches in the area are Sokha and Occheutal, while Victory and Independence Beaches are known for attracting backpackers and younger crowds.

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