Tips for planning your trip to Cambodia, Angkor Wat, and beyond…

Today’s post was brought to you (and written) by Travel Indochina.

Planning your holidays in Cambodia should be a pleasure, not a chore. Researching, reading, trawling review sites or speaking with good tour operators is part of the fun. To make things a little easier we’ve put together a list of must-sees in Cambodia. From the beautiful coastlines of Kep to the vacation hotspots like Angkor Wat and Tonle Sap lake.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, away from the crowds. You can buy 1 to 5 day passes for Angkor Wat. We generally find that a couple of days will suffice before you get ‘templed out’ or suffer a bout of ‘temple fatigue’. Surrounded by vast hand-dug moats and luscious forests the temples date back to the 12th century and have gathered charm with age. The most famous temples are Angkor Wat (the complexes focal point) which you’ll enter along a long sandstone causeway flanked by ancient libraries and ponds. Bayon that’s resplendent with images of its creator, King Jayavarman the 7th and, like Angkor, has some beautifully intricate Bas Reliefs depicting religion and life in the Khmer Empire. Ta Prohm which is commonly known as the jungle temple or “the one from Tomb Raider” is a mystical temple that’s famed for its tall trees and temples edged apart by their thunderous roots. All three were built around the 12th to 13th century and are arguably the finest temples within the complex so these should be chalked onto any itinerary! A great way to explore the temples is by bike. You can hire them from various locations in the local town Siem Reap from upward of $10 a day. However, the heat is an issue, during May and June you may want to give the bikes a miss as temperatures climb into the mid-30s.

A great way to escape the crowds is by arriving for the early morning sunrise and, as the other tourists board their busses back to the hotels, you can hang around and enjoy the temples in a more peaceful manner. Visiting the temples with a guide is recommended. Guides offer a fascinating insight to the temples history and, without the context, they provide, a visit can feel somewhat distant and abstract. I’ve done the temples with and without a guide and the guide-led experience was much more satisfying!

Battambang

Battambang. Meaning “disappearing stick” in old Khmer, is a real find. Battambang – often referred to as the rice bowl of Cambodia – it is relatively unknown and is joy to explore. It has an emerging arts scene, great cafe culture and – in this author’s opinion – is Cambodia’s most photogenic town. Its streets are lined with charming French-colonial houses and Chinese house-shops, market traders are located on most street corners and the city is beautifully complimented by the meandering waters of the Sangker River. While you’re here check out some the towns’ boutiques, explore Battambang Provinces’ countryside, check out the deserted Pepsi factory or sit back in one of Battambang’s many cafes and sip a Cambodian coffee or Angkor Beer.

Boeng Mealea

Inaccessible until 2002 this small temple complex is a little like the Bayon at the temples at Angkor, but without the crowds. Moreover, just making your way through the thick jungle to explore these long-forgotten temples is a joy in itself!

Kep

Dwarfed by Thailand’s famous beaches to the north, Cambodia is often overlooked when it comes to a beach holiday. Kep is an idyllic little town set aside the sea on Cambodia’s southern coast and it can be reached by car in around three hours from Phnom Penh. Miles of quiet coastline that are dotted with gutted French-colonial villas (the French used to use the villas as summer retreats from the inland heat) are Kep’s unique selling point. In Kep you’ll also find a couple of great seafood restaurants and the fish markets are always worth a visit!

Tonle Sap Lake

South East Asia’s largest lake, Tonle Sap never fails to wow holidaymakers. It is integral to Cambodia for food, irrigation and tourism. A typical cruise will take you through some of the lakes many floating markets and communities that have resided on the lake for centuries. A great time to visit is during sunset.

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One Response to “Tips for planning your trip to Cambodia, Angkor Wat, and beyond…”

  1. My sister and I are planning on visiting Cambodia sometime this year. Our first official travel abroad together. My finding this post is indeed very timely! Huge thanks Jane..this’ll will definitely help us out. A lot. ☺☺☺

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