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A guide to Cambodia for first timers

| Words by Ashley Diterlizzi |

Cambodia is one of the most popular destinations in Southeast Asia, high on many bucket lists around the world. It’s time to discover Cambodia.

Map of Cambodia

1. Watch Angkor Wat Shine

Watch the sun rise over the most popular attraction in Cambodia at Angkor Wat. See the first rays of sunlight hit the majestic monument, casting shadows and reflections across the water. Why not hop in a hot air balloon and marvel at the monument from the skies above?

2. Cruise Tonle Sap Lake

Known as ‘the great lake, Tonle is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. It’s estimated that 1.2 million people currently live around the lake. Take to a boat and cruise the waters, experiencing local life on the lake.

3. Kayak through a water forest

Floating villages and forests are prevalent in Cambodia. Home to colonies of water birds, the flooded forests offer a different side to the country’s wildlife and communities. Grab a paddle and take to the water.

4. Discover the Cambodia’s culinary delights

The country’s signature dish is Fish Amok, a seafood curry. There are new and diverse restaurants opening across the country constantly. But if you’re brave enough, try some of the more unique street foods. Fried tarantula anyone?

5. Discover rural life in Mondulkiri

Discover Cambodia’s rural scenery and tribal minorities in Mondulkiri, the country’s least populated region. The remote province in the country’s northeast has preserved rural lifestyles, dense forest and waterfalls.

Mondulkiri

6. See Siem Reap

Known as the gateway to Angkor Wat, Siem Reap has French colonial architecture and a thriving arts scene, making it a hot destination. Hire a bike and pedal through the city’s countryside along quiet and tranquil trails.

7. Visit Kep

The seaside resort of Kep was once Cambodia’s most popular city but it has suffered since the civil war which saw many buildings ruined. Today, you can still see the ruined buildings throughout the city which is now a friendly place with a national park and an idyllic beach.

8. Dolphin-spotting on the Mekong

Head to Kratie where you can take to the Mekong River for an evening of Irrawaddy dolphin spotting. The town is also a good base for reaching temples and smaller villages along the river.

9. Discover Phnom Penh

Cambodia’s riverside capital is abuzz with youthful energy and optimism, despite its tragic recent history. Discover the reinvented capital and become acquainted with the royal palace, central market and Tiuol Sleng Museum.

10. Big things in Battambang

Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest city and is full of statues, Buddhist temples and French colonial architecture. Visit the caves of Phnom Sampeu or ride the popular bamboo train.

Battambang

Tips and tricks

Where to stay

For the best hotels in Cambodia, check out our latest Cambodia brochure.

Getting there

Flights do not operate directly between Australia and Cambodia. Many flights stop in Malaysia or Singapore.

Climate

Cambodia is warm year round with temperatures rarely dipping below 20°C. There are two predominant seasons: dry and wet. The wet season, known locally as the green season, lasts from May to October and is marked by an afternoon downpour. The dry season lasts from November to March and is marked by hot and dry days.

When to go

Most travelers visit Cambodia in the dry season between November and March but the best time to visit for fewer crowds and cheaper prices is May to October. For more information, read our guide on when to visit Cambodia.

Money

The currency used is the Cambodian riel.

Did you know?

The Cambodian flag is the only flag in the world to feature a building.

Top Tip

Cambodia trades in the US dollar which is the country’s unofficial second currency. Watch for fees when paying with credit card or withdrawing money from an ATM.

Experience Cambodia now on one of our small group journeys or check out our range of private tours.