We’ve compiled the best of the best in Cambodia - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Angkor National Museum

    Khom Svaydangum

    This modern, interactive museum, which opened in 2008, gracefully guides you through the rise and fall of the Angkorian empires, covering the religions, kings, and geopolitics that drove the Khmer to create the monumental cities whose ruins are highly visible in modern-day Cambodia. With more than 1,300 artifacts on glossy display, complemented by multimedia installations, this museum experience helps demystify much of the material culture that visitors encounter at the archaeological parks and sites. The atmosphere is set in the impressive gallery of a thousand Buddhas, which plunges you into the serene spirituality that still dominates the region. Seven consequent galleries, set up chronologically, highlight the Funan and Chenia pre-Angkorian epochs, followed by the golden age of the Angkorian period led by the likes of King Soryavarman II, who built Angkor Wat. The final two galleries showcase stone inscriptions documenting some of the workings of the empires, and statues of Apsara, shedding light on the cult and fashions of these celestial dancers. The audio tour is excellent and well worth the extra cost.

    968, Vithei Charles de Gaulle, Khrum 6, Siem Reap, Siem Reap, Cambodia

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $12
  • 2. Angkor Temple Complex

    The temples of Angkor, hailed as "the eighth wonder of the world" by some, constitute the world's great ancient sites and Southeast Asia's most impressive archaeological treasure. The massive structures, surrounded by tropical forest, are comparable to Central America's Mayan ruins—and far exceed them in size. Angkor Wat is the world's largest religious structure—so large that it's hard to describe its breadth to someone who hasn't seen it. And that's just one temple in a complex of hundreds. In all, there are some 300 monuments reflecting Hindu and Buddhist influence scattered throughout the jungle, but only the largest have been excavated and only a few of those reconstructed. Most of these lie within a few miles of each other and can be seen in one day, though two or three days will allow you to better appreciate them. Most people visit the temples of Bayon and Baphuon, which face east, in the morning—the earlier you arrive, the better the light and the smaller the crowd—and west-facing Angkor Wat in the late afternoon, though this most famous of the temples can also be a stunning sight at sunrise. The woodland-surrounded Ta Prohm can be visited any time, though it is best photographed when cloudy, whereas the distant Banteay Srei is prettiest in the late-afternoon light. With so many temples to see, the choice is yours. The entrance to the complex is 4 km (2½ miles) north of Siem Reap; you’ll need to arrange transportation to get here and around. Most independent travelers hire a car and driver ($35 to $50 per day), moto (motorcycle) driver ($12 to $18), or tuk-tuk ($20 to $35, seats up to four). Renting bicycles ($3 to $5) or electric bikes ($5 to $8) is also an option if you’re up for the exertion in the heat. Tourists may not drive motorized vehicles in the park. If you hire a driver, he’ll stick with you for the whole day. Going with a guide is strongly recommended. The Angkor complex is open from 5:30 am to 6 pm. You’ll receive a ticket with your photo on it, which you’ll need at each site and to access the restrooms. If you buy your ticket at 5 pm, you'll be admitted for the remaining open hour, in time to see the sunset from Phnom Bakeng to catch the last rays setting Angkor Wat aglow. Your ticket will also count for the following day. Consider swinging back to Siem Reap for lunch or to your hotel for an afternoon rest so you don't get templed out. Make sure to drink plenty of water.


    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $37 for 1 day, $62 for 3 days, $72 for 1 wk, Revealing clothing violates the dress code; shield yourself from the sun with light fabrics, and bring a wide-brimmed hat or an umbrella for shade
  • 3. Koh Rong Samloem

    The Sihanoukville coast is flanked by several islands, many of them untouristed and lightly populated by Khmer fishermen, and some are accessible by boat. Koh Rong Samloem, Koh Tas, Koh Ta Kiev, and Koh Russei are popular day-trip destinations for snorkeling and picnicking, but local guides can arrange overnight stays in rustic bungalows if you'd like to linger for a few days. Koh Rong Samloem is about 2½ hours by boat from the mainland (or 40 minutes in a speedboat), and there are some quiet and isolated beaches with a few basic bungalow options. The amenities vary depending where you go. The jungle interior of the island is home to some of the deadliest snakes in Cambodia. They are more afraid of you, of course, but be aware.

    Sihanoukville, Preah Sihanouk, Cambodia
  • 4. La Plantation

    Domnak Er district

    Kampot's world-renowned aromatic pepper is sold all around the country and was once the go-to spice for upmarket kitchens in Paris, but there's nothing quite like visiting where it's grown, sampling it right off the plant, and paying its producers in person for a certified 100% organic product. La Plantation is one of the most respectable producers, where you can buy white, red, or black pepper after a free tour of the pepper plantation itself. You can also explore its numerous heritage buildings, which were rescued and restored from the surrounding villages (the main one, where you can have lunch, was once a hall for monks). They also offer fun water buffalo--led cart rides, which take you into the waters of the nearby Secret Lake, a beautiful stretch of water that hides a dark past; it was built by forced labor during the Khmer Rouge years. As most pepper plantations are in the countryside along dusty, rocky roads, it's best to arrange a taxi ride—tuk-tuks across this kind of terrain can be exhausting.

    Secret Lake, Kampot, Kampot, Cambodia

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Bookings 24 hours in advance
  • 5. Phare Ponleu Selpak

    The famous Phare circus in Siem Reap actually originated in Battambang, and for more than 15 years, the Phare Ponleu Selpak center has offered quality arts training to locals. Their daily shows ($14) combine dance, theater, live music, and circus performances with Cambodian narratives. Shows start at 7 pm, and there are also guided visits of the campus ($5) from Monday to Friday until 3:30 pm.

    Anh Chanh Village, Ochar Commune, Battambang, Battambang, Cambodia
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  • 6. Prek Toal Biosphere Reserve

    Located between Chong Khneas and the city of Battambang, Prek Toal is mainland Southeast Asia's most important waterbird nesting site. It's a spectacular scene if you can visit at the start of the dry season (November and December), when water remains high and thousands of rare birds begin to nest. To support their education and eco activities, tours can be booked through the Osmose conservation organization. Day tours and overnight stays at the Prek Toal Research Station can also be arranged.

    Siem Reap, Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • 7. Royal Palace

    A walled complex that covers several blocks near the river, the official residence of current King Sihamoni and former residence of the late King Sihanouk and Queen Monineath Sihanouk (who also still lives here), is a 1913 reconstruction of the timber palace built in 1866 by the former King Norodom. The residential areas of the palace located to the west are strictly off limits to the public, but within the pagoda-style compound are several structures worth visiting, including Wat Preah Keo Morokat, aka the Silver Pagoda; the Throne Hall, with a tiered roof topped by a 200-foot-tall tower; and a pavilion donated by the Emperor Napoléon III and shipped here from France.  The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, built from 1892 to 1902 and renovated in 1962, is one of Phnom Penh's greatest attractions. It's referred to as the Silver Pagoda because of the 5,329 silver tiles—more than 5 tons of pure silver—that make up the floor in the main vihear (temple hall). At the back of the vihear is the venerated Preah Keo Morokat (Emerald Buddha)—some say it's carved from jade, whereas others maintain that it's Baccarat crystal. In front of the altar is a 200-pound solid-gold Buddha studded with 2,086 diamonds. Displayed in a glass case are the golden offerings donated by Queen Kossomak Nearyreath in 1969; gifts received by the royal family over the years are stored in other glass cases. The gallery walls surrounding the temple compound are covered with murals depicting scenes from the Indian epic, the Ramayana. Pride of place outside is given to a bronze statue of King Norodom on horseback, completed in Paris in 1875 and brought here in 1892. 

    Sothearos, Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $6.50, plus $2 for a camera, $5 for a video camera, Guides can be hired at the entrance for $10
  • 8. Wat Preah Keo Morokat

    Within the Royal Palace grounds is Phnom Penh's greatest attraction: the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, built 1892 to 1902 and renovated in 1962. The temple is often referred to as the Silver Pagoda because of the 5,329 silver tiles—more than 5 tons of pure silver—that make up the floor in the main vihear (temple hall). At the back of the vihear is the venerated Preah Keo Morokat (Emerald Buddha)—some say it's carved from jade, whereas others maintain that it's Baccarat crystal. In front of the altar is a 200-pound solid-gold Buddha studded with 2,086 diamonds. Displayed in a glass case are the golden offerings donated by Queen Kossomak Nearyreath (King Norodom Sihamoni's grandmother) in 1969; gifts received by the royal family over the years are stored in other glass cases. The gallery walls surrounding the temple compound, which serves as the royal graveyard, are covered with murals depicting scenes from the Indian epic, the Ramayana. Pride of place is given to a bronze statue of King Norodom on horseback, completed in Paris in 1875 and brought here in 1892. There's a nearby shrine dedicated to the sacred bull Nandi.

    Samdech Sothearos Blvd., Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Included in admission to Royal Palace, Daily 7:30–11, 2–5
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  • 9. Airavata Elephant Foundation

    Located a few kilometers south of Ratanakiri's capital Banlung, Airavata is a “new generation” elephant camp following responsible and ethical alternatives to mass tourism. In an effort to help save some of Cambodia's dwindling population of 300-odd elephants, they work under patronage of Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni. Travelers meet the animals in optimal natural conditions, guided by highly selected indigenous mahouts who treat elephants in the best possible way, as they enjoy their work.

    Banlung, Ratanakiri, Cambodia
  • 10. Angkor Hospital for Children

    Sangkat Svay Dangkum

    Not far from the Old Market on Achamen Street sits the Angkor Hospital for Children, founded in 1999 by Japanese photographer Kenro Izu. It provides pediatric care to more than 100,000 children each year. Give blood, save a life.

    Tep Vong (Achamean) Rd. and Oum Chhay St., Siem Reap, Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • 11. Angkor Night Market

    Old Market

    Here at this lively flea market, you can practice your bargaining skills and get lost in a maze that includes a food hall, massage stands, bars, and an enormous variety of clothes, accessories, souvenirs, food and cosmetic products, jewelry, and more.

    Sivatha Blvd., Siem Reap, Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • 12. Ban Lung

    The provincial capital is a small, sleepy town that holds a certain romance as a far-flung capital, away from the influence of Phnom Penh, but otherwise offers little more than slow-paced local life and clouds of red dust in the dry season—or mud in the wet season. Arrive with everything you need, as Western goods are sometimes difficult to obtain. Most of the decent hotels are located around Kan Seng lake.

  • 13. Bokeo

    A visit to the gem mines of the Bokeo area, 30 km (20 miles) east of Ban Lung, can be arranged through your hotel, or any moto driver in Ban Lung can take you there. Some of the mines are increasingly deep, man-sized potholes, and mining is for semiprecious stones such as zircon. As you drive through the villages in the area, the villagers line up to sell you their finds. Bokeo literally means "gem mine."

  • 14. Bokor Hill Station

    In the early 20th century, the French built this hill station as a retreat from the heat and humidity of the coast. Aside from the once derelict casino, which has been restored as a hotel, it's now mostly a collection of ruins but it's worth visiting for the spectacular sea views from its 3,000-foot heights. It's 35 km (22 miles) west of Kampot, and easily reachable by rented motorbike. Or you can hire a car with a driver for more comfort (and local knowledge). Besides the hotel, the abandoned church and former royal residences are highlights.

    Kampot, Kampot, Cambodia
  • 15. Cambodia Land Mine Museum

    Be sure to visit this museum, established by Aki Ra, a former child soldier who first fought for the Khmer Rouge, then the Vietnamese, and finally the Cambodian Army. Now he dedicates his life to removing the land mines he and thousands of others laid across Cambodia. His museum is a must-see, a sociopolitical eye-opener that portrays a different picture of Cambodia from the glorious temples and five-star hotels. Any tuk-tuk or taxi driver can find the museum, your entry ticket helps land-mine victims go to college. As it is a decent distance from Siem Reap, it's best to combine this with a visit to the Banteay Srey Temple complex.

    Siem Reap, Cambodia

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $5
  • 16. Central Market

    An inescapable sightseeing destination in Phnom Penh is the colonial-era Central Market, built in the late 1930s on land that was once a watery swamp. This wonderfully ornate building with a soaring dome retains some of the city's once prominent art-deco style. The market's Khmer name, Phsar Thmei, translates as "new" market to distinguish it from Phnom Penh's original market, Phsar Chas, near the Tonle Sap River; it's popularly known as Central Market, however. Entry into the market is through one of four grand doors that face the directions of the compass. The main entrance, facing east, is lined with souvenir and textile merchants hawking everything from cheap T-shirts and postcards to expensive silks, handicrafts, and silverware. Other stalls sell electronic goods, cell phones, watches, jewelry, household items, shoes, secondhand clothing, flowers, and just about anything else you can imagine.

    Kampouchea Krom Blvd. and St. 130, Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • 17. Choeung Ek Memorial

    Under Pol Pot's rule from 1975 to 1979, thousands of Khmer Rouge prisoners who had been tortured at the infamous Tuol Sleng prison were taken to the rural Choeung Ek extermination camp for execution. Today the camp, 14 km (9 miles) southwest of downtown Phnom Penh, is a memorial, and the site consists of a monumental glass stupa built in 1989 and filled with 8,000 skulls, which were exhumed from mass graves nearby. It's an extremely disturbing sight: many of the skulls, which are grouped according to age and sex, bear the holes and slices from the blows that killed them. The site is at the end of a rough and dusty road, and can be reached in 30 minutes by motorbike, tuk-tuk ($12 is a reasonable price), or car. The audio tour, available in English, is excellent and well worth the small additional fee.

    Sangkat Cheung Ek, Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $3, $6 with audio tour
  • 18. Heritage Walk


    The cluster of blocks between Street 1, parallel to the Sanker River, and Street 3, and all the way down to Street 127, house a great variety of historic architecture representing diverse phases of the city's legacy. Ask your hotel for one of the annotated walking maps by Khmer Architecture Tours and explore on foot. Don't miss the very interesting and free museum at the Governor's Mansion, itself an exquisite piece of colonial architecture.

    Battambang, Battambang, Cambodia
  • 19. National Museum

    This is one of Cambodia's two main museums and, although threadbare, it houses impressive relics that have survived war, genocide, and widespread plundering. More than 5,000 artifacts and works of art chronicle the various stages of Khmer cultural development, from the pre-Angkor periods of Fu Nan and Zhen La (5th to 8th century) to the Indravarman period (9th century), the classical Angkor period (10th to 13th century), and post-Angkor period. A palm-shaded central courtyard with lotus ponds houses the museum's showpiece: a sandstone statue of the Hindu god Yama, the Leper King, housed in a pavilion. Guides, who are usually waiting just inside the entrance, can add depth to a visit here.

    Sts. 13 and 178, Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10 adults
  • 20. Phnom Banan

    In the countryside 25 km (15 miles) south from the city, this 11th-century hilltop temple has five impressive towers and is sometimes referred to as "the mini Angkor Wat." Reaching the temple involves a hike up 350 or so steps, so go after lunch when it's less hot. Tuk-tuks from Battambang charge $10 to $15 for the round-trip. There is a mystical little cave round the side of the hill whose waters are supposed to induce visions.

    Banan Hill, Battambang, Battambang, Cambodia

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $2

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