April 24, 2014

Making the Most of Your Holiday in Cambodia

Setting aside references to the cult classic song by The Dead Kennedies, taking a holiday in Cambodia is a life’s dream for many travelers. There are many things to do in Cambodia for tourists, not the least of which is temple exploration. However, there are also some outer villages and river communities you’re likely to find fascinating, and some interesting colonial architecture in the town of Battambang. Here are some suggestions for a diverse travel itinerary to consider during your time there.

Make a seaside visit to Sihanoukville.

While not the sexiest beach in this part of the Pacific, Sihanoukville, Cambodia is basically the only sand and sun scene you’re going to find in the country. After a week or two of climbing around temples and touring the outer villages, we found it a welcome respite. A few days will do you, but you will find a number of waterfront eateries where you can sit on large cushions on the sand and dine by candlelight along with the expected range of beach bars. There’s a fun children’s art program on the waterfront as well, and you can purchase paintings made by the local children. The monies help pay for their school supplies and ensure they get one hot meal per day along with the art supplies necessary to continue the project.

Cross Angkor Wat off your life list with a visit to Siem Reap.

The ancient Khmer ruins of the Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap are unbelievably impressive. They also cover a massive site that requires a reasonable bit of time to fully explore. Take care not to shortchange yourself on this leg of the trip. Stay as long as you need to in order to get the most out of the experience. This is real Indiana Jones stuff, and it should be enjoyed to its fullest potential.

Be sure to include some time in Battambang.

With modern-day monasteries, colonial architecture and the popular bamboo train, Battambang deserves a day or two on the Cambodian holiday schedule. There are also some charming outer villages, and a fun place to drink and eat in the evening called The River Balcony, which comes complete with lounging couches, white lights and a river view.

See the sights in Phnom Penh.

There’s a major market complete with handicrafts and fried spiders, the picturesque palace grounds and a great coffee shop that’s popular with the expats called Café Fresco. The National Museum of Cambodia is also in Phnom Penh, which houses one of the largest collections of Khmer art in the world. Sadly, one of the many sites in Cambodia commemorating the tragic era of the Khmer Rouge is in this city as well. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum located at the infamous S-21 details a small portion of the horrors suffered by this country’s people during that time.

There are other memorials of the Khmer Rouge horrors throughout Cambodia as well. At some point, I would like to do an entire piece on the subject. For the purposes of this article however, I really wanted to focus on the positive experiences one can have during a holiday in Cambodia. There are so many amazing sites and wonderful people to meet. They deserve to be featured on their own.

Those who have additional articles or Cambodian travel experiences to share are welcome to link to their own writings below. We’d love to hear from you.

Photo Credits: These pictures of Cambodia were photographed by the folks here at Trek Hound, but are available along with others through a creative commons agreement on our sister site, Pictures of Travel Places.

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