Fun Things To Do in Cambodia – Siem Reap – Places to Visit
A lot of people don’t know about Cambodia. If you ask them about it, they would be completely blank about this country. Wondering where on Earth is this country even located? Frankly, I was one of those people too until I started travelling. Then I stumbled upon the cheapest countries for Indians to visit and voila! Cambodia was on this list.
Cambodia is a South East Asian country which is nestled between Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. It is quite famous for the famous Angkor Wat Complex which is a UNESCO Heritage site and attracts a lot of tourists every year. But, even after my proper research and planning, I wasn’t prepared for what I would find here. I thought I am going on a trip to a culturally rich country where there are some beautiful beaches too, but this country pleasantly surprised me throughout my time here.
Yes, you have the famous Angkor Wat complex to visit here, but that is not all that this place has to offer. There are so many more things that you can do here, each experience unique and equally amazing. Trust me, this is a land which will keep surprising you at every turn, and your only thought would be ‘I wish I had more time here’.
So, here are a few things that you should definitely try while visiting this land of the famed Hindu and Buddhist temples.
Cycle Around and Explore the Kingdom of Cambodia
Now, don’t take me too seriously and cycle the entire country literally. Trust me; I am not pushing you to do that. But yes, you can certainly explore the cities here using a cycle, and it would be one of the most exciting experiences of your life.
While it is not a common activity to cycle in this country, you would find cycles easily available in all the major cities like Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, etc. So, if you don’t know how to ride a bike or if you are low on budget, then cycling around Cambodia is a great way to see things. So, basically, it is a win-win situation.
But be ready for some sore muscles and large bruises on your body at the end of the day if you haven’t cycled in a while.
Explore the Floating Village of Tonle Sap
Another thing that you should try in Cambodia is to visit the Tonle Sap village in Siem Reap. It is said that one can see the most beautiful sunsets from here while enjoying a good drink/meal at the floating restaurant.
While the water is quite muddy in this floating village, the houses and the people are quite impressive. Plus, it is a really colourful sight to observe too. Reaching this place is not that easy as it is located on the outskirts of Siem Reap. And, you would not find any public transport to this place so; going with a package is a better option.
It would cost 18 USD for a half-day trip to this unique village which will include the boat ride and the entry tickets.
Go for Island Hopping
Cambodia has one of the most beautiful islands, a few of which are inhabited and offer you the most gorgeous sea view ever. If partying is what you prefer to do, then you have to visit the Koh Rong Island. Here, you can experience the most amazing parties in Cambodia which happen to go all night long. And the stay is pretty cheap too which is why you would see a lot of backpackers and budget-travellers staying here.
But if you are looking for some hip romantic getaway for yourself, then Koh Rong Sanoleum is the island for you. Sure, it is on the pricier side, but you would find more peace and serenity here.
And if you want to experience a rustic island living, then Koh Ta Kiev is the perfect spot for you. This island is not as developed as the other two islands so you can enjoy a natural environment here. And, you will find both resorts and dorms here for staying, so it usually suits all types of budget travellers.
Enjoy a Full-Day Boat Tour on Koh Rong
One of the best things which I tried in Cambodia is the full-day boat tour near Koh Rong. You will find many local tourist shops which will offer you this boat tour at a reasonable price of 15-20 USD. And the tour will include island hopping, snorkelling, lunch, fishing, village tour, and swimming with the glowing plankton.
This tour usually starts in the morning around 9 a.m. and lasts till 8-9 p.m. at night. In this tour, you get a chance to interact with the locals of Cambodia and get an authentic feel of these island villages.
The tour usually starts from the Koh Touch village of Koh Rong. And apart from the amazing activities and experiences, you also get to taste some fantastic local dishes and drinks. All in all, this is certainly a thing you should try when visiting Koh Rong Island.
Watch Sunrise at the Angkor Wat Temple
If you know about Angkor Wat, then I am sure you must have heard that you can witness the most beautiful sunrise here. If you don’t believe me, then google it now, and you will come across some of the most beautiful pictures ever.
In order to watch the sunrise, you will need to get up early, especially if you are cycling there. And be ready to fight for a spot because this place is crowded in the morning. But, it is totally worth the effort. Because when you see that morning rays of the sun peeking from behind the temple, you truly realize how beautiful and magical this moment is.
You will also need to get a day pass on the previous day because the ticket counters aren’t opened this early in the morning.
Learn the Tragic History of Khmer Rouge
While Cambodia has a great history, with all its Angkor temples and beautiful complexes, it has a dark past attached to it too. During the Khmer Rouge reign in the 1970s, a large genocide was committed.
And the worst part is that most of the world is unaware of this atrocity because it wasn’t as widespread as Hitler’s wrath. Nonetheless, people of Cambodia truly suffered for the 4 years when Khmer Rouge reigned and killed thousands of people, children included.
So, make sure that you visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and learn more about their tragic history. You can also watch a documentary S21: The Khmer Rouge Death Machine which was directed by the genocide survivors. This movie portrays true events and the horrifying tortures that the people had to suffer. It also shows the aftermath of this horrifying activity where guards claimed to be just following the orders.
Try the Delicious Cambodian Food
One of the major attractions in Cambodia is its spicy, mind-boggling food which is finger-licking good. Most of their food items consist of rice and fish or broth and meat, often including a lot of variations.
Some dishes that you must really try here are the Fish Amok (steamed coconut fish), Nom Banh Chok (Khmer Noodles), Kuyteav (broth), etc. You won’t come across a lot of Vegetarian dishes here but it is undoubtedly a paradise for all the Non-Vegetarians.
Apart from the delicious Khmer dishes, you absolutely have to try the Pancake Rolls here. They are cheap and quickly prepared and just melt in your mouth the moment you take a bite of it. And the Nutella Pancake Rolls are like a piece of heaven in your mouth, so don’t miss out on those.
Visit the Beautiful Beaches in Sihanoukville
I am not kidding or exaggerating but Sihanoukville has the most gorgeous beaches ever. You remember seeing all those beautiful romantic beaches at the time of twilight in photographs? Well, that is the kind of beaches you would find here.
If you love watching sunsets then you will certainly find perfect beach spots here. There is the Ratanak beach to watch the perfect sunset but this beach is slightly little hidden and out of the way. Then, there is the Independence beach which is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever come across in my life.
The Serendipity beach is quite popular for entertainment and partying. Here, you can sit on the pier and just relax for a while. Or you can head out to one of the eating joints on the beach and have a delicious meal while facing the sea. It is completely up to you.
Visit the Killing Fields for an Emotional Experience
Frankly, this is one of the most heart-breaking experience ever and would certainly humble you at the end of it. The famous Killing Fields in Phnom Penh is the place where numerous people were brought to kill.
You can still see mounds of skulls and bones in a pit which is truly horrifying. And the saddest part is that there is a separate pit where you can see the bones of small children.
If you are truly interested in the history of Cambodia, then visiting the Killing Fields is a must. Here, you will be provided with an audio guide that will briefly describe the events while taking you through the various points.
It takes about 1-1.5 hours to complete the entire circuit and by the end of it, you feel nothing but empathy for the people who died such horrific deaths.
Visit the Spot where Tom Raider was Shot: Ta Prohm Temple
It goes without saying that if you visit Cambodia, you need to check out the famed Angkor Wat Complex. But if you lack the time to make it to all the temples in this complex then make sure that you at least visit the Ta Prohm temple.
Yes, this is the place where Tomb Raider movie was shot and you can actually see the temple structures entwined with the tree barks here. Thankfully, due to this, there hasn’t been many alterations done to this particular temple.
So, if you are a Tomb Raider movie fan or if you love observing such amazing phenomena, then Ta Prohm is the perfect temple to visit. It is also one of the most photogenic temples which result in a huge crowd descending here.
In order to visit this temple, you will need to purchase a day pass for the Angkor Wat Complex. A 1-day pass costs 37 USD, a 3-day pass is 62 USD and a 7-day pass is 72 USD.