Cambodia is often overlooked in favour of its heavy hitting neighbours Thailand and Vietnam, but the Khmer Kingdom is an amazing holiday destination. I spent almost a month exploring the country and I can’t think of one thing I didn’t enjoy!
With gorgeous beaches, delicious cuisine, a burgeoning economy and genuinely friendly people eager to welcome tourists, Cambodia should be your next Asian holiday destination!
Awe Inspiring Temples
The iconic, sprawling complex of Angkor temples was voted the world’s No. 1 site by Lonely Planet and it’s not hard to see why. Exploring the world’s largest religious site is an otherworldly experience but be prepared to battle the crowds; last year over 2 million tourists visited the 1,000 year old temples! Don’t miss Ta Prohm, aka the Tomb Raider temple, or Bayum (below).
Chilled out Siem Reap
The nearest town to the Angkor Temples, Siem Reap is a laid back traveller’s hub. Skip tacky pub street and spend your time scouring the markets for souvenirs, exploring the meandering streets and sampling Cambodian cuisine. For an uber-chilled stay, try yoga retreat Angkor Zen Gardens and relax by their salt-water pool.
I adore this graceful, riverside city with its mix of colonial and Khmer architecture. It doesn’t buzz like Bangkok but it has a relaxed charm that will draw you in. Walk the city and seek out the cool independent design boutiques popping up around 19th and 46th street. Check out the local hipsters and international digital nomads at Digby’s. Have delicious Cambodian food for dinner but for desert, head to a French expat spot like Le Cylco for chocolate mousse and red wine. And sundowners at the atmospheric Foreign Correspondents Club is always a win.
Beach Life in Sihanoukville
Forget Thailand’s overcrowded shores, Cambodia has beautiful beaches aplenty. Head to Sihanoukville and stay at Otres beach; it’s low key and has a great variety of accommodation options. My top Otres pick is Italian enclave Papa Pippo. With stylishly simple beach bungalows, proper coffee and friendly vibes, Papa Pippo is the kind of place you come for days of easy going, barefoot beachside relaxation.
Thai and Vietnamese dishes are so common now, they’re practically staples of Western cuisine. But Khmer Cuisine is still somewhat under the radar, despite being fresh, delicious and having an impressive depth of flavour. Must haves include the national dish, Fish Amok and deliciously spicy Beef Lok Lak; seafood lovers shouldn’t miss out on Kep Crab.