Angkor Wat is the best known attraction in Cambodia
Photo by CC user Bjørn Christian Tørrissen on English Wikipedia

When people plan a holiday in Southeast Asia, many look to places like Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia. However, many skip over Cambodia, due to preconceived notions that it is a dangerous place.

This country’s dark days are well in the past, and with development proceeding at an ever-increasing pace, there has never been a better time to go on a Cambodia tour.

Wondering what to expect in this mysterious and exciting destination? Below, we will give a brief synopsis on the attractions that one shouldn’t miss when planning a holiday in Cambodia.

Angkor Wat: Southeast Asia’s most significant World Heritage Site

If there is one place that can convince you to come to Cambodia, it’s Angkor Wat. A sprawling complex of ruins dating back to the heyday of the Khmer Empire, this place is a Disneyland for travelers that fancy themselves to be the next Indiana Jones or Laura Croft.

With over 402 acres of Hindu and Buddhist temples to explore, you can spend days or even weeks combing over these structures. The best time to visit is at sunrise, when most people are still asleep in their beds.

You’ll have a chance to capture one of the more iconic photos in Southeast Asia, and you’ll have a couple of hours to stroll around without having hordes of visitors disturbing your daydreams about how things were like centuries ago.

Cambodia’s islands: paradise found

One of the common complaints about the beaches of Thailand is that they are too overdeveloped. Once idyllic, tropical islands like Phuket and Koh Phangan are now playgrounds for scores of culturally insensitive tourists.

There are islands off the coast of Cambodia as well, but the lack of the marketing machine that promotes other destinations in the region means that most visitors to Cambodia never hear about them.

Perhaps this is for the best, as those that visit places like Koh Rong and Koh Thonsay will notice immediately how unspoiled these places are.

In the case of the former, there are beaches that are several miles long, with only a handful of people on them at any given time. What this means: you finally get to live out your deserted island fantasies, without having to deal with hundreds of fellow foreigners in your midst.

There are downsides such as having to deal generator electricity that only switches on for 5 hours per night and the irritating presence of sand flies. For those that are willing to deal with these trade offs though, a peak life experience can be had in return.

Phnom Penh: the beating heart of an emerging nation

While many cities in Southeast Asia have been lauded for being among the most exciting travel destinations in the world, Phnom Penh had lagged behind them for many years.

Plagued by the genocidal dictatorship of Pol Pot and the long drawn-out civil war that followed, it is only in the past 25 years that this city has begun to catch up.

These days, skyscrapers have begun to sprout like mushrooms, and every year, new exciting bars, restaurants and boutiques open up. With more visitors spending significant time here, they are discovering attractions that it has to offer.

From the somber experience that is S-21 and The Killing Fields, to the glamorous extravagances of the Royal Palace and Wat Phnom, there is plenty to see and do in Cambodia’s capital city.