Visitors to Cambodia
will never be short of something to do. However, as tourists continue to flock to the Kingdom of Wonder, finding somewhere away from the madding crowds is becoming increasingly difficult. If you happen to be in the know, then there are still an abundance of activities and secret spots that you can visit across the Kingdom. Here are a handful of options.
At dusk, Phnom Penh’s flashy Koh Pich, or Diamond Island, fills up with Cambodian families soaking up the finest time of the day, golden hour. The masses of food stalls fill up, and people crack open cans of Angkor beer. Music blares from giant speakers, and the flashing lights of the sprawling fairground illuminate the sky.
Koh Pich, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The fairground at Koh Pich | © Marissa Carruthers
For a fun fitness fix, join the crowds of locals who hit various spots across the capital, including Riverside (Sisowath Quay), Olympic Stadium and Wat Botum Park, for a mini workout every dawn and dusk. The aerobic exercise classes are led to the sound of music pumping from speakers, and you can join them for a few thousand riel.
Beer gardens are in almost every corner of the country and are bustling after dark. Whether it’s Angkor, Cambodia or Anchor beer that’s on tap, fill your glasses with crushed ice from the beer towers brought to the table and prepare to ‘chul muy’ – Cambodian for cheers – throughout the night.
Pack up a picnic
Picnicking is a popular pastime across Cambodia, with wooden shacks containing hammocks and mats a common sight along the country’s rivers and lakes. Join in the fun, pack up a picnic and spend a lazy afternoon relaxing in the country’s tranquil countryside.
Cambodians love karaoke, and KTV spots litter the country. Choosing a karaoke bar should come with care as some are insalubrious joints, but the more upmarket affairs come complete with private rooms and lengthy song lists, spanning Westerns hits to top tunes from across Asia. Bar Woodball in Phnom Penh is a good place to visit.
Bar Woodball, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, +855 98 476 667
Live like a local
Eco-tourism is booming in Cambodia, and there are a number of rural communities throwing their doors open to visitors who want to sample a slice of real Cambodian life. Chi Phat is one village in the Cardamom Mountains, while several families in Banteay Srei, near Siem Reap, also welcome guests.
There’s no escaping street food and the colourful carts and accompanying calls from sellers in Cambodia. A fun way to sample signature street dishes without the fear of a bad belly is to sign up for a food tour. Siem Reap Food Tours offers a range of delicious ways to familiarise yourself with the flavours. Vespa Adventures also offers a night food tour of Temple Town, stopping off for some snacks in the form of crispy creepy crawlies along the way.
Bike in Battambang
Visitors can see Cambodia’s countryside in all its glory in the north-western province of Battambang, also dubbed the Kingdom’s rice bowl. Thanks to its flat landscape, it is best explored by bike, with many guesthouses and stores in the city renting bicycles for a few bucks a day. Soksabike also offers a range of half- and full-day tours.
Soksabike, St 1.5, near Psar Nath, Krong Battambang, Cambodia, +855 12 542 019
No, we’re not suggesting you get hitched on your holiday. Instead, play dress up and take part in a traditional wedding shoot. For about $15–30, a photography studio provides the traditional costumes and makeup used by Cambodians for pre-wedding shoots, before capturing the moment on camera to take home.
Sitting a 20-minute boat ride from Kep, Rabbit Island is a short getaway that is a favourite of Cambodians. The small jungle island has a few simple beach shacks for overnight accommodation but is more popular as a day trip, with restaurants serving snacks and drinks along a short stretch of the beach.
Rabbit Island, Cambodia
Rabbit Island | © NesterovIV/ Shutterstock.com