While you’re in Siem Reap and in temple mode, then get off the well-trodden temple track and head to Banteay Srei temple, which sits about 30 kilometres from Angkor Wat. There is a calm here that Angkor lost years ago, with the 10th Century red sandstone temple remaining relatively off the tourist trail. While the temple is tiny in comparison to its counter-part, the intricate carvings remain intact and the crumbling ruins can be explored.
Another incredible experience is getting up close and personal with the collection of rare wildlife that call Cambodia home. Wildlife Alliance’s release stations, near Chi Phat in Koh Kong, are where exotic animals that have been rescued from the clutches of poachers and illegal trade are being rehabilitated (before being released back in the wild).
Situated about 40 kilometres away from Kampot town, Bokor Mountain makes an intriguing day trip. The road that winds up the mountain takes in waterfalls, Buddhist monuments, crumbling churches, a giant casino and, at its peak, the crumbling remnants of Bokor Hill Station. Initially designed as a resort for the French during the early 20th century, the once-glorious hotel is now an eerie shell of its heyday but still offers unparalleled views of the country and ocean.
While in Kampot, some chill time on the river is essential. For a truly tranquil time, nothing beats kicking back at the handful of rustic riverside venues that dot the banks of Kampot River outside of town. The views are incredible, and, once you sit down, you’ll never want to leave. Sabay Beach, Naga House, GreenHouse and Champa Lodge are good spots that offer accommodation, as well as food and drinks for outside guests.
If you fancy standing in the perfect postcard setting – powder white sands, gently lapping turquoise waters and rows of palm trees – then you need to head to Koh Rong Samleom. Prepare to have your breath taken away by the idyllic surroundings on offer.
Watching the rapidly modernising capital of Phnom Penh twinkling below at night is a pretty special experience. And, thanks to the rising number of rooftop terraces and sky bars, this is easy to do. Eclipse sky bar is currently the city’s tallest spot, while new entry Deva offers stylish surroundings.
The quaint town of Kratie – about four hours on bus from Phnom Penh – makes a great short getaway from the capital. The sleepy riverside town is not only a great gateway to the province’s incredible countryside, it is home to some of the country’s best sunsets, with the sky often plunging into a mass of oranges and reds above the Mekong River.
While in Kratie, head to the nearby village of Kampi, where fishing boats wait to take visitors out into the Mekong to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphins swimming in the river. According to WWF Cambodia, there are less than 85 of the mammals located on the 190-kilometre stretch of river from Kratie to the border with Laos.
Another ancient site well worth a visit is the ancient capital of Oudong. Sitting about 40 kilometres northwest of Phnom Penh, the mountain is topped with the spires of a series of stupas that formed part of this ancient capital. From 1618 to 1866, it was home to a succession of kings, and today’s visitors can explore the row of temples and crumbling structure while looking out across the country.
Nothing quite beats standing in the shadows of mighty elephants in their natural habitat. And that’s exactly what you can do at Elephant Valley Project in Mondulkiri. Visitors can spend the day roaming through the heart of the jungle that hugs the mountainous region alongside elephants that the sanctuary is offering respite to.
Enjoy the sense of serenity that comes from the delightful views of the 625-metre summit of Dangrek Mountain, home to sacred Preah Vihear temple. The series of impressive structures, built between the 9th and 12th century by several kings, stretches more than 800 metres up the gentle slopes of the mountain. You’ll find spectacular views at its peak.