The Culture Trip explores ten of the most stunning towns to visit when in Cambodia.
Imagine a pristine beach with crystal clear waters without the crowds you find in neighboring Thailand. Introducing Koh Rong. In this slice of paradise, a laid-back atmosphere and serenity reign. Snorkeling, diving and trekking trips to the lush interiors can be arranged, and there are enough facilities to ensure an enjoyable trip. This is an island that remains undeveloped, which means you won’t find luxury resorts or facilities here, but if simple, natural beauty is what you’re looking for, this is for you.
Sihanoukville is a coastal town in the south of Cambodia. The town was developed to accommodate the country’s first deep-water port in the late 1950s. A couple of years later, it had already become Cambodia’s prime seaside resort destination. Unlike other coastal towns, Sihanoukville can accommodate everyone, from the backpacker to the luxury seeker, which explains why the jet setters -from the capital head there in the weekends. Sihanoukville is also home to a vibrant nightlife.
Kampot is one of the top destinations for nature in Cambodia. This quiet town is also famous for being the pepper capital of the world. The impressive range of riverside restaurants and small secluded bungalows combined with the charm of Cambodian small towns make the place an ideal one to relax in. Kampot also provides a great base for those wishing to visit the Bokor National Park and its French colonial hill station.
Known as the pearl of Asia, Phnom Penh is a beautiful example of a resilient city which was successfully and impressively rebuilt after a war. Phnom Penh amazes visitors with its scenic riverside promenade, shiny Royal Palace and many temples, colorful local markets, fancy restaurants, and much more.
Located on the banks of the beautiful Mekong River, Kratie is a small Cambodian town with a colorful market, old and stunning French colonial buildings and traditional Khmer buildings. It is a favorite among travelers who head there to see the country’s rare and beautiful Irrawaddy dolphin. Estimates suggest that there are only around 70 dolphins still living in the area. In Kratie, travelers can simply relax and enjoy the best of rural Cambodia
Tonle Sap is Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake. Although not officially a town, you will find people living in houses on stilts in this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, which plays a major role in Cambodia’s ecology. When you are done visiting the nearby ruins of Angkor Wat, make sure to take a trip along the picturesque lakeshore.
Siem reap is most famous as the gateway to the ancient and magnificent temple complexes of Angkor, and nothing beats the sunrise views against the backdrop of the breathtaking temples. However, lately, the town itself has started gaining in popularity too with its tree-lined boulevards, small shops, popular bars and intriguing markets. Siem Reap is also home to a range of cultural experiences, including stunning dance performances and tasty street food.
Located in the Koh Kong Province, deep within the Cardamom Mountains, Chi-Phat is a commune consisting of four villages and an estimated population of around 3000. Residents live off fishing, agriculture, and now ecotourism. A visit there offers a real glimpse into authentic rural life in Cambodia. Facilities are few, nature is pristine and life is very simple. Visitors trek, kayak, cycle, and mingle with locals. This is the ideal place for intrepid travelers who are avid to stay in a village where the villagers themselves control tourism, protect the environment and act as guides.
Battambang is the second-largest Cambodian town, which boasts a unique countryside scenery and laid-back nightlife. Many choose this colonial riverside town to unwind and take in the beauty of nature and rural life, while experiencing the best of quirky cafés, artsy boutique hotels and original restaurants. Don’t miss out on the bamboo train, a quirky railway running just outside the city.
Kep was once Cambodia’s most popular beach town, but recent years have seen the town being slowly abandoned. Nonetheless, its former splendor remains evident. Sidewalks are wide, and impressive statues line the waters. Unlike the white sand beaches in Sihanoukville, here it is black rocks and mangroves which dominate the beach scenery. Seafood is tasty and cheap, and the pristine island of Koh Tunsay is easily accessible.