Many tourists visited Cambodia for the prospect of witnessing its spectacular temples, timeless ruins, undisturbed beaches, and for experiencing its rich, cultural heritage. But not many people know that Cambodia has as much an incredible range of activities for visitors as it has scenic attractions to bewitch travelers. From cruising, indulging in water sports, swimming with elephants, riding through temples on bikes, to venturing on an unstoppable shopping spree, there’s a promising adventure awaiting every kind of traveler that visits this ancient kingdom. Here are the 10 best activities to do in Cambodia, and one visit won’t be enough!
1. Biking – Explore Siem Reap on A Bike
Considering that Cambodia is all about lush greenery, pristine temples, and a quiet, relaxed atmosphere, travelers like to keep it that way when they’re exploring it. Cycling tours are thus a convenient way of sightseeing and one of the most popular things to do in Cambodia for backpackers. Riding through quiet trails of the countryside amidst breathtaking natural scenery lets travelers escape the crowd and busy roads These tours typically include sightseeing of Ta Prohm, Elephant Terrace, Bayon, and other prominent Angkor temples. Exploring this wonderful country on a bike is one of the cool things to do in Cambodia.
Average Cost: USD $44/- per person
2. Apsara Dance – Witness The Khmer Performance
For the lovers of art, theatrics, & dance, the Apsara Show, or the traditional Khmer performance, is one of the best things to do in Cambodia. This cultural dance form draws its roots from the mythological courts of kings and Gods, from where it has developed into its modern, unique form that we see today. The Khmer dance revolves around a storyline which it narrates through the attractive, flexible movements of the performers and their colourful, eye-catching attires, which is why it is among the top things to do in Cambodia.
Where: Apart from theatres and cafes, many hotels also organize the show and if you’re lucky, you might just get to enjoy it at yours!
Average Cost: USD $ 22/- per person
3. Cruising – Spot Dolphins And Enjoy The Sunset
Cruising the Mekong is one of the most exhilarating experiences for travelers visiting here. Sailing from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap on a traditional Cambodian boat is one of the most enriching and fun things to do in at Cambodia. Other than the relaxing journey, the stunning views of the sunset that one can witness from aboard the cruise is like a cherry on the cake! On the journey, one can also easily spot the Irrawaddy river dolphins in the water, the rarest of all aquatic mammals. Observing these peaceful, friendly creatures in their natural habitat is undoubtedly among the refreshing things to do in Phnom Penh.
Average Cost: USD $9/- for group tours or backpacker tours; & $43/- per person for private tours.
4. Ta Prohm – Explore The Temple Of ‘Tomb Raider’
The only structure in Angkor that has been left in its pristine form, Ta Prohm is a fascinating example of the power of Nature and amongst the most preferred places to visit in Cambodia. The enormous roots grasping the shrine seem to be challenging the world to try and alter the structure! This ‘Tomb Raider’ fame sanctum in Angkor with its huge silk cotton trees and strangler figs is perhaps the most photogenic place in Cambodia, and thus among the best tourist attractions in Cambodia.
Admission charges: USD $20/- for a 1 Day Pass, $40/- for a 3 Day Pass, & $60/- for a 7 Day Pass (per person)
5. Cambodian Cuisine – Enjoy Amok & Noodle Soup
One of the major attractions of Cambodia that drive people to visit this paradise is its food. A typical Cambodian meal consists of rice and a fish item. Often called the ‘cuisine of contrasts’, Cambodian food involves a lot of variations which travelers fall in love with. Among the range of dishes one must try here is Fish Amok (steamed coconut fish in banana leaves), Samlor Machu Trey (sweet and sour soup with fish), Nom Banh Chok(Khmer noodles), and the Num Anksom Sach Chrouk (sticky rice cake). Also, with its vast range of seafood, Cambodia is one of the best places for seafood lovers.
6. Phnom Penh Palace – Explore Its Opulent Architecture
The star attraction of Phnom Penh built back in 1860 is not just a glittery palace dominating the city’s skyline, but also an important reminder of Cambodia’s blood-stained history. The elegant structure is characterized by its crown of stupas and towering spires, the handsome Silver Pagoda sitting adjacent to it, manicured tropical gardens, and the tranquility that prevails inside its high-rise walls. With all this and more, the Royal Palace is undoubtedly one of the best Cambodia tourist attractions and also, one of the best things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Admission fee: USD $3/- per person (additional $0.50/- as camera charges)
Opening hours: From 7:30 am to 11 am & 2 pm to 5 pm
7. Angkor Wat – Explore The World’s Largest Temple
The most famous, most ancient, and the largest temple of the world is what drives majority of the world’s travelers to Cambodia. The unrivaled beauty and pristine persona of this UNESCO World Heritage site is unlike anywhere else on earth, which is why it is among the prominent tourist attractions in Cambodia. Built in the 12th century as a dedication to Lord Vishnu, this ancient wonder of the world has stood the test of time.
Admission charges (Angkor Complex): USD $20/- for a 1 Day Pass, $40/- for a 3 Day Pass, $60/- for a 7 Day Pass (per person
Opening hours (Angkor Complex): 5 am to 6 pm
8. National Parks – Engage With The Wild
Not interested in temples? We got you covered. Apart from an endless number of temples, Cambodia attractions also include various national parks and wildlife sanctuaries housing some of the rarest species of the world’s flora and fauna. Paying a visit to these is one of the most fun things to do in Cambodia for adventure seekers and nature lovers. While Virachey National Park is home to elephants, sun bears, tigers, clouded leopards, and various birds, the Ream Park is famous for globally endangered birds of prey, like the Brahminy kite, grey-headed fish eagle and white-bellied sea eagle.
9. Swimming – Swim With The Elephants
This is one of the crazy things to do in Cambodia. The Elephant Valley Project at Mondulkiri is a group of dedicated, passionate individuals whose work is directed towards care and conservation of abandoned, injured, overworked, and orphaned elephants. Popularly known as a place where ‘elephants get to be elephants again’, EVP feeds, protects, and provides shelter to elephants. Travelers can come here with prior booking for a chance to be with these adorable, gentle beings. Visitors can play and swim with these elephants which is anyways better than riding on them and adding to their misery.
10. Tuol Sleng – Discover The Torture House’s Secrets
The War Museum in Tuol Sleng, though not exactly a cheerful place, is an important place to visit in Cambodia for its gruesome history. Back in Khmer Rouge era (between 1975-79), the school-cum-execution ground was used to detain and brutally torture inmates. This S-21 Detention Centre today acts as a haunting reminder of the endless genocide of the period. Visiting the museum might not be one of the most joyous things to do in Cambodia, but one must definitely pay their respects to the brave men and women who lost their lives here.
Admission charges: USD $2/- per person (additional $6/- for guide)
Opening hours: 7 am to 5:30 pm