MANILA, Philippines – Cambodia, known as the Kingdom of Wonder, is well-known for its many ancient temples that draw tourists from Southeast Asia and other regions.
Below are the top 5 destinations you should not miss when in Cambodia:
5. Sihanoukville Beach
If you travel along the national road no. 4 from Phnom Penh, you will reach Sihanokville province in 5 hours or less. It is Cambodia’s premiere island and beach resort.
It will cost around $5 for a one-way bus travel. While tourism has increased over the past few years, the beaches of Sihanoukville are some of the most unspoiled in Southeast Asia.
It is a prefect tropical area, filled with lovely beaches and facilities for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, and sunbathing.
Tourists can enjoy the white-sand beaches and fresh air in nearby islands such as the Koh Rong Island, Koh Rong Somloem, Koh TaKiev, and the Bamboo Island.
Sihanoukville, especially in the downtown area, offers a pretty good night life with a wide variety of bars open until late night for foreigners as well as local visitors.
4. Preah Monivong National Park/BoKor National Park in Kampot province
Phnom Bokor (Ox Hump Mountain) was named after its shape and is part of the Elephant Mountain range.
Aside from the adventure the ride to the mountain offers, tourists can enjoy the scenery and the cool mountain air.
Travelling from Phnom Penh along the national road no. 3 to Kampot province by bus or taxi costs around $4.
Visitors can take a motorcycle or car up to the top of the mountain. If they don’t have their own bike, a big bike can be rented in Kampot for less than $12 a day. Gas costs $1.25 a liter.
Buses bound for the Bokor Nation Park leave Kampot at 10:30 am and 4:20 pm and returns at 8:30 am and 3:30 pm.
The last option is for a visitor to get a ride in a pickup truck for a day trip for $18 to $25 per person inclusive of lunch.
3. Bousra waterfall in Mondulkiri province
The town of Sen Monorom in Mondulkiri province is the best camping place for travelers who want to explore the Bousra waterfall which is considered as one of the country’s most beautiful waterfalls.
The double-drop area is very popular with the locals who use it as a bathing and picnic area. Snacks are sold around the area, but visitors can bring their own food.
From Phnom Penh to Mondulkiri Province, it takes around 6 to 8 hours by bus. The land trip costs only up to $8 per person.
The town has around 20 guesthouses and several restaurants and bars, so it would be easy to choose a comfortable place to stay and to hang out.
2. Angkor Wat in Siem Reap province
The ancient temples of Angkor, decorated with beautiful sculptures, bring a sense of pride to Cambodians.
It was declared a world heritage site by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee in 1992.
The Angkor Wat Temple is open to the public from 5 am to 6 pm. For a foreign visitor, the entrance fee costs $20 per day. A 3-day pass costs $40 per person, while a 7-day pass is at $60 per person.
At night, the liveliest areas in Siem Reap include the Pub Street, the Old Market area, and the Night Market area.
Attending a traditional dance performance is a must when visiting Cambodia. Several restaurants offer dinner performances such as the Apsara Theater, Tonle Mekong, and the Tonle Sap restaurant. Other restaurants, like the Dead Fish Tower, offer traditional music at dinner time.
To chill out, tourists can also check out Red Piano, Temple Bar, and Linga Bar on Pub Street.
For transportation, visitors can take the Motor taxi that charges between $2 to $3, or the Tuk Tuk that charges about $15 to $30 per day depending on the distance. A cheaper option is to rent a bike for a day.
1. Phnom Penh
The Royal Palace, the National Museum, and the Toul Sleng genocide museum are all in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital city.
The Royal Palace grounds is open to the public except when the king is in residence. Visitors are charged $3 per person, $2 per still camera, and $5 per video camera. The Royal Palace opens every day from 7:30 am to 11 am and from 2 pm to 5 pm.
The nearby National Museum houses over 14,000 items, from pre-historic Cambodia to periods before, during, and after the Khmer Empire. It is open for public viewing from 8 am to 5 pm every day, and the entrance fee is at $3 per adult. Visitors will be charged an additional $1 if they want to bring cameras inside.
One can also explore Cambodia’s dark history during the Khmer Rouge era by visiting the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. Toul Sleng was built as a secondary school facility, but was used as a torture facility under the rule of Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot. It is open everyday from 8 am to 5 pm even during holidays. Visitors are charged $2 as entrance fee.