Cambodia is a bit like a Marks & Spencers advert. Why? Because Cambodia isn’t just crumbling temples and ancient ruins, it isn’t just a place you tick off your list on your way to Vietnam or Thailand – Cambodia is a destination in its own right, and it is fast gaining popularity amongst travellers who are looking for more than your average travel experience in Asia. Here’s my dream Cambodia itinerary, which highlights all the reasons to put Cambodia on your list of must-see destinations…
Temples of Angkor Wat
Despite having a Wonder of the World right in its back yard, Cambodia’s real treasure is arguably its people. And despite a history of tumultuous violence and bloodshed, the spirit of the Khmers remains unbroken and few travellers aren’t touched by the warmth and welcoming nature of the locals. Of course, it goes without saying that most travellers who pay a fleeting visit to and from the country will have Angkor Wat at the top of their list, and don’t get me wrong; it’s certainly not a place to be missed.
The temples of Angkor are some of the world’s most magnificent sights and are widely believed to be the largest religious structure in the world. During our Angkor Wat trip, you can explore the complex during the day with your own private guide who will tell you about the fascinating tales behind the temples. You’ll also get the chance to enjoy a wander around the city itself to soak up the culture and atmosphere of the City and stay in small-scale, authentic accommodation in Siem Reap.
Leaving the tourist crowds of Angkor Wat behind, there is so much more left of Cambodia to explore. Cambodia doesn’t need to be a destination-filler in a Vietnam and Thailand sandwich. In fact, this amazing country has enough magnificent sights and hidden gems to explore to form its own travel itinerary.
Tonle Sap Lake
At the top of my Cambodia travel wish list has to be a visit to Tonle Sap Lake; by the remote village of Kompong Khleang which is short drive from Siem Reap. This trip is one of our newest travel experiences in Cambodia and is a really authentic way to experience rural life in Cambodia. During this trip, you can get the opportunity to stay with a local Khmer family on a homestay in a traditional stilted house. At sunrise, you’ll join the local fishermen on the lake, before accompanying the locals at the market to sell their catches. Amazing!
Cambodia isn’t a beach destination, right? Wrong! Contrary to popular belief, Cambodia boasts a heap full of idyllic beach spots just waiting to be explored. Our Cambodia beach trip, Escape To Castaway Island is located on Koh Rong Samloem; one of hundreds of small islands just off the Cambodian coastline. This remote island getaway offers the perfect retreat for those looking for a more peaceful alternative to Cambodia’s mainland beaches. Surrounded by crystal waters, during this Cambodia beach trip you’ll get a real taste of the Robinson Crusoe life as you stay in your own wooden beach bungalow, float in the warm tropical sea and explore the island’s beaches, mountains, waterfalls and freshwater streams. Aaah… bliss.
The next adventure on my fantasy Cambodia itinerary is our Mekong, Dolphins and Laos trip:
Local Life on the River
This travel experience takes you off the well-worn tourist trail and offers a real insight into rural life on the famous Mekong River. On your journey from Phnom Penh to southern Laos you’ll soak up the Mekong sunsets and French architecture, spot freshwater dolphins amongst the small islands of the Mekong, and take a boat trip to one of the most deserted areas of the Mekong where you’ll see fisherman reel in their nets before crossing the border to Laos.
Glide Through Weaving Waterways
Now, if I was combining my Cambodia adventure with a trip to Vietnam, I wouldn’t be able to resist choosing our trip, Along The Mekong To Saigon. This 3 day tour takes you by boat from Cambodia to Vietnam through weaving waterways where you won’t find any other tourists. Glide through small canals, past villages, islands and floating markets before finally reaching Saigon, a vibrant metropolis with a never-ending list of sights to explore and tasty Vietnamese dishes to sample! What’s not to love?
So there you have it: my ultimate Cambodia itinerary, encompassing a whopping World Wonder, village life by the lakeside, castaway beaches, dolphins, and life along the Mekong. Hope you feel inspired to put Cambodia on your list!