Cambodia Overview

Before starting your exploration journey about top things to do in Cambodia, let's first grasp some key information about the country:

  • Cambodia, or the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the Indochina peninsula of Southeast Asia. It borders Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and is surrounded by the Gulf of Thailand in the Southwest.

  • The capital of Cambodia is Phnom Penh.

  • The official currency of Cambodia is the Cambodian riel (KHR), but the US dollar is widely accepted.

  • The official language of Cambodia is Khmer, English is widely spoken in tourist areas.

  • Cambodia is in the GMT+7 time zone.

  • Cambodia has a tropical climate with a wet season from May to October and a dry season from November to April.

Apsara dance show Cambodia

Cambodia - the country of Khmer culture

Top Things to do in Cambodia

Visit the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda

These are two important landmarks in the capital of Phnom Penh - the political center of the country. The Royal Palace stands as the official residence of the King of Cambodia, as well as the place for hosting important festivals and events of the country. Constructed in the 1800s, the Royal Palace is a stunning ensemble of buildings that exemplify a captivating blend of Khmer and French architectural styles.

The Silver Pagoda is a Buddhist temple that is located within the Royal Palace grounds. It is home to a large collection of Buddhist artifacts, including a 5.5-ton gold Buddha.

  • Location: Norodom Blvd, Phnom Penh.

  • Opening time from Tuesday to Sunday: 

    • Morning: 7:30 am - 11:00 am. 

    • Afternoon: 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm.

  • Entry fee: $10.

Royal Palace in Phnom Penh capital

Visit Royal Palace in Phnom Penh capital

Visitors are required to dress respectfully, avoiding loud noises, and not touching any of the artifacts when visiting the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. While paying a visit here, you should cover your shoulders and knees. You may also need to remove your hat.

Photography is allowed in the Coronation Hall and inside the Silver Pagoda, but there are some restrictions. You are not allowed to take photos of the King or Queen, and you should be respectful of the religious nature of the site.

Also, there are a few places that you cannot visit in the Royal Palace in Cambodia. These include the Throne Hall, the private quarters of the King and Queen, and the Royal Treasury.  

Temple Hopping in Angkor 

This is a must-do in the list of things to do in Cambodia. The Angkor Archaeological Park is a collection of temples and remnants. It gained UNESCO World Heritage status in 1992 and is widely renowned as a top tourist attraction in Southeast Asia. Spanning roughly 400 square kilometers, the park boasts a staggering number of temples, surpassing 1,000 in total, including the iconic Angkor Wat.

visit angkor in cambodia

The mythical place of Angkor

Angkor functioned as the center of power for the Khmer Empire. By admiring the remaining relics of this empire, you will somewhat imagine the magnificent historical landscape of that era. The temples constructed by the Khmer kings served as grand displays of their authority and devotion to the Hindu gods. 

The park is divided into 4 zones: Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, and the East Mebon. The most popular temples in the park are Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, Bayon, Banteay Srei, etc.

  • Location: It is approximately 7 kilometers North of the town of Siem Reap.

  • Opening time: 5 am - 5:30 pm daily. (Please note that some temples in the complex might have different opening hours, you should check before visiting).

  • Entry fee: $37 USD for 1-day pass, $62 USD for 3-day pass, and $72 USD for 7-day pass. 

Because the Angkor area is vast, there are long-day ticket options available. If you don't have much time to explore the area, you can purchase a one-day ticket (valid for 24 hours) to visit and do not miss the enchanting sunrise and sunset scenes blending with the ancient beauty of the temples.

Visit the floating village of Kampong Phluk

Kampong Phluk is an enthralling floating village located on Tonle Sap Lake, renowned as the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. This unique location provides a captivating insight into the way of life of the local community who have adapted to living on the water.

the floating village of Kampong Phluk

The stilt houses of Kampong Phluk floating village

  • Location:  About 10 kilometers from Siem Reap.

  • Opening time for daily visit: 8:00 am - 5:00 pm.

  • Entry fee: $2 USD/ person.

  • Boat fee to the stilt houses: $20 USD/person.

  • Boat fee to the mangrove forest: $5 USD/person.

As you navigate through the waterways, surrounded by stilted houses and lush mangrove forests, you will witness a way of life that is both enchanting and humbling. The village showcases the resilience and resourcefulness of its inhabitants, who rely on fishing, agriculture, and aquaculture to sustain their livelihoods.

Explore Siem Reap at night: Pub Street and Night Market

Exploring Siem Reap at night is an adventure that ignites the senses. When the sun sets in Siem Reap, a whole new world awakens. Venture into the vibrant nightlife scene and experience the electrifying atmosphere of Pub Street and the Night Market.

the Pub Street in Siem Reap - things to do in cambodia

Ready to indulge in the Pub Street at night in Siem Reap

The Pub Street located in the heart of Siem Reap town is home to a number of bars, restaurants, and clubs, so it is a great place to go for a night out. The place at night comes alive with a kaleidoscope of colors, pulsating music, and the inviting aromas of delicious street food. Join the bustling crowds as you hop from one lively bar to another, savoring refreshing cocktails and sample some Khmer street cuisine.

The Night Market, adjacent to Pub Street, offers a treasure trove of handicrafts, artwork, and souvenirs. Wander through the vibrant stalls, haggling with friendly vendors and discovering unique mementos to bring back home. Who wouldn’t want to add this to the bucket list of things to do in Cambodia?

Bicycle to the countryside of Cambodia

Biking in the countryside of Cambodia

Biking in the countryside of Cambodia

Leave the bustling city behind and embrace the tranquil beauty of rural landscapes as you cycle along winding paths flanked by rice paddies, swaying palm trees, and charming villages. Cambodia has many peaceful and untouched rural areas. The country is covered with dense forests, scattered temples, and local people going about their everyday lives. With each pedal stroke, you can slowly experience this authentic vitas.

The most popular bike tour routes in Cambodia include exploring the Angkor temple complex, cycling through the rural rice fields of Battambang, biking among the pepper plantations of Kampot, discovering Kep National Park, and experiencing the Mekong Delta bike tour. The price for a one-day bike tour in Cambodia cost around $50 USD per person.

Looking for more information? Explore our travel guide to Cambodia!

Relax on the Beaches and Islands of Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville is the top beach resort area in Cambodia, so we recommend you to explore this area while fulfilling your list of things to do in Cambodia. Nestled along Cambodia's Southern coast, this coastal gem offers a haven to sink your toes into the powdery white sands as you bask in the warm sun, listening to the soothing rhythm of the waves.

Sihanoukville baech - cambodia things to do

Relaxing on the beach side of Sihanoukville

Here is a list of best beaches in Sihanoukville for you to choose from:

  • Otres Beach: A long, sandy beach with a laid-back atmosphere - popular spot for backpackers and budget travelers.

  • Serendipity Beach: This is a more developed beach with a wider range of hotels, restaurants, and bars. It is a popular spot for families and couples.

  • Sokha Beach: Nice destination for water sports.

  • Koh Rong Island: homes to stunning primitive beaches and a popular spot for snorkeling, diving, and exploring the island's rainforests.

  • Koh Rong Samloem: This is a smaller island with a more relaxed atmosphere than Koh Rong.

Explore the Countryside of Battambang

Battambang bamboo train

Taking a ride in Battambang unique bamboo train

Battambang is a great countryside to learn about Cambodia's rural culture. Start your day by exploring the picturesque streets lined with French colonial architecture, ornate pagodas, and bustling markets, maybe with a bicycle. Then experience the renowned Bamboo Train - a unique mode of transportation that is made from bamboo that utilizes the abandoned railways.

Next, let’s delve into the city's rich history at the captivating museums, such as the Battambang Provincial Museum and the Living Museum of Art and finally indulge yourself in the vibrant street food scene, sampling local delicacies like Kralan (bamboo sticky rice) and Num banh chok (Khmer noodles).

Immerse in the laid-back vibe of Kampot

the Bokor Hill of Kampot

Explore the Bokor Hill of Kampot

One of the most special things about Kampot is its unique blend of French colonial and Khmer culture. The town's architecture reflects this blend, with French colonial buildings and Khmer temples standing side-by-side. 

Kampot is famous for its scenic abandoned French colonial resorts on the desolate fields at Bokor, creating a thrilling sense of nostalgic adventure. Bokor hill has a pleasant and cool climate, thus it has been chosen by the French to build resorts and casinos.

Kampot is widely known for its pepper plantations, which produce some of the world's finest peppercorns. You can take a tour of a pepper plantation and learn about how pepper is grown and harvested. The city is also close to the Kep National Park. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including monkeys, deer, and birds that you can go hiking, biking, or boating in the park. 

Admire An Apsara Dance Performance

traditional Apsara dance of Cambodian

Admire the graceful and soulful traditional Apsara dance of Cambodian people

The delicate gestures, precise footwork, and elaborate costumes transport you to a realm of divine beings and ancient legends. The Apsara dance performance is a cultural spectacle that showcases the beauty and grace of Cambodian traditions, offering a glimpse into the rich heritage of this country.

Apsara dance is a captivating form of classical Khmer dance that dates back centuries and is deeply rooted in Cambodian mythology and history. As graceful dancers adorned in vibrant costumes and intricate headdresses take the stage, you will be mesmerized by their elegant movements and storytelling through dance.

There are a number of temples and performance centers that offer Apsara dance performances, such as the Apsara Theatre in Siem Reap, Siem Reap Fine Arts School, and Koh Ker Temple. To watch these performances, you need to pay a fee ranging from $10 to $50 USD for a ticket.

Sample Cambodian Cuisine

Num bank chok - top things to do in cambodia

Num bank chok - a Cambodian traditional dish

You can't miss out on trying the local cuisine when visiting and exploring the top things to do in Cambodia. Cambodian cuisine indeed offers a diverse and delicious blend of flavors influenced by different cultures. Here is a list of must-try Cambodian foods:

  • Khmer fish amok: This is a traditional and popular Cambodian dish. It is a type of curry that features fish as the main ingredient. The dish is known for its fragrant and creamy texture, thanks to the combination of various aromatic spices and ingredients.

  • Bai sach chrouk: A rice dish that is served with grilled or roasted pork and some kind of vegetable. The dipping sauce for the dish is typically made with fish sauce, lime juice, garlic, and chili peppers. 

  • Num banh chok: A popular Cambodian dish that consists of rice vermicelli noodles served with a flavorful fish-based curry sauce. It is often considered as a breakfast staple in Cambodia. The dish typically includes fresh herbs and vegetables such as cucumbers, bean sprouts, and banana blossoms, which add a refreshing crunch to the meal. 

  • Lok lak beef: The dish that is typically made with bite-sized pieces of beef or other meats, stir-fried with a delicious blend of garlic, soy sauce, oyster sauce, and various seasonings. The dish is often served on a bed of lettuce and garnished with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers.

  • Fresh Fruit Shakes: Quench your thirst with a refreshing fruit shake made from a variety of tropical fruits like mango, pineapple, dragon fruit, or coconut. These vibrant shakes are blended with ice and can be customized to your preference.

Join a Cooking Class 

Cambodia cooking class

Cambodia cooking class

This culinary adventure helps you to immerse deeper in the flavors and aromas of Cambodian cuisine. Cambodian cuisine is a fusion of fresh ingredients, aromatic herbs, and delicate spices. By participating in a cooking class, you will not only learn the secrets of preparing authentic Cambodian dishes but also gain insights into the cultural significance of the ingredients and cooking techniques.

Cooking classes are available in various locations throughout Cambodia, including popular destinations like Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and Battambang. The cost of a 2-hour cooking class can range from $15 to $50 USD. 

Normally, a Cambodia cooking class includes a visit to the local market, a cooking lesson with fresh ingredients and local instructors, a meal of the dishes you prepared, some drinks and fruits, maybe a visit to the local farm, village, and traditional houses.

Visit Traditional Handicraft Village

Koh Dach Silk Island village

Koh Dach Silk Island village

To conclude this list of things to do in Cambodia, we suggest you visit traditional craft villages in the country. This is a great way for you to gain more insight into the local traditional culture and the people's way of life. Apart from the Kampong Phluk floating village we mentioned earlier for you to explore the riverine lifestyle of the people, we also have a few more suggestions for you:

  • Silk Island Village (Koh Dach): This village is located near Phnom Penh capital, and it is home to a community of silk weavers. The villagers have been weaving silk for centuries, and they use traditional methods to produce their silk.

  • Kampong Chhnang Pottery Village: This village is located in Kampong Chhnang Province (which literally translates to 'Port of Pottery'), and it is home to a community of potters. 

  • Kep Crab Village: This village is located in Kep Coastal Province, and it is home to a community of crab fishermen. The villagers catch crabs in the Gulf of Thailand, and they are known for their delicious spider crab dishes.

Tips When You Visit Cambodia

advice for Cambodia travelers

Some advice for Cambodia travelers

Before concluding this journey of exploring the best things to do in Cambodia, we have a few tips for your visit:

  • The optimal time to visit Cambodia is generally from November to April. This period is characterized by pleasant temperatures and limited precipitation, offering an ideal environment for exploring the renowned Angkor temples, participating in outdoor activities, and enjoying the stunning beaches along the coast.

  • Some suggestions for moving around Cambodia are, if you are traveling between cities, choose to travel by plane or book long bus tickets. When moving within the city, use tuk-tuks, moto-remorks, or ride-hailing apps such as Grab, PassApp, WeGo, etc. Don't forget to negotiate for appropriate prices when using any form of transportation.

  • When visiting this country, you should pay attention not to touch others' heads, not to use your left hand to hand objects to others, and to respect the monks.

  • When visiting temple areas, please remember to dress modestly by covering your shoulders and knees.

  • When traveling in Cambodia, you may need to do a lot of walking in hot and humid weather, so remember to eat well, stay hydrated, and drink plenty of water.

Top things to do in Cambodia

Top things to do in Cambodia

That's what we would like to introduce to you in this list of top things to do in Cambodia. We hope that you have found the useful information you need. Contact us - New Asia Tours if you need any assistance with planning a personalized Vietnam and Cambodia package tour. Thank you for reading and have a nice day!