10 Must See Sights for the Cambodian Adventurer
When you look for adventure, you need to look no further than Cambodia. Boasting of rich forests, gorgeous mountains, ancient temples, and fun adventures like zip lining, you will find your expeditionary spirit satisfied in the exploration of this beautiful country. Cambodia expeditioners will find themselves swept into extreme sports and a new culture at the same time with everything in between.
Cambodia offers so many different sites and activities, you won’t be able to do them all in one trip. This list of 10 must-see sights will help you get started in trying the most daring expeditions of all. From fly boarding to walking with elephants, Cambodia lets you experience it all in one life-changing adventure.
Cambodia is known for its ancient temples. The Angkor temples are no exception. Stunning in their beauty, this ancient city and center for human life attracts many people. Angkor Wat, one of the largest temples in Asia, makes you stand in awe, especially if you watch the sunrise behind it. Ta Prohm is another must-see, well-known for its role in Indiana Jones as the “Tomb Raider” temple. Be sure to wear modest clothing when visiting as showing shoulders and legs is frowned upon.
However, you shouldn’t settle for only visiting the normal tourist sites like the Bayon temple. In Angkor Wat, you can search for the hidden paintings that Noel Hidalgo put in a new light with his digitally enhanced photos. Not all of the art is invisible, but you have to be looking with a keen eye and a good camera to discover many hidden works. You should absolutely make a point to see the wall carvings of small animals in Ta Prohm, especially the one carving which looks suspiciously like a stegosaurus.
But if you are really looking for a way to explore and see the temples in a new light, you can get airborne with Microlight Cambodia. Microlight aircraft allows you to see everything from the temples of Angkor to the villages and forests of Cambodia. In just a small open plane for two, this airborne expedition is not for the faint of heart but does promise exquisite sights.
2. Siem Reap
Near the Angkor temples is the amazing city of Siem Reap. The city is vast enough that you can fill a whole trip with things to do in and around it. For adventurers, however, Siem Reap has awesome adventure travel. If you love heights and views, then see the countryside in a hot air balloon ride. The Cambodian sport expeditions have other activities that are more grounded, such as dirt biking, off-road jeeps, or horseback riding.
Near to Siem Reap are two less touched temples. Koh Ker and Prasat Thom are tucked away from the prying eyes of most tourists and beckon to any adventurer daring enough to visit. Prasat Thom is quite tall; however visitors can still climb to the top, though you should be wary of loose ruins.
Siem Reap also offers a large variety of markets, food, and museums inside the city. From eating scorpions to watching the Cambodian Circus Show, you will find adventure all around you at your fingertips. Finish the day by cleaning your sore feet at a fish spa where fish eat the dead skin off your bare feet.
3. Kampot Caves
For Cambodian active sport expeditioners, the Kampot Caves offer so much chance to explore and enjoy a piece of Cambodian history. Phnom Kbal Romea is just one of the many amazing limestone caves which branch off into a whole cave system. In fact, you can pass through the entire mountain underground and through a natural chimney, but it is advisable that you hire a guide for your first time.
One of the beautiful sights in the Kampot Caves is the amazing rock formations. You may find a formation in the shape of an elephant. Whatever formations you find, treat them with respect as many are treated and adorned as shrines, many to Buddha. You will also find ancient ruins, beautiful stalactites and stalagmites, and various hidden caves to explore.
The key thing to remember is to bring a flashlight and wear proper footwear. Hiring a guide is also advisable. Before you get to the caves, you can also enjoy Kampot and a small bike ride from Kampot to the cave system.
No trip to Cambodia would be complete without seeing the ocean city of Sihanoukville. With so much expedition travel in Sihanoukville, you will have trouble deciding where to start. The obvious attraction to Sihanoukville is the gorgeous white sand beaches available to you. The Cambodian beaches offer a range of activities from swimming to sunbathing to snorkeling to boating and more.
Sihanoukville also offers two adventures you won’t find anywhere else: a chance to swim with sparkling plankton and the Ultimate Flyboard Experience. Off the coast of Cambodia is an amazing phenomenon of the bioluminescent plankton. In the dark of night, a guide will take you by boat to the best viewing locations where you can swim in the glowing water or view it from the boat.
The Ultimate Flyboard Experience is another step into awesome. Flyboarding is one of the ultimate water sports nowadays. Flyboarding is a jetpack-hover board combo that works over water. You strap in and control the spray of water to propel you high into the air or deep into the water. You can feel like a dolphin as you jump in and out of the water on this magical ride.
5. Chi Phat
Tucked at the skirts of the Cardamom Mountains, Chi Phat is an authentic Cambodian village where you can experience village life and have an adventure. They have many active Cambodian expeditions for you to experience with opportunities for even the most rigorous adventurers.
From Chi Phat, you can trek, bike, or kayak through the Cardamom Mountains. You can visit gorgeous waterfalls and see bats escape their caves in multitudes at dusk. Even deeper into the mountains are the burial jars left by ancient civilizations and river rapids. For a lighter trip, you can visit the local swimming holes or take a tour of the village.
Kayaking also offers interesting adventures through the mountains. You can enjoy early or late activities such as sunrise bird watching or nighttime lobster fishing. If you are looking for more philanthropic adventure, Chi Phat also offers some volunteering opportunities.
6. Kampot River
The Kampot River offers an excellent respite into the calm of nature and the local people. Many businesses along the Kampot river will rent you kayaks or offer boat tours for a more guided viewing of the river. You can spend several hours or just a few enjoying the wonderful sights of the river.
If you are looking for more adventure travel, kayaking will be the best choice. You can explore the river at your own leisure. The water is very calm and you can swim at most points along the journey. The most beautiful area is Cambodia’s Green Cathedral as you kayak through the shallow shaded mangrove trees. It’s also a great location for bird watching.
Kep National Park is a must-see, especially if you love hiking or mountain biking. Perfect for either, the active Cambodian expeditions allow you to visit an area covering 50km2. The trails of the Kep National Park twist and turn through a small mountain range with many outlook areas marked off the beaten track. You will find these outlooks to be perfect places to view Phu Quoc and the Bokor ranges.
If you are looking for particularly stunning sights, climbing the stairway to heaven trail will lead you to several great points. You will find a pagoda, a nunnery, and the gorgeous Sunset Rock. Sunset Rock offers beautiful views down into the town and over the coastline. Kep National Park also juts up to the coast if you are looking for more beach experiences.
Hiking, biking, kayaking, and many other sporty expeditions are available in Cambodia. However, Mondulkiri offers a different kind of expedition travel that you will find fascinating. Mondulkiri is home to the Elephant Valley Project, a project which works to improve the welfare of captive Elephants and retire working elephants back into their natural habitat away from the stress of captivity.
The Elephant Valley Project owns 1,500 hectares of forest for their elephants. Right now, ten elephants live in peace in the sanctuary which you can visit and learn about. The Elephant Valley Project stresses the natural habitat of the elephants when humans visit. You won’t be allowed to ride them and they won’t perform any tricks, but you can walk with them, listen to their stories from their caretakers, and enjoy their presence.
You can visit just for the day or spend up to a week or more. Volunteer options are numerous, but you can spend time with the elephants and relax at the base camp with large food buffets to fill you up. The Elephant Valley Project is truly an experience of a lifetime.
9. Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei offers much in the way of sightseeing and adventures. It is one of the best places in Cambodia to explore Cambodian culture through a home stay or the Cambodia Landmine Museum. Home stays allow you to immerse yourself in the local life with a local family. You can learn about culture and food in a hands-on, close-quarters manner.
Banteay Srei also provides many more hiking trails up to Kbal Spean, along the River of a Thousand Lingas, and through the Angkor Centre for the Conservation of Biodiversity. You can find shops with exquisite handcrafted art and restaurants with the finest foods. Yet, Banteay Srei is put on the map to attract visitors to its temples.
The Banteay Srei temple is buried in the forest like a forgotten fairy palace. Known as the Citadel of the Women or also as the Jewel of Angkor, the temple boasts intricate carvings on a vast many of its walls. The sandstone has a pinkish hue which only adds to the magical feel of the place. The carvings that decorate its walls make it stand out as the holder of some of the finest carvings in all of Asia. Trekking through its forgotten halls is an experience you won’t forget.
10. Koh Tang
Cambodia, still mainly untouched by human pollution, is becoming more and more of a popular site for scuba diving. However, one of the best, most remote places is the island of Koh Tang. This island is mainly uninhabited except for a small military force and some resort development. It only has three sandy beaches. The rest of the shoreline is covered with rocks, but there are still nine reef sites to dive in along the shore.
Explosion Reef has a great opportunity for adventure travel into the depths of the coral reef. It spans a depth from six meters down to eighteen meters. Three Bears offers caves, a shallow reef, and barracuda. You can also swim alongside the stingrays in Stingray Alley. It offers depths up to 25 meters with more marine life such as octopus, cuttlefish, scorpion fish, and more.
Some of the sites on Koh Tang are perfect for nighttime diving, such as Razorfish Alley and Beady-Eye Bay. Giraffe Lookout gets its name because of a uniquely shaped tree overlooking the cliffs and colorful reef. Each of the nine reefs has a variety of unique marine life and corals with clear visibility. You won’t find as much variety in your scuba diving as you will off Koh Tang.
Cambodia is an amazing, beautiful country with lots to offer. Even if you visit again and again, you will always find something new to marvel at. With a good pair of shoes and an excellent camera, you will create unforgettable memories of a lifetime. Whether you want the adrenaline rush of adventure or just the awe of it, you can find it all in the heart of Cambodia.