Cambodia

Incredible temple ruins, royal palaces and a shoreline lapped by warm tropical seas

Overview

It’s the early 12th century and Khmer workers carry at least 5 million tons of sandstone over 25 miles to the site of Angkor Wat. Not only that, Cambodia’s national monument is then built with precise angles, perfect symmetry, exquisite bas relief and towering 20 metre high domes, the epicentre of a city roughly the size of Berlin. Quite an achievement and a visit here is on many a bucket list. Come for the Temples at Angkor certainly, but leave having lived a hundred other unforgettable experiences.

Don’t let the perception of low season fool you. Many are put off by the wet months May to September, but this is actually a great time to visit. The rains come for usually only a couple of hours in the late afternoon, bringing a lushness to jungles, washing the temples clean, and dealing with the dust and heat of the earlier part of the year. You’ll find cheaper accommodation, transport and tours, plus bargaining in the markets is easier too!

Phnom Penh

Colonial buildings, golden palaces, the Mekong waterfront, rooftop bar scene and great people watching, Phnom Penh is full of surprises. When the afternoon showers do come, you’ll never be short of another wat, museum or cocktail lounge to help pass the time. Don’t miss the stunning silver pagoda in the magnificent Royal Palace complex, where the floor is covered in 5,000 glittering silver tiles each weighing over a kilo. Less appealing, but no less worthwhile is a visit to pay your respects at Tuol Sleng and The Killing Fields, sites of Khmer Rouge atrocities of the 1970s.

Temples of Angkor

Low season is a great time to visit the amazing ruins without the peak crowds. Admire the sheer size of the structures, the intricate bas relief, expressions on the huge stone faces. The ruins stretch over more than 154 square miles and new sites are being discovered all the time. Don’t underestimate the size of Angkor visiting only a few of the most famous temples. Instead take your time and you’ll be delighted to find yourself the only one at some of the more obscure corners. One of our favourites, off the main circuits is The River of a Thousand Lingas with its carvings of Hindu mythology and historical and spiritual significance.

South Coast Islands

Lying on the western edge of the Gulf of Thailand, the Khmer coastline is beautiful with unspoilt beaches of white sand and warm clear seas. Stay a while in your perfect hideaway after your Cambodian adventures. Watch the sunrise from your hammock, eat fresh fruits and barbecued fish, dive, sail or indulge in luxury spa treatments. A range of accommodation is available from beach huts through good mid-range options to stunning exclusive resorts, all offering good off-peak rates. Those after a rustic experience should check out Koh Rong Samloem. At the other end of the scale Alila Villas on Koh Russey and Six Senses Koh Krabey are easily accessible year-round due to their close proximity to mainland and have been designed with an eye on sustainability using local natural products and sensitivity to the local environment.


Low Season Saving

From 45% versus Peak Season


Tourist:Local Ratio

Peak Season

Low Season

1:3
1:6


Major Airport

Phnom Penh International Airport PNH

Low Season Months

Jan Feb Mar Apr May
30°C
20mm
8hrs
Jun
29°C
20mm
7hrs
Jul
28°C
40mm
6hrs
Aug
29°C
40mm
6hrs
Sep
28°C
60mm
6hrs
Oct Nov Dec

Hotels

Top Experiences

Phare Cambodian Circus

No animals involved, just amazingly energetic professional performances of dance, music and acrobatics by disadvantaged youths. Profits go to education and social programs. In Siem Reap. Book ahead.

Mekong Sunset Cruise

Choose a private or group experience, with many packages offering cocktails, unlimited drinks or dinner menus. Relax and admire the Phnom Penh skyline and the Royal Palace from the water as the sun goes down.

Taste of Siem Reap

Guided by your tuk tuk driver, you’ll explore the alleys of Siem Reap by night visiting four unique and renowned restaurants for aperitif, starter, main and, of course, dessert.

Insider Tips

  • Visit Andong Russei pottery village in the Kompong Chhnang area, home of earthenware of all sizes. If you don’t buy pots, you’ll get great photos of them carried by ox cart or moto.
  • Rather than fly or drive between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, you can travel by boat on Tonlé Sap freshwater lake and take in traditional floating villages with stilt houses en route.
  • Some important festivals fall into Cambodia’s low season including the Royal Ploughing and Buddha’s Birthday, both in May and Pchum Ben in September commemorating the spirits of the dead.

Good To Know

  • Don’t underestimate how tiring it can be walking around the temples. Make sure you leave at least one day to relax, recuperate, and relax by the pool and you’ll get more out of your exploring days.
  • Everyone wants to see sunrise at Angkor Wat. Go with the crowds, or try Phnom Bakheng for a different perspective. For sunset check out a new initiative to find your perfect spot www.angkorsunsets.com.
  • Don’t forget to bring a passport size picture. It will save time when you collect your pass for the Angkor temples.

Food & Drink

WILD Creative Bar & Eatery

££

Small venue offering excellent local food with a socially responsible attitude make this a must-do in Siem Reap. Beautifully decorated indoor and outdoor seating areas.

Romdeng Restaurant

££

Traditional cuisine in a colonial Phnom Penh mansion. Choices include fried tarantulas and eggplant with pork. Works to improve the lives of homeless or at risk children.

Fish Amok

££

This fragrant dish will be a firm favourite. Fish is cooked in coconut milk and flavoured with chilli, galangal, lime, turmeric, garlic and coriander. Traditionally served in a banana leaf.

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