Once considered the loveliest of the Frenchbuilt cities of Indochina, Phnom Penh’s charms are once again being discovered and revitalized after decades of neglect. A palpable youthful energy is pumping through the colonial streets as Cambodia renegotiates its role on the world stage.
While Angkor Wat and the surrounding temples are by far the best known, Cambodia is positively littered with other evocative archaeological sites hidden deep within the jungle. Near Siem Reap, the remote, seldom visited, Angkorian-era ruins of Beng Mealea and Koh Ker are a delight to explore.
KEP & KAMPOT
Travelers typically don’t think of Cambodia as a beach destination—but their loss is your gain. Explore miles of white-sand coastline, dotted with charming resorts and intriguing offshore islands. Just a few minutes inland, jungle hikes lead to hidden waterfalls.
The main freshwater feature of this small country, Tonle Sap (the “great lake”) is a fascinating world unto itself. Kayak along the shore to access stilted villages hugging the water’s edge or venture into haunting mangrove forests rich with endemic birdlife.
CARDAMOM & ELEPHANT MOUNTAINS
These evocative mountains host backroads perfect for bicycling and majestic waterfalls. The area around Kampot offers caving excursions to underworlds replete with pre-Angkorian shrines. Unique eco-lodges offer an environmentally responsible way to access the rich biodiversity of flora and fauna found in the area’s many parks and preserves.
TUOL SLENG & CHOEUNG EK
Sobering but necessary to understanding contemporary Cambodia, these two important sites provide insight into the brutality of the Khmer Rouge’s ultra-radical Marxist regime of the 1970s. A visit to this prison and mass execution site is undeniably intense but we highly recommend it to understand the hurdles the country is struggling to overcome.