Saffron robed monks with bowed heads, champagne pink sunrises over Angkor Watt, and lost temples tucked deep in the jungle – Cambodia captures the imagination in a myriad of ways.
GET OFF THE BEATEN TRACK IN CAMBODIA
Many travellers flock to the Instagramable Tomb Raider sites scattered around Siem Reap, borrowing bicycles from boutique hotels to disappear down ancient tracks. But there is more to Cambodia than its historical Khmer wonders.
These vivid ventures can show you all the different colours of Cambodia…
Meander Down the Mighty Mekong
Bright floating villages, waving locals washing their clothes on the banks, and freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins diving as they chase the sleepy cruise boats that meander down the Mekong. The Mekong River is a must when it comes to things to do in Cambodia.
Those travellers seeking a comfortable and classy experience can plan a colonial style river cruise, passing from the backwaters of Cambodia into Vietnam for a beautiful blend of cultural experiences. Adventurers looking to step one foot further from the tourist track can swing by Kratie with its iconic sunsets, crumbling French architecture, homestays and bicycle paths that weave through the Mekong Discovery Trail.
Venture Far Recommendation – Lost Civilisations of Cambodia + Vietnam: Discover the rare delights of two countries on a sublime 7-night cruise that blends Vietnam and Cambodia travel. As you journey along the Mekong the days become a whirlwind of local markets, catfish farms, colourful encounters, and cooking classes.
Find Faces in the Floating Villages
As scores of tourists tiptoe through the temples of Angkor Watt, close by is a timeless world that ticks by at the Tonle Sap Floating Village. A photographer’s veritable dream, these stilted villages perched above the shimmering Tonle Sap Lake make for a fascinating spot to visit and provides a deeper glimpse into the complex culture of Cambodia.
Close to 700,000 Vietnamese people live on Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, stranded in the depths of Cambodia since the chaos of the Khmer Rouge. Without papers to prove their legal status in Cambodia, they built a community upon the waters, where two room homes are carved from bamboo rafts and fishing is the main source of income. Small children use large tubs to float to the tiny school and village boats drift by laden with fresh vegetables and home-baked breads.
Venture Far Recommendation – The Colours of Cambodia: This epic 9-day adventure invites you to climb under the skin of Cambodia. Of course you will see Angkor Wat, but beyond that you can explore the Floating Villages, admire 12th century citadels, and unravel the painful past of the Killing Fields.
Discover Rural Realness in Battambang
It may be the second largest city in Cambodia, but Battambang remains a detour by the usual backpack crowd. Yet, for those travellers seeking to pull back the curtain and see a truly authentic side of Cambodia, this is where you are sure to find the answers. Battambang manages to teeter beautifully between the hustle and bustle of a city and the sleepy laid-back serenity of the countryside. Within the city, fabulous foodies will find a plethora of fine little eateries offering menus adorned with French and Khmer fusion food. Hit up the newest chic kid on the block and try the tasting menu at Jaan Bai, where Kampot pepper crab comes dunked in zingy chilli jam.
Those who venture into the countryside will find wondrous winding bicycle paths that open up to astonishing vistas of gleaming green rice paddies. Everywhere you turn there is something to gawp at – from herds of clanging cattle to silent monasteries, and locals pedalling past with market wares strapped to their back.
Venture Far Recommendation – Overland from Bangkok to Siem Reap: Take the road less travelled and journey through ancient Khmer kingdoms, cascading landscapes, and rural bolt-holes where locals welcome you with wide arms on this 7-day cycling journey.
Submit to Spice in Kampot
Mountains, rivers, and colonial cool sets the mise-en-scene at Kampot, a favoured spot surrounded by the spiced air of pepper plantations. The coastal town is dominated by the backdrop of Elephant Mountain, but nature lovers are sure to swoon over the chance to combine Cambodia travel with witnessing tigers, gibbons, and elephants in the nearby Preah Monivong National Park. Kampot echoes with the innocence of travel; days are lost to cycling around the pretty plantations, playing on the river, trundling along on oxcart tours, visiting the stashed away cave temples, and spending evenings drifting languidly on firefly tours along the river.
The seaside retreat of Kep is a short tuk tuk ride away. The former French summer playground still offers lashings of charm with her butterfly filled fields, buzzing little boutique hotels, and divine seafood suppers best enjoyed while witnessing the sun melt over the waters.
Venture Far Recommendation – Mekong Delta Explorer to Cambodian Beaches: This indie overland tour invites you to spend 6-days in the beautiful backwaters of Vietnam and Cambodia. For those wanting to taste a local slice of life, you can get your fill of national parks, authentic meetings, and hidden paths.