Cambodia was once the home of the powerful Khmer kingdom, and to this day, the country dazzles with its timeless architectural treasures, rich cultural offerings, and breathtaking natural landscape. Of course, the main reason for traveling to Cambodia is Southeast Asia’s most magnificent archaeological treasure, Angkor Wat. But Cambodia is an undiscovered gem of a country, and there’s much more to it than just the Angkor temples. A blend of rice paddies, remote jungles, and white sand beaches, as well as a fascinating history combined with delightful culture and welcoming people make Cambodia a must-visit travel destination. Here’s my list of the best things to see & do in Cambodia.
Get the most out of your (luxury) trip to Cambodia with my travel guide. Find out more about:
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
- Travel requirements
- Getting around
- Inspiration, highlights, & travel tips
- Suggested itineraries
- Recommended luxury hotels (+ reviews)
CAMBODIA TRAVEL GUIDE: BEST TIME TO VISIT
Cambodia experiences four annual seasons:
- The cool and dry season – which lasts from November to February – is considered the best time to visit Cambodia, with plenty of sunshine and day temperatures in the high 70s°F to low 80s°F (26°C-29°C). Sporadic showers may occur in the cool season but are infrequent events.
- The hot and dry season lasts from March to May, with humidity reaching uncomfortable levels and temperatures averaging in the upper 90s Fahrenheit (mid-30s Celsius). Although this period usually remains dry, rains may gather force in the month of May, which is more of a transition period towards the wet season.
- The hot and wet season, which lasts from June to August, is marked by daily heavy downpours, which bring relief for the sticky, humid weather. The days often start sunny, with showers mostly occurring in the (late) afternoon or evening, lasting for 3 to 4 hours.
- The cool and wet season occurs in September and October and sees the return of more comfortable temperatures, although it’s probably the worst time to visit Cambodia because the torrential rains are coming to a peak, often bringing floods and making roads impassable. Most days are cloudy and beach conditions are poor. It’s not all bad news since low visitor numbers means great hotel deals.
The best time to visit the Kingdom coincides with the northern hemisphere’s winter period, November through February. However, it has the be noted that the weather in Thailand has become less predictable over the past few years as a result of global warming, with the rainy season often starting in April and lasting through all of November. For a month to month weather report in Cambodia, check this excellent website.
CAMBODIA TRAVEL GUIDE: HOW TO GET THERE
Most tourists will arrive in Cambodia via one of the following three international airports:
- Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH) is Cambodia’s main international airport and is located near the capital. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Phnom Penh.
- Siem Reap International Airport (REP) serves the city of Siem Reap, a popular tourist destination due to nearby Angkor Wat. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Siem Reap
- Sihanoukville International Airport (KOS) is Cambodia’s third largest international airport, and serves the area around Sihanoukville, alos known as the Cambodian Riviera. Click here for a list of airlines that offer direct flights to Sihanoukville.
When traveling to Cambodia, consider flying in and out from different airports (for example flying in via Siem Reap and flying out via Sihanoukville) to avoid long transfers and backtracks during your holiday. Also, defore you buy a plane ticket, make sure to read my tips & tricks for buying the cheapest plane ticket.
CAMBODIA TRAVEL GUIDE: TRAVEL REQUIREMENTS
Requirements for entry into Cambodia differ from country to country, and are subject to change. Prior to departure, always check with your government and your nearest Cambodian embassy or consulate what documents you need for travel to Cambodia.
- Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Cambodia. Entry is normally refused if you have a damaged passport or pages missing.
- Currently you need to get a visa before arrival. You can get a tourist visa online, or you can purchase one at a Royal Cambodian Embassy abroad.
Before you travel, make sure you read my 10 tips to plan a worry-free trip.
CAMBODIA TRAVEL GUIDE: GETTING AROUND
Getting around Cambodia is comfortable but time-consuming (roads are narrow and there’s a lot of traffic). Significant improvements to the national highway network in the past few years have made traveling around the country much easier than it once was, with many formerly dirt roads now surfaced and new highways built.
- Travel by bus is the cheapest and most convenient way of getting around Cambodia, especially to the farthest and most remote destinations in the country. Longer bus trips usually depart in the evenings to arrive at their destination early in the morning. All buses are privately run, operated by a growing number of companies. Phnom Penh Sorya is the biggest; others include Rith Mony, GST, Paramount Angkor and Capitol Tours.
- There are also a few deluxe minibus services on the main intercity and international routes. Mekong Express is the main operator and tickets can be booked online. Fares are relatively high compared to regular bus service, although they tend to be slightly faster and passengers are guaranteed a reasonably comfortable seat and onboard service (such as WiFi and A/C).
- A domestic flight within Cambodia can save you a full day of traveling: a flight from Siem Reap to Sihanoukville takes only 45 minutes compared to 12 hours over land by car. There are several domestic airlines that offer flights within Cambodia and fares are cheap, especially if you book in advance. Tickets can be booked online via the airlines’ websites:
- Trishaws (tuktuks) are ideal for short journeys within towns and cities, and for short excursions, the country’s many trishaws would be happy to offer you a ride. Most tuktuks are not metered. Always agree on a fare beforehand.
CAMBODIA TRAVEL GUIDE: INSPIRATION, HIGHLIGHTS, & TRAVEL TIPS
There are several good reasons why you should put Cambodia on your bucket list:
- Explore Angkor Wat, one of the world’s most fascinating ruins
- Visit the killing fields, a reminder of Cambodia’s atrocious recent past
- Relax on world-class beaches in the Koh Rong Archipelago
- Sail along the mighty Mekong River
- Enjoy world-class hospitality at Cambodia’s fabulous resorts
- Explore the capital Phnom Penh
The following, in-depth articles may also inspire you and help you plan your holiday to Cambodia:
- Top 10 best things to see & do in Cambodia
- Top 10 most fabulous luxury resorts in Cambodia
- Tips & tricks for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel
- Tips & tricks for buying the cheapest plane ticket
CAMBODIA TRAVEL GUIDE: SUGGESTED ITINERARIES
Cambodia is a small country and it’s easy to explore all of its highlight within a short time frame. I suggest the following 10-day itinerary in Cambodia:
- Day 1, 2 & 3: arrival & exploration of the Sieam Reap (including a tour of Angkor Wat).
- Recommended hotel: Zannier Hotels Phum Baitang
- Day 4, 5 & 6: take a direct flight to Sihanoukville (45 min) and enjoy a few days on the beach
- Day 7, 8 & 9: transfer to Shinta Mani Wild (2,5 hours) and spend a few days in the jungle
- Recommended hotels: Bensley collection – Shinta Mani Wild
- Day 10: transfer to Phnom Penh and fly out
- Recommended hotel (if staying overnight): Rosewood Phnom Penh
If you have more time, I highly recommend to end your holiday in Cambodia with some additional nights at Soneva Kiri in Thailand, my favorite resort in the world.
CAMBODIA TRAVEL GUIDE: RECOMMENDED LUXURY HOTELS (+ REVIEWS)
Visit my top 10 list of the most fabulous hotels in Cambodia if you are eager to know how I rank the Kingdom’s top hotels, based my own experience.
Below, you find my reviews of hotels in Cambodia (with pros, cons, & tips to save money per hotel).
- Review: Shinta Mani Wild – Bensley Collection (Cambodia)
- Review of Alila Villas Koh Russey (Cambodia)
- Review: Zannier Hotels Phum Baitang (Cambodia) – AMAZING resort
- Hotel review: Raffles Le Royal (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)
- Hotel review: Park Hyatt Siem Reap (Cambodia)