**Updated : October 2023**
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Why Visit Cambodia?
Cambodia is a small country in Southeast Asia. Surrounded by Thailand to the West, Laos to the North, Vietnam to the East, and the Gulf of Thailand to the South - Cambodia is known for it's natural beauty and history. If you're planning a trip to Cambodia, our best recommendation would be to fly in order to avoid the whole hassle of transferring via bus from Thailand, Laos, or Vietnam, - which can be quite stressful and honestly a bit sketchy. Of course - this entirely depends on where you're coming from and what your budget is, as well as where in Cambodia you plan to visit. In addition to carefully deciding whether to fly into Cambodia or take a bus from a nearby country, there are a few other things we recommend taking note of.
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Best Things to Do in Cambodia
1. Visit an APOPO Visitor Center
The APOPO Visitor Center in Siem Reap was our favorite stop in Cambodia, mainly because to us it felt so unique. Entry costs $5 for a little tour that teaches all about the rats and how they're helping save Cambodia, as well as a demonstration of the rats and how they sniff out land mines. The tour ends with an opportunity to hold the rats, which are only half their growing size. It was truly an eye opening experience, and we learned so much about current and past land mine situations. If you aren't able to visit in person, you can learn a lot more about the process and donate on their website.
2. Visit the Killing Fields
Scattered throughout Cambodia, visiting one of these 20,000+ sites where an estimated 1,000,000+ were killed is a sobering experience. Dating back to the Khmer rule from 1975-1979, this genocide was one of the most brutal in history, and we think it's an important stop during your time in Cambodia. We visited the largest killing field memorial located near Phnom Penh, called Choeung Ek, and paid $5 each which included entrance and an audio headset for an auditory tour. (Otherwise it'll cost $3 for entrance if you're not interested in the headset.) It's important to be respectful during your visit, a majority of the site is silent, and although not required we would recommend dressing respectfully as well.
3. Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is considered the largest temple complex in the entire world, and this is one spot in Cambodia that you won't want to miss. A classified UNESCO site, Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century, and took nearly 30 years to complete. Although our visit took just a few hours, some people say you can spend entire days here, which is why a multi day pass to the temples might be worth it. We've heard the best time to go is at sunrise for a stunning view and to avoid the heat, although we can't imagine the crowds at this time. It's also important to dress respectfully, be aware of monkeys, and respect the complex itself. Unfortunately many parts of the buildings are crumbling and need repairs, so it's important to reduce your impact during your visit as much as possible.
4. Explore the rest of Angkor Thom
Although most people explore Angkor Wat, some people forget to explore the rest of the Angkor Thom city complex. Not only do we recommend Ta Prohm - the famous "tomb raider" temple featured in "Lara Croft : Tomb Raider" with trees growing out of the temple complexes - we also recommend visiting Bayon Temple, Bakheng Temple, Banteay Srei Temple, Preah Khan Temple, and Baphuon Temple which might be a little less crowded than the main sites. You ticket from Angkor Enterprise will cover your entrance to all these sites, and you can purchase a single or multi-day pass. It's important to keep this ticket on you at all times, and ours was checked multiple times during our visit.
5. Khmer Massage
Khmer massages are the traditional massages of Cambodia (similar to a Thai Massage in Thailand). They're based on traditional Khmer medicine and uses stretching techniques to help you into assisted yoga postures. We'll be honest it might not feel the most relaxing during the massage itself, but afterwards you'll leave feeling great. There are multiple places throughout Cambodia where you can get a Khmer massage - and when we got ours in Siem Reap we paid about $5 each for a one hour massage.
6. The Royal Palace of Cambodia
Located in the capital city of Phnom Penh, the Royal Palace of Cambodia (not pictured above), was started in 1866 and has seen multiple reigns and rulers. With a similar resemblance to the Thai Royal Palace (pictured above) in Bangkok, it's important to dress respectfully (meaning shoulders and knees covered), and to respect the no photography enforcement in certain areas and buildings. The Royal Palace is important as it was built to to become the residence for the Cambodian King, and has also been used to host multiple ceremonies and events, not to mention it is intricately detailed and beautiful. Open everyday from 8:00am to 11:00am and again from 2:00pm to 5:00pm, entry costs $10 USD or 40,000 Riel.
7. Local Markets
Local markets, filled with small stalls and carts, are a great way to meet and see the local way of life. You'll be able to try Cambodian street foods like stuffed frog, fried tarantula, grilled squid, and even scorpion on a stick - for the brave of heart only. The friendly locals will be more than happy to make some recommendations. ;) If you're visiting Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, then we recommend the Central Market (very popular with tourists and great for jewelry and souvenirs), the Russian Market (another popular spot for tourists and great for instruments along with anything else you need), and the Phnom Penh Night Market (which has a central stage with live performances). If you're visiting Siem Reap we recommend Phsar Chas (for souvenirs and the most popular market), Angkor Night Market (a lively night market with massages, food and drinks) and the King's Road Angkor Market (a market selling only items made from locals).
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We're Deborah & Tyler, a pretty average husband and wife duo from a pretty average state that didn't want to live so averagely. After our *Covid wedding we sold everything that didn't fit into the Jeep and moved to Alaska, then decided to take a gap year!
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