Overview

Less visited than it's neighbour Thailand, Cambodia is one of Asia's 'hidden gems'. This small nation is packed full of history waiting to be discovered in the temples, towns and villages that dot the country. Explore luscious jungle, unwind on the quiet beaches of the south or float down the Mekong River which runs between Laos and Vietnam through the centre of Cambodia. As well as offering a fascinating insight into Cambodia's past, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh both boast a wonderful selection of local markets and delicious food in cafés, restaurants and from street vendors. Stay longer and head off the beaten track to discover more of this unique country, from rice paddy fields to rural villages.

Highlights

From towering temples and busy markets to beautiful beaches and isolated islands, Cambodia is both inspiring and mesmerising.

The Temples of Angkor

The Temples of Angkor are a point of pilgrimage for both locals and visitors and are one of the world's greatest architectural showpieces. This breathtaking collection of ancient monuments and temples is spread over 400 sq km between the Tonle Sap Lake and the Kulen Mountains. A Cambodian icon and the most famous of the temples, Angkor Wat is a masterpiece of Khmer architecture that was constructed in the mid 12th Century and is surrounded by a vast moat. At the heart of the nearby ancient walled city of Angkor Thom, discover the magical Bayon Buddhist temple, topped with dozens of towers carved with more than 11,000 figures.

The beaches of southern Cambodia

Southern Cambodia offers a distinct contrast to the temples found further north around Siem Reap. Perched on a peninsula, Sihanoukville is a lively coastal town boasting beautiful white beaches and sparkling waters. This is a great place to unwind and play in the warm, shallow waters, or to use as a base for exploring the islands just off the mainland.

Bustling Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh has remained relatively unchanged, with open-fronted shops bustling with haggling traders and streets teeming with food vendors and colourful markets. Explore this virtually flat city by bike and discover old colonial villas and the lively riverfront. Nearby, the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are home to a stunning collection of Buddha statues and are one of Phnom Penh's key tourist attractions. The National Museum, also close to the riverfront, houses an extensive collection of ancient artefacts and Khmer art.

When to visit

From November to January, Cambodia's weather is similar to that experienced during a Mediterranean summer. It's the most popular time to visit and becomes busy over Christmas and New Year. From February to April, temperatures and humidity rise before the rainy season (May to September) when short, heavy showers that rarely last all day make the country bloom.