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Updated by Joanna James on Feb 11, 2018
Headline for 5 Best Tourist Attractions in Cambodia - Gorgeous Locations that will Leave you Mesmerised
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Joanna James Joanna James
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5 Best Tourist Attractions in Cambodia - Gorgeous Locations that will Leave you Mesmerised

Cambodia is filled with hundreds of ancient sites, stunning natural attractions and friendly people. Whilst most famous for its temples, there's so much more to see - here are the top 5 attractions.

1

Sihanoukville

Also commonly known as Kampong Som, this is the country's most lively beach side destination, located on the Gulf of Thailand. The main attraction is the brilliant white sand beaches, and a couple of undeveloped tropical islands, which are reached from this point. A favourite with backpackers, Sihanoukville is an ideal place stay and to relax, although during the high season, you expect to find crowds of tourists here. Toward the south of town, you will find Otres Beach, known for a handful of affordable bungalows that are spotted around the beach. The vibe here is a bit more laid back, perfect for lazy days spent sunbathing on the beach.

2

Koh Ker

Once the centre of the Khmer empire during 928 AD to 944 AD, this magnificent site was later abandoned to the thick jungles of the north and presumed lost forever - before it was reclaimed and opened to the public. The main attraction here is the massive Prasat Thom, a 7-tiered, pyramid shaped temple which rises high above the surrounding area. Like most Cambodian temples, there are several impressive carvings and sculptures scattered around the site. A large Garuda (mythical bird creature) is carved into the stone blocks, guarding the temple summit. The temple complex contains around 42 major structures covering a large expanse. If you want to explore the entire area, it's necessary to spend at least one night here. Travellers can opt to stay at a luxury hotel in Siem Reap, which is a 2-hour drive away from Koh Ker.

3

Kratie

A quiet town situated on the banks of the Mekong River, Kratie is a laid back area dominated by a frenzied central marketplace, fringed by old French-era buildings that were spared from the wartime time destruction that saw many beautiful colonial buildings destroyed. Kratie is best known as a popular location to view the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins who live in the Mekong River. Once a thriving species, it is estimated that there are now only between 60 to 90 individuals left swimming in the Cambodian Mekong area. This isn't exactly a tourist hot-spot, but you will see plenty of backpackers passing through the town as they break their trips here, to rest before heading toward the 10,000 Islands near southern Laos.

4

Angkor Wat

The largest and most spectacular of Cambodia's ancient temples, Angkor Wat is the top tourist attraction in the country, and with good reason. Built during the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, the temple's layout and beauty make it one of the finest ancient monuments in the world. Surrounded by a large rectangular reservoir, a bas-relief runs around the central temple, covered with intricate carvings depicting historical events and mythological tales. 3 rectangular terraces rise up to the central shrine and tower, reflecting the Khmer idea of the temple mountain. Because of its sheer size, visitors need at least a day to really explore Angkor Wat, ideally with a local guide who can explain the meanings behind all the carvings. Several hotels such as Anantara Angkor Resort have temple excursion packages available.

5

The Silver Pagoda

Located inside the Royal Palace complex, aside from its own celestial beauty, the Silver Pagoda is home to several national treasures. Most notable of them is the 17th century Emerald Buddha of Cambodia, and a gold Buddha decorated with around 9584 sparkling diamonds. The internal wall of courtyard is decorated with a colourful mural depicting the Ramayana story.