Siem Reap Province
Located in northwestern Cambodia is the gateway to the world-famous Angkor temple complex, which includes the magnificent Angkor Wat. The province also contains a vibrant capital city boasting many luxury hotels, beautifully-aged colonial buildings, a buzzing Pub Street, silk farms, markets, and much more. The city of Siem Reap, also the capital of the province, is a ‘must-visit’ destination for all visitors to Cambodia. This is where the glorious 12th Century Angkor Wat temple, the largest religious building in the world, is located. Situated on the northern bank of the Tonle Sap Great Lake, this mesmerizing eighth wonder of the world can be easily accessed by plane, land, and boat. The ruins of Angkor, located in thick jungle, are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are over one thousand temples ranging in scale from nondescript piles of rubble scattered through rice fields to the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat--the best-preserved temple. Apart from the legacy of the vast Angkor temple complex, Siem Reap has a lot more to offer to tourists, from the spectacular floating village on the Tonle Sap Lake to the heritage site of the Kulen Mountain, to the recently discovered Koh Ker ruins.
Kompong Thom Province
Situated in central Cambodia, Kampong Thom is one of five provinces located at the lower part of the Tonle Sap Lake and rich in historical sites such as temples from the pre-Angkorian era. The famous Sambor Prei Kuk, an ancient city that has about two hundred brick temples is located here in this province. The city was built during the time of King Isanavarman when he successfully united the territories of Chenla Kork and the Khmer water territory of Chenla Toek. Sambo Prei Kuk served as the capital of the Khmer Empire for many centuries. It is interesting to first visit Sambor Prei Kuk before visiting the splendid Angkor complex, as its design and style are the foundations that inspired the Angkor civilization.
Once known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’, is the capital and largest city in Cambodia. It is now a cultural, commercial, and political center that offers a unique blend of traditional charm and urban bustle. Today, Phnom Penh is a place of diverse economic and urban growth. A swift wave of development has brought in new highrise buildings--including a 30-storey business center--restaurants catering to every palate, and stylish hotels promising all levels of luxury. Contributing to this development are burgeoning culinary and nightlife scenes that can rival any other in the region. The alluring capital city also features a wide variety of historical and cultural attractions, along with myriad opportunities to sample local Cambodian culture. Here, classic colonial facades endure alongside sleek new eateries, golden-spired pagodas, and buzzing markets-- all evidence of the dynamic energy of Phnom Penh's city streets. Phnom Penh's famous riverfront is lined with trendy pubs, bistros, and restaurants. Stores offering beautiful Cambodian silk products and chic galleries dot the side streets. Add to this a blooming arts scene and a heady dusk-to-dawn nightlife and you'll understand why Phnom Penh has become such a well-loved and compelling tourist destination.
Located in northwestern Cambodia contains the second most populous city in the country after Phnom Penh. The provincial capital, also Battambang, has always been a popular destination for its nearby ancient temples, French colonial architecture, and Buddhist shrines. Sitting on the Sangker River just south west of the Tonle Sap Lake, Battambang town is at the heart of Cambodia's 'rice bowl', and it maintains an untouched, bucolic feel. The streets are filled with remarkably well-preserved French colonial buildings alongside traditional Cambodian houses. The nearby countryside harbors old pagodas, Angkorian era ruins, caves, waterfalls, and Khmer Rouge period killing fields. Places of interest include Phnom Sampeu, a hill with caves of Buddha statues; the 12th Century Prasat Snung, Wat Banan, an Angkorian temple now occupied as a Buddhist shrine; Wat Baydamram where thousands of fruit bats reside, and Wat Ek Phnom.
Preah Vihear Province
which borders Thailand and Laos to the north, is home to three of the most captivating temples of the Angkorian era: the Preah Vihear temple, the Koh Ker temple, and the Preah Khan Kampong Svay temple. It also houses communities of many ethnic hill tribes. Koh Ker used to be a capital of the Khmer Emperor King Jayavarman IV who built this city in the year 921AD. Some parts of the temples are still hidden in the jungle and are not accessible. The Preah Vihear temple is most significant in this province. The temple of Preah Vihear, dedicated to Shiva, is situated on the edge of a plateau that dominates the plain of Cambodia. The temple is composed of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases over an 800 metre long axis and dates back to the first half of the 11th century AD. Nevertheless, its complex history can be traced to the 9th century, when the hermitage was founded. This site is particularly well preserved, mainly due to its remote location. It is exceptional for the quality of its architecture, which is adapted to the natural environment and the religious function of the temple, as well as for the exceptional quality of its carved stone ornamentation. A unique architectural complex of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases on an 800 metre long axis, this temple is an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture, in terms of plan, decoration and relationship to the spectacular landscape environment. Preah Khan Kampong Svay, also known as Prasat Bakan, is a complex of gigantic proportions located in the southwest corner of Preah Vihear province. It covers an area 4 times that of the Angkor Wat with a 3 km long Baray and a large number of towers or Prasats within the compound. Largely unknown and rarely visited, the temple had been very badly looted over the years. Through the energetic efforts of the Royal Government of Cambodia under the wise, brilliant leadership of Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Preah Vihear Temple was listed and declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO on July 8, 2008.
Preah Sihanouk Province
is Cambodia's most famous beach town. Better known as Kampong Som to locals, it is about 230 km southwest of Phnom Penh and boasts pristine white-sand beaches, unspoiled tropical islands, and a dynamic nightlife. With its palm-studded shores and warm, clear waters, it hardly comes as a surprise that Preah Sihanouk attracts crowds of locals, expatriates, and tourists eager for a beachside holiday. Do as locals do and enjoy the stretches of powdery white sand with a chilled coconut and some toothsome grilled seafood. Or, indulge in a beachside massage, take a dip in the sea, and go for dinner in any of the local restaurants that serve fresh crabs, prawns, lobsters, fish, and scallops in a mouth-watering array of styles. There are dozens of untouched islands off the coast of Preah Sihanouk: Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samlon both feature blissfully uncrowded beaches with palm-shaded shorelines. Being a beach town, there are also many sea-based activities for adventuous visitors, including boating, island-hopping, fishing, diving and snorkeling in crystal clear waters. For the expert enthusiast who wants to explore the mysterious underwater world of coastal Cambodia, the province has PADI Dive Centers and qualified instructors who know just the right spots to take you. In the evenings, the nightlife heats up, and those in search of pulsing bars and nightclubs won't be disappointed. Many entertainment venues, especially those on Weather Station Hill, stay open well into the wee hours.
The third largest coastal province in Cambodia shares a border with Vietnam to the east and extends into the Gulf of Siam to the south. Elegant colonial architecture, spectacular natural attractions, and bucolic charm make this province a favorite among locals, expatriates, and more recently, tourists. Kampot's languid atmosphere and quaint, small-town feel are easy to fall in love with; many who stay in the province do so on the relaxed riverside, where visitors can swim in waters full of bioluminescent plankton or take a smooth kayak ride down the river. Kampot is more than just a sleepy riverside town, however. The province offers plentiful historical and natural wonders to discover, and serves as a common gateway to Bokor National Park, the beaches of Kep, the beautiful rapids of Toek Chhou and other attractions in southwestern Cambodia. Bokor National Park is popular for its cool mountain climate and remains a year-round favourite amongst locals and foreigners alike. The scenery from the top is captivating, especially in the morning hours when one can literally touch the clouds and take in the bracing mountain air. Other attractions include the Popokvil Waterfall where thundering falls provide a cool, refershing pool to dip in. A short distance across the track, the Toek Chhou Rapids is yet another popular tourist attraction. The Prek Ampal Resort, Kampong Trach Mountain Resort and the Anlong Pring Bird Sanctuary are also worthwhile stops in Kampot.
A province on Cambodia's southern coast is a former resort town known throughout Cambodia for its relaxed, sun-dappled beaches and mouth-wateringly fresh crabs. In recent years, the province has undergone a revival, with many foreign and domestic visitors making the trip to indulge in its luxurious beachside resorts, tropical islands, and toothsome seafood. During Cambodia's golden years before 1970, this lush coastal region was a seaside playground for affluent. Although Kep's beaches may not be in the same league as those in Preah Sihanouk, travelers seek out its tranquil atmosphere and unadulterated coasts. A small section of the beach doubles as a regular crab-trading depot and the Crab Market (Psar Kdam) on the water’s edge serves as a popular tourist destination. Fishermen bring in baskets of crabs by the boatload, and waterfront restaurants cook them fresh, usually boiled with a few fragrant sticks of famed Kampot pepper. Fish, squid and prawns are also on offer, often cooking slowly over coals at the front of all the restaurants. For a relaxing day trip, visitors often travel to a nearby island such as Rabbit Island (Koh Thonsáy), which is only a short boat ride off Kep's coast. Here, you'll find beautiful seaside views, bamboo platforms and basic bungalows, and plenty of rustic charm. A boat back during the evening sunset is not to be missed. Those looking to take a break from beachside lounging may wish to visit some of the local limestone caves, some of which contain holy shrines.
Koh Kong Province
Is a quaint border province that has long had a reputation as a 'Wild West' frontier location Situated at the southwestern tip of the country near the mouth of the Kah Bpow River, the city is only 10 kilometers from the Thai border. Koh Kong has a long coastline and a large forested interior that embraces part of the Cardamom Mountains and a section of Kirirom National Park. Its tourist attractions include a theme park, beaches, waterfalls and a rich mangrove forest. There are many offshore islands nearby Koh Kong, the most interesting of which is Koh Kong Khoa, a practically uninhabited jungle paradise with seven magnificent white sandy beaches. This island is only about a forty five minute water taxi ride from shore. Koh Kong has enjoyed quite a few tourism development projects that have turned the province into a great tour destination. The province is linked to Phnom Penh and Preah Sihanouk Province via Sre Ambel by National Route 4. This newly built road provides visitors yet another option to access the province by road. A drive on this road is highly recommended to those who love nature; the road winds through some of Cambodia's least developed and unspoiled regions - the Cardamom Mountains. Amidst thick forest, streams and charming waterfalls, the adventure rewards with scenic sites for stopovers and great photography. Mangroves are spread along the coast from Kep to Koh Kong, and they cover an area of over 50,000 hectares in Koh Kong. Mangroves are specialized tropical trees that live on the edge where rainforests meet oceans. These ‘rainforests by the sea’ are rich breeding grounds for shrimps, prawns, crabs, shellfish, snails and fishes, especially the beautiful Mud skippers that seem to enjoy the surface more than being in water. They are also nesting sites for many shore birds, lizards, sea turtles, and many other exotic animal species.
Rattanak Kiri Province
is the mountainous northeastern frontier province of Cambodia that borders Laos to the north, Vietnam to the east, Mondul Kiri Province to the south, and Stung Treng Province to the west. It extends from the mountains of the Annamite Range in the north, across a plateau between the Tonle San and Tonle Srepok rivers. Famed for its stunning natural beauty and ethnic diversity, Rattanak Kiri is full of natural and cultural treasures just waiting to be discovered. Its capital is Banlung City. Rattanak Kiri boasts some of the most striking landscapes the region has to offer and is home to several settlements of ethic hill tribes. Among the many picturesque natural sites are the crystal clear Yeak Laom volcanic lake, incredible fresh waterfalls, gem mines, and a dense rainformest teeming with exotic flora and fauna. In contrast to modern day opulence, this province remains largely untouched as the majority of the population in Rattanak Kiri is made up of ethnic minority groups living harmoniously with nature. Most visitors to Rattanak Kiri choose to base themselves in Banlung City from where excursions can be arranged to visit the Khmer Loeu villages and an array of natural sites.
Mondul Kiri Province
To the south of Rattanak Kiri is Mondul Kiri, the most sparsely populated province in Cambodia, despite being the largest in land area. This province is known for its thickly-forested hills, verdant landscapes, and cascading waterfalls. Its capital is Sen Monorom. Though remote, Mondul Kiri will awe visitors who make the trip with its otherworldly tranquility and beauty. To truly appreciate this province, one should arrange for a trek (or an elephant ride!) through the area's lush jungles to enjoy unspoiled scenery and the bracing fresh air, not to mention some of the country's most spectacular waterfalls. Few visitors will pass up the chance to soak in the rare and dramatic beauty of a waterfall tucked in the thick of the Mondul Kiri jungle. Mondul Kiri also offers a handful of unforgettable cultural attractions. Many visitors enjoy a stop at the Phnong minority villages where they can observe the rich culture belonging to local hill tribes. There are even opportunities to experience cultural community life on the edges of the forest through ‘home stay’ arrangements in the corridor zone of Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mondul Kiri Protected Forest.