Top 5 unforgettable experiences in Cambodia

A captivating blend of lost cities, stunning coastal towns and dark recent history, a trip to Cambodia enables you to broaden your horizons as well as indulge in some rest and relaxation. Beyond the temples, it can be difficult to choose the best experiences to enrich your visit. Here are our top 5 unforgettable experiences that delve into the country’s unique magic:

Rowing on the Tonle Sap at sunrise

Rowing around the around the floating villages of the Tonle Sap at dawn is perhaps one of the most atmospheric experiences in Asia. From 5am the villages bustle into life: kids head to school, fishermen to work and fruit and veg fill the floating markets. The light is glorious and gives the villages’ bright colour palette a beautiful golden glow. To catch a glimpse of this, be prepared for an early start. School starts around 7am and finishes around 1pm (to avoid the heat of the day), so to see the morning run you have to be in the area pretty much at sunrise. But it’s so worth it. There will be hardly any tourists up at that time and it is a truly special, unforgettable experience.

2. Temples of Angkor

The first time you visit the temples of Angkor, it’s hard not to be stunned. Though Angkor Wat is the most famous – and its majesty is not to be understated – few people know that it is in fact only one in a complex of over 1,000 other temples. Many of these other temples are just as beautiful, but with far fewer crowds.

3. Koh Ker

Nestled in rural Cambodia, around a two hour drive from Siem Reap, Koh Ker is a mystical temple well off the tourist trail. There aren’t many places left this beautiful that don’t have the coach loads of tourists arriving, but the distance from Siem Reap means it’s still quite off the beaten track. It’s fantastic to spend a morning getting lost among the rambling ruins.

4. Elephant Valley Project, Mondulkiri

An NGO-run elephant project that not only provides employment for local people, but is also a wonderfully ethical way to encounter elephants. Set in a beautiful natural environment, the Elephant Valley Project runs a number of schemes to ensure the welfare of elephants. These include elephant research and monitoring, veterinarian support, eco-tourism training and, most importantly, elephant care and rehabilitation. You can’t ride or touch the elephants, which is best for the animals and the locals, but you can get quite close to these amazing creatures as they roam freely around the project grounds.

5. Coastal relaxation in Kep

Well away from the tourist hubs of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Kep provides a fantastic insight into how real life ticks along in Cambodia. Meander down the seafront to enjoy that wonderful sea breeze and visit the mouth-watering crab market. There are some great hotels here too, offering comfort and colonial charm.

Sam Clark is CEO at Experience Travel Group. Experience Travel Group offers tailor-made luxury travel experiences in South and South-East Asia.

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