Dominated by the Mekong River and the Tonlé Sap Lake, Cambodia’s central plains are an incredibly fertile area. The majestic Dangkrek Mountains in the north and the Cardamom Mountains in the south- west form secure habitats for a variety of endangered plants and animals. The country’s 277-mile (443-km) long coastline is marked with fine powdery beaches, while the warm tropical waters are dotted with thousands of islands, making a rich contrast to the rugged north. Although the temple complexes of Angkor continue to be Cambodia’s primary attraction, towns such as Ban Lung, Battambang, and Sihanoukville also have much to offer.
Siem Reap serves as an ideal base for exploring the magnificent temples of Angkor, as well as the Tonlé Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake.
Angkor Wat was built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century and rediscovered by the French during the 1860s. It is the biggest and best preserved of the numerous temples that were built in and around the ancient city of Angkor Thom.
Kbal Chhay Cascades, situated on the scenic Prek Toeuk Sap River, is a favorite picnicking and swimming spot among locals and also visitors, particularly during the rainy season.
Sihanoukville is a bustling town that serves as a gateway to an archipelago of verdant islands and a number of splendid beaches. Boat trips, snorkeling, scuba diving, and windsurfing are on offer here.
Prasat Preah Vihear, another temple from the Angkor period, was built by seven different Khmer kings. Dramatically located atop the cliffs of the Dangkrek Mountains, this complex is 2,625 ft (800 m) long, with a majestic stairway that ascends through four exquisitely carved Gopuras (gateway towers) before reaching the sanctuary.
Kratie is a great place to spot the endangered Irrawaddy dolphin, which is found in the muddy waters of the Mekong River.
Ban Lung, capital of the remote province of Ratanakiri in the northeast, awes visitors with its waterfalls, bamboo forests, and crater lakes. An emerging hub for ecotourism, it offers exciting activities such as trekking, kayaking, and elephant rides.
Kompong Cham, a sleepy provincial capital, is home to a number of temples and French- style boulevards.
The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda are the most striking landmarks in Phnom Penh. The Royal Palace, built in 1866, is the official residence of the king of Cambodia. The adjoining Silver Pagoda, named for the 5,000 silver tiles that cover its floor, is the most important structure in the complex. Also known as Wat Preah Keo, it houses the sacred Emerald Buddha.