What to do in Cambodia: 5 secrets
Of course, if you are going to Cambodia you will want to see the famous temples of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. You will also visit the capital, Phnom Penh, and see the Royal Palace. But there are still many unknown places to discover. We tell you what you to do in Cambodia.
1. Look at architecture in Phnom Penh
There are not many buildings left by former star architect Vann Molyvann. He has designed the Olympic Stadium and the famous Chaktomouk Theater as well as the Independence Monument. You can still see both of them. He worked directly under King Sihanouk in the golden period of Cambodia between 1955 and 1970, when the city became the pearl of Southeast Asia. He also founds the New Cambodian Architecture, which is still an inspiration for many architects and artists. A glimpse of what Phnom Penh looked like in the 60s is in this video. Another highlight in architecture is the Central Market. You can also watch it from above on Google Maps and see how its arms reach all directions. It was built in 1937 and was then the largest market building in Asian. It is one of the most famous Art Deco buildings in Asia and a must on the list of what to do in Cambodia.
2. Modern Art in Cambodia
As a traveler, you will learn a lot about the past of Cambodia, especially the time of the Khmer Empire and the sad Khmer Rouge period. But there are also interesting developments in the present, and art is at the top of the list. Some artists have freed themselves from the shackles of the old rules and try to break new ground. One is Vannak Khun, a photographer and performance artist who has already presented his works in Tokyo. You can visit him in his studio in Phnom Penh and enjoy a typical Cambodian meal together. He will show you his works and explain what they mean. If you are interested in dance then you can watch the performances of Silverbell in Phnom Penh, a Cambodian dance group that performs modern dance and is also a highligt, what you can do in Cambodia. In Siem Reap there are the New Cambodian Artists, who also perform modern dance. You can also see great art in galleries, such as Theams House in Siem Reap, Tribe Gallery in Siem Reap, Sangker Gallery and Romcheik 5 Artspace & Café in Battambang, and Kbach Gallery and DinArt Gallery in Phnom Penh.
3. Eat with locals
The Cambodian cuisine is not well known, most travelers know the dishes Amok and Lok Lak, but not much else. The kitchen of the Cambodian kings has even influenced the Thai cuisine, and even has Indian roots. Cambodian food is not so spicy because there was no chili at the time of the Khmer empire – they were introduced later from South America. Many ancient Khmer dishes are still cooked in families today. It is a unique experience to go home to a family and cook a typical Cambodian meal together. You will cook like home, in a typical local kitchen, which is sometimes even outside the house and eat with locals. At Dine With The Locals, you can choose from 15 different host families in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Battambang and Banteay Meanchey. Each family has their own dishes and recipes, and if you want to know what you can do in Cambodia, it’s definitely a family visit. You can also help the family earn extra money.
4. What to do in Cambodia: Exploring the hinterland
As a traveler, the best experience is to leave the classic route and explore new paths. For example, if you want to travel from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, you can make a stop in Kampong Thom, there are guesthouses or the cheap but quite good Glorious Hotel. Here you can see some lesser-known temples like Prasat Andet, Prasat Kuhak Nokor or Sambo Preykuk. To relax, you can take a rest at The Prey Pros. This is a real insider tip what you can do in Cambodia. The villagers have built a tourist attraction on a lake, which is mainly visited by locals. During the week, it is rather quiet and you can wonderfully enjoy the nature and talk to the owners of food stalls. If you want to travel to Siem Reap via Battambang, you can stop in Kampong Chnang. The city is quite small, but beautifully situated on the Tonle Sap River. Climb the Phnom Kong Rei and enjoy the views of the surrounding area. Go to the market and try the dishes there, especially the baked sweets.
5. By bike through the villages
We are not big fans of guided tours, so we do not offer guides at Dine With The Locals. We believe it’s better to explore the area on your own. That’s why we recommend simply taking a bike and touring on your own. In Phnom Penh you can take the bike and the Tuktuk to the Koh Dach peninsula and explore it on two wheels. Another tour leads to Tonle Bati, a popular lake south of Phnom Penh. Try to avoid the main roads and use Google Maps. Here are also small streets and paths registered. In Battambang you can drive through the city from north to south, all the way to Phnom Sampov. If you want to experience something very special, what to do in Cambodia is to visit our host Panha Yem. She has an organic garden and grows her own vegetables. She is also an environmental activist and teaches students how to do without plastic. You will cook a delicious meal with her and take it together and then she will take you on a great tour through her village. An unforgettable experience.
If you have any questions about what to do in Cambodia, just send us an email or contact us via Whatsapp or Facebook. We are happy to help