When we think of incredible places to visit in Southeast Asia, Cambodia isn’t a country that’s top of mind. We think of Thailand, Indonesia, maybe Vietnam. But never Cambodia. But since we love under-the-radar travel, we decided to spend a few weeks seeing what Cambodia has to offer.
It surprised us by being one of our new favorite countries. With friendly people, incredible food, and beautiful landscapes, we were amazed at how diverse Cambodia is. In fact, there are so many reasons that we love Cambodia that we decided to make a list.
Cambodia is a country that (we think) more tourists should really consider visiting. It has so much to offer! Yes, Siem Reap is supposed to be incredible, but there’s so much more to see. We also highly recommend visiting the coast–we visited Kep, Kampot and Koh Rong and loved them all.
So without further ado, here are 11 reasons why we love Cambodia.
11 Reasons Why We Love Cambodia
1. You can push your limits and try new things.
Sometimes travel is about more than just visiting beautiful places. It’s about pushing your limits and trying new things. We found that Cambodia gave us so many opportunities to test our limits since the culture is so different from what we were used to.
From trying bugs and swimming in rivers to riding tuktuks and visiting rural locations, we made so many memories in Cambodia.
2. The food is amazing.
Food is on the top of our list for things to try in a new country. We’ll never understand people who travel to a new place and just eat cheeseburgers and pasta the whole time. You’re in a new country…try the cuisine!
Cambodian cuisine is very flavorful and spicy. There are a ton of noodle dishes which are perfect for the less adventurous eater. But then there’s also dishes with things like Red Tree Ants for people who want to truly immerse themselves in the Cambodian food scene.
3. The people are very friendly and helpful.
Everywhere we went in Cambodia, we were blown away by how friendly the people are. Most people speak at least passable English, so communication isn’t too much of an issue. But even when they don’t speak English, they’re always smiling, waving, and willing to lend a helpful hand.
The kids were the most friendly. They’ll always wave and say hello, and some will even come and play with you if you seem nice.
4. It’s very cheap and easy to get around.
When we arrived at the Phnom Penh airport, it cost only $2.50 to take the train into town. Then, we used the Grab app to call a tuktuk to take us to our hotel. This cost less than $1 USD!
Bus tickets typically cost between $6-$10 and that will get you basically anywhere in the country. We even took a private tuktuk ride about 30 km between two towns and it only cost us $12.
5. The beaches are beautiful.
If you head to the islands off the coast of Cambodia, you’ll be amazed at how beautiful and serene the beaches are. We spent a few days in Koh Rong, Cambodia and fell in love with the white sandy beaches.
We’ll be honest that some of the beaches have a trash problem. Cambodia is a developing country, after all. Hopefully people will be more conscientious about maintaining the beauty of the beaches so that they’re preserved for many years to come.
6. There are so many unique experiences.
We loved how many unique experiences there were in Cambodia. From visiting an organic pepper plantation to getting a ride on water buffalo in a secret lake, we loved it all.
If you open your mind to new experiences, Cambodia will be the perfect place for you.
7. It’s a very affordable country.
Cambodia is a developing country, so prices are relatively affordable as compared to most Western countries. They also use the U.S. Dollar interchangeably with their currency, making it a very easy travel destination for Americans.
We found that we could feed the both of us a meal for under $5 very easily. Lodging was equally affordable, and we found nice places to stay each night for around $20 USD per night.
8. The slow pace of life.
As soon as you leave the bustling capital city that is Phnom Penh, you’ll find that Cambodia enjoys a slower pace of life. This is especially true on the coast.
Things are more leisurely, everybody takes their time…it’s actually really nice. Often we don’t get time to “smell the roses” when we travel, and southern Cambodia allowed us to do just that.
If you’re looking to experience the leisurely side of Cambodia, we definitely recommend Kampot. It’s a super cool city and our hotel, Ramo Resort, was a bargain and was right on the river.
9. The markets are amazing.
This is true especially in Phnom Penh. There are so many amazing markets to check out, from the Phnom Penh Night Market to the Kep Crab Market. We found the food to be freshest, cheapest, and tastiest at markets.
10. The river cruises are an unforgettable experience.
Many of the major destinations in Cambodia are on or near a river. This means that river cruises are very popular for tourists! It’s a really fun way to see the area from a new perspective. Plus, the breeze in your hair will cool you down on a hot day.
In Phnom Penh, you can hop on a sunset river cruise for just $5 USD. On board, you’ll enjoy incredible views, music, and you can even buy drinks. There were also tons of river cruises on the river in Kampot.
11. It has a rich and complicated history.
Like most countries, Cambodia has a very rich yet complicated history. With the Khmer Rouge regime ending in 1999, the aftermath of such a brutal genocide that killed about 25% of Cambodia’s population is still very raw.
It’s so important that we preserve this history, remember it, and learn from it. Visiting a museum or historical site during your time is a must. We recommend doing a Killing Fields and S21 Tour to see for yourself the effects of Khmer Rouge.
We spent 2.5 weeks in Cambodia and wished we had more time. Though we did spend some time in Phnom Penh catching up on work, there was so much more we wished we could see.
In a way, we’re sort of glad that we didn’t get to see Siem Reap because it guarantees that we will have to come back to Cambodia again one day. Until next time, Cambodia!
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