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7 Must see experiences in Cambodia

7 Must see experiences in Cambodia

No matter what they say, there’s more to Cambodia than Angkor Wat, though it is the numero uno reason for going there.

Angkor wat

Here are seven reasons why you must experience the exotic Cambodia beyond the obvious, Angkor Wat.

1. Temples
Bayon temple
Say Cambodia and they ask “Angkor Wat”? This epic temple is a phenomenon so synonymous with Cambodia that nothing else seems to exist in that country. Not to mention, scores of tourists from all over the world go to just see the sunrise here and then return to their countries. Your trip to Cambodia is incomplete if you do not boast about visiting this temple complex of impressive architecture, a combination of history, and Hindu mythology.
The other temples which I highly recommend are Bayon temple, Banteay Srei and Ta Prohm where trees and stones compete with each other to tell stories hidden since hundreds of years and where Angelina Jolie’s movie Tomb raider was shot.

2. Apsara dance
7 must see experiences Cambodia Apsara dance
The traditional dance of Cambodia is called Apsara dance. The flexibility of all the joints and the slow flowing dance patterns seem to indicate a poetry in motion. Many of the hand movements are quite similar to the Mudras of Indian Classical Dance forms. The word Apsara means exactly the same as in Hindu Mythology.

3. Genocide museum
genocide museum
Move from Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat which in my opinion is touristy; you’ll see a very different Cambodia. Though the whole country is still recovering from its disturbing past, the Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh will tell you how barbaric the period was. Natives, with the help of NGOs, are picking up pieces to make a respectful living from what they are left with, trying to forget the horrific past.

4. Silk island
silk island
Each family on this island near Phnom Penh is a weaver’s family where kids from young age know how to work on a loom. Golden threads are woven to create beautiful Cambodian motifs on raw silk fabrics which are made into wall hangings, shawls, stoles, scarves, table linen. Learning English is a craze among young children of Koh Dach, who on weekends come to the mainland on a ferry in search of prospective customers and take them to their houses.

5. Street Food
street food cambodia
Like any other south-east Asian country, Cambodia is also a haven for non-vegetarian food. People wait in long queues when a bull is skinned and barbequed on the streets. Deep fried baby snakes are a delicacy, so are the small pregnant birds with their half grown eggs intact in their bodies. Fried Grasshoppers, Roaches, crickets, beetles, maggots & other insects are consumed as snacks just like we have potato chips and likes.

6. Ton le sap
ton le sap
This lake is not just a lake but a concept and a medium to earn livelihood for hundreds of locals and Vietnamese refugees. They live, study, pray, eat and sleep in their boats on the lake. Floating schools, churches, grocery shops, hospital and even graves can be seen here. A typical scene you could come across is of children floating in aluminum tubs with big water snakes around their necks, posing for photos and asking for money.

7. Cambodian Weddings
cambodian wedding
You can not attend a Cambodian wedding if you go there as a tourist for a short visit and do not mingle with locals. I have volunteered in Cambodia for months and several locals had made me a part of their families and their joyous and their sad moments. The Cambodian weddings are as elaborate as Indian weddings. There are various rituals and events such as asking bride’s hand from her elders, engagement ceremony, procession, reception, song & dance and the actual wedding.

Recommended read : Cambodia Travel tips

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42 thoughts on “7 Must see experiences in Cambodia”

  1. Very true that people know only Angkor Wat as Cambodia. I would love to capture the silhouetted Angkor Wat someday in my life. Loved your pictures. Are there any veggie delights for the less fortunate vegetarians like us?

  2. Very interesting post. Thanks to your video, I am discovering your previous blogs. My pick is the lake. Did the Graves also float?
    Cambodia is definitely on my list. The food ???? you mentioned are exotic but off putting for a vegetarian like me. I would love to see the Apsara dance and attend a local wedding.
    Did you find bamboo train. If not Google it. It’s quirky. I wanna ride one when I am there.

      1. Yes, I know of Bamboo train, another touristy thing. 🙂 Didn’t find time to go specially for this.

        You can see Apsara dance in any good restaurants, mostly including food. The more genuine ones with real artistes will cost you anything around $80-150.

        Well, I was cooking my food so I did not face any problem. 🙂

    1. I think I did all these but did not get to see a wedding, it really is an amazing country with so much to enjoy and eat, which to me is one of my favorite things

    2. We had an amazing time in Cambodia when we visited. So much to see, such an interesting culture, and the people were some of the friendliest we’ve encountered on the road. We too loved the street food, and the crab shacks down in Kep were especially fun and highly recommended.

    3. We loved our time in Cambodia – and you are totally right, there is so much more to the country than just Angkor Wat (as stunning as it is!).

      We recommend visiting Battambang – we hadn’t really heard of it before we visited, but it very quickly became one of our favourite places. So relaxed and laid back, with wonderful architecture and great food!

    4. I’ve always wanted to visit Cambodia as it’s been on my radar for so long! I immediately think of Angkor Wat as a destination, but I can see from your article that there are a lot of other sites and activities to consider as well. Those kids on the river with the snakes are something else!

    5. Cambodia is truly memorable! I didn’t have the chance to attend a wedding, though! That would be such an inside look at the culture. Not only in Tonle Sap, but outside the Angkor temples and in many places, it’s important to not give money to children asking for it. It was so hard, especially as a teacher, but the cycle of children going uneducated continues when they become essential family wage-earners.

    6. This is a great post because all I’ve been seeing lately are posts for Cambodia and Angkor Wat. If it weren’t for this post I might of missed all this other wonderful stuff. Would love to see the Apsara dance and the Genocide museum. Creepy but interesting. I’d also wait in line for the beef but snakes…I’d pass. Lol

    7. Cambodia is a dream destination for us. The prime reason for this, of course, is the magnificent temple of Angkor Wat. Been fascinated by the great temple and would love to get there and listen to the stories the stone structures have to tell.

    8. A very exciting guide to Cambodia. I was in this country a long time ago, in 2009 and it has certainly changed a lot since my visit. The temples of Angkor Wat made an amazing impression on me, I spent over a week in Angkor. I also visited the Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh to learn as much as possible about the dark side of this country’s history. I would like to come back to Cambodia someday.

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