Angkor Wat is absolutely incredible and it should deffo be on everyone's Cambodia bucket list - but this beautiful country has plenty more to offer. The food is delicious, the scenery is magic, and it's home to some pretty mind-blowing wildlife. Here are 4 must-do Cambodian experiences for intrepid souls...
Learn to cook like the locals in Siem Reap
Khmer (Cambodian) food can be a little unusual, but you can’t visit a country without sampling the local cuisine or even better, learning how to cook it. So while you’re in Siem Reap visiting Angkor Wat, make sure you keep an afternoon spare and book yourself in for a cooking class.
You’ll tour a local market where you’ll learn all about the ingredients used in Khmer cooking, and have the opportunity to try some of the local delicacies – like fried bugs and duck embyros. If that’s not your style, wait until you get back to the cooking school where you’ll learn the secrets to making some of the more appetising Khmer dishes like Banana Blossom Salad, Fish Amok, or Pumpkin Custard. No matter whats on the menu, you can guarantee it will be delicious.
Take a trip to the tropical island paradise of Koh Rong Samleom
Cambodia isn’t known for its tropical islands, but there is one island that could easily give famous islands like Koh Samui, or Koh Phi Phi a run for their money: Koh Rong. Think white sand beaches, turquoise water, lush greenery, and epic sunsets. It’s incredibly laid back, and an awesome place to chill and disconnect from the world for a while.
There are no roads, no vehicles, no ATMs, very little WiFi, and limited power. But there IS plenty of beaches that offers amazing diving, snorkelling, and swimming, or even just some mint scenery while you lay in the sun and read a book. There are also tonnes of cool restaurants and chill bars where you can hang out when you get bored of the beach (as if that’s even possible…)
Experience local life in Chiro Village
While only 8km outside the city of Kampong Cham, you’ll feel a world away from modern civilisation in Chiro Village. Here, people live farm crops, rear livestock, and fish in the river. They get around by foot, cook their meals outside, and they not only welcome you into their village, but also their homes.
Even just walking down the road in Chiro Village is an experience. You’ll be greeted by almost every kid in the village, and get to see the locals going about their everyday lives. Whether that be working in the fields, feeding cows, laying corn out on the road to dry in the sun, napping in a hammock, or having a beer in the shade. If you’re lucky, they might even invite you to join them!
Go dolphin spotting down the Mekong
Running all the way from Tibet down to Vietnam, the Mekong River is home to one of the rarest dolphin populations in the world. While there are about 7,000 Irrawaddy Dolphins living in the oceans surrounding South East Asia, there are less than 100 living in the Mekong River. If you’re in Cambodia, you can get a glimpse of the Irrawaddy Dolphin in the tiny village of Kampi.
With the largest group of Irrawaddy in all of the Mekong, your chances of spotting one of these dolphins is pretty high. They are a small dolphin with a short, rounded dorsal fin and a round head that looks a lot like a beluga whale. While a little funny looking, their unusual features make them incredibly cute, and seeing an Irrawaddy Dolphin in the wild should definitely be on your bucket list.