Cambodia

With its mighty Angkorian temples, lush jungle landscapes, and welcoming people, Cambodia is a special place to explore.

I’ve been to Cambodia twice. My maiden voyage there was as a solo traveler. It was my first time visiting Southeast Asia, and I also journeyed to Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos during that three-week adventure. A few years later, Shawn and I spent 16 days in Cambodia, as part of a five-month-long Asian trip.

Though the country is rebounding from years of genocide and war, a visit there is still fraught with reminders of Cambodia’s tragic past. When I saw children begging, or men with amputated limbs selling books and postcards in Phnom Penh, I often felt overwhelmed and uncertain how to make a difference. One way that visitors can help is by frequenting family-owned businesses and other well-respected establishments with a cause. I’ve shared some sites I found worthwhile on this page.

Below, you’ll also find my clickable Cambodia index, as well as destination-specific tips and accommodation ideas.


Click the index button below to see all my posts from Cambodia.

cambodia-index

Table of Contents

General

Places

Phnom Penh

  • Remember those who lost their lives at the hands of the Khmer Rouge by visiting the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Choeung Ek Killing Fields.
  • Enjoy a dining experience with a cause at Friends the Restaurant. This nonprofit organization works with former street children by teaching them valuable skills in the hospitality industry and other vocations. We found Friends’ tapas-style food to be superb! (I had a tasty baguette with sautéed zucchini and peppers, along with a refreshing citrus drink.) The cost was a bit more than what we would’ve paid at another local restaurant, but the prices were still extremely reasonable — about $15 for the two of us. We also appreciated the restaurant’s cheery, immaculate interior. Paintings made by young Cambodian artists adorned some walls, while a gallery of black and white images of youth participants filled another corner of the restaurant. What was most gratifying, however, was knowing that the riels we spent were going to a worthwhile cause!
  • Explore the well-manicured grounds of the Royal Palace, then marvel at the glittering Silver Pagoda.
  • Brush shoulders with locals out for an evening walk — even worshippers carrying lotus blossoms — as you stroll Phnom Penh’s Riverside.
  • Peruse stalls overflowing with stacks of silken scarves, silver jewelry, homemade chopsticks, woodcarvings, and name-brand clothing labels at the Russian Market.
Customers dine inside Friends restaurant in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Friends Restaurant.
Choeung Ek Killing Fields Stupa and grounds.
The Choeung Ek Killing Fields Memorial. Tragically, this stupa contains thousands of skulls of victims.
Choeung Ek Killing Fields Memorial and stupa containing thousands of skulls.
The memorial’s stupa, which contains thousands of human skulls (right).
A room at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum where black and white images of murdered victims are on display.
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, also known as S-21, is a high-school-turned-brutal-prison. The Khmer Rouge murdered thousands of people here. The victims’ haunting images are on display.

Siem Reap

Sun rises over Angkor Wat.
Sunrise at Angkor Wat.
A couple stands beside the ruins of a Ta Prohm Temple in Cambodia.
Atmospheric Ta Prohm Temple.
Bobbins of orange, cream, and fuchsia silk inside a drawer at a silk farm near Siem Reap, Cambodia
Bobbins of silk at the Artisans d’Angkor Silk Farm.
Motorbikes go by on a Siem Reap street, some filled with three passengers, others with heavy cargo.
People and cargo pack motorbikes on a Siem Reap street.
Cambodian Landmine Museum Siem Reap Cambodia
A display inside the Cambodian Landmine Museum.

Takeo Province

shredding coconut Takeo Cambodia
Shredding coconut the traditional way.
English class Cambodia
Visiting an English class at the local college.
threshing rice in Cambodia
Learning how to thresh rice.
visiting fresh market Cambodia
Visiting the local market.

Accommodation

  • Takeo Province – Wanting an immersive and authentic Cambodian experience, we journeyed from Phnom Penh to Takeo Province by bus. We spent 10 extraordinary days at the Meas Family Homestay (affiliate link), which is located in a rural community called Angk Ta Saom, about 70 km (43 miles) southwest of Phnom Penh. This was one of the highlights of our three weeks in Cambodia — if not the highlight! Owners Siphen and Mach, who are both educators, introduced us to activities in their community. We learned how to thresh rice, we visited high school and college English classes, and we accompanied Siphen to the local fresh market. The homemade meals were fantastic too! (We feasted on freshwater lobster, tropical fruit, coconut shakes, and dishes incorporating rice grown in the area.)
Takeo Province Guesthouse
With our exceptional hosts, Siphen and Mach.
Meas Family Homestay Ang Kro-Som Commune,Tram Kork District, Angk Ta Saom, Takeo Province Cambodia
The Meas Family Homestay in Ang Kro-Som, Takeo Province.
Pink lotus blossoms fill a pond in Cambodia.
A sea of pink lotus blossoms fill a pond on the grounds of the homestay.

Additional Cambodia Resources


crossing the Cambodian Thai border on foot
Walking across the Thailand-Cambodia border.
Arrival Departure Card Cambodia
Shawn holds his Arrival / Departure card, issued as we crossed from Thailand into Cambodia.