Things to Do in Cambodia - page 3
Take a tuk-tuk to the Royal Palace and begin the day along Phnom Penh’s three-kilometer strip of shops, hotels and eateries. This scenic walk wanders along the river’s edge and visitors can lounge easily at one of the numerous outside tables in popular cafes. Sisowath Quay is an ideal spot to sample local beer, strong coffee and real French baguettes. Travelers can comb through traditional handicrafts at Colours of Cambodia, or purchase a “happy monk” painting at the Happy Painting Gallery next door. Street 178, also known as Artists’ Street, offers local silk and numerous shops that are worth a look.
Sisowath Quay is also convenient to the ferry terminal. Visitors can hop a boat to Siem Reap, where famous temple ruins draw travelers from around the world. Nearby Street 104 offers plenty of backpacker-friendly options, cheap accommodations and crowded, friendly pubs. This well-known walkway is a haven for tourists, so while you may not want to dedicate days to its exploration, the close proximity to many of Phnom Penh’s destinations make it worth an afternoon’s visit.
Kandal Market, or Phsar Kandal in Khmer, is the “market in the middle,” or “central market” (not to be confused with the other, major Central Market in Phnom Penh). Though Kandal Market does sell goods such as clothes, shoes, bags and jewelry, it’s primarily known as the food market for locals.
There’s no better way to get a real sense of place than by visiting a local market; take a trip to Kandal and immerse yourself in the colors, textures, smells and tastes of Cambodia. From fresh veggies stacked high to jewel-like displays of local fruits (many of which are unrecognizable to westerners) to the large selection of fresh seafood, fish and meat—some of which is still moving—the market can be almost overwhelming to the senses. Fight the slightly claustrophobic feeling and slowly wander the stalls. The men and women who wait patiently for customers will often let you sample fruits and veggies; taste something that looks unfamiliar. You may be rewarded by the sweet flesh of the lychee, but it’s advisable to avoid the big, green spiny fruits—both jackfruit and durian have a smell that’s hard for visitors to stomach.
There’s a reason why most businesses in the city give their addresses in relation to Siem Reap Old Market (Phsar Chas). Its well-stocked stalls selling Buddhist treasures, hilariously misspelled t-shirts, jewelry and other souvenirs are a must-stop destination for travelers visiting this ancient city.
Friendly sellers used to foreign visitors make it easy to haggle for the best deal at this market in the heart of Siem Reap. The narrow passes between vendors are typically jam-packed with locals and travelers creating an energy that’s as kinetic and alive as nearby Pub Street. Hungry shoppers can wander to the food stalls on the northern side of Phsar Chas, which sell traditional dishes prepared on the street, as well as the farm fresh ingredients locals use to prepare the evening’s dinner.
South of Siem Reap and the major Angkor temples, hilltop Phnom Krom Temple (Prasat Phnom Krom) was built during the reign of Yasovarman I, who moved the Khmer capital to Angkor. Three ruined towers and an active monastery stand atop a hill with sweeping views across Tonlé Sap lake and the West Baray reservoir. It’s a popular sunset spot.
One of the Roluos Group, a cluster of temples surrounding an early capital of the Khmer empire, Preah Ko is a small brick-built temple with six sanctuaries. Indravarman I built it in the late ninth century and originally dedicated it to Shiva. Its name means “sacred ox,” and you can still see statues of Nandi, the bull that Shiva rides.
The 10th-century Khmer king Harshavarman I likely built the 43-foot-high (13-meter-high) brick pyramid temple Baksei Chamkrong in honor of his parents, who founded Phnom Bakheng. There’s not a great deal to see here, but the pyramid strikingly proportioned with four ascending tiers. The top sanctuary has finely detailed lintel carving and false doors.
Recognized as the first nature preservation in Cambodia, the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) is known for its wildlife rescue, animal rehabilitation, and endangered species breeding programs.
Center visitors can tour the grounds under the direction of expert guides who are well informed about the unique challenges facing the protection of Cambodia’s wildlife. From the pileated gibbons to silvered langur, the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity houses animals found in few other places on earth. Visitors leave impressed by the well-kept grounds, knowledgeable staff, and diversity of animals. And whether it’s combined with a trip to nearby Banteay Srei or visited as a destination all its own, this conservation center treats visitors to a one-of-a-kind experience.
The Siem Reap Art Center Night Market is open from morning until late in the evening, but it is more of a night market than an art center. Close to the Old Market (Phsar Chaa or Phsar Chas), the site boasts a wealth of stalls selling crafts, souvenirs, the obligatory elephant pants, and snacks.
One of a set of three early hilltop temples built by Yasovarman I, who reigned 889–910, Phnom Bok Temple sits away from the main Angkorian monuments, on the route to Banteay Srei. It’s a small temple with towers, the ruins of two libraries, and the remains of a 13-foot-tall (4-meter-tall) lingam (phallic symbol). Most people come here for the views.
For about 500 years, a wooden palace stood near the center of the city of Angkor Thom, the former capital of the Angkor Empire. Today, a large walled area called the Royal Enclosure (or Royal Palace) is all that remains. It houses two bathing pools and the Phimeanakas, a small pyramid temple.
More Things to Do in Cambodia
Lions and tigers and sun bears and elephants and deer and gibbons and snakes, oh my! At Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center (PTWRC), a sanctuary for rescued animals, guests can see a vast array of Cambodia’s wildlife (which is usually very difficult to spot), ranging from the world’s largest captive collections of Malayan sun bears and pileated gibbons to rare animals like greater adjutant storks and Siamese crocodiles. Rescued from poachers or abusive owners, all of the animals at the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center—there are more than 1200 animals of more than 100 species—receive shelter and medical care as part of a sustainable breeding program. When possible, the center’s residents are released back into the wild once they’ve recovered and the center does its best to educate the public on issues of wildlife protection.
The variety of animals that you can see here is extensive, including an impressive tiger population. There is also a large population of elephants who enjoy painting as well as eating. The conditions are excellent in comparison to some other organizations and the residents are given room to roam; work by various NGOs has helped with this. As a result, the Center feels much like a zoo (which it is, to some extent) that’s also a safari park, or vice versa. While there is a lot of work being done, there is still plenty left to do and donations from visitors help immensely.
Built in the late 1970s, the Cambodia-Vietnam Friendship Monument is a statue located in a large reflecting pool that stands in honor of the former alliance between Cambodia and Vietnam. Located at the Botum Park near the center of Phnom Penh, not far from the Royal Palace, the monument is an interesting piece of history as it was built by the Communist regime that took power after the Cambodian-Vietnamese War and overthrew the leadership of the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge was the ruling party that caused the atrocities that can be witnessed at Tuol Sleng Prison and the Killing Fields.
Featuring statues of Vietnamese and Cambodian soldiers, along with a woman and baby representing Cambodian civilians, in the "Socialist realist" style developed in the Soviet Union in the 1930s, the monument is situated in a popular park in the middle of the city. More than its artistic value or architecture, the monument has occasionally become a political focal point for protesters, damaged by hammers, gasoline, fire and even a bomb. The damage has been repaired and the memorial remains an interesting piece of architecture that marks a definitive time in Cambodia’s history.
- Things to do in Siem Reap
- Things to do in Phnom Penh
- Things to do in Angkor Wat
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- Things to do in Kratie
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