Every traveler to Cambodia puts Angkor Wat at the top of their sightseeing bucket list. This isn’t all that surprising because who wouldn’t want to see the largest religious monument in the world? It is a stunning history-packed attraction, and even if you’re not into religion, it truly is a must-see sight for anyone traveling in Cambodia!
However, as you travel from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh or Kampot to Mondulkuri, it’s important to realize that Cambodia has so much more to offer than just Angkor Wat. So many travelers make the mistake of placing all their efforts on the massive temple and its surrounding area and fail to give other parts of the country a chance.
The best way to truly experience the culture of Cambodia is to steer clear of Angkor Wat – or at the very least, don’t spend all of your time here. Add a few of these under-the-radar spots to the travel itinerary to truly experience what Cambodia has to offer.
[box_title class=”” subtitle=”” subtitle_font_size=”15″ font_size=”23″ border_color=”#ed2665″ animation_delay=”0″ font_alignment=”center” border=”around” animate=”” ]Top Underrated Cambodia Destinations[/box_title]
Photo from Hae-kyung Jeong/Shutterstock
Mondulkiri is a mountainous province in the eastern part of Cambodia, and it’s nothing like the rest of the countryside. The rolling hillside scenery goes on for miles, and the wildlife outnumbers the human population by a landslide. In fact, the last official government census shows that there are only 4 people per kilometer squared living in Mondulkiri!
And if your love for elephants is one of the main reasons for traveling through Southeast Asia, you’ll love everything about Mondulkiri. It has the largest concentration of elephant camps and refuges in the entire country. You could easily spend your entire time here hanging out with the friendly giants as they roam freely in their natural habitat.
» Cardamom Mountains
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The Cardamom Mountain range stretches across Southwestern Cambodia, serving as a home base for both people and wildlife.
There’s a lot of endangered species living in the Cardamoms – 74 to be exact. You might even catch a glimpse of the rare Malayan sun bear or the Asiatic black bear during a morning hike.
Thus, this is the perfect place for lovers of the outdoors. It’s gained a solid reputation over the years as a SE Asian trekking hotspot — and even if you’re not keen on the idea of a long-distance trek, there are plenty of short hikes and nature trails to choose from or go all out by renting a kayak or mountain bike.
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Kampot isn’t necessarily an under-the-radar destination — it has gained a lot of popularity over the years and can be officially called a tourist destination. However, you won’t have to deal with throngs of tourists like you would at Angkor Wat and Siem Reap.
Kampot is super laid-back, you might even call it the hipster destination of Cambodia. So as you explore the streets of Kampot, you’ll come across quaint cafes, classy wine bars, and trendy food stalls. Surrounding all this is the fertile countryside, which is where the famous Kampot black pepper hails from. If you have time, take a day trip out to Bokur Mountain to see the more rural side of the province.
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Kep is a coastal town that used to be viewed as the “ritzy” part of Cambodia. But glitz and glam aren’t what attracts tourists to Kep nowadays. This boutique town is all about one thing and one thing only: crab. If you’re hoping to chow down on fresh seafood delicacies, Kep is the place to do it.
Be sure to try a stir-fried crab dish with Kampot black pepper sprinkled on top.
» Koh Rong Samloem
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When compared to SE Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines, Cambodia isn’t often thought of as a tropical destination. But this frame of thinking will fall by the wayside as soon as you see what Koh Rong Samloem has to offer.
This small island is about 4 kilometers south from the larger Koh Rong island, and it’s the epitome of tropical paradise.
It takes about 45 minutes to get to KRS from the mainland town of Sihanoukville. Tourism is slowly increasing on the island, but it’s still the perfect place to kick back, relax, and enjoy the quiet beaches of a Cambodian island.
» Phnom Penh
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Phnom Penh is a modern city filled with stunning architecture, foodie hotspots, and trendy bars. If you’re looking for a taste of city life after exploring the more remote destinations in Cambodia, this is the place to do it. You don’t need more than a few days here, but whatever you do, don’t miss out on Phnom Penh.