Cambodia is a country a little bit behind Thailand in terms of tourism and infrastructure, but with each passing year things seem to be slowly on the up and up. There is more to Cambodia than Angkor Wat or any of the other attractions you’ve heard of too. It’s time to get off the beaten track.
Angkor Wat, Killing Fields, S21 Museum and Sihanoukville – all ticked off during your time in Cambodia? We have to say, that is a great start. These are some of Cambodia’s most popular attractions and places to visit.
Angkor Wat is a huge factor behind that, being one of the most visited attractions in the world. That being said, despite its fame, there is more to Cambodia than these popular attractions.
Going off the beaten track is somewhat adventurous
Many people have a list of things they want to see, and when that is achieved, they feel they’ve accomplished enough. Well, going off the beaten track really is a true travel experience. You see people and places in their authentic form.
It is a bit nerve-racking because you are going into the unknown, but that’s what travel is meant to be: a discovery. Searching for something that isn’t the ordinary brings thrill and excitement, and we really suggest you try to fit this kind of travelling into your plans.
Cambodia is a country we just feel has so much left unexplored and in the next few years more and more will pop up. Whilst we are still in the midst of that, let’s take a look at some off the beaten track spots you should head to whilst in Cambodia.
Kep: hiking tracks, shrines, and beaches
We’ve mentioned Kep before, but that doesn’t mean it’s really well known. A lot of people bypass this small fishing village, but you shouldn’t. Feasting on fresh crab plucked straight out of the ocean is what Kep is known for, but there are quite a few things to do here.
Visit Kep National Park with some fantastic hiking trails available, explore some of the Kep Caves with local shrines inside or visit Kep’s beaches. Our favourite offbeat recommendation: visit the pepper plantations and salt fields.
Koh Tunsay aka Rabbit Island
Located just 20 minutes away from Kep, Koh Tunsay – which means ‘Rabbit Island’ – is a rugged sort of place worth exploring. Development is slow here, so make the most of a wonderful island that has an almost back in time kind of feel. Glamorous it is not, but some of Kep’s best and quietest beaches can be found here.
Perhaps this place will explode one day, but right now it’s still regarded as off the beaten track due to its authentic nature.
Banteay Chhmar temple
Around 2 or 3 hours away from Siem Reap, Banteay Chhmar is a temple that distances itself from Angkor Wat. Many people are ‘templed out’ by the time they’ve done Angkor, but if you love your cultural kicks then Banteay Chhmar is more charming, relatively untouched by modern hands and quite secluded. Tucked away within the jungle, when you visit you may be lucky enough to feel like you’re the one first discovering it, as it normally sees few travellers.
Phnom Aural: highest mountain peak
Cambodia’s highest mountain peak, Phnom Aural, isn’t heavily advertised when things to see in and around in Cambodia, but for true adventure seekers and hiking enthusiasts, it’ll be one to cross off the list.
You’ll need a Khmer speaking guide, as well as all your relevant hiking and camping equipment for a 1,800m ascent. Trails aren’t so obvious, but you’ll encounter stunning mountain terrain and it does get more off the beaten track than this. We recommend sourcing a guide (or at least a translator) and supplies in Phnom Penh.
How to get there: To make the climb, you need to travel to a village called Srae Kan. Catch a public bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville, but get off at Kampong Speu. From there, take a shared minibus to Spein Daik and on to Srae Kan.
Pailin: untouched by tourism
Pailin is only an hour away from the Thai border. What you can do here is visit the O’Tavao waterfall and the popular temple Wat Phnom Yat. If that isn’t enough, Pailin is for lovers of the great outdoors, with Boyaca Valley and Cardamom Mountains as your setting.
Best way to visit Kep and Koh Tunsay
Did you know you can hit both Kep and Koh Tunsay on a Stray Asia Tour? That’s right, Cambodia is part of their awesome selection of tours.
Tommy Walker (aka The Wandering Walker) originates from northeast England. He began his journey on the road back in 2012 throughout Asia, Oceania and Latin America. Now, nearly 5 years in, he is a freelance travel writer, content marketing specialist and founder of a popular collection of Backpacking groups on Facebook.
Tommy goes by his own motto “every new place is a good place.” If you don’t see Tommy focused doing hot yoga, trailing through rainforests, ducking into the ocean or eating local street food, you’ll see him at a small bar drinking what the locals drink!