21 Cambodia Landmarks

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Officially the Kingdom of Cambodia, this Southeast Asian nation on the Indochinese Peninsula’s southern tip has been an independent country since 1953. Famous worldwide as the home of Angkor Wat, which is only one of the many historical sites in Cambodia, the country is rich in history and stunning scenery.

Despite its troubled recent Khmer Rouge history, Cambodia’s legacy stretches way back to the once-mighty powers that presided over these lands during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries. Famed for its ancient ruins and unique traditions and customs, it’s no surprise that ‘The Kingdom of Wonder’ receives more than two million visitors a year. So join the millions who have discovered this hidden gem and tick these Cambodia landmarks off your bucket list.

21 Cambodia Landmarks

Historic Landmarks In Cambodia

1- Angkor Wat

cambodia popular landmarks Silhouette of Angkor Wat at sunrise
One of the most popular landmarks in Cambodia is Angkor Wat, pictured here at sunrise.

The most famous Cambodia landmark is Angkor Wat, one of the world’s must-see ancient sites with its spectacular temples.

Built between 802 and 1432, Angkor Wat’s peak was during the medieval period when it was one of the world’s largest cities and the capital of the Khmer Empire.

Today, this spectacular marvel forms part of the larger Angkor Wat Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

With over 1000 temples in total, the UNESCO site is the world’s single largest religious monument and the top monument in Cambodia to visit.

2- Banteay Chhmar

famous landmarks cambodia Angkor ruin of Banteay Chmmar
Banteay Chmmar is an impressive Angkorian ruin in northwest Cambodia halfway between Siem Reap and Thailand. Like the more famous Bayon temple, Banteay Chhmar has face towers of King Jayavarman VII that are impressive landmarks of a Cambodian era of history.

In Cambodia’s less-travelled north-western region, Banteay Chhmar is an enormous temple complex tucked away in a lush jungle fit for an Indiana Jones or Lara Croft film.

Constructed sometime during the 12th century by Jayavarman VII, an Angkorian king, Banteay Chhmar’s intricately ornate stone reliefs are some of the best in Cambodia.

Visited by no more than 1000 people each year, Banteay Chhmar is one of the best sites portraying rich Khmer heritage, as you’ll more than likely have the entire site to yourself.

This allows for a peaceful experience of observing the very best Angkorian-era artistry removed from the overbearing crowds at Angkor Wat.

3- Prasat Preah Vihear

major landmarks in cambodia blue sky and temple ruins
The Preah Vihear Temple is a Cambodian landmark perched on the edge of a cliff and has five Gopura (towered entrance pavilions) connected by causeways and a long flight of steps.

Angkor Wat may be Cambodia’s most famous temple complex, but Prasat Preah Vihear is home to some of Cambodia’s most beautiful temples.

Perched 550 m (1 804 ft) above Cambodia’s lowlands atop the Dangrek Mountains, the Prasat Preah Vihear UNESCO World Heritage Site enjoys commanding views of Cambodia and Thailand as far as the eye can see.

Given the UNESCO site’s location near the Thailand border, tensions flared between the two countries from 2008 till 2011, with both claiming Prasat Preah Vihear, however, the International Court of Justice ruled in favour of Cambodia in 2013.

Prasat Preah Vihear is safe to visit thanks to tensions dissipating in recent years, making it well worth your time the next opportunity you get to travel to Cambodia.

4- The Royal Palace

famous landmarks of cambodia Royal Palace exterior in Phnom Penh
The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is another famous landmark of Cambodia.

The Royal Palace is easy to spot because of its golden-clad traditional Khmer-style roofs and is the official residence of Cambodia’s King Sihamoni.

Resembling the Royal Palace of Thailand in Bangkok, Cambodia’s Royal Palace is every bit as beautiful and grand, portraying the very best of Khmer and French-inspired architecture.

Even though many sections of this sprawling complex are closed to the public, the Throne Hall and some surrounding buildings are open to visitors.

As it’s an incredibly popular attraction in Phnom Penh, the crowds are usually large but it’s still worth your while to explore.

5- The Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh

cambodia landmarks Stupa in Royal Palace
The stupa in the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh houses a famous landmark of Cambodia.

One of the Royal Palace compound’s attractions open to the public, the Silver Pagoda houses some of Cambodia’s most important national treasures.

It’s home to the 17th-century baccarat crystal Buddha statue and the 9,584 diamond-encrusted Maitreya Buddha.

Named after the 5000 silver tiles on the floor of the pagoda’s interior, this spectacular building also contains a mural painted between 1903 and 1904 by over 40 different Khmer artists.

Apart from being an extremely popular Cambodian landmark, the Silver Pagoda is also regularly used for various royal ceremonies and functions and is one of the country’s most opulent attractions open to the public.

6- National Museum of Cambodia

cambodia importing landmarks
The National Museum is a landmark in Phnom Penh in a Khmer-style building.

Home to the world’s most extensive collection of priceless Khmer artefacts, the National Museum of Cambodia provides valuable insight into the country’s history like few other landmarks in Cambodia can.

Sculptures, ceramics, and other items are on display within the museum’s walls, taking visitors on a tour from prehistoric Cambodia to the post-Angkorian Cambodia we see today.

The National Museum is a treasure trove of valuable information and a must-visit landmark in Cambodia for anyone interested in the country’s history.

7- Bayon Temple

cambodia important landmarks Giant stone faces contrasted against blue sky
Giant stone faces of Bayon temple in Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, are impressive archaeological landmarks of Cambodia.

Situated right in the heart of what was once the thriving Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple is one of Angkor’s most-famous structures and was constructed in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII.

The Bayon Temple is characterised by the more than 200 faces facing in all directions carved out of large pieces of stone.

These strangely smiling stone faces are one of Angkor’s most familiar images and are thought to be a combination of the king’s face and that of Buddha.

8- Ta Prohm

cambodia natural landmarks Trees growing out of Ta Prohm temple, Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
One of the features that makes Ta Prohm temple an impressive landmark in Cambodia is the tree roots that have grown over the top of the ruins.

Nicknamed the ‘Tomb Raider Temple’, Ta Prohm is unique among Cambodia’s ancient ruins since it’s not as well-maintained as the other Angkor monuments.

Seemingly being swallowed by the jungle in an attempt to reclaim the ruins, Ta Prohm offers visitors a rare glimpse of what Angkor ruins must have looked like before European explorers first stumbled upon them.

It’s one of the best locations to see first-hand the power Mother Nature wields as it reclaimed this once-bustling city effortlessly.

Where Angkor Wat has manicured lawns and hordes of visitors, Ta Prohm is the polar opposite, making it an excellent Cambodian temple ruin to explore.

9- Koh Ker

important landmarks of cambodia Prasat Thom
The seven-tiered pyramid at Koh Ker is another Cambodian historical landmark.

When it was the capital of the Khmer empire (between 928 and 944), Koh Ker saw rapid expansion with fantastic sculptures and buildings being constructed during this short stretch, leaving a legacy still standing to this very day.

Koh Ker’s main attraction however is the 30m tall (98 ft) Prasat Thom pyramid temple topped with the mythical half-man, half-bird, stone-carved Garuda.

Once one of Cambodia’s most remote regions, recent de-mining and large scale engineering projects have led to the rediscovery of Koh Ker, opening it up for tourists to enjoy.

10- Bassac Lane in Phnom Penh

The leafy Phnom Penh neighbourhood of Tonle Bassac is home to many streets filled with restaurants and bars to enjoy the Cambodian capital’s nightlife scene, however, none are as popular as Bassac Lane.

Eccentric boutique bars and interesting eateries line the narrow street, creating a lively atmosphere with the city’s ex-pat community coming out to play on weekends.

During mid-day weekdays, Bassac Lane is quiet enough to pleasantly stroll along while admiring the mix of quaint yet inviting shops selling all sorts of curiosities.

Bassac Lane’s prices are certainly higher than other parts of Cambodia, however, if you’re looking for a safe and comfortable space to have fun and meet people from all over the world, this is it.

11- Vimean Ekareach

historical landmarks in cambodia Independence monument lit up at night
The Independence Monument in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, is a landmark that is more impressive at night.

The Independence Monument or Vimean Ekareach in Cambodia in Phnom Penh is a memorial to the country achieving independence from France in 1953.

Built in 1958, the lotus-shaped stupa design channels the country’s famous Khmer historical temples.

Designed by Cambodian architect Vann Molyvann, it is a landmark in Phnom Penh’s city centre.

12- Phnom Kulen

cambodia landmarks distinct characteristics
Bas-relief carving of the Hindu god Vishnu in a reclining position. The 10th-century carving is near the River of a Thousand Linggas in Kulen Mountain, Siem Reap.

Located near Angkor in Cambodia’s Siem Reap province, Phnom Kulen is one of the most sacred sites for Khmers in Cambodia and often sees many pilgrimages during weekends and festivals.

Nestled in a lush jungle, Phnom Kulen is home to the ruins of a 9th-century temple, two spectacular waterfalls featured in the film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and many other important Khmer sites.

Apart from the waterfalls that are perfect for swimming and picnicking, Phnom Kulen is also the site of an archaeological area called Kbal Spean and the River of a Thousand Lingas.

Phnom Kulen is perfect for a day trip from Angkor, given its proximity and value as a natural and historical Cambodian landmark.

13- Wat Phnom

famous landmarks in cambodia Wat Phnom park
Wat Phnom is a landmark in Cambodia that gave Phnom Penh its name.

Phnom Penh’s very own urban refuge, Wat Phnom, sits atop the capital’s only hill and has served as a place of solitude and escape to the local population.

Home to a pagoda that dates back to 1372, Wat Phnom and its extensive collection of Buddhist shrines and temples are great to marvel at while you stroll around the tall tree-covered grounds of the site.

Wat Phnom’s famous fully functioning 20m wide (66 ft) lawn clock is an impressive Cambodian landmark in itself and one of many great Wat Phnom attractions to visit in Phnom Penh.

Groups of monkeys wander the park but be aware that these are wild animals, and petting or feeding them are not recommended.

Natural Landmarks In Cambodia

14- Ratanakiri

Cambodia’s Ratanakiri province is a little rough around the edges, with endless dirt roads and small villages crisscrossing the region’s landscape.

What Ratanakiri lacks in sprawling urban areas, it more than makes up for with outdoor attractions and natural beauty in the country, providing excellent hiking and wildlife watching opportunities.

Ratanakiri’s Virachey National Park is home to tigers, elephants and sun bears which visitors can marvel at, while Ban Lung’s Yeak Lom Crater Lake invites travellers to take a refreshing dip in its bright green water.

Ratanakiri truly is a refuge for nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike, serving up some of the best sights and open-air entertainment anywhere in Southeast Asia.

15- Koh Rong Samloem

what are some famous landmarks in cambodia
Saracen Bay beach on Koh Rong Samloen Island is a natural landmark near Siahnaoukville in Cambodia.

Cambodia has its fair share of islands with turquoise water and white sandy beaches.

The best example is Koh Rong Samloem, a collection of islands off the country’s southern coast that matches the beauty of Thailand’s islands while remaining free from mass tourism.

This makes Koh Rong Samloem the ideal place to enjoy pristine sun-baked beaches away from large crowds and overpriced resort chains in the down-to-earth atmosphere.

16- Tonle Sap

landmarks in cambodia blue house and boats on Lake Tonle Sap
A colourful house in a floating village on Lake Tonle Sap. The lake is a natural landmark in Cambodia.

Apart from being an important waterway in Cambodia and Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, Tonle Sap is home to around 170 floating villages near the lake’s shoreline.

Built upon buoy foundations made of barrels and bamboo, these villages are excellent to explore while enjoying the view of the lake and the surrounding area.

The two most popular Tonle Sap villages to visit are Kompong Luong and Chong Kneas, only accessible by boat.

Tonle Sap and its traditional villages are perfect for photographers and adventurous travellers looking to capture and enjoy the essence of rural Cambodia.

17- Bamboo Island/Koh Russei

landmarks of cambodia
View of Koh Russie at sunset.

A collection of tiny islands near the city of Sihanoukville, Bamboo Island or Koh Russei as its also known, has a permanent population of a mere 30 people.

The untouched natural beauty of these islands makes them such a Cambodian mainstay for tourists, especially if you’re hoping to escape the crowded cities and towns on Cambodia’s mainland.

Despite its small population and size, Bamboo Island has all the amenities one needs to relax in comfort, such as two restaurants, three bungalow resorts and bars.

What sets these islands apart from other Southeast Asian islands is the compactness of everything on the island; the restaurants, bars and resorts are all within walking distance, including the white sandy beach.

With no TV, internet or roads on the island, the serenity of waking up in a laid-back bungalow perched right next to the beach makes the 30-minute boat journey to reach Bamboo Island all worth it.

18- Sihanoukville/Kampong Som

This coastal city on Cambodia’s southern coast is a well-known locale, thanks to its unofficial title as Cambodia’s top beachside holiday destination.

While many consider Sihanoukville’s downtown area bustling but dreary, the same cannot be said of the city’s beaches.

The area is home to five beaches, all offering something unique to cater to every type of traveller.

Independence Beach and Sokha Beach are home to luxurious resorts and hotels, while Serendipity Beach and Ochheuteal Beach cater more toward backpackers on a budget.

Nearby Otres Beach offers a more intimate and secluded beach experience with boutique hotels and restaurants.

This puts Sihanoukville at the top of the list for any traveller looking for great outdoor beach fun and being near top-class amenities during their stay in Cambodia.

19- Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center

Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is an excellent destination for anyone interested in spotting wildlife such as tigers and elephants or anyone interested in conservation.

As the name suggests, the centre’s main objective is to rescue animals harmed by illegal traders or poachers, nursing them back to health to be set free into the wild again.

The centre is open to visitors, with a tour available to anyone interested in getting a behind the scene look at how the centre works and what exactly they do daily.

20- Phnom Sampeau

landmarks cambodia long-tailed macaque with its arm on the head of a statue
A long-tailed macaque playing at Phnom Sampeau in Battambang, one of the historical landmarks in Cambodia.

Well-known throughout Cambodia for its incredible vistas and large bat colonies, Phnom Sampeau in Cambodia’s Battambang province is a great place to glimpse these nocturnal creatures up close.

While a large pagoda stands atop the hill, most people visit Phnom Sampeau for the splendid views of Battambang’s famous rice paddies and the Killing Caves, a stark reminder of the bloody history of Cambodia.

Phnom Sampeau is an ideal landmark in Cambodia to marvel at the stunning beauty of Battambang province from above and to learn more about what the country had to endure in the past.

21- Battambang Bat Caves

Down the road from Phnom Sampeau, the Battambang Bat Caves come to life after sunset when guests gather to watch the vast colony of bats fly out of the caves and into the night sky.

These wrinkle-lipped free-tailed bats have led to the onset of a booming economy in Battambang of bars, restaurants and stalls lining the street near the caves catering to visitors hoping to catch this nightly phenomenon in action.

If you’d like to get an up-close vantage point, be sure to arrange a guided tour through a hidden path to the mouth of the cave.

Stopping to marvel at the Battambang Bat Caves is a wonderful experience and can easily be accompanied by a visit to Phnom Sampeau, making it a pleasant day-long excursion. 

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Christina Pfeiffer is a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia. She has lived in three continents and her career as a travel journalist has taken her to all seven continents. Since 2003, she has contributed travel stories and photographs to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. She has won many travel writing awards and is a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.