Most travel junkies come to Cambodia or Siem Reap generally to visit the infamous Angkor Wat. Well, I don’t blame them. Who wouldn’t right? But honestly, there are lots to do besides just visiting these grand temples. One can opt for immersing themselves in unique local cultures, go off-roading on bikes, try horseback riding, or as simple as cruising on a river! I can go on and on and on. That is why, in this post, I will give 10 places for our fellow Muslim travellers to set foot on while travelling in Cambodia. With this list, I am quite positive that your next trip to Cambodia will be VERY INTERESTING.
1. Visit the Landmine Museum
Sounds boring? Definitely not! It is a must-do activity if you want to learn more about Cambodian history. The War Museum in Siem Reap has a unique collection of landmines and tanks from The Khmer Rouge in 1975 and also the Vietnamese occupation in 1979. Millions of land mines and unexploded objects were left behind by decades of conflict. A few of them are still kept on display here and this is a good way for you to analyze this country through its artefacts. This museum is located just 25km north of Siem Reap.
2. Experience the Apsara Dance at the Smile of Angkor
I have to say that this is one of the most exhilarating things I have experienced in Siem Reap, Cambodia. It is called the Apsara Dance. It is a unique Khmer traditional dance and drama that conveys a story. I have to say that it is quite theatrical, but also really attractive and meaningful. If you are into cultural and dance activities, this is absolutely worth the splurge.
3. Visit the Honeybees
Pure beeswax is a prized commodity in Khmer’s culture. Did you know that the ever-present incense that burns at the pagodas, hand-rolled, pure beeswax candles are a part of Buddhist worship in Cambodia? If you wish, you can witness Asian Honeybee species such as Apis Dorsata, Apis Cerana, and Apis Florea, as well as numerous species of the stingless Trigona bees—all in less than a day! How often do you visit bees on your vacation abroad? I bet not! This is totally a must for the passionate beekeeper and all beekeeping enthusiasts out there too.
4. Spend a full-day on an eco-tour to a floating village and Tonle Sap with Osmose
Covering 2,500 square kilometres during the dry season but ballooning up to 12,000 square kilometres during the seasonal floods, Tonle Sap is the biggest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. Here you can see the eco-conservation project, the lake’s flooded forests, as well as a floating village. Enjoy your day going around the area and learn more about the eco-conservation project.
5. Attend a Beatocello concert
Every Saturdays at 7:15 pm, Dr Beat Richner, a Swiss expat affectionately known as “Beatocello”, performs a single cello performance at Jayavarman VII Hospital. What’s fascinating about the performances is that these concerts raise funds for charity hospitals in the city, and support his Kantha Bopha Foundation and its affiliated childcare projects. While there is quite a bit of talking in between songs, the concert is a brilliant way to support a good cause and at the same time learn more about the efforts to improve childcare in Cambodia.
6. Participate in tranquil Yoga class
This is a definite plus for any Yoga lover out there. Did you know that one of the longest-running yoga classes in town is held at Peace Café, where Ashtanga yoga classes are offered daily along with meditation, monk chats, and vegetarian cooking classes? Yes, pretty impressive I have to say. While yoga is not only limited to Cambodia, the café is an exciting place for you to meet other travellers from all over the world and of course, get some exercise in while doing so!
7. Try Zip-lining
You can see the Cambodian jungle and Cambodian countryside by doing this adrenaline rush activity. A World-Class Zipline Eco-Adventure Tour at a World Heritage Site – Angkor Archeological Park is where you can go for zip-lining! Settled in the beautiful rainforest, not far from the majestic temples of Angkor, prepare to soar on zip lines, traverse suspended sky bridges, abseil from towering trees, be amazed by the magnificence and charmed of the rainforest, and fly like you have never flown before.
8. Of course, ride the Tuk-tuk
I can say that the traffic in Siem Reap, Cambodia is total chaos, thus, getting around town, no matter what your medium of transportation is, could be rather challenging. Yes, you can pick to rent a car or walk, but it is much more fun to ride in a Tuk-tuk! I promise you that. Try it out for yourself, superbly thrilling! Just a friendly reminder, though, to avoid a rip-off, always remember to negotiate the price before getting in the ride.
9. A boat trip on Tonle Sap Lake
Just outside the borders of Siem Reap town lies a charming countryside, and a lake that is the lifeblood of the nation. A boat trip to Tonle Sap Lake is highly recommended. There are three main villages which are usually visited by tourists which are the Chong Khneas, the Kompong Phluck, and lastly the Kompong Khleang. If you would love to try something different, another way to explore is by getting popular tours offered by The Happy Ranch. This ranch offers travellers tours to the countryside, and yes, you have got it right, by horseback riding!
10. Visit a Memorial in Choeung Ek, Phnom Penh
In Phnom Penh at Choeung Ek, a memorial was erected to remember those who have perished at the hands of the Khmer Rouge. Here, you can see the remains of around 10,000 people were found. The memorial was then constructed so as not to obscure the facts, but to show the shocking and honest truth. It is designed in the style of a Buddhist stupa and the Choeung Ek memorial has glass sides. It contained multiple layers of human skulls. A total of 5,000 of those executed at the site, the skulls are a tough reminder of a massacre that happened only 4 decades ago.
After all the activities above, you might think oh no, this is not an Islamic country, Buddhist is a predominant religion in this country. It might be tough to get Halal cuisine. But, fret not, there are actually many restaurants in Cambodia, Siem Reap especially. Take a look at this list of Halal restaurants:
- Taj India Restaurant, in Old Market area (Indian Cuisine)
- D’Wau Restaurant, in Wat Bo area, near Soria Moria hotel (Malaysian Cuisine)
- Chamtours.com, Old Market area, near Viva Mexican restaurant (Vietnamese cuisine)
- Check out this website for a list of halal restaurants in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Now that we have figured out where to eat Halal food, perhaps you wonder where you can perform your prayer. There is a mosque near Old Market in Siem Reap and it is called The Neak Mah mosque. If you can’t find your way there, don’t hesitate to ask the friendly locals around, I am pretty sure they will show you the way. Also, if you want to visit Cambodia’s largest mosque, you can see it in Phnom Penh. It is called Al-Serkal Grand Mosque.