Northern Cambodia is best known for the Angkor Temples located a few minutes north of Siem Reap. You can also visit the surrounding Tonlé Sap Lake, Kulen Mountain, Koh Ker (one of the older capitals of the Khmer empire) and more.
At the northern border separating Cambodia and Thailand, one can visit the Preah Vihear Temple aka Prasat Preah Vihear. Though many of the temples found in Cambodia display interesting designs both Hindu and Buddhist, Prasat Preah Vihear is a uniquely Hindu temple. Some of the walls are caved in, building blocks tumbled to the ground, and burn marks evident from previous wars and battles. At the time of this writing, relations between Thailand and Cambodia are peaceful, but it is good to double-check before visiting.
Situated South of Prasat Preah Vihear and the Dangrek Escarpment is the city of Anlong Veng, a good place to grab a local meal. It looks like many other Cambodian cities, but is better known as the cremation site of Pol Pot (actually near Dangrek Escarpment). This was one of the first cities ravaged by Pol Pot's tyranny and one of the initial "Killing Fields".
Hints and Tips for North
- Areas that tourists frequent have been cleared of landmines and you will see signs supporting this, but beware that landmines do still exist off the beaten path.
- Wear mosquito repellent as Malaria is more prevalent in the north and there are also cases of Dengue and Japanese Encephalitis.
- If you are planning a land crossing, soldiers may demand more than you initially planned. Be prepared to bargain or you will have to pay extra.
- Dress accordingly at temples as you may be turned away if you are wearing a sleeveless shirt or shorts/skirts. Sometimes you can slide by without a problem, but this may be locals trying to save face on your behalf.
- Children, adults and authorities may act as friendly guides only to ask for money in the end. Though some are helpful, others are scamming you. Even if they do little to help besides ask you questions on your walk, they may still demand money.