Swimming in Cambodia: An Insider's Guide to the Best Swimming Spots
Cambodia is best known for its Angkor temples, but this small country also boasts some of the most beautiful freshwater lakes you’ll ever see. The waters are warm enough to swim in all year round, and there are no dangerous animals or insects to worry about.
Cambodia has a lot of hidden gems; you just need to know where to look for them. From swimming holes and waterfalls to riverside resorts and natural hot springs, Cambodia has something for everyone who loves the water.
Bokor National Park
Bokor National Park is a small coastal mountain range in southern Cambodia, not far from Kampong Thom. In the high season, it attracts many visitors who come to swim in its numerous natural hot springs. The surrounding scenery is gorgeous, and the park is home to many species of wildlife, including monkeys, pigs, and rare birds. There are also some interesting historical sites, such as the Bokor Palace, built in the French colonial style in 1901, and the Bokor Mountain Railway, which was used to transport goods between Phnom Penh and the coast. The best time to visit is from November to March, when the weather is cool and dry.
Kampong Thom is a great place to visit at any time of year. During the dry season, from December to April, you can swim in the Srae River, which runs through the city. There are several places where you can jump in, but the best is the small sandy beach on the western banks of the river. During the rainy season, from May to October, Kampong Thom’s waterfalls are at their most spectacular. Krom Prung is the most famous and can be reached by a short walk through the forest.
Wat Phnom and the Cardamom Mountains
Wat Phnom is Cambodia’s most famous landmark and is home to a beautiful pagoda. Surrounding the pagoda are spectacular gardens that are well worth exploring. A short walk away is the Bassac River, which is a popular place to go swimming. During the rainy season, the river is at its most impressive and is a great place to experience a tropical monsoon. In the dry season, the water level is lower, making it more suitable for swimming. Nearby, in the Cardamom Mountains, is Koh Thmei, a stunning turquoise lake. You can swim in it during the dry season and go on boating trips during the wet season. On the eastern side of the lake is a dramatic waterfall, which is spectacular during both seasons. The best time to visit is from October to February.
Angkor Wat and the Small-Group Temple Circuit
The Small-Group Temple Circuit is a one- to two-day excursion from Siem Reap, which can be combined with a visit to the Great Lake. Highlights include Angkor Wat, the Bayon, and the temple of Banteay Srei, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The best time to go is between November and March. There are many water-based activities you can go on in and around Siem Reap. These include a cruise on Tonle Sap Lake, a river cruise on the Mekong River, a visit to the freshwater swimming pool at The Ritz-Carlton, and a visit to one of the nearby hot springs.
Cambodia is a water-lover’s paradise. Most of the year, the weather is hot and humid, with temperatures reaching over 40°C in some places. The water in the lakes, rivers, and oceans of Cambodia, however, stays between 22°C and 32°C, making it perfect for swimming. The best way to explore this beautiful country is to get in the water. Visit as many of these swimming spots as you can, and you’ll soon fall in love with this tropical paradise.