Spending your holidays abroad can often be a trying time. You may find yourself missing your family, the festive meals, the Christmas décor, or all of the above. If you find yourself in Cambodia, however, there are many places and excursions to fill your holidays with some Christmas cheer. Here, a complete guide on how to spend Christmas in Cambodia.
While Christmas is celebrated in some parts of the country, it is not really a major holiday in Cambodia. For one, the majority of Cambodians practice Buddhism – about 95 percent. With that being said, many restaurants, cafes, and nightlife venues will hang twinkling lights and put up a Christmas tree in honor of the holiday.
Christmas in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s cultural capital. The city is filled with unique restaurants, cute cafes, and a nightlife that will impress most night owls. If you find yourself in this city this holiday season, be sure to check out how to make the most out of your stay in Phnom Penh with the help of our guide!
Shop at a Local Market
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a Christmas market in Phnom Penh – but that doesn’t mean you can’t instead visit one of the other bazaars found sprinkled around the city. Russian Market is one of the most popular ones. This is the perfect place in the city to pick up affordable gifts for your friends and family once you return home after the holiday season. Central Market is another great option for your Christmas shopping. Be on the lookout for unique home décor, affordable accessories including handbags and jewelry, as well as traditional Khmer souvenirs that make for great Christmas gifts. If you want something a bit more modern (and air-conditioned), instead venture to Aeon Mall.
Indulge in a Delicious Khmer Meal
We all love a traditional Christmas feast – turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, honey-glazed ham, mashed potatoes – you get the idea. With that being said, visitors to Phnom Penh will be hard-pressed to find many restaurants serving up these festive meals. Instead, treat yourself on Christmas Day to a delicious Khmer meal! Favorited dishes include fish amok, grilled squid, and Khmer red curry. It may not be similar to your usual spread but is delicious all the same. Some of the best restaurants in the city for a Khmer meal include Eleven One Kitchen, Malis Restaurant, and Friends the Restaurant.
Have Christmas Dinner and Dance to a DJ at Mad Monkey Phnom Penh
As much as we love the local food in the capital, those travelers feeling nostalgic may instead want to treat themselves to a Christmas-inspired meal – and you can get exactly that at Mad Monkey Phnom Penh. From 4-6 p.m., Mad Monkey Phnom Penh will be serving up mashed potatoes, honey-glazed ham, green bean, casserole and more at our onsite restaurant. In addition, we’ll also have Christmas Eve festivities including a live DJ. If you are staying for an extra day, be sure to join in on our pool party going down on Boxing Day. Mad Monkey Phnom Penh is one of the best places to be this holiday season…because it’s not about what’s under the Christmas tree, but who is around it!
Christmas in Siem Reap
Siem Reap is the temple hub of Cambodia. The city also has a delightful number of bars for party-goers as well as cafes and restaurants to enjoy both local and international delights this holiday season. If you find yourself in the city on Christmas eve, day, or Boxing Day, be sure to check out the top things to see and do below.
Party on Pub Street
There’s no denying visitors to the city will have a wild night on Pub Street. This stretch of bars is one of the most insane roads in all of Cambodia and is also known as Street 8. Some would even compare Pub Street to Khao San Road, Bangkok’s claim to crazy fame. Angkor What? is one of the most popular bars and is open late. In addition to the great bars, you can make your Christmas even crazier by indulging in a fried scorpion, treat yourself to some fried ice cream, or simply sit back and people watch until late into the evening.
Margaritas & Mistletoe at Mad Monkey Siem Reap
Mad Monkey Siem Reap will have not one but three epic days of celebrations on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. At 8 p.m. on Christmas Eve, we will be hosting our Margaritas & Mistletoe party where guests can enjoy buy one get one margaritas! Test your holiday knowledge by participating in our Christmas quiz with a prize for the winning team. Then, on Christmas Day, join Santa’s Drunken Sleigh with $20 unlimited beer starting at 2 p.m., and Christmas dinner will be served from 7-9 p.m. Lastly, join us on Boxing Day at noon as we party with a live DJ, all-day drink specials, and poolside games!
See Ancient Ruins at Angkor Wat
Kick-start your Christmas by visiting one of the world’s most stunning UNESCO World Heritage Sites: Angkor Wat. This structure is absolutely magnificent and includes the incredible Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom, and more. The site covers over 400 square kilometers and is teeming with temples, one of which is best remembered as Angelina Jolie’s famous Tomb Raider temple. The best time to visit is at sunrise, but be warned — this popular tourist destination is certainly filled with them, so get there early to get a good shot of the sun coming up! The park is open from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Bantreay Srei closes a little earlier at 5 p.m.).
Christmas in Kampot
This riverside town is more relaxed than both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Instead of venturing to a rooftop bar to get into the holiday spirit, you may instead find yourself enjoying a drink riverside or soaking in the sun by a pool. Find out the top things to see and do in chilled out Kampot!
Get Back to Nature
Kampot is so endearing to so many travelers because of its surrounding greenery and naturistic vibes. This Christmas, be one with nature by renting a kayak or stand-up paddleboard and cruising down the river. You can also take the day to visit Kep Beach, should you want to be oceanside this Christmas. It is only about 30-45 minutes from Kampot and can be reached via motorbike or tuk-tuk. If you are feeling ambitious, you can instead motorbike up Bokor Mountain. You can also go hiking, climbing with Climbodia, or simply relax by the river. The options are seemingly endless!
Christmas Games and Dinner at Mad Monkey Kampot
Join us at Mad Monkey Kampot for all day pre-Christmas games starting at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Then, gather round with your fellow backpackers for our festive feast, with meat options for $6 and a vegetarian option for only $5! You also get a free, ice-cold beer with the purchase of either of the Christmas dinners. In addition to the meal, treat yourself to $0.50 off Christmas-inspired cocktails and free shots every hour starting at 8 p.m. We’ll also host Christmas carol bingo, a holiday quiz, and so much more!
Christmas on Koh Rong Samloem
Escape the winter this Christmas on one of the islands in Cambodia. One of most beautiful and tranquil of them all is Koh Rong Samloem, found on Saracen Bay. The island promises to welcome visitors with crystal clear water in addition to sunrises and sunsets that simply can’t be beaten. White sand beaches are also readily available, should you want to catch some rays this holiday season. Keep reading to find out what Mad Monkey Koh Rong Samloem has in store this Christmas!
Snorkel, Fish, and see a Fire Show at Mad Monkey Koh Rong Samloem
What better way to spend a holiday than with Mad Monkey on the island of Koh Rong Samloem? Soak in the sun and make your friends enduring winter elsewhere jealous as Koh Rong Samloem promises breezy blue skies and warm weather this holiday season. At the hostel, we’ll be giving away a free snorkeling and fishing tour on Christmas Eve as well as serving up a delicious, Western-style Christmas dinner. You can indulge in chicken ($7), pork ($8), or vegetables ($6). We’ll also be giving away double points for shipwrecks and festive drinks specials so that you can celebrate Christmas while getting your buzz on!
More Information About Spending Christmas in Asia
Did you love this article about how to spend Christmas in Cambodia? Do you want even more information about the most festive things to see and do across Southeast Asia? Then be sure to check out these articles we have rounded up so that you can have the merriest Christmas this year. Happy holidays!
- Top Places to Spend Christmas in Southeast Asia for Globe Trove
- Top 20 places in Asia for your Christmas holidays by Maeve Nolan for Backyard Travel
- 5 Best Places to Spend Christmas in Southeast Asia for TruTravels
- Celebrating Christmas in Asia by Greg Rodgers for TripSavvy
- Christmas in Asia by Ellena Johnstone for Insider Journeys