Cambodia is rapidly becoming one of the hottest tourist destinations on the planet. This is surprising to many because a large portion of the population of the earth has a negative stereotype about what they think about this incredible land. They imagine back to the images that they have seen on TV of a war-torn country engrossed in the Vietnam War or a country ruled by an overbearing and sadistic dictatorship and these are the only images that they are able to conjure up in their minds.
The truth is that some of these things are true, but those are from a time past. Cambodia is now a democratic country that is one of the most hospitable and beautiful lands for a person to visit. It is truly an incredible blend of an ancient past mixed with a modern technological society that makes it one of the more beautiful and captivating places to visit on earth. It truly is a place that so many find they must see in their lifetime.
While not an enormous country, Cambodia is still rather a large nation and there are many great things that you can see and do within the country. If the you are planning on making a trip to this great nation in Southeast Asia here are some places you surely don’t want to miss.
Angkor Wat – this incredible complex is over 900 years old and took nearly 80 years to complete. It is the largest religious site in the world, and was originally built as a Hindu temple during the Khmer Empire but less than 90 years later became the largest Buddhist temple on earth.
What makes Angkor Wat so spectacular is that for nearly 700 years the complex was virtually unknown to most of the world. It wasn’t until the 1860s that most of the world became aware of this beautiful complex. This has meant that many of the problems that you find with ancient temples and attractions are not true of Angkor Wat. There has not been a large amount of people traipsing through this complex creating damage. Instead it has been beautifully maintained by the Buddhist monks who called at home.
Now you can see this incredible site on your visit to this majestic land. By staying in the city of Seam Reap is just a short distance to Angkor Wat where you can spend the day enjoying the beauty and architectural wonder of this incredible site. Most trips from the city, including entrance into the temple area, cost between $25-$50 depending on the duration of your time at Angkor Wat.
Angkor Thom – amazingly, just a short distance from the beautiful complex at Angkor Wat is the temple at Angkor Thom. During the rule of the Khmer Empire in the region, King Suryavarman II wanted to build an incredible temple and capital city, and Angkor Wat became the site where he started to make his vision a reality. However, King Suryavarman died before the complex was completed, and the Khmer Empire fell into disorder for decades. This meant that the temple site was not completed.
Years later, King Jayavarman VII came to power, and he began a restoration of the Empire which included working to complete Angkor Wat. However, he no longer intended to make this the capital of his empire, instead determining that Angkor Thom would be the site. As a result, this has turned into one of the most beautiful temple areas of the ancient world.
Sadly, during the Vietnam War, much of this temple area was destroyed or sacred relics were taken by thieves. This means that much of the statues and artwork that was in the temple area is gone, however it is still an incredibly beautiful place to visit and you will truly enjoy yourself. Getting here is just a short distance from Seam Reap and it is in very close proximity to Angkor Wat.
Battambang – this beautiful city dates back centuries, and is a short distance from both the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, and Seam Reap. Battambang is built along the Sangker River, and is one of the most beautiful cities because of its colonial heritage. Both the Chinese and the French have had large communities in this city at times, and you can see the influence that both cultures have had on this gorgeous city. The colonial homes, ancient temples, as well as the beautiful Cambodian countryside make this a must-see for anybody.
Add to it is to beautiful bird sanctuary, PrekToal Bird Sanctuary, which is one of the most prestigious in all the world. You will find birds here that you will find nowhere else on earth, and the array in assortment of species is absolutely breathtaking.
Tonle Sap Lake – this is the largest freshwater lake in all of Southeast Asia. During the monsoon season, which runs from June to October, this river actually reverses its flow and runs in the opposite direction filling the lake. What makes this body of water so unique is that this is the only river on the planet that will flow in both directions at different points in the year.
Because of the manner in which the river flows, as well as the fact that this area is sitting on a floodplain and will increase greatly during the flood season, you will find one of the most diverse ecosystems on the planet.
Ream National Park – one of the largest and most spectacular nature preserves in all the world is here in Cambodia. This national park is dedicated to protecting the vast number of endangered and threatened species that live within the park itself. In fact, there is a larger number of these species of animals, plants, and insects than anywhere else on earth. The people of Cambodia truly adore their national treasures, and there while wife is at the top of that list.
Within the last decade, Ream National Park has found itself open to tourism as well. With an incredible beach area on the mainland in 23 islands included within the park, you will find that this is truly a tropical paradise here on earth. The beaches are spectacular, and because there has not been a large tourist population here you will find that they are clean, pristine, and allow you the ability to have time to yourself if you choose. You will find no more beautiful water on earth, and the unusual assortment of animals and plants that live under the water make this a truly spectacular place.
Sihanoukville – while the province is home to Ream National Park, this is not the only site within the province to visit. You will find fantastic places to stay, incredible attractions and museums, and a wide variety of activities. Many enjoy the luxurious casinos that are located in the city of Sihanoukville, as well as the dinner theaters and live performances. We would be remiss if we did not mention the fabulous cuisine that is available as well. Not only can you find dishes from where ever you are from, but you will be able to sample the most fantastic local cuisine.
The Killing Fields – every country has its dark past, and Cambodia is no different. During the reign of the Khmer Rouge millions of its citizens were executed by the former government. It was truly a very dark time within the nation’s past, especially considering that these horrific events were occurring just outside the capital city of for Phnom Penh.
You can visit the site where millions were killed and tortured and buried in mass graves with little to no dignity. A museum marks the spot where these atrocities occurred and as a reminder to the people of the country that they will not allow such an event to happen again. Just as a visit to Auschwitz is essential to a person visiting Poland, the Killing Fields are a true must-see in Cambodia to remind us all of the darker side of humanity.
Kratie – if you were looking for a small town feel with one of the largest marketplaces you will find on earth then this is the location for you. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Kratie conducts one of the largest open marketplaces in the world. You will find shops, items, and virtually anything you could want to purchase on display and ready for you to buy. It is a truly remarkable place especially for those who love to go to flea markets.
This is not the only thing the city has to offer, however. Much of the marketplace is surrounded by old French colonial buildings which have existed for nearly 150 years. These buildings add an unusual feeling to the city, but truly make it a unique place. Add to it the fact that dolphins frequently travel up and down the river near the city making this a great place to enjoy an evening stroll while looking out over the river.
Koh Ker – we have discussed two of the places where the Khmer had their empire, but there is one other spot you will love to see. Koh Ker was the capital from nine 2889 4480 and ingest that 16 year history some of the most beautiful buildings and sculptures you will ever see or constructed. One of the buildings that stands out the most is the Prasat Thom, which is the largest pyramid -like structure within the city. Standing on the top of this complex you can see out over the jungle in all directions making it a truly beautiful and awe-inspiring site. The road leading to this complex makes the site quite easy to reach.
The Plantation – sometimes you just want to get away from it all, and find a place where you can just relax and feel at ease. A place where the bustle and hustle of the city’s lost and you can just find a place to meditate without any worries whatsoever. If this is the place you are looking for, then the Plantation is perfect for you.
Located in the capital city of Cambodia this is one of the most premier places to get away from it all. With two large swimming pools surrounded by cabana beds, you can enjoy a luxurious day just sitting out of the spot area and enjoying the warmth of the sun while sipping a cocktail. It is true that the capital can be quite a boisterous place, even a bit overwhelming at times. This is why the Plantation has become such a popular location. It allows people to get away from it all, and to feel safe while they take it easy.
Koh Rong Island – located in the Ream National Park, this is a very special island that separates itself a bit from the others. There are a small number of bungalows that are available for a person to stay in while vacationing on the island, or you can travel to here as part of the two were for the day. You will find unusual animals, such as the rhesus monkey, beautiful beaches, pristine golden sand, and a feeling like you truly are in a tropical paradise. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth.
The fund does not end there though, however. One of the best parts of Koh Rong Island is the High Point Adventure Park. This is a park that touts itself as fun 100 yards above the ground. Built using ropes and platforms, visitors can swing from tree to tree on zip lines, crossing rivers using bridges, or move in other areas from tree to tree using wooden platforms that swing you across the line. It is truly fun for the entire family, and will make you feel like an adventurer searching for the hidden treasure in the woods of the forbidden land. The cost of visiting this park is $20 a person, significantly less than what you would spend for the day at Disney World, and just as much fun.