Cambodia is still recovering from the genocide inflicted upon the tiny nation by Pol Pot & his Khmer Rouge regime in the mid to late 1970s. However, it’s subsequent transformation has been nothing short of miraculous. This is testament to strength & will of the Cambodian people.
Despite being the smallest nation in former Indochina, Cambodia punches well above its weight. It is home to some of the world’s finest & best preserved archeological wonders, stunning white sand islands & dense countryside – where you can find the beautiful Asian elephant.
It’s a place where traditions, heritage and history of the ancient Khmer Empire clash together with modern life. Many would think this collision would make for a hectic and unwieldy country. However, Cambodia is a place of peace, charm and tranquillity, with a little adventure thrown in.
The Khmer Empire once spread across Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, but its modern homeland is Cambodia. It’s heart is Angkor, near the town of Siem Reap, home to the world famous Angkor Wat; the largest religious monument in the world. It began as a Hindu temple for Vishnu but transformed into a Buddhist temple over time. There are extraordinary intricate details throughout and it’s a great spot for a moment of quiet reflection. Other ancient temples and ruins you should visit in Cambodia include the Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm and Banteay Srei. Siem Reap town itself has plenty to offer too, with plenty of lively bars, restaurants and music venues.
Don’t overlook the capital, Phnom Penh. It’s leading the country in a contemporary and urban revolution right from its idyllic spot on the Mekong river. The city is exploring new artistic, musical, theatrical and dance movements, creating a kind of cultural renaissance. This is also where you’ll find the most infamous & sombre locations associated with the rule of the Khmer Rouge, namely Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum & the ‘killing fields’ at Choeung Ek.
You can then head out to the countryside and explore the acres of rice paddies, sugar palms and more. For wildlife, head to the remote Mondulkiri region, one of the best (And most unusual) places in Southeast Asia to spend time with the Asian elephant. You might also be lucky enough to spy some freshwater dolphins in Kratie along the way.
For R&R, head for the coast. The country’s finest beaches are found on the Koh Rong archipelago, an area that remains pleasingly undiscovered & unaffected by the sort of “over-tourism” found in certain spots in neighbouring countries. Kep is fantastic for laid-back vibes & seafood, while Kampot is a must for colonial charm.
Cambodia is an incredible place. It has a long and bloody history that has brought it to where it is today; a fantastic blend of heritage and modern life that has come together thanks to the unwavering spirit of its people. This is the best place to see the Khmer Empire’s influence on the Indochina region, but a discerning traveller will also be able to spot these influences in Thailand, Laos and further afield. So, keep an eye out!
Plan your trip to Cambodia today.