It may be towards the end of the busiest tourist season in Cambodia, but there is never really a bad time to visit this country. With its popularity growing more and more, it’s easy to see how and why Cambodia is on many travellers’ bucket lists. I mean, if your main tourist attraction is rated as the #1 attraction in the world on Trip Advisor in 2016, then you know you’re in a travel rich destination.
Not only is it #1 with Trip Advisor, but since 2013 Angkor has seen around 2 million foreign tourists visits annually. These 12th century ruins are the largest religious monuments ever built, with each temple and ruin intricately designed with their own unique purpose and identity. It’s impossible not to be in awe of such a place, especially if you make it for sunrise or wait around for sunset. Angkor is an UNESCO Heritage site, and the Ta Prohm temple was the setting for Angelina Jolie’s 2001 action epic Tomb Raider. If you’re really into your cultural kicks, definitely take your time here.
Top Tip: Spend three days in Siem Reap to discover the true insides and out of these marvellous temples. One day with a guide, one day for photography and one day roaming freely, with perhaps some music to go with!
Like a lot of Asian cuisine, so rich in flavour and style, the food is a major reason we love the Southeast Asian region. Thailand may take all the plaudits but Cambodia has some dishes to savour too. We’ve already written about 5 Foods You Must Eat In Cambodia so take note, but if you’re a bit of foodie like we are, and enjoy noodles, seafood, meats, rice, and a flurry of spices and herbs, Cambodia will be a great place to indulge!
Move over Thailand – Cambodia have some spectacular beaches too! Not only that, but the white-sand-squeaky-fluffy kind that just makes us feel like we’re floating on clouds. Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem take the most the attention and rightly so. The prior gains more tourists because it’s more lit up with guesthouses, bars, restaurants and larger population. Samloem on the other hand is a paradise getaway from paradise. A long line of hotel resorts, small riveting ocean waves hitting the shores of the white sands and a much more quiet vibe is perfect for relaxing. Samloem is simpler, but a tad more beautiful we think. Take your pick!
With the Khmer Rouge’s regime only as recent as the 1970’s (OK, that might be a long time ago for some of you), Cambodia’s historic past is very much at some of the forefront of the tourism here. Visit Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital for the most sombre of experiences. Visit the Killing Fields for a audio account of some of the experiences of the citizens during the regime. As you listen to these eerie tales, you’ll walk through the remnants of the regime’s methods.
After you’ve took all that in, the S-21 Museum is a more visual reminder of the devastating past, a place where many of the Khmers’ victims were kept, tortured and killed. This maybe a little too heavy for the ever-go-happy traveller, but it is important to learn about the history in Cambodia.
Cambodia is an incredible country for an authentic, traditional Southeast Asian experience. Despite its world-class ruins, pristine beaches and beautiful sites, Cambodia is a little grittier in comparison to its neighbours Thailand and Vietnam. Nevertheless, with approximately 75% of the population residing on farms and rice fields, you’ll feel the traditional lifestyle that is embodied within Cambodia. The people are humble yet curious and the cities are kept preserved with a hint of growing modernity. Cambodia is a country that allows you to experience its natural and historic wonders but at the same time revel in its natural state.
Get to Cambodia! Check out Stray Cambodia Travel Passes
Tommy Walker (aka The Wandering Walker) originates from northeast England. He began his journey on the road back in 2012 throughout Asia, Oceania and Latin America. Now, nearly 5 years in, he is a freelance travel writer, content marketing specialist and founder of a popular collection of Backpacking groups on Facebook. Tommy goes by his own motto “every new place is a good place.” If you don’t see Tommy focused doing hot yoga, trailing through rainforests, ducking into the ocean or eating local street food, you’ll see him at a small bar drinking what the locals drink!