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Ang-kor-wat-temple-Cambodia-Tours-Oriental-Colours.jpgCambodia formerly known as the Khmer Empire. In past history Cambodian Kings dominated much of Southeast Asia and accumulate immense power and wealthCambodia is still magical and many historic sites are still there to be seen. It is a country with much to offer and where new and old blend together to create a fantastic atmosphere. In Cambodia you will find many ancient sites, old-world wonders and modern luxury all set in a beautiful landscape of green hills and long rivers.

Imagine taking a boat down a mysterious river with a local guide or a trek through the jungle, you will see wild monkeys, snakes and other wildlife in the jungle alone the river quaint villages awaits and you can take part in the daily life routines and arrive to elegant hotels loaded with luxurious amenities. 

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Top 10 Cambodia attractions:

10.Siem Reap

Siem Reap (literally “Siam Defeated”) is undoubtedly Cambodia’s fastest growing city and serves as a small charming gateway town to the world famous destination of the Angkor temples. Thanks to those Cambodia attractions, Siem Reap has transformed itself into a major tourist hub. It is laid-back and a pleasant place to stay while touring the temples. Siem Reap offers a wide range of hotels, ranging from several 5-star hotels to hundreds of budget guesthouses while a large selection of restaurants offer many kinds of food.

9.Preah Vihear

Preah-Vihear-oriental-colours.pngPreah Vihear is a Khmer temple situated atop a 525 meter (1,722 ft) cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains, on the border between Cambodia and Thailand. It has the most spectacular setting of all the Khmer temples. Most of the temple was constructed in the 11th and 12th century during the reigns of the Khmer kings Suryavarman I and Suryavarman II. It was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Preah Vihear is the subject of a long-running territorial dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, and several soldiers were killed in clashes in 2009.

8.Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville, also known as Kampong Som, is a port city and beach resort on the Gulf of Thailand. The big attraction here are the white-sand beaches and several undeveloped tropical islands. Sihanoukville is a good place to relax and unwind, though be prepared to battle the crows during the high season or a holiday weekend.

7.Tonle Sap

TonleSap-oriental-colours.jpgTonlé Sap is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is of major importance to Cambodia. The lake expands and shrinks dramatically with the seasons. From November to May, Cambodia’s dry season, the Tonlé Sap drains into the Mekong River at Phnom Penh. However, when the year’s heavy rains begin in June, the flow of the Tonlé Sap changes directions and an enormous lake forms. Tonlé Sap is home to many ethnic Vietnamese and numerous Cham communities, living in floating villages around the lake.

6.Silver Pagoda

Located within the Royal Palace compound in Phnom Penh, the Silver Pagoda houses many national treasures such as gold and jeweled Buddha statues. Most notable is a small 17th century baccarat crystal Buddha (the Emerald Buddha of Cambodia) and a life-sized gold Maitreya Buddha decorated with 9584 diamonds. The internal wall of the Silver Pagoda courtyard is decorated with a richly colored and detailed mural of the Ramayana myth, painted in 1903–04 by 40 Khmer artists.

5.Bokor Hill Station

Bokor-Hill-Station-oriental-colours.jpgBokor Hill Station near Kampot was built by the French in the 1920s to be used as a retreat from the heat of Phnom Penh. It has since been abandoned twice, first in the 1940s when the Japanese invaded Cambodia and again in the 1970s, when the Khmer Rouge engulfed the country. Today, Bokor Hill Station and its abandoned buildings have an eerie, ghost-town feel. As of October 2008, the road to Bokor is officially closed due to ongoing reconstruction. Independent access seems to be impossible. though there are hiking tours arranged by local travel agents.

4.Kratie

Kratie is a small town located on the banks of the Mekong River and is dominated by a central marketplace surrounded by old, French colonial buildings. There’s no large scale tourism, but plenty of backpackers pour through here during the peak season. It is the place in Cambodia to see the rare Irrawaddy dolphins, which live in the Mekong River in ever-diminishing numbers. It is estimated that there are between 66 and 86 dolphins left in the upper Cambodian Mekong area.

3.Koh Ker

Koh-Ker.jpgKoh Ker was the capital of the Khmer empire for a very brief period from the year 928 to 944 AD. In this short time some very spectacular buildings and immense sculptures were constructed. The site is dominated by Prasat Thom, a 30 meter (98 ft) tall temple pyramid rising high above the surrounding jungle. A giant Garuda (mythical half-man, half-bird creature), carved into the stone blocks, still guard the very top, although its partially covered now. Left to the jungle for nearly a millennium, Koh Ker was one of Cambodia’s most remote and inaccessible temple destinations. This has now changed thanks to recent de-mining and the opening of a new toll road.

2.Banteay Srei

Although officially part of the Angkor complex, Banteay Srei lies 25 km (15 miles) north-east of the main group of temples, enough to list it as a separate Cambodia attraction here. The temple was completed in 967 AD and is built largely of red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still clearly visible today. Banteay Srei is the only major temple at Angkor not built for a king, instead it was constructed by one of king Rajendravarman’s counselors, Yajnyavahara.

1.Angkor

angkor.jpgThe greatest attraction in Cambodia and one of the most spectacular ancient sites on earth, Angkor is a vast temple complex featuring the remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century AD. These include the famous Angkor Wat temple, the world’s largest single religious monument, the Bayon temple (at Angkor Thom) with its multitude of massive stone faces and Ta Prohm, a Buddhist temple ruin entwined with towering trees.

10 things you should do in Cambodia:

1. Float down the Mekong

The mighty Mekong river crawls its way all the way from China, through Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and on to Vietnam and is the livelihood for most Cambodians. There are various day trips you can do from Phnom Penh, such as visiting Oudong, the former capital.

2. Explore ancient temples

cambodia.jpgMost people who visit Cambodia only come for one reason – the Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap. The sheer beauty and vastness of the dozens of temples are just breathtaking. If you would like to discover some lesser-known temples, I’d recommend either Preah Vihear Temple  at the Thai-Cambodian border or Ta Prohm Temple about an hour south of Phnom Penh. Both temples hardly see any tourists and visiting them truly feels like an Indiana Jones adventure.

The Angkor Wat temple complex in Siem Reap is a UNESCO World Heritage site considered to be one of the world’s greatest architectural monuments

3. Find out about Cambodia’s history

To this day Cambodia is one of the poorest countries in the world and its tragic past with the Khmer Rouge genocide and 30 years of civil war played a big part in that. A visit to the Killing Fields (made famous through the film with the same name) or the torture prison turned museum called Tuol Sleng is certainly not for the faint-hearted. With very visual displays, I recommend visiting these sites if you really want to understand Cambodia.

Tuol Sleng Museum and the Killing Fields are not for the faint-hearted but is recommended for understanding Cambodia’s history

4. Trek jungles on an elephant

jungle-trekking-oriental-colours.jpgJungle trekking is a fairly new thing in Cambodia, so if you are going on a trek you will do so in very small groups. In Mondulkiri in the North East of Cambodia you can book such treks for either one day on the back of an elephant or a multi night trek where you will walk past beautiful waterfalls and sleep in hammocks at night. There is nothing luxurious about these treks, but if you have an adventurous spirit you will certainly be rewarded with lush jungles, raging rivers and some wildlife.

5. Discover deserted beaches

Most people go to Thailand for a beach break, but few people know that Cambodia has got some stunning and deserted beaches as well. At the moment they are not that developed, but new hotels are springing up quickly, so you need to be quick if you want to see them in their raw state. Sihanoukville, Kep and Koh Kong are the three major beach resorts, but I recommend visiting offshore islands like Ko Rong, Bamboo Island and Rabbit Island. You won’t have electricity at night, but what you will get is a deserted beach, white sand, clear water and everything else you need for a cast-away fantasy.

Cambodia has stunning and deserted beaches in Ko Rong, Bamboo Island and Rabbit Island

6. Shop at local markets

In Phnom Penh, the Russian market, night market and central market are the best places to get souvenirs, such as silk products, krama scarves or clothes. In Siem Reap the old market has got all of this stuff as well. These markets are very touristy, so if you would like to see a market where the locals go I recommend Orussey Market in Phnom Penh. You won’t find souvenirs and most vendors won’t speak English, but what you will find is an insight into local culture, food and probably the best ice coffees in town.

7. Learn how to cook Cambodian food

Khmer-Food-Cambodian-Cooking-Course-orientalcolours.jpgUnlike Thai food, Cambodian food is not very well known in the rest of the world, which is a great shame, because it is just as delicious. It is much less spicy, but the ingredients are very similar. If you would like to find out more about Khmer food I recommend taking part in a cooking class. The Frizz Restaurant in Phnom Penh offers half or full-day cooking classes during which you will learn how to cook the national dish amok, banana blossom salad or sticky rice with mango. You can also take classes in Siem Reap or Kampot, just check with your guest house and they can usually recommend a good school.

8. Drink Cambodian beer for $0.75 a pint

Cambodia is a very cheap place to visit. If you buy street food you can be fed for as little as $1. Fresh coconut juice, sugar cane juice and ice coffee can be bought for between $0.20-0.50. But what most backpackers will probably be happy about is that beer is also very cheap. If you buy the local brews like Angkor you can usually get a pint for as little as $0.75. If you go to a Khmer beer garden a pitcher of beer will set you back about $1 and a beer tower only about $2. Cheers!

9. Explore the countryside on a tuk tuk

cambodian-tuk-tuk.JPGTo me visiting Cambodia’s beautiful countryside is a definite highlight of any trip. You can ask a tuk tuk driver to take you out of town for half a day for about $15 and he can drive you past stunning pagodas, old temples and lush rice fields. You can also watch locals working on the rice field in traditional ways using oxen or water buffaloes. Stop of at one of the many food stalls on the road, sample bugs, fried tarantulas or rice desserts in banana leaves and you will experience something that most tourists won’t.

10. See river dolphins in Kratie

Finally, a must-do in Cambodia is seeing the famous Irrawaddy river dolphins that are nearly extinct. They are a protected species now, so numbers are slowly going up again. To see them head north and stop in a town called Kratie. It’s a sleepy riverside town, which is nice for a bit of relaxing and spotting the dolphins on a boat trip of course. They are quite shy, but you are almost guaranteed to see a few. They won’t be jumping out of the water like ocean dolphins do, but you should be able to see their heads. They are extremely sweet and a trip at sunset is a beautiful experience.

 

Cambodia can be visited at any time of year. The ideal months are December and January, when humidity levels are relatively low, there is little rainfall and a cooling breeze whips across the land, but this is also peak season when the majority of visitors descend on the country.

Siem-reap-climate.gif

 

From early February temperatures keep rising until the killer month, April, when the mercury often exceeds 40°C. Sometimes in May or June, the southwestern monsoon brings rain and high humidity, cooking up a sweat for all but the hardiest of visitors. The wet season, which lasts until October, isn’t such a bad time to visit, as the rain tends to come in short, sharp downpours. Angkor is surrounded by lush foliage and the moats are full of water at this time of year. If you are planning to visit isolated areas, however, the wet season makes for tough travel.

Some visitors like to coordinate their trip with one of the annual festivals, such as Bon Om Tuk or Khmer New Year.

To be updated

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