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Cambodia Information

Overview  |  History  |  Sightseeing

Cambodia offers much for the sightseer and adventurer. From the famed Angkor Wat, the largest ancient temple in the world, to museums and galleries, there is something for everyone.

Angkor Wat

The number one reason to come to Cambodia – although not the only reason – the temple complex in Siem Reap houses a plethora of sites to explore. Apart from Angkor Wat, two other attractions are Bayon and Ta Prohm temples.

Battambang

Cambodia’s second city, Battambang contains impressive colonial architecture and is an up-and-coming destination now used frequently by visitors as a base from which to view nearby temples and villages.

Kompong Luong

The floating town of Kompong Luong is home to thousands of residents on Tonlé Sap lake. It’s quite impressive to see homes, restaurants, schools and other town structures rising and falling with the tide. You’ll find the village 40kms north of Pursat.

Phnom Udong

Lying 40kms north of the capital, Phnom Udong was the capital of Cambodia from 1618 to 1866, and many of the ruins are in good shape including those of Ta San Mosque. There is also a memorial to the victims of the Khmer Rouge with bones of people buried in the 100 or so mass graves of the area.

Phsar Thom Thmei (Central Market)
A tourist attraction in its own right, the central market built during the French colonial era in 1937 is a strange yet impressive art deco structure that’s got a hint of Khmer lotus about it. In other words, it’s an artistic collaboration between French and Cambodian styles. Even if you don’t plan to buy anything get over here to take a look.

Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda
This is one of the top sights in Phnom Penh. Dating from the mid-1860s, the Royal Palace is quite opulent and on the same entry ticket is the Silver Pagoda housing a Buddha statue made mostly of gold and 10,000 diamonds.

Sihanoukville Beach

The beach at Sihanoukville is the only place where you can take part in water sports like scuba diving. It’s also a great base for exploring Ream National Park. There are several good beach areas and even a nearby waterfall where you can swim. Also in the vicinity is the resort town of Kampot.

A high school in the capital turned into a gruesome torturing prison – this is one of the must-sees of Cambodia. Somewhere around 17,000 political prisoners were tortured in this facility and also killed here or in the infamous Killing Fields nearby, all in just the span between 1975 and 1979. Make sure to pick up a guide for this tour, as many have personal experience with the prison and can add a lot to the experience. Phone: +855 23 300698 www.tuolsleng.com.

Top Things to Do

There are so many exciting sights in Cambodia that you’ll hardly find yourself without things to do. Just scrambling around the ruins at Angkor can keep you busy for days if not weeks, or you can climb up for a bird’s-eye view of the complex by hot-air balloon. The country is beautiful, and even more incredible for rising out of the intense history of war and genocide. Take time to visit major sites that give you a glimpse into the history of the country, but also make sure you get to meet some of the friendly and positive people who have weathered through the history.

Cook Khmer-style curry or other cuisine. There are plenty of Khmer cooking classes in the capital, held in English or French. The Frizz restaurant on Sisowath Quay operates some of the most popular courses and will have you creating an amok fish curry to die for.

Explore the temples at Angkor. You could spend oodles of time watching the sunrises and the sunsets at this amazing temple complex. Especially if you’re interested in photography, there is so much to see and so many nooks to explore. Hire a guide for a day or two to hear the stories behind the temples.

Fire a rocket launcher or M-16. You won’t find a lot of places in the world where you can go crazy firing weaponry. There are two venues that offer this bizarre form of entertainment, one in Phnom Penh and one in Siem Reap.

Get high over Angkor. The best way to see Angkor by far is from the air. It’s a spectacular sight that you will remember for the rest of your life. The tethered hot-air balloon offers a budget way to soar above the temples for about 15 minutes; or you can go all out with a helicopter tour.

Hold you nose at Stung Meanchey Garbage Dump. Your entire outlook on life will change in this one visit. Shocking, alarming and filled with despair, this garbage dump is an example of how many of Cambodia’s children spend their time – sifting through garbage all day long to survive. If your kids complain about going to school, they probably won’t after they see this. Donations can also be made to the humanitarian organisation Pour Sourire D’un Enfant at their onsite office.

Ride an elephant. If you’ve never ridden an elephant, there’s no experience quite like it. The activity is most popular in Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri. Be sure to go with a reputable company and take a guide as land mines and other dangers may spoil your day. You can also ride an elephant around Angkor or at the zoo on Mekong Island, a daytrip from the capital.

Take a sunset cruise along the Mekong river. One-hour cruises are available and will give you great insight on the lives of the people living on and around the river. The sunset is especially brilliant from the boat and this is a relaxing way to end your day.

Visit the Memorial at Choeung Ek. Located 15kms from Phnom Penh, this is a memorial to those who died in the infamous Killing Fields. Here you can view around 8,000 skulls arranged by sex and age behind a glass panel.

Visit the Stone and Woodcarving School in Siem Reap. This is a great place to see how stone and wood is carved into reproductions of the ancient Khmer temple carvings. Prices are cheap and you’ll be supporting a good cause.

Volunteer for a good cause or donate blood. There are numerous NGOs and charity organisations doing good work in Cambodia. Additionally, only about one-third of the country’s requirement for blood is being met, so you can make a donation at the Cambodian Red Cross to help.

Watch traditional Khmer theatre. A few different venues in the city offer the chance to watch Khmer performances with the most popular being the Aspara Theatre at the Angkor Village Resort, which is also a restaurant. The evening shows feature a wealth of traditionally dressed performers, meaning there is lots of gold finery on display and the chance to experience classical Khmer music and dance.

Watch traditional Khmer kickboxing. Khmer traditional boxing, or Pradal Serey, has made a huge comeback since it was banned by the Khmer Rouge. The biggest fights are held at the Olympic Stadium, but you can find smaller bouts at other venues too, so ask around.


Overview  |  History  |  Sightseeing
 
 
 
 

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