Cambodia : Why Visit?
Its tortured past is now history; today the Kingdom of Cambodia is one of THE reasons for visiting South-East Asia and there’s no better time to visit than now. The 9th to 13th century Angkor temples around Siem Reap are truly one of the wonders of the ancient world. There’s no doubt that they rival the Egyptian Pyramids and Italy’s Pompeii in their elegance and splendor. They will live in your memory forever.
The temples (such Bayon, Ta Prohm and, of course, Angkor Wat) are now easily accessible and so it’s definitely possible to observe them in person and far away from the comfort of your armchair while watching the Discovery Channel! In fact, it is still possible to discover some of the temples and wonder around them as if you’re the only one there (which occasionally you are). As the number of tourists to the temples continues to accelerate, this sadly may not be the case in a few years time.
Of course, Cambodia’s tourist attractions don’t just stop there. Its capital city, Phnom Penh, successfully manages to persuade visitors to stay longer than originally intended and its vibrant nightlife, worth some energetic investigation, is one of the principal reasons why. While the quiet sandy beaches and chilled-out scene of Sihanoukville makes a welcome change from its overly populated counterparts in Southern Thailand.
And there’s even more for the adventurous traveler. The forgotten French colonial beach resort of Kep, the old colonial riverside town of Kampot and the abandoned Bokor Hill Station are atmospherically frozen in time and echoes of the bygone era of old Indochina. Add hill tribes in Ratanakiri, jungle trekking and wildlife spotting in Bokor, Ream and Kirirom National Parks, Elephant riding in Mondulkiri and gem buying in Pailin to the list, and you can clearly see the possibilities open to you while visiting the country.
Plus, of course, there are the Cambodian people themselves with their bright warm smiles and cries of ‘hello’ as you walk by in the beautiful countryside or bustling towns. Make no mistake about it; these people are the most friendly you’ll ever meet.
Without question, Cambodia is still recovering from two decades of war, which included one of the worst cases of national genocide in world history by the Khmer Rouge regime from 1975 to 1979 and, although now finished as a political and fighting force, its legacy still lives on through lost relatives and landmines.
But don’t let Cambodia’s troubled past put you off from visiting. Today, the country is relatively safe and peaceful, and after spending some time here, you’ll not only witness some sites and experiences that’ll blow you away -- you will also have a hell of a lot of fun along the way!
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