When most people think of South East Asia, they think of the beautiful white sand beaches of Thailand and the impressive Ha Long Bay in Vietnam. Few people long to visit Cambodia, a hugely underrated country with a lot to offer. Not only are Cambodians some of the most welcoming, happy and charming people they have a lot of history that is both devastating and extremely moving. This is a country that has been through a lot recently, yet is looking to move forward. Cambodia is also one of the cheapest places to visit in South East Asia, so if money’s tight don’t let that stop you from visiting the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Here are some reasons why you need to add Cambodia to your Asian itinerary.
The History is Unbelievable
Cambodia has a dark history, almost 1/4 of the population was wiped out during the Khmer Rouge. The evidence of this horrific time is still obvious, with there being obvious gaps in the population. No visit to Cambodia is complete without taking some time to visit The Killing Fields and S21 Museum. The Killing Fields is one of the fields that was discovered after the Khmer Rouge were taken down to be a mass killing and burial site. S21 Museum on the other hand is a former school that was converted into a place where the people were tortured before being taken to a killing field. It is a painful history, but very important to understand the roots of Cambodia.
Although Angkor Wat tends to be crowded with tourists, no matter the season, it is an incredible site. Most people come to appreciate some of the other temples even more than Angkor Wat as you can sometimes find yourself with a moment or two alone, in peace, to enjoy the smaller temples. The “jungle temple” is where Tomb Raider was filmed and has numerous trees twisting their ways through the construction. There’s also Bayon which is the temple with many heads. These are incredible temples and you should set aside a few days to visit and explore them.
The Beaches Are Beautiful
Not only are Cambodia’s beaches just as beautiful as neighbouring countries, it’s generally a lot cheaper to stay at them than in Thailand or Vietnam, for example. You’re spoiled for choices with beaches, from Koh Rong to Otres beach, there’s something for everyone. There are also a number of places in the south of Cambodia where you can sit your PADI dive qualifications.
Although it is a touristy town, it is very comfortable and a great place to spend a few days, aside from the temples. There are numerous wonderful cafes, restaurants and markets here. The Old Night Market is always a favourite with travellers looking to buy gifts to take home. You will find incredible paintings for less than a canvas would cost back home. If you’re planning a trip to Cambodia, spend a few extra days in Siem Reap to enjoy the vibe.