Cambodia is a kingdom of temples, a land of mystery and intrigue, full of awe-inspiring sights and sounds that captivate your senses and ensnare your soul. A turbulent history, equal parts inspiring and sad, sets the scene – with the remnants of the Khmer Empire acting as the crown jewels to any holiday in Cambodia. The incredible Angkor Wat in Siem Reap will remain with you for years to come, as will the memories of Choeung Ek Memorial (The Killing Fields) – for Cambodia is not just a land of immense beauty, but it is a country whose people have survived unimaginable horrors and come through it all with an unrivalled optimism. Cambodia will leave you with a measure of affection for not just the country but for its people too.
Cambodia – A quick view
Time difference: GMT +7 Hours
Flight time: Approx 12 hours
Visa Required: Visa on arrival for British passport holders
Currency: Cambodian Riel
Tel Code: +855
Population: 15.14 million (approx)
Official Language: Khmer
Recommended Airlines: Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Etihad Airways, Cathay Pacific, Qatar Airways, Vietnam Airlines.
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Read more on Cambodia – Best time to visit
Cambodia, much like Laos, is often overlooked in favour of its more popular neighbours, but tourism to the country is slowly picking up pace – thanks mostly to the impressive array of temples and the untouched landscapes that retain a feeling of gentile countryside – not yet ravaged by the hands of mass tourism. When planning your journey we suggest a minimum of 1 week, though 2 weeks would allow you greater flexibility – especially important if you plan to visit during the rainy season. Starting in Siem Reap, touring the mysterious Angkor Wat temples such as Preah Khan Temple, Phnom Bakheng, Bayon Temple and Lolei, move on to Boeng Melea Temple and the serene Kulen Mountain National Park. Afterwards, journey onwards to Cambodia’s capital city Phnom Penh, and visit Wat Phnom and the pretty gardens that surround it, the Independence Monument (Vimean Ekareach), and the impressive Ounalom Monastery which sits on the banks of the
Tonle Sap River.
Like much of South East Asia, Cambodia has an array of interesting festivals throughout the year. The Khmer New Year or Bon Chol Chhnam Thmei is perhaps one of the most important, and is celebrated each year around the 13th of April. During the festival you can expect the merriment to include countrywide celebrations and a mix of traditional games, including seed throwing (Bas Angkunh) and tug of war. It’s also a good time to see the traditional Khmer dances such as Ran Vong, Saravan and Lam Leav, as they are danced for all to enjoy in the open air. The 15-day long Pchum Ben Day or All Soul Day takes place from the end of September to the beginning of October and is dedicated to the blessing of spirits of the dead. During the festival you can expect to see food offerings at religious temples, offered both as food for the monks and to feed the hungry ghosts that dwell there. Lastly the Water Festival takes place each year in November and is generally celebrated for 3 days. The festival is used to usher in the fishing season and is seen as something of a thanksgiving to the Mekong River. Don’t mistake this with Thailand’s Songkran festival, and celebrates he reversing flow of water between the Tonle Sap and the Mekong River.
There is always a little something different to do, besides Highlights of Cambodia. A visit to Cambodia, as anyone will tell you, is resplendent with temple visits, and fact finding amongst the country’s temples and museums (such as the National Museum in Phnom Penh), Angkor Wat and Khmer Emplire in particular, but it’s not a country so well known for its beaches. If you want to sample the beach life in Cambodia, then a visit to Kep will do you well. The tranquil shoreline is filled with white sands and calm blue waters. Though the most intriguing aspect, is the ruins of old French colonial villas (destroyed in the Khmer Rouge days). There’s also plenty of great food in the area, mixed as it is with French cuisine and seafood, Cambodian cuisine and markets are worth giving a shot. And do not forget the elephant ride at Modulkiri Elephant sanctuary, something we always suggest to the discerning travellers.
- Phnom Penh
- Siem Reap
- Ban Lung