The first thing, which comes to your mind on hearing ‘Cambodia’, is arguably ‘Angkor’. And yes, the remnants of the powerful Khmer Kingdom of the times long passed are as impressive as they can get.
Chances that Angkor will be the main reason – or the first/only reason – for which you would ever think about visiting Cambodia are not just high; they are 100% sure. If you have just a couple of days at your disposal and wish to make the first acquaintance, then you will most probably base in Siem Reap with several temples of the Angkor Small Circle and a floating village at Tonle Sap Lake as the only things you will have time to check – and that is already good enough.
Why should you visit Cambodia?
Angkor is one of the most impressive of all the ancient cities
It may have not been included into the recent list of the new Seven Wonders of the World, but Angkor is definitely not less impressive than the Great Wall of China, Petra, Taj Mahal or Chichen Itza. If you do not believe us, head there straight away and see it with your own eyes!
There is much more to the ancient temples of the Khmer Empire than just Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Baphuon. Do venture further afield to get the most of them. Seeing the day off at one of the isolated far flung temples will enhance your life experience with new emotions. And yet, even if the most popular route around Angkor is all you can do, you won’t be disappointed either. Angkor is a wonder, whatever the New7Wonders Foundation say.
Travelling around Cambodia by land has improved dramatically
During the last 5–7 years Cambodia saw the country’s major thoroughfares getting a modern facelift. The highways connecting the most popular destinations in the country like route 6 between Poipet and Phnom Penh do have new pavement now but in parts remain nothing more than a two-lane freeway used by all possible means of transport – from buffalo carts and motorbikes to express buses and large trucks.
Very often, overtaking drivers are not interested at all if there is oncoming traffic or not. Driving at night-time is more dangerous and if you can try to avoid taking night buses.
Though the conditions of some roads still leave much to be desired and there is a long way to go before the local standards come anywhere close to those, say, of Thailand, you can already travel between the major tourist destinations in Cambodia by bus rather comfortably.
There are international bus links with Thailand from Phnom Penh to Bangkok or from Siem Reap to Bangkok, Vietnam from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City or Laos from Siem Reap to Pakse. These bus routes facilitate travel around the region a lot and let budget-conscious travellers move between the neighbouring countries with easy and comfort.
A good network of interprovincial buses also contributes to the growth of tourism within the country as do domestic flights linking the major tourist destinations – now it is easy to move around the country as never before.
Cambodia offers very diverse experiences
Ancient ruins? Yes, there are plenty. Pristine beaches? More than enough – and often more spectacular than you would have expected. Jungle trekking? Oh, put on your trekking shoes immediately! How-is-it-made type of experience? See the best world pepper being cultivated or salt harvested in the glittering salt fields. Ah, you are a foodie, aren’t you? Then you will be delighted to find out that the Khmer food is full of flavour but without the scorching chilli of the neighbours. Coffee lovers will find their caffeine fix, too.
Do you need more reasons to book your tickets to Cambodia immediately?
Check our Weather in Cambodia and Visa to Cambodia pages to get prepared to your trip.
Note Though one of the poorest nations, Cambodia remains in greater part a safe place to visit. Violent crimes do happen but are generally uncommon. Do not put on pink glasses, though. Bribery, dirt-cheap alcohol and poor driving skills are inevitable companions of your travel in Cambodia.
Do not be surprised to hear the request to pay for ‘a quick lane’ from the immigration officers on entering the country. Take it for granted that the same bus tickets can cost you USD5 or USD10 or even more – all depending on the tout’s appetite. Expect children in Angkor and in some other most touristy areas begging for money ‘to pay for school’ – directly or through selling one-dollar rubbish – they do not actually have to pay for school, and today their school is not closed, no.
Remember that punishments for drug use are harsh in Cambodia. There are definitely better and safer places on earth to smoke a joint. With high quality alcohol from around the world available at the stores at alarmingly low prices, it is easy to overdose – be prudent! Deaths of travellers from overdosing are not a rare case in the country. Driving drunk or stoned is not a good idea, either.
Read our Safe Travel in Cambodia to find out more about scams and dangers you are risking to come across there. Use your common sense and enjoy your trip!
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