Cambodia might not be the most popular country in Southeast Asia, which is luckily not due to the absence of wonderful sights. In reality here you might witness the legacy of ancient architecture and the growing capital and beautiful countryside. Here it’s possible to have a short trip, during which you will get a chance to get acquainted with the local ancient culture and have a chance to meet polite and friendly people. The main reason of unpopularity is the fact that the country was involved in a war, which caused chaos, civil and political instability, and thus the country was an armed camp and was closed to foreign visitors.
After the situation changed, the government decided to put some efforts in making the tourism a means of getting more attention. The tourism infrastructure is rapidly developing in Cambodia. The first stop here is usually the capital, Phnom Penh, located not far from the confluence of the rivers Tonle Sap and Mekong. The capital is popular with its picturesque beauty. The most outstanding part of it is the area surrounding the Royal Palace. It’s here where you can take a visit to the National Museum, a group of French colonial villas. Royal Palace is not simply a palace, but an entire complex of sights, including the Throne Room, Elephant Hall, Hall of Chiang Chaiya, the Royal Treasury and the Tracery Pavilion of Napoleon III, as well as gold Buddha statue, the statue of King Norodom, and the Royal Gardens. It’s a pity that the common visitors of Cambodia cannot enter the Royal Palace itself. The place is considered to be strictly forbidden for visits, due to the given importance as a holy place, but the rest of the complex buildings are there to welcome the visitors.
The National Museum, located at the northern part of the Royal Palace is a unique place in Cambodia, where you can get a chance to witness the preserved centuries-old Khmer culture. The collection of the museum is huge, including all kinds of historical and ethnographic items covering Cambodia’s history starting from the sixth century BC up to the present days. The collection includes relics found during excavation of Angkor. This is just another famous attraction in Cambodia. To get here you have to go 240 km west of Phnom Penh. The locals call it a live monument of the ancient Khmer culture. It used to be the capital of the ancient Khmer state and at the moment it has still preserved a large list of religious buildings and palaces.
The most popular of all is the Temple of Angkor Wat, built as a temple and mausoleum for the King Suryavarman II. The curious visitors should have a look at the walls outside the gallery, where you can find kilometers long sketches devoted to god Vishnu, the heroes of the Ramayana and the military exploits of the king. You might be surprised that this exact temple is the largest religious building in the world. It has a large citadel called Angkor Thom. There are located also the royal palace, temples of Baphuon Phimeanakas, Terrace of Elephants and the Victory Gate, as well as stone bridges, decorated with images of gods. Not far from the citadel part is another popular and wonderful temple called Bayon. The complex consists of the main building and surrounding 52 towers, all of which are decorated with amazing bas-reliefs depicting the everyday life scenes of the ancient Khmer.
Sihanoukville is the most well-known beach resort in Cambodia and the country’s main port. It’s quite a friendly and prosperous town. The main income of the town is from trade, fishing and tourism. The town cannot be proud for its old century monuments, but instead it’s popular with kilometers long sandy beaches, palm trees and excellent restaurants with local cuisine seafood.
And finally another good place for the stop is Battambang. It’s also located in the north part of the country and is considered to be the second largest city in Cambodia. Booming is the business heart of the country with its trade and transportation centers. The colonial era is quite obvious here with the interesting architecture. The main appeal of the city is the old French colonial quarter.
If the entire country seems too crazy for you, you can have a rest of two or three days at Ratanakiri. It’s a contrasting area in the northeast, a little separated from the rest of Cambodia. Here it’s all about jungles and wildlife.