If backpacking across Southeast Asia is there on your ‘Travel Bucket list, then there’s no way you can miss exploring Cambodia! The rustic old world charm amalgamated with the beauty of modernity makes Cambodia one of the top destinations to explore in this new year.
No matter whether you are a gap year student looking for something meaningful to do during your break, or a budget backpacker aiming to explore the ruins of the Khmer Dynasty, or a foodie who wants to try the delicious signature fish amok and beef lok lak to crab and Kampot pepper along with spicy noodles – Cambodia has everything to cater your wishlist!
And for those who are still wondering “Why visit Cambodia?” – here are a few reasons to convince you to travel to Cambodia.
Of course, you can’t deny the fact that one of the major reasons why millions of travelers head towards this Southeast Asian nation is to witness the gorgeous temples built during the Khmer Era.
The sprawling temple complex in Siem Reap is a perfect example of architectural grandeur and home to a series of stunning structures and religious monuments, including the Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple, and Ta Prohm, etc. You can either choose to walk down the historical trails through the lush green jungles, or rent a cycle and explore the World’s largest temple complex, that’s marked as a UNESCO Heritage Site.
There are so many things to see and do in the capital city of Phnom Penh that you might just feel like putting a pause to time! Cambodia has seen it’s darker days during the 1970s when thousands of people were killed recklessly. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S-21 Prison) and the Killing Fields still echoes the death of those people, and if you wish to take a deeper look into the country’s history, then you have to visit these places.
Apart from that, you can also explore the Silver Pagoda, also known as the Temple of Emerald Buddha and the National Museum of Cambodia.
Most of the tourists have a misconception that Thailand has the best beaches, hence the ones in Cambodia are often ignored and forgotten. The vast stretches of white sandy beaches and deep blue sea make a perfect combination to allure travelers looking for pristine hideouts! Cambodian islands like Koh Thmei, Koh Ta Kiev, Koh Totang, Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem are nothing lesser than hidden gems and beachside locations like Sihanoukville can offer you the perfect treat that you are seeking.
Relax while sunbathing, take a quick dip, try out water sports like surfing or snorkeling or attend some yoga sessions on the beach – you’ll have too many options to choose from!
The Cambodians are extremely warm and friendly, and you’ll always find them sharing a smile. Majority of the country’s population reside in rural areas and aren’t very well off, yet they are happy and satisfied. From tuk-tuk drivers, to tour guides, shopkeepers or passer-bys – you’ll be touched by the gentle behavior of the Khmers.
People are patient and soft-spoken, and you’ll soon get to feel the zen vibes, being around them!
Perhaps the thought of adventure treks and wildlife explorations doesn’t strike you when you think of Cambodia, but just to add to your knowledge, Cambodia has extensive tropical jungle scenes where you can spot elephants, sun bears, gibbons and other animals, apart from hundreds of beautiful birds.
The Cardamom Mountains in the northwestern part of Cambodia are one of Southeast Asia’s most species-rich and intact natural habitats where you can unwind and find solace amidst the silence! The flora and fauna of this region are unique, and you’ll have several options for camping, kayaking, cycling and hiking through this unique Cambodian tropical jungle.
Whether you’re in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, the local markets will just leave you in awe! You’ll find everything from clothes, souvenirs, household goods, jewelry to lip-smacking food and alcohol – there’s no dearth of anything.
And the best part is that you can bargain till you get the best price (anyway, for someone coming from the West, things in Cambodia would appear to be cheaper than anywhere else in the world!).
Even the night markets are amazing, and totally worth a visit. Dig into a bowl of steaming Bai Sach Chrouk (Pork and rice) and treat your taste buds with the delicious flavors! Also, you’ll get some of the best varieties of fresh tropical fruits (like mangoes, dragon fruits, pineapples etc) in these markets – so dare not miss them!
The journey finds its true meaning if there’s something good associated with it. In spite of the recent developments, rural Cambodia still has a huge population of underprivileged people who don’t get access to basic education and proper healthcare facilities.
If you wish to touch their lives in a positive manner and make some impact on the society, then choose to volunteer for a meaningful project in Cambodia and contribute in whichever way you can. It’ll be an incredible opportunity for you to live with the natives, know more about their culture, customs, and lifestyle while helping them to have a better future.
Hopefully, now you are convinced, so start planning your trip, and you’ll surely experience some of your best days in Cambodia.
In case you need more information about volunteering, you can check out the Comprehensive Guidebook about Cambodia or simply drop us a mail at [email protected] and our Program Advisors will get back to you!
Riyanka is a traveler who is keen on exploring different parts of the world. She’s a travel blogger who’s equally passionate about photography. Her quest is to turn all her journeys into beautiful stories. Being a die-hard ‘mountain-aholic‘, her favorite destinations are all around the Himalayas! She can spend days gazing at the snow-capped mountains, binge on Maggi and lemon-honey-ginger tea, and reading Ruskin Bond books.
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