Cambodia is a unique destination in Asia that is well worth a visit, even if it is just to see the fascinating temple ruins of Angkor Wat. Fortunately, Cambodia also has other top attractions, such as beautiful tropical beaches, breathtaking nature, and great food. Plus, there is PLENTY of peace and tranquillity.
Arriving to Cambodia
For many, the journey in Cambodia begins in the country's capital, Phnom Penh, a city that is rapidly growing. Its infrastructure has evolved, much to the delight of travellers, but there is still evidence of Cambodia’s tragic past - for example, the Killing Fields monument - Choeung Ek. The monument was built in honour of those killed during the Khmer Rouge dictatorship.
There are also several interesting temples (or 'wat', in Cambodian): Ounalom, Wat Phnom and Wat Moha Montrei, just to name a few. You should also visit the Silver Pagoda, a grandiose temple complex from the Khmer-era during the 9th to 13th centuries. It is embellished with silver, diamonds and crystals. The Mekong River runs through Phnom Penh, and there is a constant buzz here - you can easily take in the impressions of Phnom Penh while sitting in one of the area's cozy Parisian-like cafes. The country was under French influence during the latter part of the 1800s, therefore, the touch of France.
Travel to Cambodia's top attraction: Angkor Wat
From Phnom Pen, you can travel across the lake, Tom Le Sap, to Siam Reap. This is the gateway to Cambodia's main attraction: Angkor Wat. You simply cannot travel to Cambodia without visiting these impressive temple ruins, built in the 12th century. Just walking around and exploring the ruins is an amazing experience! Here you get a unique insight into the country's cultural history; an insight that is needed to understand why Cambodia is the way it is today.
Cambodia's beaches: Sihanoukville and Bamboo Island
One of the best things about travelling in Cambodia is that the country has the perfect combination of cultural and historical highlights as well as what many travellers are also looking for: beautiful beaches. The best beaches are just outside the city, and it is natural to do as everyone else: rent a moped and at your own pace, find a beach that best suits you. Are you looking for a little peace, tranquillity and isolation?
Then it can be highly recommended to sail out to Bamboo Island. Transportation is typically one of the local fishing boats; expect about an hour's sailing. Bamboo Island is primitive in a very cosy and appealing way: the only overnight lodging is in simple bungalows, as there are only about 15 on the whole island. Don't expect much, they mostly consist of little more than a few walls, a mosquito net and a hammock on a terrace with the beautiful sea as the background. There are no cars, electricity, shops or bars - just a simple hut where you can buy some food and beer. You are alone with the stunning scenery, completely and utterly along, and it's all about just enjoying it to the max: the sunset over the ocean, the quiet night, and a profusion of stars in the sky.