Few countries so consistently amaze as much as Cambodia. With its glorious past, and more recent tragic history, the country is a perplexing mixture of the friendly and the puzzling that will intrigue and ultimately leave you asking for more.
Phnom Penh, Capital of Cambodia
The Paris of Southeast Asia, the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh was once one of the pearls of Asia. Sadly, it suffered like its people during the Khmer Rouge regime, but has recently recovered like a Phoenix. Few capitals can have more affordable boutique hotels with swimming pools, a more beautiful riverside and some of the finest restaurants that will leave you sated without hurting your wallet.
Undeniably one of the mankind’s greatest wonders – although it fails to make official lists – Angkor Wat is quite simply the most mystical place, a beauty to behold, especially at sunrise if you can avoid the glare of your fellow tourists’ cellphone flashes. At its peak the largest city in the world with a population of around a million, Angkor was one of the greatest civilisations on Earth. Look on my works … and despair.
Cambodia has a plethora of beaches off the south coast, which have been relatively unspoilt, so far. Take a boat from Sihanoukvlle and beachcomb along the same coastline and seas that has made Thailand a traveller’s tropical paradise for decades, but for a fraction of the price and without the crowds.
The Cambodia Water Festival (or Bon Om Touk) and Pchum Ben, Khmer New Year are the biggest occasions in the packed Cambodia festival calendar.
Killing Fields Cambodia
Sadly, Cambodia was shattered by the most terrible civil war and genocide between 1975 and 1979 when up to three million people out of a population of eight million were executes or starved to death. The Choeung Ek Killing Fields, just outside of Phnom Penh, and the s-21 Detention Centre inside the capital are popular but harrowing tourist destinations that will haunt you forever.