Cambodia enthrals travellers with its compelling history, fascinating heritage, abundance of untouched countryside and heart-warming people who are happy to share their unique culture with you.Now a modest player on the world stage, this was once the seat of one of Asia’s most magnificent early civilizations, the mighty Khmer Empire of Angkor, whose legendary temples continue to provide a touchstone of national identity while attracting millions of visitors every year.
Away from the temples, much of the country remains refreshingly rural and, in some places, largely unexplored. Cambodia’s sleepy towns and cities are a delight, with their faded colonial architecture and old world charm, while in the countryside a host of memorable landscapes await, from the mighty Mekong River and great Tonle Sap Lake to the remote forested highlands of Rattanakiri, Mondulkiri and the Cardamom Mountains. Down south, and in complete contrast, the coast serves up a beguiling mix of party and lifestyle hedonism, idyllic beaches and magical islands.
Much of Cambodia’s appeal derives from its slightly anachronistic, faintly time-warped character. Compared to the far more populous and economically developed countries of Thailand and Vietnam that hem it in on either side, Cambodia remains an essentially rural society, and something of a regional backwater. The country’s provincial hinterlands appear to have changed little in generations, offering a refreshing throwback to an older and simpler era with beautiful stilted wooden houses set amid a patchwork of rice paddies and sugar palms. And although living standards for most of the population are basic in the extreme, Cambodians as a whole remain among Asia’s most friendly and welcoming people.
It’s perhaps this warmth and hospitality which most impresses many visitors to Cambodia and is all the more astonishing given the country’s tragic recent past. For many, Cambodia remains synonymous with the bloody excesses of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime, whose delusional leaders succeeded in killing or causing the deaths of perhaps two million or more of their fellow citizens. Not until 1998 were the Khmer Rouge driven from their final strongholds and even now, many of their former cadres occupy positions of power and responsibility. Unsurprisingly, emotional scars from this period run deep and through every layer of Cambodian society; the memory of a nightmare from which the country is only slowly and painfully awakening
Much of Cambodia’s appeal derives from its slightly anachronistic, faintly time-warped character. Compared to the far more populous and economically developed countries of Thailand and Vietnam that border it in on either side, Cambodia remains an essentially rural society.
While Cambodia is justly famous for its unique historical heritage, the Kingdom has much more to offer than just Angkor Wat and visitors are welcomed with open arms to discover its treasures, many of which are still largely untouched by tourism.
Explore exciting and fast-paced Ho Chi Minh City, float through the Mekong Delta, discover the magnificence of Angkor Wat, savour an authentic Khmer meal in a local home. Cambodia is an exotic, newly opened culture, so adventure travel comes with an extra frisson here.
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