It might be one of Southeast Asia’s smallest countries, but Cambodia can compete with the big boys when it comes to must-see sights. Once the preserve of trailblazing backpackers, this formerly war-torn nation is now firmly established on the Asia travel circuit. That luxury yachts ply their trade on Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, is a mark of just how far Cambodia has come.
The magnificent Angkor Wat temple complex never disappoints any traveler in Cambodia. The enduring beauty of the ancient architecture, the remarkable statues and startling depictions on temple friezes of life as it was lived during the Khmer Empire, which flourished between the 9th and 15th centuries, are truly one of the highlights of any trip to South East Asia.
However as Cambodia emerges from the tragedy of its recent history, there’s more to experience in this once little visited country outside the undeniable charms of Siem Reap. The largest lake in all South East Asia - Tonle Sap - is home to picturesque villages on stilts and beautiful mangrove forests. At Kratie on the banks of the Mekong River, with a bit of luck, you can spot the rare Mekong River Dolphins.
As well as being home to many harrowing museums and centres testifying to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge, Phnom Penh is also rapidly transforming into a fashionable modern metropolis. Restaurants, hotels, bars and boutiques are springing up across the city show casing a dynamic, modern Khmer urban culture.
Not far away along the south coast the quiet beach towns of Kep and Kampot contrast with the larger city-by-the-beach buzz of Sihanoukville. Near the unspoiled Cardamom Mountains to the West lies Koh Kong boasting luxurious, floating eco resorts, small, uninhabited islands and some of the best beaches in the region.
After decades of turmoil Cambodia is finally coming into its own and there’s never been a better time to visit.
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