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The small country of Cambodia is wedged between Vietnam, Thailand and Laos in Southeast Asia. Ravaged by years of war and having a rather poor infrastructure, the country has long been the domain of the adventure travellers and backpackers. However with the war behind them, the country has turned a new leaf and is gradually opening its arms to travellers of all sorts, making it one of the hottest destinations of the moment. The country has three main sights, the temple complex of Angkor, the country’s capital centre of Phnom Penh, and the beautiful white beaches on the Gulf of Thailand.
Leading the charge is the famous temples of Angkor, one of the most celebrated religious complexes in the world and an absolute must visit. Started in the 11th century, Angkor was the capital of the Khmer Empire which existed until its fall in the 15th century. Although locals knew of its existence, it wasn’t ‘rediscovered’ by Europeans until much later and by that stage, it had been reclaimed the jungle. The main temple, Angkor Wat, is covered in stunning carvings depicting the many battles fought between the Khmer and their ancient enemies in Siam and Vietnam. Other popular temples include Bayon which features over 200 [remaining] faces of a Khmer king, and the famous Ta Prohm which has been left in much the state it was when rediscovered, swallowed up by the jungle with giant tree roots strangling the ancient buildings.
The bustling capital of Phnom Penh has a wealth of history to explore. It’s famous for its gruesome war time attractions such as the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum which tell the terrors of the Khmer Rouge “nightmare” when up to 3,000,000 million perished. But once known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’, the city is home to many beautiful French colonial buildings as well as national palaces and museums. The impressive Silver Pagoda and National Museum holds many national treasures such as Buddha statues encrusted with diamonds and other precious jewels. Being the commercial capital of the country, the markets are a must see if not only to watch ordinary Cambodian’s go about their lives, but also for dirt cheap clothing, electronics, art and souvenirs.
The last of the big three is the country’s southern coast which boarders the Gulf of Thailand and is home to stunningly white sand beaches perfectly lined with gently swaying palm trees. The beaches here have not yet been over commercialised by the mega international resorts found throughout the likes of Thailand and Bali. The most well known spots are Sihanoukville, Koh Rong and Kampot which are predominantly backpacker destinations, and sadly somewhat spoiled because of it. However there are some beautiful offshore islands with their own resorts which ensure you’ll have a beautiful clean beach, plenty of peace and relaxation; and you’re bound to be grateful for a few luxuries after your Cambodian adventure. Click here for HOT Cambodia deals.
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