There are countless reasons to visit Cambodia. Deciding where you are going to go and how long you plan to stay is the hard part. Be careful not to fall too in love with the country of you might might find yourself moving there. I met a few people who did just that. These are a few of our favorite things to look out for when planning your trip.
1. Visit the famous temple from Tomb Raider.
Yes, this is where the Angelina Jolie / Lara Croft movie was filmed! To be honest, Ta Prohm (the modern name of the temple at Angkor, Siem Reap) is much more beautiful in person. Get a good photo in the famous doorway and discover the eerie beauty that covers the site. The temple is remarkably semi-restored after being abandoned for hundreds of years. But the old growth trees remain, where you can see how the jungle overtook the structure long ago.
2. Get one of the best profile photos ever.
Sunrise, sunset, or any time in between. A selfie stick or a passer-by will easily snap your perfect Facebook picture.
3. Go on the photo-safari of a lifetime.
Make sure you have a camera other than your mobile phone because these are pictures you will want to print out and frame. There are tons on books on photography in Cambodia. Check them out for inspiration before you go.
4. The food…
…and THE FOOD.
Khmer cuisine has not made it far in other parts of the world yet there are some absolutely wonderful dishes that you have to get your hands on. Also, don’t forget, you are going to want to buy some local black pepper to take home as a souvenir.
5. The wildlife…
…and the wildlife.
Though Cambodia is a hotbed for trafficked wildlife there are more than enough rescue centers and sanctuaries that you can and should visit. A great way to get off the beaten path, grab some cool photos, and leave some money in an organization that does great work.
6. Some stunning beaches.
…which just keep getting better.
Since development has been sparse and sporadic in parts, it is quite easy to find yourself in a strip of beach bars or on some secluded sand with no one around. A really unique opportunity to explore far and wide.
7. A history lesson on Cambodia worth learning and never forgetting.
It is almost impossible to go to Cambodia and not learn about the Khmer Rouge. They were the Cambodian (Khmer) communists (rouge) and later the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea who famously carried out the Cambodian genocide. To be honest, it might be worth a quick read before you go but some scars of recent history should be seen with your own eyes.
8. Visit a remarkable yet little known UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Kampong Khleang is a fisherman village built stilts on Tonle Sap lake to evade flood waters. An incredible feat of architecture and human resilience. A tour to this site funnels money straight into the community. Also unlike any other place you will ever see.
9. No shortage of fabulous resorts.
You can discover some seriously modestly priced resorts throughout Cambodia. If that still is not in your budget there are more than enough hostels and cheaper hotels around and a day pass to a fancy resort pool is always possible.
10. Try eating some bugs! And other things that crawl in the Cambodian night.
Though often reserved for tourists, some very traditional rural ingredients can be found roasting at street vendors. Try it! …or not!
11. Some ways of life so slow and gentile…
…you realize there are few places left like that on Earth.
You might be inspired to start mediating again. Or realize the origins of where and why that practice came from. You will want to channel that peace and silence some day when life starts to get hectic.
12. Just to be amazed.
Because you will be. Just let go and fall into the awe of being there. Ancient ruins, delicious food, smiling laughing children. You will quickly learn how magic lingers in the air.
Now start planning your trip! Click the cover below to get the latest Cambodia Lonely Planet.
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