Ever wonder what is there really to see in Cambodia? Cambodia gets less spotlight as compared to its neighbours. Whenever people mention they are going to Cambodia, we think that they must be heading to build some houses or doing volunteer work. But this is not the case, there are plenty to explore around Cambodia. It was my first destination for my backpacking trip this summer and I really love it. Here’s 5 reasons from me for you to plan a trip to Cambodia.
1) Angkor Wat
An UNESCO World Heritage site, Angkor Wat is one of the main attractions of Cambodia. It is located close to the city of Siem Reap. This larger than life complex attracts people from all over the world. Like many ancient sites across the globe, Angkor Wat has its own mystifying allure. The most famous temple complex other than Angkor Wat itself will be the Ta Prohm where the blockbuster ” Tomb Raider ” was filmed at. Ta Prohm is one of my favorite, it is simply a sight to see an ancient temple overrun with trees in the most classical manner. The entire Angkor complex is so vast that you need days to explore the temples, making it the largest religious structure in the world. It’s reputation as one of the 7th Wonder of the World needs no further explanation on the wow factor. While you are in Siem Reap, check out the Pub Street and Night Market for some nightlife entertainment.
2) Koh Rong Islands
Free of paved roads and ATMs, the Koh Rong Islands are the hidden gems of Cambodia beach getaway. Still a backpackers’ spot, they are located 45 minutes via fast ferry from the coast of Sihanouukville . The turquoise waters and white sandy beaches does not need any kind of filter to make your freshly taken pictures look good on Instagram, yes that’s how perfect they are. Development on the islands are speeding up around the corner, plan your visit before the tourism factor sets in. Years ago, travelers flock to Sihanoukville for the beaches but my recent visit there has been disappointing, especially on the main beaches. Thanks to the Koh Rong Islands, Sihanoukville still retains part of its charm. It can be the next big thing in 5 years, till then you can tell your friends that you have visited those paradises in its untouched state.
3) Khmer History
There are no better ways to learn about the history of Cambodia than doing a visit personally. Similar to the Vietnam War, Cambodia has its own share of tragic past due to the Khmer Rouge period in the 1970s. It is one of the main causes of poverty that still plagues Cambodia today. A visit to the Killing Fields can shed some light into what happen during the past. There are cabinets filled with skulls and bones unearthed from the mass graves during the Khmer Rouge period. There are many temples and palaces in Cambodia, check out the Golden Palace located in Phnom Penh to complete your history excursion of Cambodia.
If you think the standard of living in Thailand is cheap, which is true compared to western standards, Cambodia will be even more gentle to your pockets. Ranging from USD 2 dorms to USD 0.5 draft Angkor beer to USD 1 street food, it is a budget traveler’s paradise. You do not need to think twice before getting a second serving because it is cheap, so eat to your fill. There are no public transport in Cambodia, you can get a motorbike or TukTuk to bring you to places for very reasonable prices. If you are in Phnom Penh, head over to Russian Market or Central Market for shopping. I got offered USD 6 for the signature backpacker pants with elephant prints which I brought it down to USD 2 later. Remember to haggle wherever you go because it is a barter economy in Cambodia.
You will never get enough of Pad Thai or Pho, these are well-known delicious Asian cuisine worldwide. You walk into a Thai restaurant in California, order a plate of Pad Thai and it costs USD 10, ouch! Have it in Bangkok and you can get it for a quarter of that price and it is truly authentic. Although Cambodian food does not have that much of a reach across oceans, I found out that they are equally tasty and special. There are nowhere to taste local food than in Cambodia itself. I was surprised that I have never heard of some of the local Cambodian food despite being totally delicious. My favorite is the Chicken Amok which I really like about its pandan leaves aroma and rich onions taste. Make a trip to Cambodia and have your own share of local food. Give yourself and the dish an opportunity to love one another.
Have you decide to travel to Cambodia? I hope you do!