While Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s standout symbol and sight, this Southeast Asian country has much, much for you to see and do besides visit the remarkable ruins. Still slowly recovering from centuries of colonialism, wars, and the brutal Khmer Rouge regime of the seventies, it is now an increasingly popular destination due to its beautiful beaches, interesting historic sites, and rich cultural heritage.
Set alongside the glittering Gulf of Thailand, the Kingdom of Cambodia is surrounded by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. While most of its landmass is made up of flat, low-lying plains, the center of the country is dominated by the winding Mekong River and massive Tonle Sap Lake. As well as thick tropical forests, high plateaus, and a couple of rugged mountain ranges in the west and north, it also has scenic beaches and offshore islands for visitors to discover.
Once known as the ‘Paris of the East’ due to its fine French colonial architecture, Phnom Penh is its colorful, chaotic, and slightly run-down capital. Asides from the absolutely stunning Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, many of its sites such as the Killing Fields and Genocide Museum sadly recount the horrors committed by the cruel Khmer Rouge regime.
As it is a very poor country on the whole, most of its population resides in rural villages and remote countryside towns with Battambang and Siem Reap being the other two main cities of note. While the former boasts some exquisite colonial buildings and bucolic countryside surroundings, the latter acts as a gateway to Cambodia’s incredible jungle-coated complex of temples.
Besides exploring the temples of Angkor, you can also amble around other archaeological sites like Banteay Srei and Koh Ker, visit Tonle Sap Lake’s floating villages, or relax on the beach at Sihanoukville; Cambodia’s premier seaside resort city.