I was talking to my sister’s fiancé recently about holidays past and present, when he suggested if I wanted to go somewhere different, his boss went to Cambodia and loved it.
Cambodia, as a holiday destination!? For some reason I envisaged Cambodia to be one massive rainforest covered in mist. Not sure where I got that idea from, something from films perhaps. But it had me thinking, if I were to go to Cambodia, what is there to do? Turns out there are lots to see and experience.
Firstly, Cambodia is located in Southeast Asia, bordering Thailand and Vietnam. After years of civil war, the country is growing rapidly. It has become one of Asia’s fastest growing economies in the last decade in fact. With this, almost 3 million tourists travelled there last year; this figure has risen dramatically over the last decade.
So there must be a reason why people continue to flock to Cambodia. One of those reasons is the Angkor Archaeological Park. It’s considered as one of the greatest Hindu religious sites in the world. While many of the temples there lay in ruins, the main temple, Angkor Wat, is still in fantastic condition given it was built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. Designed on the mythical Mount Meru in Hindu religion, it has become synonymous with Cambodia, even appearing on the country’s flag.
Another wonderful building is the Royal Palace. Home to the king of Cambodia, there are many grand buildings to look at. Here you’ll see gold roof tiles, a floor made from over 500 silver blocks that weighs approximately six tonnes and steps of The Pagoda crafted from Italian marble. You’ll also find a 17th century emerald Buddha statue made of Baccarat crystal and solid gold. It’s also decorated with around 9,500 diamonds.
Away from sightseeing, Cambodia offers a number of relaxing options too. With white sandy beaches and blue seas, Koh Rong Island is a haven for sun worshippers. It’s restricted so a select few operators have access to this idyllic island, making it even more peaceful and secluded. They also offer snorkelling activities and a stay in the bungalows that reside on the beach.
Sihanoukville is an alternative if you don’t want to spend lots of money on the private Koh Rong Island. Sihanoukville has a rather more cosmopolitan feel to other cities in Cambodia. In fact, looking at the beach, you could be fooled into thinking it was any European city with a beach.
Kratie is most known for its large population of Irrawaddy river dolphins. There are a number of tours which organise early morning boat trips to watch them leap in and out of the water. Or you could ride on an elephant, much like they did in a bygone era.
For an extremely rare experience, you can fire a rocket launcher. Out in the countryside, you can pay to shoot at the range; just in case anyone is into that.
Aside from the rocket launching opportunity, Cambodia seems… normal. No need to write down tips from Bear Grylls on how to survive in the rainforest. With sightseeing, beaches and wildlife, Cambodia seems like a normal destination for a holiday.
Have you been to Cambodia? Tell us in the comments section below.