The Kingdom of Cambodia is a state in Southeast Asia and a modern successor to the Khmer Empire that flourished from the 9th to the 15th century. The history of the place is revealed magnificently in the temples of Angkok Wat, the largest religious monument complex in the world. However, cultural heritage is not limited on that. Vibrant cities, traditional villages and an exotic natural landscape alternating from the mountainous north with rich wildlife, the lush green rice fields to the tropical southern islands of turquoise waters. And of course, the Great Mekong River runs across the country, the life-giver of Indochina. The recent history of this idyllic part is tarnished by horrid genocide, soaked with the blood of three million souls, victims of mass executions and tortures under the totalitarian regime of Khmer Rouge, led by the notorious dictator Pol Pot. Since 1979, when this regime ended, justice has been attributed just recently, condemning some of the culprits for these crimes against humanity.
The Khmer, like their neighbors throughout Southeast Asia, have the smile engraved in their culture. They will treat you with kindness and understanding, in a manner that it’s hard to believe that some years ago, some part of the population has been murdering its fellow citizens.
The country’s capital, built at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers, despite the chaotic traffic of people and vehicles, exudes its own charm. As a rapidly growing city, it reflects the country’s growth rate.
A city with a relaxed atmosphere, all sorts of hotels, restaurants and cafes, owes its growth to the nearby Angkor archaeological site. Another attraction that the visitor should not miss is the floating village of Phum Phang, which can be reached by combining a road trip and a motorized boat.
The largest temple complex in the world was built around the 12th century initially as a Hindu and later as a Buddhist worship site, now is the emblem of the country. The elaborate architecture of hundreds of countless megalithic buildings, reliefs, water perimeters, and the dense jungle that surrounds them -and in some cases reclaiming the area- with rooted trees embellishing the buildings, gives Angkor Wat the title of one of the most important monuments of cultural heritage in the world and for some claims a place in the new 7 wonders of the World list.
A coastal city with intense construction and tourist flow due to its long coastal zone, hotels, casinos, nightlife and proximity to beautiful islands. Despite its preference for tourists, the city -which is also the main port of the country- is not famous for its beauty. A colorful slum built on piles on the dirty waters of the harbor, hosts a fishermen community of more traditional lifestyle.
Together with his twin brother, Koh Rong Samloem, these tropical paradises have not yet been eroded by hordes of tourists like in neighboring Thailand, with the exception of Koh Touch’s main harbor, where backpackers engage in frantic nightlife.
In the cinematic Angkor Wat
to be continued…