If you wanted to unveil your inner Lara Croft, Cambodia is certainly the best country to be. Ever since Angelina Jolie’s remarkable role in Tom Raider, Cambodia has been flocked with numerous travelers and tourist from anywhere abroad. In fact, tourism is the country’s second-greatest source of hard currency after the textile industry.
Cambodia is a Southeast Asian nation whose landscape spans low-lying plains, the Mekong Delta, mountains and Gulf of Thailand coastline. Phnom Penh, its capital, is home to the art deco Central Market, glittering Royal Palace and the National Museum’s historical and archaeological exhibits. In the country’s northwest are the ruins of Angkor Wat, a massive stone temple complex built during the Khmer Empire.
The low cost of food and accommodation in Cambodia makes it a great budget travel destination. However, it is with the exception of Angkor Wat, as it is a touristy destination that is a bit pricey. Thus, without it, you can able to get away with spending of around $10 – $12 per day on average. If you do plenty of activities and quite a bit of drinking, you might budget anywhere from $15 – $30 per day.
So, the following are the top 10 memorable attractions to explore in Cambodia:
- Sunrise in Angkor Wat
Everyone goes for it and there’s no way you should ditch witnessing the sunrise in Angkor Wat Temple. You’d be amazed by how many visitors to the country goes for it in as early as 5:30AM. Just be ready and know your way to beat the crowd if you wish to capture its beauty.
2. Angkor Thom
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Aptly named, the strengthened city of Angkor Thom is indeed a ‘Great City’ on an epic scale. Angkor Thom, located in present-day Cambodia, was the last and most continuing capital city of the Khmer empire. If you visit Angkor Thom, I’d expect you’d be enchanted with the gates. It is flanked by a vast representation of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, 54 demons and 54 gods engaged in an epic tug of war on the causeway. It is sure awe-inspiring to enter the gates of Angkor Thom feeling like meeting and be face to faced with divine God-kings. Don’t you think?
3. Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm is undoubtedly the most atmospheric ruin at Angkor. Thus, it should be top on the list of every visitor. One can expect great trees tower above Ta Prohm where their leaves filtering the sunlight, providing welcome shade and casting a greenish light over the beautiful site. Also, notice some delicately carved reliefs on the walls sprout lichen, moss and creeping plants adding drama to the whole view.
If you’re an artsy type of a person, don’t miss visiting Artisans and see talented craftsmen at work. These craftsmen may be less fortunate in penny but really are rich in skills. However, one good way to be of help to them is to buy some of their great works. You should be able to bring with you good finds from fashion to furniture and fixtures items.
5. Bayon Temple
Bayon Temple is one of the famous destination in Angkor. It features a sea of over 200 massive stone faces looking in all direction. People who have visited the place used to call it “the many face temple.” It is truly a sensational place so make sure to form it part of your list.
6. Banteay Srei
Banteay Srei means ‘Citadel of the Women.’ It is said that it must have been built by a woman, as the elaborate carvings are supposedly too fine for the hand of a man. It is about 32km northeast of Siem Reap and 21km northeast of Bayon. There’s sign along the roads to the temple. Trip by contract-hired cars or motorcycle should take you 45 minutes. Make sure to ace your haggling powers as most drivers will require a bit of extra cash to bring you out here.
7. Koh Ker
Koh Ker was the capital of the Khmer empire for a very brief period from the year 928 to 944 AD. It is a remote archaeological site in northern Cambodia about 120km kilometres away from Siem Reap and the ancient site of Angkor. If you explore Cambodia today, feel lucky to be able to visit this place. Because before it wasn’t readily accessible to the public. Luckily now, it is. All thanks to the recent opening of a new toll road going to Koh Ker.
8. Silver Pagoda
No need to go really far. There is an attraction within the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, the Silver Pagoda. It is located at the south side of the Royal Palace. Explore this place and be able to sneak a peek at some of the 5000 tiles near the entrance gleaming with silver. It is covered to preserve them.
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If your itinerary includes coming to visit Thailand, consider making a pit stop to Preah Vihear. It is situated atop a 525 meter (1,722 ft) cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains, on the border between Cambodia and Thailand. It is a days’ worth of a hike. It should take approximately 2-hours to reach its peak. Make sure to bring enough drinking water and trekking essentials with you when hiking up the temple. Expect to witness the amazing cliffs and the excellent condition of the temple which is a sure surreal experience.