Sunset on the beach in Kep in Cambodia.

Why Travel to Cambodia?

In Cambodia, every ancient stone tells a story, every landscape holds a secret, and every smile reveals the enduring spirit of its people. A journey through Cambodia is an exploration of a land that transcends time, offering a window into its glorious past and a glimpse of its hopeful future.

8 min read

Cambodia is a country that has so much to offer to every adventurous traveler. From its rich history to its unique culture and natural wonders, Cambodia never fails to mesmerize visitors. If you are still unsure about whether or not to travel to this beautiful Southeast Asian gem, let me take you on a journey through the various reasons that make Cambodia a must-visit destination.

Cambodia's Natural Wonders

Cambodia boasts stunning natural wonders that will leave nature enthusiasts in awe. Sihanoukville, with its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters, is a paradise for sun-seekers and beach lovers. Whether you prefer lounging on the sand or diving into the vibrant marine life, Sihanoukville offers a coastal escape like no other.

Beach in Sihanoukville in Cambodia.
Sihanoukville, Cambodia

The beaches of Sihanoukville stretch for miles, with powdery white sand that feels like silk beneath your toes. The crystal-clear waters invite you to take a refreshing dip, revealing a world teeming with colorful coral reefs and exotic marine creatures. Snorkeling or scuba diving in Sihanoukville is an adventure that will immerse you in an underwater wonderland.

For those seeking adventure in the wild, Mondulkiri is a haven of untouched jungles and majestic waterfalls. As you trek through the dense forests of Mondulkiri, you will be surrounded by a symphony of sounds – the chirping of birds, the rustling of leaves, and the distant roar of waterfalls. The air is thick with the scent of earth and the vibrant greenery envelops you, creating a sense of tranquility and connection with nature.

Bousra waterfall in Mondulkiri, Cambodia.
Mondulkiri in Cambodia.
Mondulkiri, Cambodia

Mondulkiri is also home to ethical elephant sanctuaries, where you can interact with these gentle giants in a responsible and sustainable way. As you spend time with the elephants, you will witness their intelligence, playfulness, and deep emotional connections. Bathing them in the river or feeding them their favorite treats is an experience that will leave a lasting imprint on your heart.

Not to be missed is the chance to catch a glimpse of the rare Mekong River Dolphins. These critically endangered creatures inhabit the freshwater pools of the Mekong River. Witnessing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat is a humbling and unforgettable experience.

Boat on Mekong river in Cambodia.
Mekong river, Cambodia

Understanding Cambodia's Rich History

One cannot truly appreciate Cambodia without delving into its remarkable history that dates back thousands of years. Cambodia, located in Southeast Asia, has been a land of ancient civilizations and cultural wonders.

One of the most iconic historical attractions is the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spanning over 400 square kilometers, Angkor Wat is a magnificent temple complex that showcases the architectural brilliance of the Khmer Empire. Built in the 12th century, it was originally a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu and later transformed into a Buddhist temple. Exploring its intricate carvings and towering structures is like stepping into a mystical world frozen in time.

Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia.
Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The Khmer Empire, which reached its peak in the 12th century, was a powerful and prosperous civilization. It was known for its advanced irrigation systems, intricate city planning, and impressive temples. The empire's capital, Angkor, was a bustling metropolis with a population estimated to be over one million people, making it one of the largest pre-industrial cities in the world.

Another significant historical site is the Royal Palace of Phnom Penh, the capital city. This opulent palace is a testament to Cambodia's royal heritage and offers a glimpse into the country's regal past. Walking through its grand halls and witnessing the intricate Khmer architecture is truly captivating. The palace complex consists of various buildings, including the Silver Pagoda, which houses a collection of precious artifacts and a floor adorned with over 5,000 silver tiles.

Royal Palace in Phnom Penh Cambodia.
Royal Palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

However, Cambodia's history is not without its dark periods. The Khmer Rouge era, under the ruthless regime of Pol Pot, left a tragic mark on the nation. From 1975 to 1979, Cambodia experienced a period of extreme social and political upheaval. It is estimated that approximately two million people, a quarter of the country's population, perished during this period.

Understanding this period of Cambodia's history is essential to grasp the resilience and strength of its people today. Despite the scars left by the Khmer Rouge regime, Cambodia has emerged as a nation determined to heal and move forward.

The Unique Cambodian Culture

Cambodia's culture is as vibrant and diverse as its history. One aspect that stands out is the traditional Khmer cuisine. From spicy curries to mouthwatering street food, Cambodian dishes are a delight to the senses. Take a culinary journey through local markets and savor the flavors that encapsulate the essence of Cambodian gastronomy.

When it comes to Khmer cuisine, one cannot ignore the famous Fish Amok. This delectable dish consists of fish fillets cooked in a rich coconut curry, flavored with lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves. In addition to Fish Amok, another must-try dish is Lok Lak. This traditional Cambodian beef stir-fry is marinated in a tangy sauce made from lime juice, soy sauce, and black pepper. Served with a side of fresh vegetables and a fried egg on top, Lok Lak is a true delight for meat lovers.

Another cultural gem is the art of Apsara dance. This ancient dance form is not only visually stunning but also deeply rooted in Cambodian folklore. Each movement and gesture holds symbolic meaning, depicting tales of love, war, and spirituality. The dancers' elaborate costumes and headdresses add a touch of elegance to the performance, making it a truly mesmerizing experience.

Apsara dancers carved on the wall of temple in Cambodia.
Apsara dancers, Cambodia

Buddhism plays a significant role in Cambodian culture, and exploring the numerous temples and pagodas offers a glimpse into the spiritual side of the country. From the awe-inspiring Bayon Temple to the peaceful atmosphere of Wat Langka, these sacred sites offer a refuge for both locals and visitors seeking tranquility.

Ta Prohm is another temple that shouldn't be missed. Known for its enchanting blend of nature and architecture, this temple is famous for the giant trees that have grown intertwined with its ancient ruins. The sight of massive roots snaking their way through the stone structures creates a mystical atmosphere that transports you back in time.

With its rich history, unique culture, breathtaking natural wonders, and warm-hearted people, Cambodia is a destination that will captivate and inspire you. Embark on a journey to this enchanting land, and let Cambodia weave its magic in every step you take.

LZ

Lizzie Z.

As a top level corporate executive, Lizzie embarked on a soul-searching journey of adventure and slow living, passionately sharing her insights as the founder of RLM.

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