Now, more and more people become aware of the charms that the Khmer empire and the Cambodia tourism infrastructure have to offer visitors.
South East Asia has long been a popular destination for western tourists who are drawn by the exoticism and weather of the region, as well as its affordability. Thailand experienced its tourist boom in the seventies and eighties and has never looked back; in the nineties it was Vietnam’s turn, and now the world is turning its attention to Cambodia.
Cambodia tourism became a viable vacation option after the Khmer Rouge regime was largely stamped out and Pol Pot was captured in the late nineties. Each year Cambodia receives around 2 million international tourists and tourism is becoming one of the country’s most important industries.
There are many reasons that Cambodia attracts so many tourists; among them are the incredible sites, great beaches, rich culture, fascinating history and a wonderful and warm people who are so welcoming.
Chief among Cambodia’s tourist sites is Angkor Wat. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a temple complex and the largest religious site in the world. The Angkor temples were constructed from around 802 A.D to 1431 A.D, when Thai forces sacked the Khmer capital.
No visitor who comes to Cambodia should miss a visit to Angkor Wat and to appreciate the complex sufficiently you will need at least three days. Angkor Wat is located just outside Siem Reap in the country’s northwest.
While Angkor Wat is the epicenter of Cambodian tourism sites, there are many other places of interest in the country as well.
A visit to the floating villages on the Tonle Sap Lake can be done from Siem Reap and show a unique and ancient way of life in Cambodia.
In the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh visitors can visit the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, which has a floor with over 5000 silver tiles.
There is also a 90 kilogram Buddha encrusted with over 9000 diamonds. Phnom Penh and its surrounds are also home to some of the country’s more grizzly historical sites such as Tuol Seng Genocide Museum, where the Khmer Rouge imprisoned and executed thousands of Cambodians.
Just outside of Phnom Penh are the Killing Fields where mass graves were discovered from the period of 1975-1979 when the Khmer Rouge was in power and Cambodians were starved, died from over work or were executed.
Cambodia tourism in the south of the country relies on the beautiful beaches that draw tourists to their shores. Places like Sihanoukville offer pristine beaches with clear waters and golden sands without the overcrowding problems experienced by some of Cambodia’s neighbors. It is still possible to find isolated beaches where you can swim, snorkel, bathe, and forget that the outside world exists.
Cambodia has a rich culture and history that can be seen and experienced in many different ways on a trip to the country. From watching a performance of Khmer Apsara dance, visiting produce markets, sampling the Cambodian cuisine and admiring the groups of saffron robe-clad monks that seem ubiquitous in the country Cambodia is a riot of color, culture and the exotic.
The Silver Pagoda, Royal Palace, Phnom Penh
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Portrait of a Traditional Cambodian Apsara Dancer
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Monks Coming Down Temple Stairs
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So in short...One of the reasons that Cambodia tourism has flourished so quickly has to be the friendliness of the locals. Cambodia is known as the “Land of Smiles” and truly lives up to its moniker. Despite their tragic history, Cambodians are a naturally happy, friendly and kind people. Few people who have visited Cambodia would leave with anything but warm and fuzzy memories of the Cambodian people they encountered on their journey.
Cambodia has so much to offer tourists without many of the drawbacks of some other Southeast Asian locations. Its friendly people, incredible historical sites and gorgeous beaches leave an indelible mark on everyone who steps foot in the Khmer empire.
Where would you like to go next?Pick a good Cambodia guidebook that you like:
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95% of the people are Buddhist, while the temples are Hindu. Read on to find out when and why the 'switch' happened.
Apart from tourism, there are other thriving industries in the country.
Education in Cambodia
A look in the education system that is currently in place. NGOs play a big part in educating the children.
How is Cambodia today? Where do most of the people live and what do they do? A quick look into how Cambodia is today.
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