Top Ten Things to Do on Holiday in Cambodia

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    Here is a list of top ten things to do if you visit Cambodia, a country in Southeast Asia.This list is based on my travels in Cambodia from December 2012 to January 2013. Itsgenerally ordered by proximity to the countrys premier tourist destination, Angkor.

    The destinations and activities below will give you a taste of what this incredible countryhas to offer. A study in contrasts, from the majesty of the former Khmer Empireshowcased by the legendary Angkor to the countrys recent tragic history under theKhmer Rouge still echoing in the Killing Fields, Cambodia is unique. It is a wonder to

    behold. These are some of the best places where you can experience what Cambodia hasto offer, although this is by no means a complete list.

    1. Angkor: The capital of the Khmer Empire from 802 A.D. until its conquest by theThais in 1351 A.D., Angkor today is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in northwestCambodia near the city of Siem Reap. Hailed as one of the worlds most spectacular ancient historical sites, Angkor is a large complex that includes the former palace of Angkor Thom and dozens of Hindu and Buddhist temples scattered across an area morethan 1,000 square kilometers (390 square miles) where as many as one million peopleonce lived. Today more than two million tourists flock annually to this remarkable placeto see the timeworn temples, buildings, and points of interest that coexist withcontemporary Cambodia. Angkor is by far the most popular tourist destination inCambodia, and its highlights would easily fill their own top ten list. The site is so far flung that it has inner and outer roads to take you to take you near and wide around SiemReap.

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    Angkor Wat: A Hindu temple built between 1113 and 1150 A.D., majestic Angkor Watovershadows the Angkor complex and is by far its most popular attraction. It is splendidly

    beautiful. No visit to Cambodia would be complete without spending time in Angkor Wat. Walk around the gardens, admire the reflecting pools, and climb up to the maincourtyard where you can see an amazing 360-degree view of the horizon.

    Angkor Thom: The former Khmer capital in the epicenter of Angkor is surrounded by awall with preserved gates you can drive through in a car or tuk tuk . Several importantsites are located inside its walls, including the Bayon, Baphuon, and Terrace of the Leper King.

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    Bayon: The state temple of the Khmer kings, the Bayon is a Buddhist shrine built in thelate 12 th Century or early 13 th Century. The out-of-this-world mystical site is filled withtowers graced with faces carved into the stone, giving the impression that the templeguardians are watching you. The walls also features impressive bas-reliefs.

    Baphuon: A Hindu temple built in the 11 th Century, the Baphuon lies northwest of theBayon and just south of the royal palace. The collapsed temple was rebuilt in the last half of the 20 th Century and now offers a great view of Angkor Thom from the top. The back of the temple features one of the worlds largest Reclining Buddhas. Can you spot him inthe picture below?

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    Terrace of the Leper King: The semi-submerged structure at the center of Angkor Thom winds through a hillside like a snake, its walls adorned with images from Hindulore. The site was reportedly used for cremation ceremonies and named after an Angkor king who had leprosy.

    Ta Prohm: A Buddhist monastery located to the east of Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm is thesecond most popular of the many temples and monasteries after Angkor Wat. Much of ithas been left its natural state, although some efforts have been made to preserve the siteand keep it from being gradually torn apart by the roots of the tetrameles nudiflora treesgrowing on its walls. The site is otherworldly a scene from the movie Tomb Raiderwas filmed at Ta Prohm. One hopes that it wont fall to ruin from the very trees that make

    it more awe-inspiring than computer-generated imagery (CGI) animation.

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    Ruluos: A cluster of Hindu temples in Angkor about 15 kilometers southeast of SiemReap, the site is dominated by the Bakong and Preah Ko temples. Built in the 9 th Century,they were among the first shrines built by the Khmer kings.

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    2. Siem Reap: Cambodias tourist hub is a fun city of about 200,000 located near someof Angkors most stunning sites. Stay in the center and enjoy the town in the eveningafter a long day touring Angkor. Siem Reap has several markets, including a nightmarket, and its lively evening atmosphere makes it a great destination for food, shopping,and entertainment.

    3. Kompong Phluk Stilt Village/Tonle Sap Lake : Kompong Phluk Stilt Village islocated about 25 kilometers southeast of Siem Reap off National Highway 6; the entranceis just past the road to Ruluos. During the dry season when its not flooding, villagerswho make a living fishing on Tonle Sap Lake, Cambodias largest, live in stilt houses thatrise more than five meters (15 feet) off the ground. The town offers an interesting glimpse

    into the lives of local fishermen and looks like the set of a post-apocalyptic movie.Wooden boats take tourists downriver past the town on a brief cruise through a semi-submerged mangrove forest and along the shore of Tonle Sap Lake. Its a great daytripcombined with a visit to Ruluos. Those who dont have a car can take a tuk tuk or taxifrom Siem Reap for a reasonable price.

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    4. Koh Ker: Briefly Angkors capitalfrom 928 to 944 A.D., Koh Ker lies about120 kilometers (75 miles) northwest of Siem Reap in a remote area of Cambodia.The seven-tiered pyramid is the most

    famous of several historical sites in KohKer. Perhaps most significantly, Koh Ker is a nice get away from the throngs of tourists who congregate around SiemReap.

    5. Preah Vihear: An ancient Hindutemple built in the 9 th Century on the edgeof what was once Angkor, Preah Vihear sits atop a cliff in the Dangrek Mountainsof Cambodia overlooking a plain in

    Thailand. The temple is beautiful and theview spectacular. A 140-kilometer tripfrom Siem Reap, the temple sits on theCambodian-Thai border. Tensions

    between Cambodia and Thailand over access to the location and instances of violence has made the area somewhat volatile, although the situation has been quiet as of late.

    6. Phnom Penh: Cambodias capital is a study in contrasts. It is fast emerging as adynamic engine of growth for development with the opening of a new stock exchange and financial center. And yet, it cant escape its brutal past under the Khmer Rouge regimethat captured Phnom Penh in 1975 and decimated the city and its people until itsoverthrow in 1979. A walking tour of the center, from Wat Phnom Penh temple to themarkets near the waterfront for shopping and a meal, to glimpses of historic sites such asthe French architecture along Monivong Boulevard and the Cambodia-Japan FriendshipBridge, are reminders of Phnom Penhs past and present. Try some Cambodian food withFrench coffee and dessert at one of Phnom Penhs many eateries.

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    7. Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda: Cambodias Royal Palace and famed Silver Pagoda named for the silver tiles on the temple floor covered by carpet are among the most beautiful sites in Phnom Penh. Much of the palace of the Cambodian king is closed to the public, but it still offers a taste of Cambodias rich culture and heritage.

    8. Tuol Sleng (S-21) Prison: This former high school in a quiet Phnom Penhneighborhood was once the site of unspeakable horrors. An estimated 20,000 victims of the Khmer Rouge were interred, interrogated, tortured, and killed at Security Prison 21(S-21) or transferred to the Killing Fields to be executed. Only 12 known survivorsescaped death here. Today the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum serves as a poignant

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    reminder of the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. It is a sobering look at the darker side of Cambodian history and the tragedy of genocide.

    9. Cheong Ek Memorial / Killing Fields: Cheong Ek, better known as the KillingFields, is a former Chinese graveyard and orchard used by the Khmer Rouge to tortureand execute thousands of victims in a horrific act of genocide. Mass graves with theremains of 8,895 out of an estimated one million victims of the Khmer Rouge werediscovered at the site. Today it is a memorial with a stupa (tower) filled with the skulls of more than 5,000 victims and a walking tour of the grounds that will leave you in tears.The graphic photos and depictions of torture and execution at Tuol Sleng and Cheong Ek are not for young children or those faint of heart but a necessary reminder of the countrys

    past. Its important to focus on all that is good about Cambodia during your visit, butthese sites should not be overlooked.

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    10. Cambodian Coast / Sihanoukville: The Cambodian Coast is a generally unspoiled

    region waiting to be enjoyed by those who like great beaches, national parks, tropicalforests, mountains, and nature hikes. A stopover in Cambodias largest seaside city,Sihanoukville, is a great starting point for travel along the coast. See my recent series onthe Cambodian Coast for more information about the Cambodian Coast.

    http://worldadventurers.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/the-cambodian-coast-heading-to-the-coast/http://worldadventurers.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/the-cambodian-coast-heading-to-the-coast/http://worldadventurers.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/the-cambodian-coast-heading-to-the-coast/http://worldadventurers.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/the-cambodian-coast-heading-to-the-coast/http://worldadventurers.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/the-cambodian-coast-heading-to-the-coast/http://worldadventurers.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/the-cambodian-coast-heading-to-the-coast/
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    M.G. Edwards is a writer of books and stories in themystery, thriller and science fiction-fantasy genres. He alsowrites travel adventures. He is author of Kilimanjaro: One

    Mans Quest to Go Over the Hill , a non-fiction account of his attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro, Africas highest mountain, and a short story collection called Real Dreams:Thirty Years of Short Stories . He also wrote and illustrated

    Alexander the Salamander and Ellie the Elephant , twobooks in the World Adventurers for Kids Series. His booksare available in e-book and print from Amazon.com and other booksellers . Edwards graduated from the Universityof Washington with a masters degree in China Studies and a Master of Business Administration. He lives in Bangkok,Thailand with his wife Jing and son Alex.

    For more books or stories by M.G. Edwards, visit his web site at www.mgedwards.com or his blog, World Adventurers . Contact him at me@mgedwards.com , on Facebook , onGoogle+ , or @m_g_edwards on Twitter.

    2013 Brilliance Press. All rights reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted without the written consent of the author .

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