Cambodia is home to the Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious building. The country is still recovering from decades of war and devastation under the Khmer Rouge. Cambodia was colonized by France in the mid-19th century, and gained independence in 1953. The country has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with economic growth growing an average 6.0% for the last 10 years.
Capital: Phnom Penh
Population: 14.8 million
State religion: Theravada Buddhism
Currency: Riel (KHR)
Eastern Cambodia is an up and coming eco-tourist destination, with rugged green mountains, waterfalls, lakes and the meandering Mekong river as the perfect playground. Highlights include spotting the ever more rare Irawaddy dolphin near Kratie, taking a refreshing dive in the crystal-clear crater lake Boeng Yeak Lom and visiting the Elephant Valley Project near Mondulkiri.
Memoria Palace & Resort is an enchanting hotel resort set in Pailin near the Cardamom Mountains. The history of the place as one of the ammunition depots of the Khmer Rouge, gave the resort its name.
By: Willem van Gent
Our ―and most visitors’ ― first destination in Cambodia is Angkor Wat, the famous temple complex. It is advisable to buy a three day-ticket, because the temple grounds are very extensive and one day simply isn’t enough to take this place in. Most visitors stay in the town of Siem Reap, a lively place with international cuisine and colorful markets. Despite the many tourists there is a pleasant atmosphere. In November you can enjoy the yearly water festival with boat races and music.
There are several roads leading from Siem Reap to Battambang, the second largest town after the capital. By far the most attractive route is by water. We took a wonderful day trip over rivers and lakes with floating villages and farms along the way. Local people get in and out of the boat as we travel.
Battambang, still a quiet town, is one of those cities that will grow on you. Once installed, you will discover the restaurants and cafés in the lively centre. Rent a tuktuk to explore the surroundings. There is a lot to see and experience in this town, cheerful sights such as the bamboo train and less cheerful ones, like a temple where the Khmer Rouge took many people’s lives. If you can find him choose the tuktuk driver who looks like Nelson Mandela, a friendly man who speaks English very well. He knows a lot about the history of the environment and also has a gripping personal story to tell about his own life under the Khmer Rouge.