Dating back thousands of years, Cambodia’s culture is one of the richest and most appealing in Asia. Once isolated from the world, the doors to this country are now firmly open, inviting travellers in to discover the ancient wonders and perplexing history while relishing the charming hospitality of local people. With culture running freely through Cambodia’s veins, we are sharing our favoured ways to unlock the beguiling secrets hidden deep within the region’s treasure trove of diverse landscapes.
The most famous temple complex in Cambodia, if not the world, UNESCO World Heritage-listed Angkor Wat holds the position as one of the country’s unmissable attractions. Originally built in the 12th century, this magnificent ‘temple mountain’ was created as a spiritual home for the Hindu god, Vishnu. To this day, it remains a place of Buddhist worship and a landmark fiercely adored by locals. It’s highly recommended to visit this magical monument early morning – before others arrive post-breakfast – which will offer undisturbed viewing and a mesmerising sunrise as the backdrop to your photographs. Another astounding architectural feat in Cambodia, the gleaming gold Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh showcases traditional Khmer style with intriguing insight into Cambodia’s past and present. From the Pagoda steps crafted from Italian marble, to the 17th century Emerald Buddha made from solid gold, every inch of this regal structure is filled with centuries of history.
Although it may be hard to compete with the culinary flair of neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, Khmer cuisine shouldn’t be overlooked. One of the country’s most traditional dishes is Amok; traditionally Fish Amok, but occasionally replaced by chicken, the dish comprises coconut milk flavoured with fresh herbs, typically served in a bowl of banana leaves. Many of Cambodia’s dishes centre around the staple ingredient of rice - including tender Beef Saraman Curry, Khmer Red Curry and stir-fried Loc Lac - while some feature Indian influences, inspired by the diversity of the country’s inhabitants. Desserts are simply fresh fruit, including mango and banana, or fruit-based tarts and pies with a general rule of ‘the sweeter, the better!’
Perfectly preserving the culture and heritage of Cambodia’s somewhat turbulent past, the country has an excellent collection of museums which indulge travellers with deep insight into the historic nation. The National Museum was established in the 1920s - located on the Veal Preah Man square in Phnom Penh – and remains the leading archaeological and historical museum in the country. Visitors can take a tour of the institutions enviable collection with an English-speaking guide, with the chance to admire sculptures, ceramics, ethnographic and religious memoirs up close. For those looking to examine the unsettled side of Cambodia’s past, The War Museum in Siem Reap features artefacts, weapons and emotive wartime photographs revealing the perils Cambodia faced during the last three decades of the 20th century.
When Is The Best Time to Visit Cambodia?
There is a moment for everyone to relish the beauty of Cambodia. If your travels are beach-focused, the dry months of November to February are the best time to visit, particularly December and January. However, don’t overlook the rainy season from June to October – the abundant rain showers turn the region’s paddy fields a spectacular shade of green, and noteworthy attractions are often less crowded.
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