Five of the Most Iconic Holiday Spots in Cambodia
We all at some point or another suffer from wanderlust – an ache for distant places! Places you have never seen, people you have never met, cultures you have never experienced; the unknown has always carried great fascination for mankind. Hence, humanity has spread far and wide through Earth. One place that has recently opened its gates to the world and has a lot of attraction for tourists is Cambodia.
Cambodia is a country rich in history. Despite common perceptions, this war-ravaged country has a peaceful and serene feel to it. Ruled by a monarch, it’s a predominantly Buddhist country which gives it a very unique charm. One visit cannot do justice to the surprises the country beholds and the attractions it carries but here are a few tips to get you started.
The Legendary Angkor Wat
Yes, you must have read about it several times but its true – it’s the most fascinating site Cambodia has to offer. You can’t claim to have visited the country if you don’t go see this majestic ancient wonder of the world. Angkor Wat is the central temple of a network of one hundred temples and monuments built around the province of Siem Reap by the Khmer empire that ruled Cambodia from the 9th to the 13th century. Steeped in ancient Buddhist history, these temples bring a rare sense of serenity to visitors. The temples are surprisingly well-preserved and are the cultural abode of the Khmer people. Though Angkor Wat is the largest temple, if you want to experience something different, do visit the Bayon temple only a short walk away from Angkor. The towers are covered with faces and figures carved into them and are an experience you shouldn’t miss. A word of advice – this is not a place for the faint hearted, as some people may find the faces to be pretty eerie.
Site of the Tomb Raider – Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm: Have you watched the Tomb Raider? Walking through Siem Reap, don’t be surprised if little children try and sell postcards of the ‘Tomb Raider’ temple to you. Made famous by Angelina Jolie’s hit movie which was partially shot here, Ta Prohm has all the elements of becoming a favorite. It gives off an ancient vibe which is perhaps accentuated by the gigantic trees growing all around it. With these ancient roots clearly visible above ground, you can literally feel them breathing and creeping in as though they’re trying to take over the temple.
Living on the top of Water
Kampong Phluk: The word ‘kompong’ literally means ‘village. Kompong Phluk is described as a “floating village”. Houses and other buildings are built on tall stilts because in the rainy season the village gets flooded. Water level rises and covers the stilts which give people the feeling that the whole village is floating. To get to the village, you can hire a tuk tuk which is the local name for an auto-rickshaw. It’s a one hour ride and is very enjoyable in cool weather. You will find it fascinating the way these villagers live: canoes parked outside houses, pigs and chickens being raised on a platform two-storeys above ground, potted plants substituting gardens. Amazing!
The Delicate Citadel of the Women
Banteay Srey: Here’s yet another temple! But if you are in Cambodia, you cannot afford to miss seeing Banteay Srey or the Citadel of the Women. Although not strictly a part of the main Angkor Archaeological Park, rules for admission still apply. This means you have to have a valid admission pass that you can easily purchase on location and we found that it’s totally worth every cent. As for the temple, it’s rather uniquely made with pink stone instead of the grey stone commonly used for the other temples mentioned earlier; the walls and towers are adorned with elaborate carvings. It is the details of these carvings that has earned it the namesake as people believed such sophistication and fineness could only be the work of women monks or artisans.
Witness the Royal Lifestyle of the Kings
The Royal Palace: Formally called the Preah Barum Reachea Veang Chaktomuk, is a building compound which functions as the official dwelling of the King and Queen of Cambodia. If by now you haven’t had your fill of gorgeous Khmer architecture, you can see some fine examples inside the Palace that hosts several temples. One place you wouldn’t want to miss is the throne room. The royal throne and the ceiling covered with beautifully crafted frescoes are a main highlight besides the head of Buddha with its 4 faces. Other places to see also include the Moonlight Pavilion, the Silver Pagoda and the various gardens.
Doesn’t all this sound like the perfect get-away from the grinds of your daily life? Pack your bags and get on that plane. The ancient monuments of Cambodia are waiting to welcome you.