Cambodia

Cambodia is fast establishing itself on the Southeast Asian tourist trail. The stunning temples of Angkor Wat are the drawcard for most visitors, but the country has much more to offer:  undeveloped golden beaches, unspoilt forests, a balmy climate, and a relaxed atmosphere. Cambodia encompasses a surprisingly diverse range of terrain and scenery. Rice fields are the feature of this predominantly flat and agricultural land, though there are significant highland areas, as well as the massive Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia's largest freshwater lake, which dominates the heart of the country. In the east the mighty Mekong River forms a natural divide, beyond which rise the mountainous, heavily forested hills of the far northeast. The southwest is hilly and remains covered in jungle, while parts of the southeast are regularly inundated, as the Mekong and its sister river the Bassac overflow their banks.

For all its natural beauty and rich heritage, Cambodia has suffered a tragic recent past at the hands of the fanatical Khmer Rouge the population endured mass killings when the Khmer Rouge came to power in the 1970s, followed by a protracted guerrilla war which only ended in 1998. The whole country is now finally at peace, though the lack of infrastructure and skills is sorely evident in the potholed streets, the damaged buildings and the sometimes truly appalling roads. Much has still to be done before the country is properly back on its feet, and before most of the population see a tangible improvement in their standard of living. There are positive signs, however: thronging markets testify to renewed private enterprise, and in Phnom Penh, at least, a modest middle class has re-emerged. This recovery is in no small way down to one of the country's greatest assets, the Cambodians themselves, eternally optimistic, tenacious and, to visitors, endlessly welcoming.

Despite the dereliction of the Khmer Rouge years, visiting Cambodia doesn't have to be a hard slog. The country offers a decent range of places to stay, and Cambodian food, influenced by the cuisines of France, China and Thailand. The revival of traditional artisanship is evidenced by the numerous craft shops. The majority of country's towns still retain some old-world charm, and the gentility of the former French colonial period can still be glimpsed in the quaint shop house terraces and colonial architecture the most tangible legacy of French rule is the piles of crusty baguettes heaped up in baskets and hawked around the streets in the early morning.

 

Cambodian Festivals

Tini Tinou Cambodian Circus

Cambodian Facts