Cambodia - Touring Holidays
An escorted tour to Cambodia offers something out of the ordinary to the adventurous traveller. A relatively undiscovered country, its many ancient treasures, unspoilt countryside and mesmerising culture will captivate and fascinate anyone who visits.
Phnom Penh highlights
Off limits to visitors until the late 1980s, Cambodia is slowly edging its way onto the tourist trail, with Phnom Penh, its gritty capital, a must-visit destination. Oozing charm and once considered the loveliest of the French-built cities in Indochina, it sits on the River Mekong. Highlights here include the picturesque Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda complex, which boasts Italian marble steps, a floor made of 5,000 silver tiles and the magnificent Emerald Buddha, carved from Baccarat crystal and solid gold. Another impressive sight is the Maitreya Buddha, which sparkles with more than 9,000 diamonds.
The country’s turbulent history is recounted in many poignant sites which give an insight into the atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge against the people of Cambodia. Between 1975 and 1979 it is thought that up to three million people died at the hands of this regime, led by Pol Pot.
The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is housed in a former school which was taken over by Pol Pot’s security forces and turned into the notorious Security Prison 21 (S-21). Inside, documents and photographs chronicle the horrific crimes of the Khmer Rouge and pay tribute to the many victims. The infamous Choeung Ek, or Killing Fields, is the site of the mass grave of some of the victims, and another touching memorial.
Outside of the city, Cambodia's natural beauty is everywhere from unspoilt beaches to lush jungle. Spotting rare snub-nosed Irrawaddy Dolphins and Mekong Mud Turtles near the tranquil riverside town of Kratie is a wonderful experience, and visiting the floating villages on the great Tonle Sap Lake gives a fascinating glimpse into a centuries-old way of life.
Perhaps Cambodia’s most famous site is the remarkable Angkor complex, which contains the remains of the Khmer Empire’s capitals from the 9th to the 15th centuries. There’s Angkor Thom, built in a nearly perfect square and protected by a moat said to have once contained crocodiles. This vast site is home to many stone temples and five monumental gates flanked by statues of 54 gods and 54 demons.
Ta Prohm is another must-see – this beautiful temple, which has appeared alongside Lara Croft: Tomb Raider on the big screen, was left to the mercy of the surrounding jungle, and giant tree roots crawl their way over the crumbling ruins.
The star of the show, however, is Angkor Wat – this massive three-tiered pyramid rising 65 metres from the ground is said to be one of the most inspired monuments ever conceived by the human mind. And on a holiday to Cambodia it is always at the top of the list.
Articles about Cambodia
Put Cambodian cuisine on the menu
In just about every town and city in the UK you’ll find a great choice of Thai restaurants, and Vietnamese fare is all the rage too, with ‘street food’ stalls popping up all over the place. But what about their near neighbour, Cambodia? How often do you hear friends and colleagues raving about a fantastic Cambodian meal they had at the weekend? Chances are, never. Maybe the reason for this is that Cambodian culinary secrets are rarely written down, instead they are passed from one family member to the next for generations.