Filled with an old-world charm, Cambodia is suc- cessor state to the mighty Khmer empire, which during the Angkorian period, ruled what is now Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. It is a country where ancient and modern worlds crash to create an authentic adventure. If you think there are only temples and ancient structures that you can visit in Cambodia, you are mistaken! There are plenty of things to do and see in the country and you’ll be spoilt for choice. From a bustling nightlife to various beautiful beach destinations, vibrant local markets and lush paddy fields, Cambodia has something for everyone. Here are the top 3 things you can do in this stunning Khmer Kingdom.
1. WITNESS THE SUN RISE AT THE ANGKOR TEMPLE COMPLEX
Witnessing the sun rise over the Angkor temples is a delight in its own. Hundreds of tourists start swarming in the temple complex as early as at 4 am to experience the grandeur and the picturesque beauty of the temples.
TEMPLE ETIQUETTE AND ACCESS
As the temples of Angkor repre- sent a sacred religious site to the Khmer people, visitors are asked to dress modestly. It is not possible to visit the highest level of Angkor Wat without upper arms covered and shorts to the knees. Local authori- ties have visitor ‘code of conduct’ guidelines and a video to encour- age appropriate dress, as well as reminding tourists not to touch, sit or climb on the ancient structures, to pay attention to restricted areas, and to be respectful of monks.
For the visitors, the ancient ruins and temples are only accessible if they have a valid entry pass. There are various options in case you plan on visiting the tem- ples for a 1, 3 or a 7-day trip. The entry passes are made accordingly at USD 37, $62 and $72 respectively.
2. EXPLORE THE CAPITAL CITY OF PHNOM PENH
If I have to sum up my trip to Phnom Penh, it would be an amal- gamation of the glimmering spires of the Royal Palace, the fluttering saffron of the monks’ robes and the luscious location on the banks of the mighty Mekong – this is the Asia many daydream about from afar.
You can start exploring the city early commencing from the Royal Palace. It is an outstanding structure bearing a noteworthy resemblance to its counterpart in Bangkok. Being the official resi- dence of King Sihamoni, parts of the massive palace compound are closed to the public. Head to the Silver Pagoda next which lies with- in the compound of the palace. Also known as Wat Preah Keo or Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the pagoda is so named for its floor, which is covered with five tons of gleaming silver. Next, head to the National Museum and have a glimpse of how the city has risen from the ashes and has turned into a bustling center of activity. Then move to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing fields of Choeung Ek and learn about the horrors that unfolded here decades ago. End your day on a lighter note by visiting the Mekong river front and enjoying the breezy evening with some local snacks.
3. ENJOY THE LOCAL NIGHTLIFE
Cambodia’s nightlife scene com- prises of lively bars, cocktail loung- es, international restaurants and vibrant nightclubs that often stay open and busy till the wee hours of the morning. It is a world that revolves amidst those lanes every night. With locals selling alcohol of mobile-carts and tourists flocking every bar there is, this place is ideal for a night of bar hopping.
With plenty of bars serving your favorite drinks, Khmer and inter- national fare – perfect for if you’re looking to relax after a day of exploring Angkor Wat. From quaint coffee houses to trendy night clubs playing raucous dance tunes, choose what you are interested in and you’re covered!