Voted as the world’s friendliest country by the accredited Rough Guides travel bible, Cambodia is also fast becoming recognised for its beauty and historical sites, leaving its tragic history far behind. Home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor Wat, it boasts the stunning scenery of Tonle Sap Lake, beautiful deserted beaches in the south and remnants of its French colonial past in the capital, Phnom Penh.
As one of the top cities in the world in the Wanderlust Readers Travel Awards 2013 and one of the top 25 destinations of 2013 in the TripAdvisor Choice Awards, Siem Reap is a must see for any discerning traveller to South East Asia. Visitors mostly go to Siem Reap to explore the infamous Angkor temples, however, the town has plenty more to offer. Ride horseback through rustic villages or stroll through the once sleepy town and haggle in the night market. You can explore the villages on the edge of the Tonle Sap Lake or get a deeper insight into the country’s charm by interacting with local Khmer people during a home-stay.
No visit to Siem Reap would be complete without exploring the magnificent Hindu temples of Angkor Wat, cited as one of the top 20 Lost Cities in The Rough Guides. Also voted number one in the Most Beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites by CNN Travel, Angkor Wat contains the remains of Khmer Empire that dates from the 9th to the 15th centuries. This architectural masterpiece is thought to have taken around thirty years to build. It is worth visiting at different times of the day to fully capture the magnificent beauty of Angkor Wat.
Its impressive neighbour Angkor Thom is also not to be missed, including the Bayon which holds 54 towers decorated with more than 200 enigmatically smiling stone faces and Phimeanakas, a temple mountain within Angkor Thom gates surrounded by five metre high walls. Explore the Terrace of the Leper King, the Terrace of Elephants and the giant tree entwined temple Ta Prohm.
Leaving Siem Reap and the stunning Angkor temples behind, travel south to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital, which is well on the road to recovery following the atrocious Pol Pot regime. Phnom Penh is a captivating city that has not been overwhelmed by heavy economic development like other Asian capitals. Besides the Royal Palace, National Museum and Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, the city has upmarket boutique hotels, an emerging contemporary art scene, a lively riverfront promenade and fascinating architecture including French colonial and art deco styles. The lifeblood of the city is the Mekong River, along which you can take a boat to a nearby island and steal a glimpse at the more traditional side of Cambodia that has changed little over the years.
The south west of Cambodia is a rugged region perfect for nature lovers, especially those heading overland to Thailand. Drive along the Koh Kong Conservation Corridor to the Cardamom Mountains through a rich, bio-diverse area protected by the government and spot elephants, monkeys and rare birds along the way.
From Koh Kong, travel to Cambodia’s south coast, where it offers some lovely beach options including Kep, surrounded by jungle covered hills perfect for exploring by bike. There is also Sihanoukville, the white-sand destination that is still relatively untouched by tourism in comparison to the beaches of neighbouring Thailand. For a relaxing riverside setting, try Kampot where you can explore caves, wander through Bokor National Park and climb Elephant Mountain.
Buffalo Tours offers an exciting range of holiday packages and Cambodia tours designed to thrill, engage and inspire even the most seasoned traveller. Check out our wide range of tours in and around Siem Reap including Angkor Temples by bicycle, on horseback or tuk-tuk or taking to the skies and seeing the Angkor complex and Tonle Sap Lake from a helicopter. Contact us to assist you in preparing for the trip of a lifetime, or try to customise a trip yourself.