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Taking part in an adventure tour is a great way to explore Cambodia . Many visors to the Khmer Kingdom simply head straight for Siem Reap, spend a few days ambling round Anchor Wat, and then head back to Thailand or East to Vietnam . THIS IS A BIG MISTAKE.
Whilst the temples of Angkor are worth every accolade that is bestowed upon them (its not every day you get to wander through one of the 7 wonders of the forgotten world!), there is so much more to this incredible country. Take the time to give Cambodia the time and attention it deserves.
Soak up the hazy atmosphere of Phnom Penh where the wild-west meets Asia ; enjoy the national parks around Kompot; the solitude to be found on the southern beaches and the magic of the untamed central highlands.
Cambodia is a destination that shot up most travellers ‘must visit’ list as soon as the terrible years of Khmer Rouge rule had lifted. Three decades of civil war have undoubtedly tainted the land but you would never believe it from the optimism and positive outlook of the people you will meet. To real get to grips with this incredible nation and to meet some of the most resilient people in Asia , you need to get off the beaten track. Why drive from Siem Reap to Anchor Wat when you can take a ten day trek or mountain bike the dirt trails that lay deep in its boundaries! You get to explore the less visited temples and meet the people that live amongst them....the best guides in the business!
Further south you'll get to experience the horrors of Khmer Rouge rule. In 1975, after years of guerrilla warfare, the radical Communist Khmer Rouge party, under its leader Pol Pot, seized power of Cambodia and declared ‘year zero’. They immediately abolished money and private property, and ordered the entire population of Phnom Penh from their homes and into the countryside to cultivate the fields. Over the next three years an estimated 2 million Cambodians died, many from starvation and exhaustion. Many others were tortured and executed for being supposed ‘enemies of the state’.
You can spend time learning more about these terrible years, through visits to the infamous Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes and Cheung Ek, better known as the ‘Killing Fields’. It is an incredibly moving experience, but these are two visits you will be glad to have made. During your visit to Cambodia , you will barely meet a single person who didn’t lose a member of their family during these years, yet they are all willing to talk openly about it with you. They wish you to hear about it and see these places, to ensure that it never happens again.
Further south still you’ll reach the wonderful coastal town of Sihanoukville…explore the national parks, the mangrove swamps and explore the multitude of islands that lie of the coast.
NOW you’re ready to head east or west!