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Cambodia. A land of wonder.
Cambodia, a hidden pearl ready to be discovered, lies in Southeast Asia, bordering Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. To the south, hundreds of miles of coastline greet the never-ending surge and swells of the South China Sea, providing a paradise of surf, sand, and sun for the country’s two million visitors. The Kingdom of Cambodia (its official name) is steeped in centuries of religious history, military campaigns, and mystical legend. The country, now 90% Buddhist, is the home to hundreds of architectural wonders, some dating back over 1000 years. The influence of India can be seen in many of these structures, as temples dot the landscape, giving rise to a feeling of awe and devotion

Did you know that there are more than 700 temples in Cambodia, with over 50 in the Angkor Archeological Park. And that Angkor Wat Temple is the largest religious monument in the world. This temple was built in only 35 years, where other lesser wonders took hundreds of years to build. Even more interesting, is that Angkor Wat Temple, is built on a man-made floating island. The huge moat that surrounds Angkor Wat, is almost 200 meters wide, and spans an impressive 1.5km long x 1.3 km wide. The water in this moat, keeps the island permanently floating, and prevents the temple crumbling down as others not built on a mountain. This singular site, is the only place where this technique is used, it is basically Venice, on steroids. Cambodia is a must if you intend on Backpacking SouthEast Asia.

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Free Tips For Visiting Cambodia
Cambodia 10 Travel Tips

Get 5 Facts You Should Know When Visiting Cambodia + 5 International Travel Tips:
Preparing for a vacation is exciting and can be a rush. Often, little things can make a big difference to having a successful trip. You can wing it and end up like me being stranded with no bus just after the Laos border and 800 km to your next stop, wake up covered in bed bugs, be ripped of with donation scams, or you can sidestep these experiences by following the advice from people that learned the hard way. Here are five important tips taken from my Cambodia 50 facts book to keep in mind for your Cambodia adventure. Plus, get 5 International Travel Tips from my book: 100 International Travel Tips.

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Main Tourist Towns and Attractions in Cambodia.

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Angkor Wat

Magical Angkor Wat temple amazes more than 2 million visitors each year. The temple is situated in the Angkor Archaeological Park, and is surrounded by more than 50 other temples in the park. In total, there are more than 700 temples scattered around Angkor Wat and the nearby mountains and towns in Cambodia. Kulen Mountain and Khbal Spean, each with their lingas are also popular tourist attractions nearby. Get tips and advice on visiting this amazing place.

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Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the gateway city to Angkor Wat temple, being situated a short distance from the magnificent temple complex. Siem Reap town is the capital for Siem Reap Province, and a popular backpacker destination. The lively night market will have you shopping until your drop at night, while the museums, clay pottery classes and bicycle tours will add to your Cambodia experience. Siem Reap is also the perfect place to stay if you wish to visit Kbal Spean or Kulen mountains, as well as far out temples such as Koh Ker, Beng Mealea, Banteay Chhmar or see the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake. Stay a few days, and discover the charm of Siem Reap. Siem Reap is reached by local or international flights, bus, or by boat. Direct buses from Bankok (Thailand), and Phnom Penh (Cambodia) is readily a vailable.

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Phnom Penh

Situated just over 300 km by road from Angkor Wat temple, Phnom Penh is the Capital city of Cambodia, and a hive of activity. Phnom Penh is nestled at the confluence of the Tonlé and Mekong Rivers. The once renowned “Pearl of Asia” stands a testament to the human spirit’s will to overcome. Renowned for its S-21 Prison and Killing Fields, the town also houses some of the most spectacular temples and the Royal Palace. Phnom Pneh is reached by local or international flights, bus, or by boat. Direct buses from Bankok (Thailand), Ho Chi Minh city (Vietnam), and Siem Reap (Cambodia) is readily a vailable.

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Battambang

Battambang, the second largest city in Cambodia sits next to the Sangkae River. It is a rustic atmosphere town with none of the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh, even though Battambang is Cambodia’s leader in rice production, and is situated close to the Poipet border crossing to Thailand. Battambang is the perfect place to get away from the hustle of Angkor Wat, while still being able to see a few temples (such as Banan Temple) and some stunning caves (such as Phnom Sampou Cave), as well as the Well of shadows. With the nearby local bird and wild life resorts, this is a nature lovers perfect town. Battamban can be reached by bus from Bangkok (Thailand), or Siem Reap (Cambodia), as well as by boat in the wet season.

 

 


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Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville is Cambodia's main deep-sea port, and sports some of the best beach destinations in Cambodia, as well as a stunning waterfall close by. This is the main hangout for backpackers and full moon parties on the beach are a must here. Sihanoukville also have a number of ilsands close by for secluded accomodation, as well as being a hub for scuba diving. Sihanoukville is reached by bus from Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Bangkok (Thailand), or Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam).

 

 


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Kampot

Kampot, a sleepy French colonial town built in the 1800s and situated at the base of the Elephant Mountains, is the perfect place to relax after climbing up and down temples. In a town so small that a bicycle is almost too much, friendly smiles, wide-open streets, French colonial architecture, and a restful atmosphere, will make you forget about time and your worries. Kampot houses a number of backpacker places right along the river, as well as being te perfect town to use if visiting the Bokor National Park as well as a few interesting caves nearby. Currently, the only rock climbing available in Cambodia, is situated just outside Kampot. The town is reached by bus from Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.


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Kep

Relax in the rustic town of Kep after climbing up and down temples in Siem Reap. Kep, the perfect seaside destination to get away from it all. Although the town is small, it packs a big punch, with stunning nearby beaches and islands, a natural park on a mountain, and a crab market to tantalize your taste buds. Kep is only an hours ride from Kampot, and can easily be visited by renting scooters in Kampot. Buses from Phnom Penh is available, however, most visitors virst visit Kampot, then take a minivan to Kep.


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Kampot. Kep, & Sihanoukville Combined
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Additional Attractions in Cambodia

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Kulen Mountain and Kbal Spean

Kulen Mountain, the birthplace of the Khmer empire is as mysterious as it is spellbound, while holding the big Buddha image. Kbal Spean holds the 1000 lingas that leave people spellbound. Situated on the top of two different mountains, Kulen Mountain and Kbal Spean both are a must see. Both places are reached by a day visit from Siem Reap. Although it is possible to see both places in a single day, their distance from each other makes it for a long day. Kulen mountain with its bat cave, waterfall, and big Buddha image is best visited in one day. Kbal Spean is best included in a day visit with Bantey Srei temple or Angkor Wat. Kulen mountain's top is easily reached by motorcycle, where Kbla Spean mountain's top is a 1.6km (2 hour) climb.


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Bokor Nation Park

The Bokor hill station was constructed by rich French and Cambodians as a retreat away from the heat. Today, this ghost town is mostly abandoned where it sits in one of the best parks in Cambodia. Bokor National Park. The park Feature around 23 attractions, from the haunted casino, to prayers rocks in the mountain as well as waterfalls and the newly built and functional casino. The only accommodation inside the park is the new casino. Day visitors normally use Kampot or at times Kep for accommodation. The road up the mountain is one of the best roads for motorcycle rides, with its right bends and smooth surfaces. Rent a motorcycle in Kampot, and go and have a blast.


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Koh Ker Temple Site

Koh Ker temple site is a place of wonder. Situated at just over 120 km from Siem Reap, it is still unclear as to why this site was chosen as Capital for the Angkor Empire by King Jayavarman IV. Dating back to 928, the 36-metre high pyramid temple is a wonder to see. Dotted around Koh Ker temple, are numerous other temples that should be included in a visit to Koh Ker Temple itself. Koh Ker Temple site is normally included in a visit to Beng Mealea (Lotus Pond) temple or Pre Vihear temple. The site can be reached from Siem Reap as a day outing, or from Anlong Ven when included with Preah Vihear temple.


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Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear temple is a mountain temple, on a 525m cliff, on the Dongrak Mountains, on the much-disputed Cambodia-Thailand border. The site is 240km from Siem Reap, and is 700m long, stretching from the bottom, at the Cambodia-Thailand border, to the edge of the cliff. The temple has four levels and four courtyards, with five entrances and pavilions. From the top if the mountain at the edge of the temple, one can overlook the Cambodian countryside. The temple is reached by road for a day visit from Siem Reap, or from the nearby town of Anlong Ven. Helicopter flights over the temple can be done from Siem Reap, as part of a package flight over Angkor Wat Temple.

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Time in Phnom Penh:

Siem Reap to Vientiane by bus, read about my experiance here.