When you visualize Cambodia, will be the first image that pops in your mind a hot and humid jungle of your country, sandwiched between Thailand and Vietnam? Maybe you recall Cambodia having its checkered past, as well as it’s only a country you realize very little about. If you or someone you already know grew up inside the 60’s, probably the first believed that comes to mind is usually a war-torn country that may be best to avoid altogether — even now. That’s the way it had been with this author, until everything changed.
I found myself going back to southeast Asia because intrigue surrounding Cambodia simply turned out to be too much to ignore ever again.
The very first thing that is simple to notice could be that the people are happy and quick to smile. Long gone naturally, are the days on the Vietnam war and fortunately so could be the Pol Pot regime using its ugly, inhumane genocidal wave that overran and extinguished the vast majority from the adult population with the country.
But fast-forward to today and another can readily observe those happy, friendly faces that exude tolerance and acceptance. What is also quickly noticed is often a rich culture steeped in scenic beauty sprinkled together with the mesmerizing sites of ancient, other-worldly architectural wonders. Finally, there will be the fabulous and exotic food in the orient, easily available throughout Cambodia for just a fraction with the cost that almost all international travelers find elsewhere.
Cambodia is hot and humid 365 days each year with only 2 seasons – dry and rainy. The best time to travel to Cambodia is throughout the dry season which runs from your months of October through April. Be sure to take a walking tour on the Siem Reap river that runs through town. You will find it shaded on both sides by huge trees that kindly offer their shade since you take the sidewalks down the river towards your destination while experiencing the natural beauty over the way.
The wet or monsoon season will come in May and lasts through October, with all the peak monsoon season occurring in July through September gets hotter can rain every single day. Fortunately, those downpours are short-lived and last not many hours everyday.
Most with the time, the river runs very slowly if ever, and moss is seen floating in large patches across parts on the river’s surface. This phenomenon leads to the lazy, laid-back charm that one can feel. Don’t be surprised in case you encounter a monk or two of their bright, orange robes walking on the river promenade. There is often a beautifully-ornate Buddhist temple in downtown Siem Reap near Pub Street.
The artwork found down the shaded walls in the courtyard just inside gate towards the temple area is utterly magnificent. Be sure to bring you guessed it-your camera. The whole region of Pub Street just around the corner on the temple, serves thirsty travelers and bargain shoppers who congregate all parts on the world.
The most favored attraction by far and away is Angkor Wat, a UNESCO world-heritage site drawing tourists through the 4-corners with the world. It is located just north of town by a few miles and is particularly easily reached. Many wake up before dawn to get to the lake, facing Angkor Wat so that you can have a photo-shoot treat as dawn approaches. Sometimes the night sky glows yellow and orange while using rising sun filtering over the clouds on top of the ancient temple.
Since the tour can be on foot and requires a few hours, it’s best no matter what season, have fun with your tour even though it is only warm, early within the morning. Do stay away from the heat later inside the day. Advance arrangements are needed to gain access for the temples (yes, day spa san francisco than one) and may be made at any hotel or guesthouse in Siem Reap.
A driver can also be arranged for transportation to Angkor Wat, and a Tour Guide. All you’ve to do is ask.Many arrived at Cambodia “backpacking” as a way to sample the exotic culture of Cambodia throughout a tight budget, and also to tour services. The mystery of Cambodia generally, and Angkor Wat specifically, drew Angelina Jolie plus a Hollywood film crew who found Siem Reap to film the blockbuster hit, “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” in 2001. You may recall a scene from the movie featuring by far the most crazy-looking trees you ever saw, growing over and around some from the temples.
Others go to Siem Reap to use their hand at volunteering to have an NGO, a non-government organization. To be sure, there are many opportunities for that generous and “big-of-heart” and it’s always greatly appreciated through the locals. English is understood all around you throughout Siem Reap and also inside the capital, Phnom Penh.
One from the incredible treats of Siem Reap would be the cuisine available all around you. One can enjoy authentic “street food” and berries smoothies for beside nothing from local vendors. Or you could choose to take pleasure from an inexpensive sit-down meal at one in the many restaurants around town. Of course additionally, there are bars and nightclubs during the entire Pub Street complex. During the day Pub Street is family-friendly.
Pub Street, is in reality a group of streets in downtown Siem Reap. If you are easily distracted through the many sights and sounds you will come across, you might find yourself losing your way among the several shops, restaurants and pubs. But don’t worry since almost anyone can steer you inside the right direction. Thirsty travelers will find a favorite watering hole in record breaking speed, and there is many to select from. Before long, you’ll run into many shops and enormous markets. One of which will be the famous Night Market using its many treasures in the orient which can be had for just a song!
One favorite restaurant is apparently the “Red Piano Restaurant and Bar” which has probably the most incredible “Panang Chicken” curry for $5.00 USD, also it usually has an frosty mug of local “Angkor brand” beer. The restaurant is well found and features outdoor, canopy-covered, comfortable seating on the sidewalk. Or, you may want to sit inside, either on a lawn floor or upstairs. The entire restaurant is “open aired” to get more comfortable dining.
Mixed drinks are available at the Red Piano and everywhere you go else along Pub Street for only $1.50 USD. A mug of beer can easily be found for only 50-cents to $1.00 US.
With much to see and do throughout Cambodia, it’s no surprise many people come, fall madly in love and leave with memories to last a lifetime. Nestled between your countries of Vietnam and Thailand, there is a lot to explore.
Cambodia can be a fascinating country, while Siem Reap is the most magical destination in all of the of Cambodia, but you will need to decide that by yourself.