The Magic of Cambodia – Cambodia is charming yet mystifying destination that will cast a spell on you from the moment you arrive. The modern world collides with the ancient creating a most authentic adventure.
Everywhere around are reminders of past empires. Today’s Cambodia is the descendant of the Khmer empire. During the period of Angkor, the Khmer empire ruled over today’s Laos and Vietnam, as well as Thailand. The Khmer empire’s remains are seen at the Angkor temples, which remain unrivalled throughout Asia in their scale and opulence. When you first set your eyes upon Angkor Wat, you’ll revel in the pure genius of its expression. The temple is surreal and there are only a few places on the planet that come close to matching its grandeur, such as the ruins at Petra or Machu Picchu.
But Cambodia is much more than just temples. Today’s urban sprawl will surprise you with its sophistication. Phnom Penh, for instance, is chaos meets charisma. This city’s revitalization has earned praise for its beautiful setting by the river, its renaissance of culture, and a palate-pleasing wine and foodie scene. Coming in a close second to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap is known for its chic cafés and nightlife diversity and is as much a true representation of Cambodia as are the temples mentioned above.
Departing from the cityscapes and journeying into the upcountry dazzles with rural rhythms. The rice paddy fields and sugar palm trees seem to sway to a music played by nature herself. Along the southern coast are touristy hotspot islands, separated only by occasional fishing villages. Dining on a fresh catch of the day is truly fresh. Further inland in the Cardamom mountain range lies a tropical wilderness, ripe for exploring. It is through this mountain gateway that you’ll find adventures perfect for the ecotourist. Trekking along the might Mekong might present a chance encounter with the area’s freshwater dolphins, some of the last of their kind in the region.
While all of the above is certainly reason to visit, perhaps the best reason of all is the incredible spirit of the Cambodian people. The Khmer people have experienced true hell in the form of civil unrest, bloodshed, extreme poverty, and an unstable government – but they have become a stronger, more fortified people. Their spirit is unbreakable, their optimism infectious. Once you experience the spirit of the Cambodian, you can’t help but admire these people and their magic kingdom.