Jan 4, 2013 13:04 - dunyacarter | 1,337 views
Cambodia receives several million tourists every year. This number has grown incrementally every year, leading to a rapid increase in venues such as hotels and restaurants that directly benefit travelers. However, outside of the main cities such as the capital, Phnom Penh, even basic infrastructure can be lacking. While on the face of it this can present a challenge for travelers, it can also be an opportunity to experience the authentic rhythm and vivid color of Cambodian life and culture without the polish of tourism.
Places to Visit
Angkor Wat is a world treasure and the single most famous site for exploration in Cambodia. Passes to visit this historical gem come in one to five day increments. Hiring a local guide to assist in touring the ruins is a great way to get the most out of a visit. Most guides are knowledgeable and can provide a vehicle for getting around as well as information on the history and significance of each location.
Siem Reap, the gateway city to Angkor Wat, makes a fun diversion for those experiencing temple viewing fatigue. The restaurants, galleries, markets and boutiques in the city’s center all cater to foreigners and offer the opportunity for hours of exploration.
Sihanoukville is a beachside city offering sugary white sands that rival any of the finest beaches in Southeast Asia and is quickly becoming a popular resort town.
Kampot is a laid-back town perfect for experiencing typical Cambodian life. For a bit of adventure, visitors can rent a motorbike and explore the nearby Elephant Mountains.
Things To Do
Boating on the Mekong River in Phnom Penh is a great way to experience the city’s skyline and see something of this famous river. Tours last anywhere from an hour to two hours and pass areas of note, such as the Royal Palace, before continuing on to view one of Cambodia’s famous floating villages.
Visiting one of the many street markets in any city gives visitors the opportunity to enjoy Cambodian handicrafts, art and food items.
Gastronomic tourists will enjoy experiencing distinctly Cambodian dishes throughout the country. Cambodia’s past ties to France have left its culinary stamp on the local food scene, making food tourism an exciting and delicious pastime.
Making Travel Arrangements
The opportunity to experience the quintessential Cambodia can begin right at the border. There are many points of access into Cambodia, from commercial airlines that fly into the country from places such as Bangkok or Singapore, to overland border crossings from Vietnam or Thailand. All visitors to Cambodia, except for citizens of Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, the Philippines and Malaysia, must have a valid visa upon entry. These can easily be obtained before entering the country from a Cambodian embassy or consulate, or the Cambodian foreign office. Travelers can also obtain a visa upon landing in one of Cambodia’s airports, although it is really best to have a visa before entering the country.
In recent years, the influx of travelers wishing to visit Cambodia has helped to increase the presence of five-star hotels and resorts in many parts of the country. The luxurious Cambodia reminiscent of the bygone Khmer Empire can still be felt in these fine resorts.
As part of the developing world, traveling in Cambodia with children can sometimes be a challenge. However, this is not to say that families with small children should avoid the country; its many sites of historical note, friendly inhabitants and opportunity for cultural exchange make most cities an enriching setting and the perfect opportunity for family adventures in Cambodia.
Conscientious travelers who enjoy giving back to the communities they visit will find opportunities to volunteer in Cambodia. Aid agencies will provide ample information for those interested in a vacation that involves working with those in need in the communities they visit.
Cambodia is a conservative Asian country, especially in the less-traveled regions. While Cambodians are becoming more accustomed to outsiders, respect for Cambodian traditions is appreciated and expected.
Cambodia presents an opportunity for visitors to experience a vibrant and engaging culture that is just coming into its own after many years of hardship. Any visit to this fascinating country will provide travelers with an experience that is richly educational and infinitely rewarding.
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