Chilling in Cambodia

Angkor Wat sunset by flickr user MikeBehnken

Cambodia is a country that is in the midst of change; new music and dance clubs are opening in Phnom Penh and there is an increasing drive throughout the country to improve literacy rates among the young and of course the country is now a very popular destination on the backpacker’s route map.

From temples to eco parks there is plenty to see and do here and it’s probably best to visit the country sooner rather than later while it still retains some of its unique charms. Those looking to find their ideal Cambodia holidays will want to make sure that they read up on the history of the country before booking.

From the French colonial architectural remnants of the costal areas of Kep to the museums, which commemorate the horrific Pol Pot regime in Phnom Penh this country is truly diverse.

The road traffic is crazy, most Cambodians appear to own a moped and the racket and style of driving are both deafening and sometimes quite frightening at the same time, crossing a road in the city is something of an art, ‘tuk tuks can be quite intimidating too.

Angkor Wat

Siem riep Angkor Wat by flickr user MikeBehnken

Photographs of this stunning temple complex to the north west of Cambodia are nearly always used to illustrate any articles about the country.

The temples are very old and very beautiful but they are also becoming very popular among tourists, so if you’ve come here to get away from the human race, this is not the place for you, though if you’re prepared to get up at a very ungodly hour you may wander around the complex at your leisure (it opens at 5.00am) and probably be able to appreciate some of the majesty and beauty of these 1,000 year old temple ruins.


Battambang stormy temple from flickr user Dave_B_

If your want to find a relatively less bustling part of Cambodia then this town, also in the north west of the country, might prove ideal. For a start it’s not quite as manic as Phnom Penh, and not as overrun by other travellers as Siem Reap, the town closest to Angkor Watt.

Battambang is actually Cambodia’s second city though its laid back pace of life and its popularity with local farmers means that it’s still not listed as a ‘numero uno’ destination by the rest of the world, thank goodness. There are a few bizarre pastimes enjoyed by the locals that you might want to try, the town is the world centre for ‘rain gambling,’ Basically, you bet on how many drops of rain are likely to fall in a single location and given that it rains a lot in Cambodia, you’ll be pretty busy.

There are a few hotels in the city; the Banan Hotel is rated, though some people might prefer to take the slow boat ride back to Siem Reap, it’ll only take around 8 hours.

Battambang also has it’s own ancient ruins, Wat Ek Phnom, that are only 11kms away from the city, and these have managed to retain an air of haunting solitude.

Kian is part of the team at Travel Indochina and has travelled extensively throughout Asia. Next on this list is India and he recently returned from Vietnam. Top Asia travel tip: find one of those plastic street-side chairs; order a beer then, sit, watch and listen! Check out

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