It is often seen in history that a land emerges from obscurity, becomes a force to reckon with and then fades into oblivion. This is partially true of Cambodia. Once referred to as the ‘gem’ of Indochina, it got lost under the layers of civil and economic strife. However, there is still hope as Kampuchea’s (Cambodia’s popular name) tourism industry has been increasing by leaps and bounds.
For a country with just twenty-four provinces and cities, Cambodia has a lot to offer. Phnom Penh, the capital city, is known for its exuberance and is always bustling with activity. What better way to start off the tour than by paying a visit to the Royal Palace.
The entire palace is divided into three main compounds: in the north there is the Silver Pagoda whose silver floor and crystal Buddha statue are sights to behold; in the south-west, there is the Khemarin Palace which is the residence of the present King of Cambodia; and the central compound houses the Throne Hall which – as its name suggests, is the king’s meeting place. Moving on from there, one can go to the infamous Tuol Seng Museum which had previously been a security prison for more than 17,000 prisoners whose emaciated photographs still line the prison walls. The National Museum of Arts is also worth a visit.
The Preah Vihear Temple and the Angkor Wat temple complex are major tourist attractions as well. The former is situated atop a 525m cliff and the latter is of great importance as it appears on the national flag. The island of Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island) with its white sand beach and vast array of coral and sea animals is picturesque. Speaking of beaches, Kompong Luong (Floating Village) is worth a mention and so is the Yeak Laom Volcanic Lake.
There are numerous other sights to behold and a vacation here would not be such a bad idea. Just ask Angelina Jolie! She even adopted a kid from here.