From pristine beaches and untouched jungles to stunning architectural feats, here are some of the next epic places in Cambodia that you need to visit.
Koh Ker is an intriguing archaeological site dating back to the area’s brief stint as a Khmer capital from 928 to 944 AD. Although the site was neglected and abandoned for centuries, the wildlife encroaching on these ancient monuments only adds to their sense of mystery. Once inaccessible, Koh Ker can now be reached in a day-trip from Siem Reap via a new toll road. The area consists of more than 42 structures, but one of the highlights is Prasat Thom, a seven-tier sandstone temple pyramid. Standing 98-feet tall with a mythical half-man half-bird guarding the top, this unusual temple looks more similar to Mayan ruins than typical Khmer architecture.
Phnom Kulen and its sprawling national park is considered by locals to be Cambodia’s most sacred mountain. Located in Siem Reap province, the area becomes populated by Cambodians during public holidays and religious festivals. It is home to a giant reclining Buddha that sits at the mountain’s peak, waterfalls perfect for swimming in, remote temples and The River of a Thousand Lingas, featuring ancient carvings on the stone riverbed. Steeped in history, it was at Phnom Kulen from where Jayavarman II declared himself a devaraja (god-king) in 802AD.
The Royal Palace
With respect running rife in Cambodian culture, this of course extends to the royal family. While the revered King Father Norodom Sihanouk passed away in 2012, his son King Norodom Sihamoni is still highly regarded. This means the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is special to many locals, with the manicured grass that sits in front of the Silver Pagoda full of locals during downtime.
This sprawling mountain range and dense tropical jungle stretches from Koh Kong province on the Thai border to Pursat in central Cambodia, through to the Damrei Mountains, close to Vietnam. Home to one of Southeast Asia’s largest remaining rainforests, a diverse range of rare flora and fauna remains here – for now – making the Cardamoms a great place for trekking.
Formerly a destination for Cambodia’s elite, the coastal resort of Kep is dotted with relics harking back to the country’s Golden Age of the 1950s and 60s. Today, it remains a popular spot with Cambodians during public holidays, with the small stretch of beach full of families eating freshly caught fish bought from the nearby Crab Market, wading in the water or playing on the sand.
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