Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious building. Its vast dimensions parallel the four ages of Hindu thought, and as you walk through, it’s possible to feel yourself transported far back in time.
Cambodia is all about the spiritual — if not from religious experience, then from the spirit of its people. Long-fabled as infectiously cheerful, you’ll soon see why. The product of a turbulent and violent past, the present generation thrives on authenticity.
Beyond Angkor, Siem Reap offers so much more. You can stroll past graceful French facades and sip perfectly roasted coffee. At night, sample upmarket wining and dining across a range of cuisines, elegant spas and great shopping.
In Phnom Penh, the capital, walk the riverfront and you’ll breathe in steam from countless stalls and restaurants: fish amok steamed in banana leaves, the hot noodle stalls laced with French overtones.
Beyond the city the air changes. At Tonle Sap, a vast lake, you’ll find the floating villages. There are crocodile farms, fish farms, a bird sanctuary, submerged forest and water-borne restaurants. Life here is hectic, but transformed against the reflected water light. The Mekong River cuts through the country – keep your eyes peeled and you may spot some of the region’s remaining freshwater dolphins.
Inland, there are plenty of sandy tracks for mountain bikes or motorbikes. The landscapes are filled with rice paddies and swaying sugar palms. Down on the south coast you’ll find lots of tropical islands dotted with fishing villages and some of the most stunning beaches we’ve ever seen. Cambodia’s beaches are its best-kept secret and the perfect place to relax and watch the sunset.
When to go
Whichever region you choose to explore, it’s best to visit during the dry season, which lasts from November to May.