Why go backpacking in Cambodia?
Cambodia is climbing up the ranks as one of the best backpacker destinations in South East Asia. The country is filled with a fascinating history, tales of its dark past, and of course the famous lost city of Angkor Wat.
Cambodia is in a travel sweet spot right now – still not quite as popular as nearby Thailand and Vietnam, so there are fewer crowds, but with a tourism industry established enough that accommodation, transport, and so on are easy to come by. This makes it a real pleasure to travel around this incredible country, whether you’re just touring or coming to volunteer.
You shouldn’t miss out on a gap year in Cambodia.
Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s capital city. Here you can visit the sacred Silver Pagoda, wander around the King’s Palace, haggle at the flea markets, and walk alongside the river. Although this city may feel hectic, there is definitely a lot of charm and culture to keep you distracted.
Siem Reap is the town of temples. Here you can find Angkor Wat, and many other surrounding temples such as Banteay Srei, Preah Khan, Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm. In the Kulen Hills you can visit the waterfalls of Kbal Spean. The forests and hiking trails make this place beautiful, as do the intriguing rock carvings that can be seen along the way.
Battambang is the second largest town in Cambodia. Explore the eerie Battambang bat caves; take a ride on a bamboo train, and the ancient ruins of Prasat Sneung.
The beautiful seaside town of Sihanoukville is where you can relax and cool down. Sun bath on the long stretches of white sands of Bamboo Island and discover marine life on a scuba diving trip. Cambodia has plenty to offer backpackers on their gap year.
Discovering the temples of Cambodia is usually the first port of call for most travellers. As mentioned above, the biggest and most impressive is Angkor Wat. Standing as the largest religious monument in the world, once Hindu, the now Buddhist temple was built in the 12th century, and was once the capital of the Khmer Empire. The best way to see this ancient city is by hiring a bike in Siem Reap and cycling around. If you can get there before sunrise you’ll get some awesome photographs. The weather Bayon Temple shouldn’t be missed either.
A very sobering trip to The Killing Fields in Phnom Pehn offers outsiders the chance to understand the horror that Cambodia was put through not long ago. The memorial offers a place of remembrance to those who died in the mass genocide under the Khmer Rouge regime.