Monday, 4 November 2013


Explore CAMBODIA with me!
Cambodia known as the Kingdom of Cambodia is popular for the monumental temple of Angkor Wat.
Nestled between rice paddies and stretched along the Siem Reap River, the provincial capital of SIam Reap City serves as the gateway to the millennium-old ruins of the Angkorian-era Khmer Empire.

Designated a World heritage Site by UNESCO, the Angkor Archaeological Park, encompasses dozens of temple ruins including Bayon, Ta Prohm and the legendary Angkor Wat whose artistic and archaeological significance and visual impact put it in a class with the Pyramids, Machu Pichu and the Taj Mahal.

Siem Reap town is where you will probably stay during your visit. The area has been receiving foreign visitors to the temples for more than 120 years. The town is actually a cluster of old villages, which originally developed around individual pagodas, and was later overlain with a French colonial-era centre. Siem Reap offers a wide range of hotels, including several 4 and 5- star hotels, dozens of mid- range places and plenty of budget guesthouses, as well as an amazing variety of restaurants, lots of shopping opportunities and a vibrant nightlife.

Often missed are the many opportunities to experience traditional Cambodia: boat trips on the great Tonle Sap Lake to villages and the bird sanctuary, craft shops and silk farms, road tours through rice-paddy countryside to distant temples and beyond...


There are dozens of temple ruins in the Siem Reap area, many if the most significant within the Angkor Archaeological Park just north of the city, others further afield. The temples vary in importance, interest
and condition and are spread over a large area, often kilometres  apart. In order to get the most of your temple visit, it is best to prepare at least a preliminary itinerary.

Any itinerary should include the legendary Angkor Wat & Bayon. These two temple ruins offer the most spectacular and unique examples of Angkorian art and as architecture. On the road trip to Bayon, you will also see the South Gate of Angkor Thom and other minor ruins. As it is within walking distance of Bayon, even the briefest visit can usually include central Angkor Thom with its artistically interesting terraces and massive "temple-mountains," Baphuon and Phimeanakas.


Recently re-opened after an extensive and troubled restoration. The project began in the early 1970s with archaeologist dismantling much it, but abandoned in 1975 due ti war. The records were lost during the war years, leaving an enormous rock jigsaw puzzle. The restoration was restarted in the 1990s and the temple finally reopened just last year. Note the unique animal carvings at the walkway entrance. Similar carvings are visible on West Mebon. Also note the impressively large reclining Buddha on the west side, which was added to the temple in the 16th century.


Practically speaking, Cambodia has four seasons: December - February: cool/dry, March - May: hot/dry, June-August: hot/monsoon rain, September - November: cool/diminishing monsoon rain.


Phnom Penh International Airport is the largest airport in Cambodia containing land area of 387 hectares. It is located 10 km west of Phnom Penh, the nation's capital. Direct airport will be Siem Reap International Airport which is 6km, 15minutes from town centre. Taxis & yuk-tuks can be hired at the ticket desk located just outside the terminal doors. Taxis run $7 and yuk-tuks are $5 into town. Most hotels offers free transportation from the airport with advance reservations.


Cambodia is a food-lover's haven, offering an amazing array of dining venues & cuisines from Asia and  the West. Visitors have the chance to sample many types of Cambodian food, from inexpensive local fare to upscale fine dining. 


Siem Reap offers a variety of hotels wide enough to satisfy most tastes and requirements- from budget guesthouses to 5-star resorts. Though staying in the middle of town is more convenient to the tourist areas, Siem Reap is small and most places are no more than 5-10 minutes from town centre.


After the sun goes down, the focus shifts to "PUB STREET". Named for the numerous pubs that line Street 8. It all began in 1998 when Angkot What? Bar opened its doors - the lone pub on an otherwise lonely street. These days Pub street is packed end to end with restaurants, pubs & shops, making the area the tourist centre of town.


The Old Market (Phsar Chas) and surrounding areas are "must sees" when visiting Siem Reap. Very popular, the whole Old Market area stretching from the river across to the night markets on Sivutha Blvd. is now the dining, shopping, and nightlife centre of town.


A passport with at least 6 months validity is required. A visa is required for most nationalities. One-month visas are available at Cambodian embassies, and much more conveniently, on arrival at the international airports in Siem Reap & Phnom Penh. Tourist visa: US$20. Tourist visas can be extended for one month, but only one time. Business visas can be renewed up to a year at a time, without limitation of number of renewals.


It has been a tradition since the earliest days of tourism in the 19th century to treat visitors to Siem Reap with an Aspara dance performance - a state of living Khmer culture. No visit to Cambodia is complete without attending at least one performance. 


Ta Prohm is a sprawling monasteric complex that is only partially cleared of jungle over-growth. Intentionally left partially unrestored, massive fig & silk- cotton tress grow from the towers and corridors offering a "jungle atmosphere" and some of the best "tree-in-temple" photo opportunities at Angkor. Unfortunately, massive numbers of visitors and the recent installation of wooden walkways are detracting some from the "jungle atmosphere."

I will still admit this blog post will not give justice to the beauty if Cambodia. It is such a splendid sight to see and try for yourself. So include Cambodia in your travel plan. It is a must see.

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