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Cambodia Travel Guide

WHEATHER
Cambodia’s
climate is tropical monsoon in nature and brings only two distinct
seasons: wet and dry. The wet season runs from June to October, during
which time average temperatures are between 27-35°C. The dry season runs
from November through May with the first four months seeing the coolest
temperatures of the year and the last three seeing the hottest.
The
cooler period of the dry season is the best time to take a holiday in
Cambodia as temperatures at this time average from 17-27°C and chances
of rain are slim. Should you decide to wait until April to visit, you
may have to contend with temperatures in excess of 40°C, especially if
visiting Phnom Penh.
PLACES TO VISIT 
Angkor Wat Temple

Angkor: Often referred to as Angkor Wat
on account of the name of its most prominent structure, the Angkor
Archaeological Park is located close to the city of Siem Reap and is
unquestionably the country’s biggest historic and cultural attraction.
Covering an area of more than 400 square kilometres, the park is a
UNESCO World Heritage site that features the well-preserved remains of a
number of cities that once formed part of the mighty Khmer Empire from
the 9th to the 15th century.
        

Arriving at 06:00 to watch
the sunrise over Angkor Wat is a highlight for many visitors, while
perusing the fascinating remains of Bayon, Ta Prohm and Ta Keo is the
big thrill for others. Bayon, once a part of the city of Angkor Thom,
dates back to the late 12th century and is most notable for the giant
faces carved out of its 54 towers, each tower featuring four faces.
  
      
The park can be visited on a one-day or three-day pass and if
you are an independent traveller, it’s recommended that you employ the
services of a motorbike taxi for the duration of your visit as the
distances between structures can be quite long.
Floating Village

Siem Reap:
Tthough the city revolves heavily around Angkor, its chief attraction,
it’s by no means lacking in other places of interest, many of which can
be reached on foot or by a short tuk-tuk or motorbike ride. The temples
of Wat Dam Nak, Wat Athvea, Wat Thmei and Wat Bo are all worth a visit,
the latter for its excellent collection of late 19th century Buddhist
artwork.    

For something a little different, Les Chantier
Ecoles Silk Farm is a good bet while for the chance to relax, a visit to
Tonle Sap Lake, located a short drive outside of the city, is a popular
choice. For anyone happy to put themselves in close proximity to some
of nature’s most ferocious beasts, a trip to the Siem Reap Crocodile
Farm is a must. Siem Reap is easily reached by air from the capital
under an hour and by bus the journey takes between 5 and 7 hours. (It is
also possible to fly from Thailand’s Bangkok airport or make an arduous
full day’s overland travel from Bangkok to Siem Ream and Angkor, which
many backpackers do).
Royal Palace

Phnom Penh: A
curious mix of attractive colonial architecture and urban slum,
Cambodia’s capital is a visually fascinating city. While not as lively
as Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City, there’s still a distinct buzz that
begins daily from the moment the first cock crows. S-21 (Tuol Sleng) and
the Killing Fields, remnants of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime, provide
sombre but essential viewing for all visitors while the Royal Palace and
Independence Monument offer less harrowing sightseeing. The National
Museum located adjacent to the Royal Palace features an impressive
collection of Angkorian artworks and is also the setting for the popular
annual Royal Ploughing Festival. Phnom Penh is best reached by air from
regional Southeast Asian cities such as Bangkok as bus journeys are
long and arduous.


Sihanouk Ville Beach

Sihanoukville: After the grim sights of skeletal remains and instruments of torture at
some of Phnom Penh’s top attractions, spending time relaxing on the
beaches of the coastal city of Sihanoukville is the ideal antidote.
About 230kms from the capital, this city offers both coastal beauty and
cultural attractions. In the latter category, highlights include the
temples of Wat Chotynieng and Wat Utynieng, St Michael’s Church, the
Golden Lions Monument and Independence Square. Though the city’s
popularity as a seaside resort is on the increase, it’s still possible
to find empty and tranquil areas of the beach. Getting to Sihanoukville
by air is not possible; however, bus services make the trip from Phnom
Penh regularly with a travel time of about 4 hours.

Battambang: The country’s second largest city can be reached from Siem Reap by boat
in about 4 hours or from Phnom Penh by road in 6 to 7 hours. The city
is notable for its fine colonial architecture as well as attractions
such as the Phnom Sampeu Mountain with its temple (Wat Banan) and
historic Khmer Rouge execution site, as well as Wat Ek Phnom,
Angkor-style temple ruins. A trip on the norry, the local bamboo train,
is considered a must-do activity on a visit to Battambang.
Other Spectacular Places You Might Also Want To Visit: Visitors with extra time and an open itinerary might also want to visit Kompong Thom for its historic ruins, Kratie for its endangered river dolphins, Kampong Speu for Kirirom National Park, Kampot, and Koh Kong for the beautiful beaches.
EAT, DRINK, AND SLEEP 
Food and Eating Out:
Cambodian cuisine has many similarities with the cuisine of
neighbouring Southeast Asian countries, making use of ingredients such
as fermented fish paste, coconut, rice and noodles. Eating out is
popular and cheap by Western standards. No matter where you are in the
country, there is an abundance of eateries to choose from serving up
local favourites like amok, steamed fish coconut curry wrapped in banana
leaves, and bok l’hong, spicy papaya salad.
Entertainment and Nightlife:
Most of Cambodia’s popular tourist destinations are home to fairly
sedate night entertainment scenes, with the exception of Phnom Penh,
known for its bars and nightclubs. However, even in the quieter
destinations it’s possible to find a pleasant watering hole where you
can enjoy a few cold glasses of Angkor Beer, the country’s tasty
national brew.
Accommodation:
Options have improved considerably in the last decade and while there’s
still something of a leaning toward budget establishments, there are
some excellent upmarket hotels as well, especially in Siem Reap. Outside
of the main tourist areas, however, you’ll struggle to find anything
other than basic accommodation.
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