If you’re in the mood for a ‘not-so-average’ travel experience, you should consider a trip to Southeast Asia. This little corner of the world has often been misunderstood and held in mysterious regard. But in reality, it’s always been a place of marvelous civilization and culture. Read on below to learn more about three can’t miss attractions in Cambodia:
Cambodia is often overlooked by Western tourists who would rather head for the ‘big name’ countries in this region instead. Some examples are Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand. Although these neighboring countries are spectacular in their own rights, Cambodia is perhaps the most interesting of all. Here you’ll find ancient temples untouched by the forest and jungle, and rare wildlife coexisting with human beings. The people of Cambodia enjoy many lake cities, literally homes on stilts that rise above the water and are link with boards as makeshift pathways. As you may imagine, there’s so much to explore.
1. A Town on Stilts
Tonle Sap is one of the most fascinating locations in the country. The culture here is largely fishing-based, as many professional fisherman have lived in the region for centuries. The landscape has changed over the years, now including huts on bamboo legs that stand in the stillwater. These make it easier for fisherman to actually reside where they earn a living.
Tonle Sap Lake is one of the largest in the entire subcontinent and sits in the lower half of the country. The water is supplied by the Tonle Sap River which receives its water from the East Vietnam Sea. An incredible part of the country, it has hundreds of small river boats powered by small propellor engines and hard-working people. There are boat tours up and down the lake and tourists can even help local fishermen with their catch of the day. It’s one of the richest inland fishing grounds in the world, which is why hundreds of families have chosen to live on this 160-mile long and 62-mile wide lake.
2. Giants of the Land
In southeast Asia, there is one animal in particular that many people from around the world travel to see and interact with: elephants. While some elephants have been exploited and viewed as a way to make a cheap buck in other countries, Cambodia takes a different approach to these gentle giants. Instead, they are looked after and lead as normal a life as possible. When you’re in Cambodia, look for ethical elephant experiences to visit such as the Elephant Valley Project.
EVP is an Non-Profit Government Organisation (NGO) that improves the welfare of sick elephants. It’s in the Mondulkiri region that has a cordoned off area of forest where the elephants are able to roam freely. There’s nothing quite like watching big hulking elephants move silently and elegantly through the jungle with your own eyes. You can visit and stay overnight if you wish, or spend half the day hanging out with the elephants privately. You’ll also receive an educational session about the elephants and how their way of life has evolved.
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3. A Spot of Tea, Maybe?
Cambodia is full of surprises, but perhaps most surprising of all is how modern the largest city’s restaurant scene is. In the capital city of Phnom Penh, there are restaurants that have taken on the modern Western approach. One of the best restaurants to go to is Khema Pasteur where they serve British style afternoon tea from 2-5pm throughout the entire week. Their ‘high-tea’ option is designed to give the weary traveler a rest from sightseeing with a sip of fresh hot tea.
They also have a selection of rich sweet and savoury bites. Small cakes, quiches, sweet mouses and sorbets are also part of the menu. For tea, they have the typical Cambodian fresh organic tea but they also have herbal tea for those prefer an earthy flavor. This restaurant also serves a free-flow breakfast with a blend of Western and Cambodian dishes. You can expect eggs with fresh fish to be served with tea. However, they also have a wine and dine menu where you can indulge in imported cheeses, great wines and again, feast on locally caught seafood.
Cambodia is a nation that has created an excellent merging between jungle and city. It’s perhaps the most mysterious of all the southeast Asian nations. The town on stilts is a great place to begin your journey, and the elephants are certainly one of the few sights you have to have on your bucket list.
***this was a collaborative post.