Steeped in extraordinary ancient and tragic recent history, Cambodia is justifiably most famously home to the sprawling temples of Angkor. Although these temples are breathtaking and can seem all consuming, Phnom Penh is also well worth a visit as a museum piece in itself and the atmospheric coastline, one time playground of the rich, is littered with fascinating abandoned 1950s villas.
We’ve been working closely with our colleagues in Cambodia to add variety and spice to any trip to the country and we can now arrange wonderful hiking, biking, kayaking, quad biking and boating excursions around Siem Reap and even up to the old French colonial outpost at Battambang. There is even a wonderful circus of acrobats which helps disadvantaged youths; it’s quite a bizarre but breathtaking and touching excursion for those with the time.
A new generation of Cambodians are keen to ensure that visitors are also acquainted with a modern and forward thinking country so the greeting here is wonderfully welcoming and the atmosphere is electric. Just a walk along the riverside in Phnom Penh and you realise how buzzing the place is. One of the highlights of my visit was meeting a student from the capital’s school of architecture to talk not only about the eclectic buildings which make up the city but also about life as the generation of the country in whom so much hope is vested.
Need to Know
– Bangkok is a 10-hour flight away. Access Cambodia via a 1 hour onwards flight.
– There are a limited number of internal flights but most areas are accessible by car. Some journeys can be completed at least in part by boat.
– The best time to visit is from November-April but weather patterns are increasingly unpredictable meaning that in off season you can often get wonderful weather, far fewer tourists and lower room rates at hotels.
Visa/ entry requirements
– Visas can be obtained ahead of travel or on arrival.
Events (festivals, wildlife migrations)
– There are quite a few festivals connected to national identity in Cambodia but the main festivals are the water festival and the Angkor festival, both held in the autumn. The former is a vibrant and energetic celebration while the latter is more focused on dance and story-telling.
When to go:
November-April for dry and sunny weather. May-September are wetter but quieter months.
From about £2100 per person for 10 nights in Cambodia. To do it in serious style it’s more like £4000 per person.
‘First they killed my father’ by Loung Ung. Harrowing, vivid but compelling account of the Khmer Rouge’s reign.
Extra camera batteries - you're likely to be snapping all day.
Did you know?
Angkor doesn’t refer to one temple but to an entire region covering more than 400sqkm.