Buddhist monks in front of the Angkor Wat

Buddhist monks in front of the Angkor Wat

Where the past is always present

Diane Manson of Mountain City Travel discusses Cambodia — a country on the edge of a new revolution, travel

  • Sep. 11, 2014 1:00 p.m.

An ancient land with a rich and sometimes dark history, Cambodia is nestled between Vietnam and Thailand in Southeast Asia. About the size of the state of Missouri, this small kingdom is home to over 15 million people. After decades of civil war and the genocide wrought by the Khmer Rouge, the violence of Cambodia’s modern history looms large. But with the introduction of democracy, modern Cambodia sits poised on the edge of a new revolution: Travel.

No matter where you travel in Cambodia, the past is always present. History, both ancient and modern, is everywhere; whether you’re cycling in the shadows of the mighty Angkor Wat or wandering the streets of cosmopolitan Phnom Penh , you can’t escape the pull of time that shaped—and continues to shape—this arresting land.

One of Cambodia’s biggest draws is the jungle-choked temple complex outside of Siem Reap. The temples of Angkor, ancient capital of the Khmer Empire, together comprise the world’s largest single religious complex. Only a handful of the 1,000-plus temples have been cleared of forest, while the rest remain so atmospherically cloaked in vines they are often used backdrops for Hollywood films. In fact, many of Siem Reap’s restauranteurs boast of having served Angelina Jolie when she was on location filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Most travellers make their way to Siem Reap via Phnom Penh, located on the banks of the mighty Mekong. Here you can serve witness to the dark side of Cambodian history with visits to Choeung Ek, the site of the infamous Killing Fields, and Tuol Sleng prison, the notorious Khmer Rouge prison where thousands of Cambodians perished. But Phnom Penh can be as inspiring as it is sobering—and the opulent Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda never fail to impress. A drink in one of the many riverside café’s watching the sunset is a fitting finale a day spent exploring the city.

Whether you opt to explore the temples or plumb the dark depths of the Killing Fields, Cambodia leaves an indelible impression.

It’s time to make your travel dream a reality. Let the experts at Mountain City Travel help you get there. Call toll-free 1 877 427 2233 or 250 427 2233, or email us at travel@mcity.ca.