The imposing faces on the temples in Siem Reap evoke awe-inspiring admiration of the achievements of an ancient civilisation – that suddenly abandoned its own creation.
The temples of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Banteay Srey are amongst some of the most photographed World Heritage-listed wonders found in the north of Cambodia.
Venturing to the ruins and beyond is an unforgettable experience. Here’s a few things to know when travelling to the Kingdom of Cambodia.
1. Cambodia’s flag is the only one in the world to feature a building
Angkor Wat is the heart and soul of Cambodia. The world heritage-listed site was built in the early 12th century and is the biggest religious complex on the planet.
2. The ancient ruins of Angkor are way bigger than you think
While Angkor Wat is the biggest religious complex in the world, the grounds of the temple ruins extend over an area of more than 500 acres – that’s about 50 times larger than the site of Machu Picchu!
3. The country has a shocking past that happened not that long ago
During the four years of the Khmer Rouge’s rule around 2 million people were killed. That’s one-fifth of the population. Because of the genocide that took place from 1975-1979 up to 63% of Cambodia’s population is under thirty.
4. You can learn from the locals on a homestay adventure
On a trip with Intrepid, you have the opportunity to take part in a homestay, trek through jungle and learn more about rural life in Cambodia.
5. There’s nothing like a traditional Cambodian wedding
Traditional Cambodian weddings are full of celebration, intermingled with glamorous garments and a non-stop party that can go for up to three days and three nights!
6. Cambodians celebrate the New Year in April
Cambodia’s New Year’s celebrations (called Choul Chnam Thmey in the local language – Khmer) is held in mid-April each year and marks the end of the traditional harvest season. This is the biggest celebration of the year in Cambodia.
7. There are giant geckos that have a distinct chirp
Cambodians believe that counting a gecko’s chirp will tell you if you’ll be lucky to marry. It is considered good luck if a tokay gecko lets out seven or more calls in the same room as you.
8. Insects are widely eaten throughout the country
While Cambodians are renowned for cooking up creepy crawlies such as crickets, ants and even tarantulas. Most people eat fish, vegetables and rice as part of their daily diet.
9. You’ll find the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia
The Tonle Sap provides sustenance to nearly half of Cambodia’s crops and is a major source for fishing. The amazing thing about this lake is that large parts regenerate during the wet season when the monsoon rain falls and floods the central area between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
10. You can get nearly anywhere in a tuk tuk
The first thing you’ll see when you arrive in Siem Reap or Phnom Penh is the long line of tuk tuks at the airport and waiting at nearly every street corner around town. While the journey can get your heart pumping – normal road rules are thrown out the window – it’s a quicker way to navigate through the streets. Plus, tuk tuks are more readily available in some towns. But remember to negotiate the price before getting in!
Want to take a holiday with other travellers your own age? Check out our range of adventures for 18 to 29-year-old travellers.
Feature image by DR Travel Photo and Video