Why I Loved Traveling in Cambodia

Why I Loved Traveling in Cambodia

When I decided that after 2 years of traveling the world I needed to settle down a bit. It was a choice between Cambodia and Goa in India. Goa won but Cambodia still has a special place in my heart and is somewhere that I still dream of returning to. I just loved traveling in Cambodia. She charmed me with ancient temples, emerald rice paddies, quaint towns and the simple way of life.

Anna at Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The low cost of living and easy visa arrangements also help make traveling in Cambodia easy, but mostly it was the infectious optimism of the people who have been through hell but are still smiling that captured my heart and imagination. It really didn’t take me long to fall in love with Cambodia.

This is why I love Cambodia:

The People

Cambodian people have been through more than most due to the murderous Khmer Rouge regime, political instability and poverty but they have bounced back with an infectious optimism. People seem content with simple, peaceful lives and are mostly genuine, open, friendly and charming. Despite their circumstances and history this really is the land of a thousand smiles but unlike tourist weary Thailand these are genuine smiles. The Khmer people are the main reason why I loved traveling in Cambodia.


 The Idyllic Countryside

Fields of rich, luscious emerald green paddy fields. interspersed with palm trees and clusters of wooden houses on stilts accompanied by a few lazy cows, pigs, goats and chickens and children playing around on bicycles or in waterholes creates an idyllic, beautiful, bucolic countryside scene that is perfect for exploring. It feels a long way from the trappings of the modern world and almost makes me want to give it all up and settle for a farmer’s life.


Amazing Temples

No where does ancient temples quite like Cambodia. From mighty Angkor Wat, the largest religious building in the world and the icon of Cambodia, to the other barely touristed Banteay Chhmar, UNESCO site Preah Vihear and many others, old and new, dotted across the country.

Read More: Why the temples of Angkor were my highlight of Southeast Asia

Read More: How to avoid the crowds and more tips for visiting Angkor Wat


It’s Unique and Undeveloped

Floating villages and sleepy, dusty, dilapidated towns gracefully bear the scars, trials and tribulations of such a fascinating past with charismatic uniqueness and, due to the tragic history of Cambodia, Khmers have developed ingenious ways of doing things, for example the clever bamboo train near Battambang.

The capital Phnom Penh once the ‘Pearl of Asia’ is making a comeback but is still mercifully low rise and charming with elegant streets, French colonial architecture and a pleasant riverside setting where elaborate golden temple spires and curving Khmer rooftops still dominate the skyline. For now, Cambodia remains undeveloped and untarnished by globalisation and modern global brands that threaten to suck out the character and create identikit cities.


Beautiful Beaches

If you want to get a feel for what Thailand’s islands were like 20 years ago go to Cambodia. Think rustic resorts, unspoilt white sand beaches and turquoise seas to rival Thailand and with a fraction of the crowds. Sihanoukville offers up a great beach scene with resorts and lively nightlife while the (so far) undeveloped island of Koh Rong is a rustic backpacker’s paradise.


Fascinating History

At the National Museum in Phnom Penh

Discovering Cambodia’s history will take you on an emotional roller coaster as it ranges from the glorious days of Angkor Wat at the height of the Khmer Empire, the largest city of the pre industrial world, to the days of French colonialism, civil war, independence and then the atrocities of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. This part of the history can feel shocking and depressing but it is essential to learn and the way that the people have come back from those awful times is inspiring.


The Food

amok dish cambodia

Everyone’s eaten Thai, Indian and Chinese cuisines before but the creamy, coconuty, delicious and delicately flavoured Khmer cuisine is a new treat to discover. You can even take a cooking class to learn how to recreate the delicious and delicately balanced flavours yourself.

If your feeling more adventurous you can even try eating crickets, silkworms, spiders, scorpions and other insects commonly snacked on in Cambodia! Read More: Cambodia’s creepy crawly cuisine.


Easy Travel, Visas and Great Value for Money

cambodia riel

I know, cost is not the most important factor, but when a country is cheap it’s just easier to have a great time and you can spend longer there. Cambodia is super affordable and US Dollars are widely used. You can buy beer in a bar for 50 cents, a short tuk tuk ride is about a dollar, a few dollars can get you a restaurant meal and $8 for a decent double room makes it easy to travel Cambodia on a budget.

It’s easy to travel around Cambodia and most hotels will help you book buses to other tourist destinations and tuk tuks for shorter journeys. It’s also easy to get a visa for most nationalities, including Indians. You can get a visa on arrival at airport and land borders, for this you’ll need a passport photo and USD$30. You can also now apply beforehand for an evisa and save time and hassle queueing up for your visa when you arrive. It’s also possible to extend your visa later on.

See here for more information about travel costs for Cambodia.

Click here to apply for a Cambodia visa online


Have you been to Cambodia? Did you love it as much as I did?


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Sally February 18, 2015 at 5:52 pm

Ah this bought make some memories. I love Cambodia, especially Koh Rong. Great post… I need to go back!

Mark Yates January 4, 2022 at 9:13 pm

I loved it immensely. Its culture its people its food its hospitality its sights its sounds and its never ending beauty I have been 4 times and not a day goes by that i dont think about Cambodia and its people and timeless charm.As soon as covids done with i will return , cant wait.

k dan May 11, 2016 at 9:04 am

Yes the people are the reason I will return again. They are genuine and know how to make the simplest of pleasures a happy event. It is also an unspoiled country preserved in many ways culturally. Also we plan to do some charity/fundraising each year we visit so our trips will be doubly rewarding.

Anna May 24, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Glad to hear that you loved Cambodia as much as I did! The people are so amazing and doing charity work would be a wonderful way to give something back and get more involved in this amazing country. I can’t wait to return, I miss Cambodia so much. Hope you have a great trip! 🙂


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