Cambodia, located in Southeast Asia between Thailand to the northwest and Vietnam to the southeast, has become an increasingly popular tourist destination during the last 20 years. Though largely rural, it’s filled with historic and archaeological attractions from the days of the Khmer Empire, which lasted from about 800–1430 AD. The country’s prime offering, the Angkor Wat, is the largest religious monument in the world. Whether you want to catch some sun and sand at one of its sparkling beaches, immerse yourself in the undiscovered territory of its natural conservation areas, or explore its more modern capital, Cambodia just might surprise you with how much it has to offer.
Before you leave, make sure to purchase
travel insurance and
travel medical insurance to protect yourself against any unexpected accidents, illnesses, or injuries that might occur during your trip.
As the nation’s capital, Phnom Penh is one of Cambodia’s more urban, modern destinations. In addition to a thriving restaurant and café scene, the city contains a wide variety of historic sites and attractions from more than 700 years of Cambodian history. The Royal Palace, the home of Cambodia’s royal family since the 1860s, contains such wonders as the Emerald Buddha and Gold Buddha statues, the latter of which weighs almost 200 pounds (90 kilograms) and glitters with diamonds. The Cambodia National Museum was established in 1920 and contains more than 1,800 objects. Highlights include archaeological discoveries from the nearby Angkor Wat and a collection of pre-Angkorian artifacts.
The Russian Market presents a once-in-a-lifetime shopping experience. Stalls sell everything from cheesy souvenirs to handmade wooden handicrafts and Cambodian silk. The market’s busiest hours are during the morning, as the midday and afternoon heat keeps many shoppers away. Customers are also welcome to haggle over the price of their purchases. Similarly, the indoor Psar Thmei market, built in 1937, boasts a more modern Art Deco style and sells wares like fresh produce, jewelry, and clothing.
On a more somber note, visitors looking for a glimpse into the country’s more recent history can visit the killing fields of Choeung Ek. In the second half of the 1970's, the Khmer Rouge regime killed between one million and three million citizens in an effort to turn Cambodia into a socialist, agrarian society. More than 17,000 people were killed at Choeung Ek, most of them from a nearby high-security prison. The fields contain 129 mass graves and a memorial stupa filled with more than 8,000 human skulls.
The religious temple complex of Angkor Wat, also known as Angkor Archaeological Park, is the most famous tourist attraction in Cambodia. The temple is one of the national symbols of Cambodia and even appears on the nation’s flag. It stands today as the world’s largest religious monument, covering about 400 acres. It was constructed in the early 12th century AD by King Suryavarman II as his burial site. Angor Wat was built as a Hindu temple, but after the city of Angkor was sacked in 1177, King Jayavarman built a new capital city (Angkor Thom) and dedicated it to Buddhism. Angor Wat, therefore, became a Buddhist shrine.
Today, the site presents the perfect example of Khmer architecture. The complex is surrounded by a sizable moat representing the ocean, and a single bridge brings visitors in and out. Visitors pass through three galleries before reaching the temple, the walls of which are decorated with relief sculptures depicting various religious and historical scenes. Modern restorations of the complex began in the early 20th century and picked up again in the 1960s. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage in Danger site in 1992 and had seen enough improvement to be removed from that list by 2004. Since 2012, the site has seen more than two million visitors per year.
The coastal city of Sihanoukville lies just off the Gulf of Thailand. It serves as the country’s main beach resort town, featuring multiple beaches popular with locals and tourists alike. Independence Beach and Sokha Beach feature high-end luxury hotels. Serendipity Beach and Ochheuteal Beach are the most popular destinations for casual beachgoers looking for some sun, sand, lapping waves, and lunch. Otres Beach is more secluded, featuring huts built directly into the sand, a few small boutique hotels, and a burgeoning restaurant scene.
The Ratanakiri Province, located in the northeast corner of Cambodia, is one of the more rural and less developed portions of the country. Adventurous travelers will find plenty of opportunities to hike, trek, view wildlife, and go for a relaxing swim. The Veun Sai-Siem Pang Conservation Area (VSSPCA) features a wide expanse of evergreen and semi-evergreen tropical forest. Overnight visitors sleep in hammocks and view wildlife like gibbons, snakes, lizards, bats, and more. Virachey National Park, one of Cambodia’s two ASEAN Heritage Parks, is a popular destination for hiking and trekking. A good portion of the park’s land remains unexplored. Animal life includes elephants, bears, and tigers.
Swimming opportunities include Lake Yeak Laom, a circular crater lake in the Ban Lung District, also home to hiking trails and a museum about Tampuan culture; and the waterfalls at Chaa Ong and Ka Tieng.
Cambodian cuisine finds its inspiration in the flavors of China, Thailand, and Vietnam. The national dish is fish amok, a fish curry custard steamed in banana leaves. Popular ingredients in Cambodian food include freshwater fish, fermented sauces, noodles, fruit and vegetables, and spices like black pepper and Kampot pepper. Popular dishes include noodle soups like kuy teav (flat rice noodles in pork broth), kuy teav ko kho (caramelized rice noodles in beef broth), and mee kiev (similar to wonton soup); stews and hotpot dishes like samlar machu and kho; stir-fried dishes like chha kuy teav, bai chha, and mee chha; pastries; sticky rice dishes and dumplings; and jelly desserts and puddings.
Cambodia and Travel Insurance
Cambodian officials have announced several new policies regarding entry into the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
Visitors must show proof of travel insurance with medical coverage of at least $50,000.
And as of June 11, 2020, they must also pay a $3,000 deposit to cover virus prevention services. The amount can be paid by cash or credit card at the airport.
Travelers will receive the deposit back minus fees deducted for coronavirus tests, quarantine costs, and medical services (if applicable). These fees include transportation from the airport to a testing center, a coronavirus test, a one-night stay at a hotel while awaiting the test results, and three meals during that period. If any one passenger on a given flight tests positive for the virus, then everyone on the flight will be quarantined for 14 days (and charged accordingly).
Coronavirus or not, it’s always important to purchase
travel insurance and
travel medical insurance before any kind of vacation.
International travel insurance provides coverage for situations like emergency medical evacuation, repatriation of mortal remains, natural disaster coverage, lost or delayed luggage, and medical expenses. Many times, this is the kind of coverage that people don’t think they will need—until they wish they had it. A good insurance plan can protect you, your loved ones, and your bank account from expenditures caused by any unexpected illnesses or injuries that may occur.
If you need help selecting the plan that best fits your needs, please don’t hesitate to contact our licensed, experienced representatives.