From the remote hinterlands of Rattanakiri, Mondulkiri and the Cardamom Mountains to the pulsating cities of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, Cambodia is a country of contrasts. Formerly the seat of the Khmer empire of Angkor – the most magnificent Hindu-Buddhist Empire in Southeast Asia – this kingdom is renowned for the fabled temples of Angkor, the most massive religious monument ever built.
The immense walled city of Angkor Thom, the masterpiece of King Jayavarman VII is home to the Bayon unforgettable for the 216 colossal stone faces on the temple’s towers. Ta Prohm temple just a kilometer away is abandoned, entwined in the roots and branches of silk cotton trees, completely reclaimed by nature.
Further east lies the Beng Melea temple and the temples of Roluos, the country’s oldest and simplest. Apart from temples in Cambodia, there are the medieval floating villages on the Tonle Sap, largest expanse of freshwater in Southeast Asia, which must be visited by boat. Outside Phnom Penh are the Choeng Ek Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng prison – both of which are painful reminders of the horrors of the Pol Pot regime. In the south, there are charming fishing villages, sandy Cambodia beaches and idyllic tropical islands.
The serenity of contemporary Cambodia is striking especially in light of the legacy left by the Khmer Rouge. However, it is a testimony to the resiliency, indefatigable spirit and joie de vivre of the Khmer people, this enigmatic country’s greatest national treasure. The team of Asia travel specialists at Red Savannah can tailor-make luxury Cambodia holidays that combine immersion in the cultural and historic heritage with a river cruise from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
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