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It is a little known fact that Cambodia used to be the biggest tourist destination in South East Asia. However, Cambodia’s recent and horrific past has effectively removed it from the tourist map. The combination of amputees begging for alms and a countryside restricted by landmines doesn’t make it suitable for people looking to get away from it all. Indeed the tourists that make it to Cambodia largely come for two reasons: culture and war.

Angkor Wat, bigger in its time than any city in Europe, attracts the bulk of Cambodia’s visitors. Few tourists come to Cambodia without spending some time exploring the extensive ruins, but many see little else. These cultural tourists take advantage of the frequent connections with Bangkok and the excellent hotels of Siem Reap to enjoy a quick break without the need to experience the notorious inconveniences of Cambodia.

For those that venture further, recent history is the attraction. The Khmer Rouge’s atrocities are so horrific, so shocking and so recent that they will cast a shadow for generations. Visiting the Killing Fields Memorial and the Tuol Sleng Museum is harrowing, but important for any visitor wishing to begin to understand the past this country is attempting to overcome and the true nature of the human race.

Though few take the opportunity to discover, Cambodia has lot more to offer. Outside the main tourist centres of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, visitors encounter a very different Cambodia – a gentle, welcoming place where people view your very presence as a sign that things are improving and the boys who stop to chat in the street really do just want to practice their English. We finished up our travels in Cambodia wishing we had more time to spend off the beaten path, but our time was up and it was time to return to Bangkok.

Articles - click to enlarge
Picture of a boat shop Cambodia Travelgoues
Photograph of Angkor Wat Cambodia Travelgoues
Journey to Cambodia

Angkor Wat

Picture of skulls at the killing fields Cambodia Travelgoues
Picture of a desolate ballroom Cambodia Travelgoues
   
The Killing Fields
Off the beaten path in Kampot

Picture of a ferry Cambodia Travelgoues
Leaving Cambodia