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Best known as the home of the colossal temple of Angkor Wat and for the brutal Khmer era of the 1970s and later the Civil War, Cambodian history encompasses both some of humanity's greatest artistic achievements and the most horrific deeds. History is exactly what attracts most travelers here, but this Southeast Asian country has more to offer for those who linger longer than a short temple jump to Siem Reap.
The coastline of sandy white beaches tempts every sunny sloth. The countryside, shrouded in jungle, is focused on the more fearless, and the bustling capital of Phnom Penh embraces visitors with the frantic pulse of modern urban life in Cambodia.
Outside the temples and recovering from the atrocities that rained in the country in the late 20th century, Cambodia is a new destination for Southeast Asia, which manages to enchant all who come.
Plan your attractions in this fascinating country with my list of the best places to visit in Cambodia.
1. Angkor Wat (Angkor Archaeological Park)
This temple city is the highest map of Cambodia. The Angkorian temples accessible from Siem Reap are so ambitious in scale and majesty that Angkor Wat is considered one of the oldest monuments in the world to visit.
Built between 802 and 1432 AD, it was the largest city in the world in the Middle Ages and a huge powerhouse of Khmer kings who tried to surpass their predecessors in the beauty of their construction. As the city's wooden dwellings collapsed and then the surrounding jungle fell into disrepair, what remains today are only these mighty temples.
Angkor Wat itself, the world's largest religious building, is generally only one part of the site, and the sprawling chain of temples is worth three days to explore if you want to understand the scale of the Angkorian architectural achievements.
However, for those who do not have enough time, the main highlights after Angkor Wat are the temple-bound tree root Ta Prom, Bayon Temple for 216 carved faces, Angkor Tom, and Prea Khan.
The quiet river city of Kampot has a lot of ancient atmosphere. The compact central area is a joy to wander around, filled with the preserved architecture of the store, some of which have been carefully restored.
The charm of Kampot lies in the extremely chilled atmosphere, and many travelers stay here longer than they expected, succumbing to its calm pace.
However, for the more active it is also a great base for exploring the surrounding sights of the south. An old French summer holiday Bokor Gere Station, with an abandoned church and the eerie, empty shell of a once grand hotel, is an easy day trip out of town, as are the limestone caves of Phnom Chnorc and Phnom Sorcia, both with old temples inside.