Antique culture of Khmer, mysterious jungle and peaceful beaches
Cambodia. Unlike its modest size, the amount of history the country boasts is incredibly large. Once the center of the flourishing Khmer empire of Angkor, Cambodia has inherited its legendary temples which to this day continue to be a key part of national identity. Needless to say, those gorgeous temples have also become a strong tourist magnet. Aside from that, however, most of the country is still a mystery waiting to be explored – and we're not only talking about tourists here!
The beautiful landscapes of the country, presented by the river Mekong, the great Tonle Sap lake, as well as the forests in the distant highlands of Rattanakiri, Mondulkiri and the Cardamom Mountains are unforgettable, while the enigmatic towns of Cambodia leave the visitors fascinated with their genuinely antique architecture and exotic atmosphere. The coastal part, on the other hand, offers an entertaining mix of night life, peaceful beaches and enchanting islands.
Cambodia owes much of its charisma to its old-fashioned style that makes the whole place appear as if frozen in time. Unlike the neighboring Vietnam and Thailand that took quite the further leap in economical development, Cambodia is very rural and laid back. The outbacks of the country remain very much true to how they used to be decades ago, which together with beautiful wooden country-style architecture, rice fields and sugar palm groves gives an impression of traveling through time, to the past, to an age when life was better and easier. Not only the appearance would make one believe and feel all that, but also the fact that Cambodians in general are one of the most open and welcoming people around Asia, and it could be that their simple (on the surface) life standards only contribute to that.
All the Cambodian hospitality shines even more brightly and amazingly against the bloody backdrop of their recent past brought by the Khmer Rouge regime, which caused pain and suffering to the country and its people killing at least two million of citizens in total – and that's about one fifth of the population. Fortunately enough, in 1998 the leaders of Khmer Rouge were pushed back and put out of power, although to this day some of their former members remain active at the rule of the country – like Hun Sen, the prime minister who has been the leader since 1985. Slowly but surely Cambodians are raising their heads towards the new sun, although it will probably take some more time until the wounds of the past heal completely.