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Top Ten Sights of Cambodia

Published 30 March 2016

Snigdha Jain

Snigdha Jain

Cambodia, squeezed between Thailand, Laos and Vietnam in Southeast Asia, is fast becoming one of the must-see countries of Asia. Only a generation ago it was ravaged by a brutal civil war, and although many poignant reminders remain from this tortuous period, the country now finds itself in a time of peace. Snigdha Jain recently visited and has put together her top ten sights of Cambodia.

Boat cruising down the Mekong Delta at sunset

Angkor Wat

My first look at this temple is definitely one the most breath-taking sights that I have ever seen; this is believed to be the largest religious structure in the world. While I loved exploring this whole temple complex, what really amazed me was the intricate carving of the apsaras, the missing Buddha statues from the murals (they were removed when the king converted to Hinduism) and the various religious carvings.

Water infront of the Angkor Wat temple

Angkor Thom

This was a city built by the most famous king, Jayavaraman VII, and is known for the 54 towers which are covered with 216 faces of Buddha (each tower has 4 faces on all 4 sides). And naturally the face of the Buddha resembled the face of the then king.

Temple statues in a line at Angkor Thom

Ta Phrom

The Ta Phrom temple is a unique sight to behold. Over numerous years, the nearby tree roots have entwined with the temples in such a manner that now you just can’t work which is supporting which. In some places the trees are even growing at the top of the temples.

Girl in traditional costume standing in the doorway of Ta Phrom temple

Tonle Sap

The Tonle Sap Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and has an entire floating village on it. Many Vietnamese people live on this river in floating houses and fish for a living. They have everything on the lake – houses, a school, a church, a restaurant, an exhibition area, a store, literally everything.

Local person on paddling on boat through Tonle Sap

The Royal Palace

This is a beautiful complex built in the Khmer style with sloping wooden roofs, golden decorations work and the garuda (which is the symbol for the royal family). This huge complex houses the Royal Palace, the Throne Hall, the Silver Pagoda, the dance pavilions and the massive gardens.

A group of people walks through park towards the Royal Palace

The killing fields of Choeung Ek

During the Khmer Rouge rule, prisoners were brought here in trucks, made to dig their own graves (often while blindfolded), after which they were hit on the head, killed and buried. Each grave here holds anything from 20 – 45 people (including women and children). There is also a memorial where bones and skulls of the people who died have been kept, and there is also a small museum.

Mass grave site sign at the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek

The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum

Before the Khmer Rouge came to power this building used to be a school, but was converted to a prison. During Khmer rule thousands of men, women and children were interrogated here (pretty much no one survived) and several methods of torture were used to gain information. The classrooms were turned into prison cells (without any windows and only a metal box to use as a toilet).

Bed frame inside a dark building of the S-21 prison

The National Museum

This museum houses a lot Khmer art, pottery and sculpture. The majority of the exhibits are from the Angkor period (9th – 15th century), but some date from as early as the 4th century. Apart from the exhibits,the building of the museum is also very pretty.

Phnom Penh’s Russian Market

This large covered market has numerous shops selling things including clothes, shoes, cute souvenirs, unusual lamps, candles, food, cycle repair parts, kitchenware, gas stoves and jewellery.

A stall selling traditional teapots and plates at the Russian Market

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