Cambodia - the country that masters the art of mixing the ancient world and the modern world, and attracting hundreds of visitors to some of its natural and man-made wonders.
Some of Cambodia’s cities each have a defining characteristic about them, which is complemented by its people and its rich history with its evolution and link to other East Asian nations like Vietnam and Laos.
Chaotic yet charismatic capital Phnom Penh is a revitalised city nestled by the riverside that offers world-class wining-and-dining experiences while offering visitors the gorgeous views of some of the city’s oldest structures.
Second city Siem Reap, with cosmopolitan cafes and a diverse nightlife, is as much a destination as the nearby iconic temples.
The south coast is fringed by tropical islands dotted with the occasional fishing village, while the north coast is filled with wildlife and an abundance of natural attractions and ethnic minorities. Here are some of the cool spots to check out in Cambodia. Phnom Penh Central Market
Phsar Thmei is known as Phnom Penh's central market, an extremely popular food market in Cambodia’s capital, and the reason behind that is simply because it pretty much has everything.
The market is located in a dome (which was built in 1937 and said to be the largest market in Asia at the time) which connects four wings that sell: food, jewellery, clothing, fruit and vegetable. Try some of their delicacies like Kuy Teav or Bobor while at the market.
Siem Reap is Cambodia’s answer to offering travellers a cosmopolitan city, and it is definitely worth its moniker. If you’re not exploring the temples then you are being exposed to the city’s beautiful efforts at mixing modernity with simplicity and history - bringing you a cultural experience worth remembering.
Try out sumptuous spas, great shopping, local tours to suit both foodies and adventurers, and a creative cultural scene that includes Cambodia's leading contemporary circus - Phare the Cambodian Circus.
If you feel like getting your adrenaline pumping then try the Angkor zip-line - a fun activity for all which includes a tour through the Ta Nei temple.
The Southern Islands
Untouched by the developments of hotels and resorts, Cambodia's southern islands are the tropical Shangri-La that attracts many to its islands.
Get to lie back on a hammock while looking out at the clear, photogenic blue sea and fishing villages, enjoying the peace of a location that is devoid of any large crowds.
Ta Phrom Temple
There are two reasons why the Ta Prohm temple should be added to your list of must-see tourist attractions. The first reason is that the Ta Prohm temple was the same site where the filming of the first Lara Croft: Tomb Raider film took place.
The second reason is that despite looking similar to the Angkor temple when it was first discovered by European settlers, the Ta Prohm temple is one filled with mystery nestled deep in the jungle.
The Ta Prohm temple was built in 1186 and originally called the Rajavihara (Monastery of the King) - a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII.
The temple also serves as one of the few temples that still contains information regarding the temple’s inhabitants.
One of the most famous spots in Ta Prohm is the so-called ‘Tomb Raider tree’, where Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft picked a jasmine flower before falling through the earth into Pinewood Studios in Los Angeles.
The temple is at its most impressive early in the day. Allow as much as two hours to visit, especially if you want to explore the maze-like corridors and iconic tree roots.IOL