The "Citadel of Women" is a small jewel of a temple built 50
miles northeast of the Bayon. Its rose-colored sandstone walls
house what many consider to be the best carvings and bas-reliefs of
any temple at Angkor.
The standard of work and the state of preservation make Banteay
This area is a daytrip from the main Angkor complex and well
worth a visit. The three temples (Bakong, Lolei and Preah Ko) were
built in the late 9th century and are the oldest at Angkor. Stop in
the morning at the little upcountry market in Roluos town.
With its stately riverfront trees and fine old buildings, Siem
Reap town is a good place for a wander-by foot or by bicycle. There
are shops selling crafts, silks and souvenirs opposite the river, a
large market on the south edge of town and a large souvenir market
behind the Ta Prohm Hotel. Several times a week that establishment
puts on a classical dance performance by the river. The Angkor
National Museum, which opened in 2007, features eight galleries
that explore many facets of Khmer culture in a well-interpreted
About 6 miles outside of Siem Reap in the rural countryside is
the Cambodia Landmine Museum. Far more than an exhibit, this
facility is home, school, orphanage and clinic to 30 landmine
victims. Former Khmer Rouge child soldier Aki Ra founded the
facility. Ra was forced to lay thousands of mines as a child
soldier with the Khmer Rouge, but has spent the last decade
removing over 50,000 mines and has become a legendary landmine
activist in his country. Millions of mines still exist in
Cambodia's countryside, making otherwise arable land impossible to
farm and forcing villagers into squalid cities in search of work.
This museum and facility provides great insight into this dynamic
in modern-day Cambodia, and it is a moving experience to visit this
Take a sunrise boat trip on placid Tonle Sap Lake to see the
stunning light, stilt houses, boats full of vegetables and
traditional life as it has existed for centuries.
This stately riverfront city-a jumble of charm and neglect-is
back from the dead and actually booming these days. Shaking off
some of the horrors of its recent past, Phnom Penh has come alive
again and is an exciting city. Once known as the "Paris of the
East," there are some lovely old neighborhoods, and the Royal
Quarter and grand promenade by the Mekong are delightful. Stroll
here or travel by cyclo (bicycle rickshaw) for an
authentic Cambodia travel experience.
King Sihanouk now resides at the Royal Palace, so visiting isn't
possible, but the adjoining -and exquisite-Silver Pagoda is open.
The National Museum, housed in a splendid colonial building, has
the greatest collection of Khmer art in the world. You might want
to buy the pamphlet on recognizing the different styles of this
art. Shop at the Central Market for T-shirts, kramas (the
checked scarves worn by all peasants), pirated editions of books on
Khmer art and history, fragrant garlands or gemstones. The O Russei
Market has a few antiques and many intriguing fakes (so caveat
emptor). Hire a boat for a sunset cruise on the Mekong and
then drop by the Foreign Correspondent's Club for a drink or bite.
If you're a night person, check out the Floating Casino.
Tuol Sleng/Choeung Ek
About a half hour from Phnom Penh, the two most significant
reminders of the Khmer Rouge's murderous regime remain as
testaments to the dark era of their reign in the 1970s. They are
the central Tuol Sleng High School (later Prison) and the Killing
Fields at Choeung Ek. This excursion glimpses the devastating
horrors that prevailed during Cambodia's ultra-radical Marxist
movement, when the country started at Year Zero in 1975, and Pol
Pot became the Number One Brother. This visit may prove
distressing; it is nothing if not graphic. One literally steps over
human bones and half-buried clothing at the Killing Fields, and the
life-size photos of the faces of the tortured prisoners at Tuol
Slung are among the most haunting sights to be encountered
anywhere. It is, however, a crucial piece of this country's
20th-century cultural and historical puzzle and a
significant component of a complete, in-depth Cambodia travel
experience, examining the country's glory days, as well as its
darker times - we highly recommended that you go.