One of the most asked questions when I tell someone that I went travelling is of course, which was my favourite country. Although sometimes this varies (it’s so hard to say when you have so many reasons to love everywhere!) a lot of the time I find my heart wanting to say Cambodia.
The weirdest thing is that I was never even that bothered to visit Cambodia. I hadn’t heard a tonne about it and what I had heard hadn’t excited me as much as the likes of Bali and Thailand. But Nathan managed to convince me and once again (no surprises here) Nathan was absolutely right.
When I try tell people what it is that I love about Cambodia, I find it difficult to summarise in a sentence. It’s such a different place to anywhere else I’ve been and it’s not exactly a ‘dream holiday destination’ but there’s something about it that draws me back there and I find myself thinking about it a lot.
So, to summarise why I love Cambodia so much and why I think that everyone should add it to their travel bucket list, I’ve gathered together my top 5 reasons…
Although this is in no particular order, I had to mention the people first and foremost. Having come from Thailand where the locals are (mostly) super friendly, I was shocked to find that the Cambodians were even more lovely.
They’re very chatty, very generous and very welcoming and grateful to tourists.
They also have the most beautiful children I have ever seen. Such happy, sweet and gorgeous little people who are so chatty and forthcoming and just want to be your friend.
This isn’t such a positive one, but it’s so important and has stuck with me the most out of all the things that I did in my 9 months of travelling.
Cambodia’s fairly recent history has been very tumultuous and the Cambodian genocide (which I’d never even heard of before visiting, don’t get me started on why this isn’t taught in schools!?) is so cleverly documented by two very special ‘museums’. These are the most poignant and harrowing museums I have visited anywhere in the world and I truly believe everyone should visit and be aware of this awful part of Cambodian history.
The two museums in question are Tuol Sleng (S21) and The Killing Fields.
I’ll just leave this here…
Very possibly the most stunning acts of nature I have ever witnessed.
Of course, food always makes or breaks whether I can really love a place or not. Before visiting Cambodia, I genuinely had no idea what ‘Cambodian’ cuisine even was – unlike Thai and Vietnamese, it’s not a popular cuisine at all in England.
Their traditional national dishes are absolutely out-of-this-world mind-blowing. Amok (steam cooked curry in banana leaves) fast became one of my favourite dishes ever and finding one in England is IMPOSSIBLE. Lok Lak (stir fried beef but so much more than that) is also a winner. Oh and you HAVE to visit Khmer Roots Cafe for the best meal of your life – a small hut on a dirt road where a family serve up the best food imaginable without even having connected electricity.
Pictures are never going to do the beautiful flavours justice but seen as I take a million photos before I’ll let Nathan eat any meal, I may as well put them to some use…
From friendly monks who’ll sit and chat to you about their religion to the incredible and breathtaking Angkor Wat…
(Read my full post about this unbelievable place here!)
Cambodia has a rich and very interesting culture. Although a lot of the cultural buildings and monuments have been destroyed by war, what remains is a truly vibrant mix of incredible people, food and natural beauty and the magical culture lives on through this.
I really hope this post has persuaded you to add Cambodia to your travel bucket list as I feel like it’s sometimes overlooked (which I know I was guilty of!) but it’s one of those life-changing places that you’ll never stop dreaming about…