The Kingdom of Cambodia sits at the heart of the Southeast Asia loop, boasting a thread of pristine white coastline and an interior of elephant trodden trails, straw hut villages and emerald jungles – all of which can be explored for a very reasonable price.
The stunning temples of Angkor are the obvious draw for most tourists, but the country has much else to offer: tropical beaches, colonial buildings and an abundance of natural attractions.
Angkor is spectacular and continues to reward no matter how many times you visit. The coastline is beautiful and blissfully rustic. Motorbikes rule the roads of Cambodia and even as it develops, Cambodia remains an authentic adventure.
Cambodia has an area of 181,035 square kilometres and lies entirely within the tropics. It borders Thailand to the north and west, Laos to the northeast, and Vietnam to the east and southeast. It has a 443 kilometres coastline along the Gulf of Thailand.
Cambodia's landscape is characterised by a low-lying central plain that is surrounded by uplands and low mountains and includes the Tonle Sap (Great Lake) and the upper reaches of the Mekong River delta. Extending outward from this central region are transitional plains, thinly forested and rising to elevations of about 650 feet (200 metres) above sea level.
To the north the Cambodian plain abuts a sandstone escarpment, which forms a southward-facing cliff stretching more than 320 kilometres from west to east and rising abruptly above the plain to heights of 180 to 550 metres. This cliff marks the southern limit of the Dângrêk Mountains.
Flowing south through the country's eastern regions is the Mekong River. East of the Mekong the transitional plains gradually merge with the eastern highlands, a region of forested mountains and high plateaus that extend into Laos and Vietnam. In southwestern Cambodia two distinct upland blocks, the Krâvanh Mountains and the Dâmrei Mountains, form another highland region that covers much of the land area between the Tonle Sap and the Gulf of Thailand.
In this remote and largely uninhabited area, Phnom Aural, Cambodia's highest peak rises to an elevation of 1,813 metres. The southern coastal region adjoining the Gulf of Thailand is a narrow lowland strip, heavily wooded and sparsely populated, which is isolated from the central plain by the southwestern highlands.
The most distinctive geographical feature is the inundations of the Tonle Sap (Great Lake), measuring about 2,590 square kilometres during the dry season and expanding to about 24,605 square kilometres during the rainy season. This densely populated plain, which is devoted to wet rice cultivation, is the heartland of Cambodia. Much of this area has been designated as a biosphere reserve.
Few travellers are immune to Cambodia’s beguiling charms, which are made all the more poignant by the country’s resilience in recovering from its dark past. All kinds of travellers, from backpackers to luxury tourists, continue to flock to see legendary Angkor Wat, but this iconic attraction is only the beginning of Cambodia’s beauty. From pristine beaches and untouched jungles to stunning architectural feats, here are some of the most beautiful places in Cambodia that you need to visit.
Cambodia is home to a diverse array of wildlife. Wildlife in Cambodia includes dholes, elephants, deer (sambar, Eld's deer, hog deer and muntjac), wild oxen (banteng and gaur), panthers, bears, and tigers. Cormorants, cranes, ibises, parrots, green peafowl, pheasants, and wild ducks as well as numerous species of venomous snakes and constrictors call this country home.
Here is a list of the most popular national parks this country has to offer.
The Kulen Prum Tep Wildlife Sanctuary is the largest protected area in Cambodia. It is located in the northern plains of Cambodia, near the border to Thailand. The sanctuary contains lowland forest as well as the largest swamp in the country. It is part of the Northern Plains Dry Forest Priority Corridor.
Covering much of north-western Preah Vihear Province, Kulen Prum Tep Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the last places on earth where you can see Cambodia’s national bird, the critically endangered giant ibis.
Other rare species that can be spotted here include the woolly-necked stork, white-rumped falcon, green peafowl, Alexandrine parakeet, grey-headed fish eagle and no fewer than 16 species of woodpecker, as well as owls and raptors. Birds are easiest to see from January to April.
The Phnom Samkos Wildlife Sanctuary is a protected area of the Cardamom Mountains in western Cambodia, adjacent to the international border with Thailand. Located on the western part of the range, it contains mountainous terrain dominated by three discrete peaks: Cambodia’s second highest peak, Mount Samkos (1,717 m), Mount Khmaoch (1,496 m) and Mount Tumpor (1,250 m).
Phnom Prech Sanctuary, Mondulkiri is one the popular tourist attractions in Mondulkiri. The sanctuary is located amidst the Eastern Plains which is known for the sprawling rain forests and beautiful rivers. It has an area of 2,225 square kilometres.
There are wide varieties of mammals, birds and reptiles. Some of the protected species in the sanctuary are tiger, Asian elephant, wild water buffalo, jungle cat and deer. Some bird species include Sarus crane and giant ibises.