There’s nothing better than traveling to a new country or city, walking through its streets, and getting a feel for the place firsthand. But the planning, buildup, and anticipation for a trip can be a lot of fun as well. If you’re planning to come to Cambodia and looking to learn a bit about the country beforehand, here are some websites that are well worth visiting before your trip.
This photo captures an everyday (at least in Cambodia) scene found on the streets of Phnom Penh. Photo by Tyler Palma
Photography: Seeing beautiful images of Cambodia on websites like National Geographic, I can actually feel my pulse raise with the anticipation of seeing these sights and sounds myself. These definitely aren’t you’re average snapshots but they do a great job of giving a sense of what you will see on a visit to Cambodia. For some tips on how to get the most out of your own photographs of Angkor Watt, check out Ewen Bell’s excellent tips here. And if you’re still hungry for more, have a look at Steve McCurry’s magical Angkor portfolio here.
This shot from the WWFs website evidences the beauty of Cambodia’s fauna firsthand.
Wildlife and Conservation: The World Wildlife Fund is working hard on the ground in Cambodia to conserve and preserve the country’s outstanding biodiversity. If you are interested in finding out more about their presence here, check out their excellent website here. It will give you a great perspective for what’s taking place behind the scenes as you travel throughout the country.
This Buddhist statue hints at the treasures awaiting a visit to the temples of Angkor. Photo from the National Geographic website.
Angkor Wat: It’s no secret, the biggest draw for most visitors to Cambodia are the Temples of Angkor and, in particular, the indescribable Angkor Wat. But if you want to know more than the average traveller as you traipse around the many archaeological wonders of the area, read Maurice Glaize’s comprehensive guide to the temples and become an expert. It’s available for free download here.
Learning the lingo: Nobody will expect you to speak Khmer while you are in Cambodia but it’s amazing how far a few words of the local language can take you. Jol moi (cheers) has proved handy more than a few times! Insight Guides offers a nice list of useful phrases here.
Nothing pairs with the local cuisine better than a good cause!
Friends: The Friends organization is a personal favorite of mine because it combines a well-intentioned social enterprise with fantastic food. Friends International has founded restaurants throughout the country that are staffed by street children that often have limited prospects for advancement in their own lives. Yet in giving these children training, they receive the skills necessary to succeed in a number of industries. But don’t take my word for it, check out their programs and activities here. For more on food in Cambodia, check out the excellent food blog at nyampenh.com.
Stay up-to-date: Most of us are already used to getting the latest news on our computers and phones from all the best world news outlets. But if you’re after a real local’s perspective on the day-to-day goings on in Cambodia, check out the Phnom Penh Post’s website for the latest scoop. You can find it here.
The skulls of victims of the Khmer Rouge are a common site in the killing fields and other museums which memorialize Cambodia’s horrific recent history. Photo from National Geographic.
Recent History: When traveling, a deeper perspective can be gained with a bit of background knowledge and historical insight. Unfortunately, Cambodia’s recent history has been more gruesome than most. To learn more about what went on during the Khmer Rouge period, visit here. Although the period that saw Cambodia under the rule of the Khmer Rouge was so terrifying that many would like to try to forget all that went on, the Documentation Center of Cambodiathe is working hard to shed light on all that went on during this sad time in a beautiful country’s recent history. Their website is well made and worth an exploration. Find it here. After coming face to face with so many unthinkable atrocities, it’s only natural to want to know what has become of some of those who committed such violence. While many Khmer Rouge members were never held accountable for their actions, their are some who have been held for trial – albeit only at a time when their lives are already coming to end because of old age. Still, to see what’s happening in the Cambodia Tribunal, have a look at the always up-to-date website here.
Live in the present: Fortunately, modern Cambodia is recovering from the horrors of its past and a trip here today is sure to be a highlight on even the most well-trodden adventurers itinerary. To get an idea of all Cambodia has to offer, visit the country’s national tourism website here or, better yet, talk to the experts at InsideVietnam Tours to start planning your own adventure in Cambodia. The website can be found here.