Fun things to do in Cambodia

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  • worldkiwi's Profile Photo

    The Bayon - Angkor Thom

    by worldkiwi Updated Jun 1, 2014

    The Bayon is part of Angkor Thom. Many tourists prefer to stop here in the early morning, to take photos of the temple in the light of that time of day. In December, 2008, I spent a hot, but quiet and peaceful afternoon wandering around the haunting ruins of the Bayon where huge smiling faces carved on the towers gaze down at you from every angle. I popped back the next morning to get a shot of the temple's stones infused with the sunrise. Having read The King's Last Song, a novel by the author Geoff Ryman, the works of the great King Jayavarman took on a whole extra layer of significance while I was here in the Bayon.

    Big Brother is watching you at The Bayon! The Bayon, early morning. Spend time in the Bayon, Siem Reap. Detail from the Bayon.
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    • Historical Travel
    • Castles and Palaces

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    Marvel at Ta Prohm.

    by worldkiwi Written May 22, 2014

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    Ta Prohm is another temple within the greater complex of ruins known as Angkor Thom. Writing this 6 years after my visit there, I can still recall the magic of the place. Recommended as an 'atmospheric' temple to visit, because of the way the jungle seems to have enveloped the place, if you get the chance to go here at either end of the day when there are less tourist groups, you will certainly have a very memorable visit! As I may have mentioned elsewhere, the best way to see the Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom ruins is to buy a three day ticket and arrange a three day charter of a 'tuk-tuk'. This is what I did and it allowed me to spend as much time as I liked in the area, never feeling rushed. Ta Prohm is one of those places that will be a highlight on your visit to Cambodia.

    Ta Prohm's ruins are magic. Impressive tree roots entwine Ta Prohm.
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    • Historical Travel
    • Archeology

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    S-21, THE KILLING FIELDS OF PHNOM PENH

    by DAO Written Apr 20, 2014

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    To fully see and understand the Khmer Rouge Genocide of 1975-1979, you need to visit prison S-21. It is estimated that up to 20% of all Khmers (the single race of people in Cambodia) were killed during these years. More than 17,000 people passed through the entry doors of this small compound between 1975 and 1978. Only 8 prisoners survived at the time of liberation by the Vietnamese army. One of them was the prisoner responsible for the photographs of all prisoners, a man named Nhem En. The amazing fact in this entire gruesome tale is that the prisoners were photographed here when the entered, tortured here, but then killed elsewhere. After being processed and detained for often short periods of time, prisoners were then moved to the Choeung Ek extermination camp where they were often just beaten to death with shovels so that they could save money on ammunition. Choeung Ek is 15km (9 miles) outside of Phnom Penh.

    S-21 was originally the Tuol Svay Prey High School and from the outside it looks like the school it once was. In 1975 Comrade Duch (real name Kaing Guek Eav) took over the management of the camp. This ex-Math Teacher transformed S-21 into an efficiently run hell on earth for all who entered. Duch was only arrested inn 1999 and did not come to trial until 2007. He of course discovered religion after leaving his employment here.

    As you enter the first building you notice the metal beds, without bedding, and the chains attached. This would have been exactly the same way when some prisoners were tortured to ‘confess’ before being taken away, post-confession, to be murdered. As you go through the first few buildings you can see that they were once classrooms. Room after room and floor after floor are full of the photographs all the prisoners had to pose for. Every single person photographed, except for Comrade Dutech, was murdered gruesomely after being tortured. Some of the photos were taken both before and after the torture of the same person. Walking through rooms of torture equipment and evidence of the complete degradation of the prisoners is bad enough. What is extra haunting is that some of the ‘Criminals and Spies’ photographed are women and children. No one was above suspicion during the bloodthirsty rule of the Khmer Rouge. And no one was ever found innocent here. All of them, even the children and babies, were executed. There are also pictures of some American, French and Australian travellers who made the fatal mistake of entering Cambodia during these years. They were treated just like the local Cambodians. Their photos and documents are on display.

    The final months of S-21 witnessed some of the self-destruction of the Khmer Rouge themselves. Paranoid purge after purge meant that many of the prisoners were actual members who were suddenly deemed criminals and spies. In some cases the actual guards found themselves photographed, tortured and sent off for extermination.

    As you enter the last large building you notice evidence that S-21 was too busy in its monstrous task to fully house all the victims. Many rooms were subdivided multiple times with crude brick walls that would not allow the people chained in them to lie down. The final rooms are full of skulls and bones of some of the people ‘processed’ here. You will also notice the residential house just across the narrow street. S-21 continued its nightmarish activities right in the middle of the local neighbourhood.

    At the end of the complex and tour you will find the Documentation Center of Cambodia. (www.dcam.org). This is an independent organisation originally established by Yale University’s Cambodian Genocide Project (www.yale.edu/cgp). You can make donations to this amazing organisation. They have translated many of the ‘confessions’, documents and writings of the prisoners. They have also identified many of the victims photographed and also documented mass graves of the victims after their removal from S-21.

    One of the more chilling signs you will see on the site, it the rules for all prisoners. The rules are:
    1. You must answer accordingly to my question. Don’t turn them away.
    2. Don’t try to hide the facts by making pretexts this and that, you are strictly prohibited to contest me.
    3. Don’t be a fool for you are a chap who dare to thwart the revolution.
    4. You must immediately answer my questions without wasting time to reflect.
    5. Don’t tell me either about your immoralities or the essence of the revolution.
    6. While getting lashes or electrification you must not cry at all.
    7. Do nothing, sit still and wait for my orders. If there is no order, keep quiet. When I ask you to do something, you must do it right away without protesting.
    8. Don’t make pretext about Kampuchea Krom in order to hide your secret or traitor.
    9. If you don’t follow all the above rules, you shall get many lashes of electric wire.
    10. If you disobey any point of my regulations you shall get either ten lashes or five shocks of electric discharge.


    ** I have made up 12 Travelogues on my Phnom Penh Page of all the photos I took of S-21. CLICK HERE**


    Some practical information for your visit:
    • The museum is open 7 days a week from 8:00-17:30
    • Admission (at the time I visited) was $2 and $5 for a video camera
    • A guided tour was an extra $2
    • The entrance is on the western side of Street 113
    • Ask any ‘Cyclo’ or ‘Moto’ for “S-21” and it should only cost around $1 to get there


    Additional resource information about S-21:
    • The Lost Executioner, by Nic Dunlop – a book about Comrade Duch and his running of S-21
    • Voices of S-21, written by David Chandler
    • The 1996 documentary film Bhophana about one of the Khmer Rouge turned prisoner here. This movie is screen in the complex and takes 1 hour (10:00-15:00)

    S-21, THE KILLING FIELDS OF PHNOM PENH S-21, THE KILLING FIELDS OF PHNOM PENH S-21, THE KILLING FIELDS OF PHNOM PENH S-21, THE KILLING FIELDS OF PHNOM PENH S-21, THE KILLING FIELDS OF PHNOM PENH
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  • cachaseiro's Profile Photo

    The spider market in Skoun.

    by cachaseiro Written Mar 4, 2014

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    Between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh you have a small town called Skoun.
    This town is famous for it's spider market where you can buy spiders both dead and alive for consumption.
    They sell other exotic things there too such as crickets, cockroaches and other tasty bites.
    The cambodians are generally quite happy about eating this kinda stuff and this is not a market that has been created for the tourists even if there are quite a few who stop by there these days.

    Me, playing with the food at the spider market. Spiders and crickets for sale. Dinner is ready.
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    Spean Praptos.

    by cachaseiro Written Mar 4, 2014

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    Spean Praptos is an ancient khmer bridge that is around 900 years old and still in use as a bridge, but these days it is only being used by pedestrians, cyclists, scooters and horse carts to make sure it does not get too damaged.
    But it's quite impressive that it is still in use and it's in my opinion one of the most scenic constructions in Cambodia.

    It was build by King Jayavarman the 7th who also constructed Angkor Thom.
    Jayvarman the 7th actually constructed several of these bridges around Cambodia in order to tie the country together but this one is the best preserved and you should not miss it if you take the drive between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

    Ancient khmer bridge. Spean Praptos.
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  • cachaseiro's Profile Photo

    Angkor Wat.

    by cachaseiro Updated Mar 4, 2014

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    Angkor Wat is without a doubt the biggest tourist attraction og Cambodia.
    It's a huge temple set among dozens of other ancient buildings in what was the ancient Ankor around 900 years ago.

    It's one of the worlds biggest ancient constructions and is actually set in a swamp which makes it even more impressive.
    Few buildings would last 900 years in that kind of location but it was constructed by very skilled architects and still stands in the middle of the swampy cambodian jungle.

    The Angkor Wat temple might be the most famous one, but it's located next to several other very scenic temples from the same time period, so try to make sure that you have at least two full days to see the area around the Ankor Wat.

    Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat.
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  • leahdominguiano's Profile Photo

    4D/3N Itinerary in Siem Reap, Cambodia

    by leahdominguiano Written Apr 17, 2013

    MarLeah’s Itinerary:

    Day 1

    Morning:
    1) South Gate of Angkor Thom អង្គរធំ
    2) Central Angkor Thom (Bayon ប្រាសាទបាយ័ន, Baphuon ប្រាសាទបាពួន, Phimeanakas ប្រាសាទភិមានអាកាស, Terrace of the Elephants ព្រះលានជល់ដំរី).

    Lunch at a restaurant near Angkor Wat

    Afternoon:
    3) Victory Gate of Angkor Thom (optional – the same as Item #1)
    4) Thommanon
    5) Ta Keo (short visit)
    6) Ta Prohm (Angelina Jolie) ប្រាសាទតាព្រហ្ម
    7) Sunset at Angkor Wat (best time would to leave the hotel is at 4:30pm

    6:30pm Traditional dance show in evening (ACODO ORG)
    Office: (+855-63) 63 63 262
    Mobile: (+855-12) 73 43 06 or
    (+855-92) 91 92 60

    Day 2

    Morning:
    1) Sunrise at Angkor Wat (The Big Circuit)
    2) Baksei Chamkrong ប្រាសាទបក្សីចាំក្រុង
    3) Ta Som ប្រាសាទតាសោម
    4) Pre Rup ប្រាសាទប្រែរូប

    Lunch at Sala Bai
    55 Phoum Tapoul - Siem Reap / Cambodge - Tel : +855 (0)63 963 329

    Afternoon:
    7) Roluos Group (Bakong, Preah Ko, Lolei)
    8) Sunset at Phnom Bakheng ប្រាសាទភ្នំបាខែង

    Day 3

    Morning:
    1) Banteay Samre ប្រាសាទបន្ទាយសំរែ
    2) East Mebon ប្រាសាទមេបុណ្យខាងកើត

    Visit to Old Market area in Siem Reap at lunch.
    Psar Chaa

    Visit to craft/silk workshop after lunch

    Afternoon:
    4) Prasat Kravan
    5) Banteay Kdei
    6) Srah Srang
    7) Sunset at Angkor Wat (Phnom Bakheng Temple) ប្រាសាទភ្នំបាខែង

    Day 4
    Silver Pagoda
    Wat Phnom

    Angkor Wat Ta Phrom South Gate, entrance to Angkor Thom Terrace of the Elephants East Mebon
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    Take a slow boat to Battambang

    by Merebin Written Mar 3, 2013

    Travelling past floating villages and local fishing boats sporting nets filled with snakes and fish, this is an unforgettable way to travel between towns. Beware though, if the water levels are low the trip takes hours longer than when the levels are high.

    Floating village
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    • Sailing and Boating

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    Visit the Cambodian Landmine Museum

    by Merebin Updated Mar 1, 2013

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    The Landmine Museum makes for a worthwhile detour while in Siem Reap - the museum is an interesting and moving reminder of the horrors of Cambodia's civil war. Created by Aki Ra, a former child soldier conscripted to the Khmer Rouge and later a landmine de-miner, the museum provides a real insight into the effects of land mining. Aki Ra also runs a school and accommodation for Cambodian children who have been affected by land mines, and there are several ways to contribute if you so wish.

    Getting there from Siem Reap is easy - just hire a tuk tuk and driver. Entry to the museum is approximately $3 for foreigners.

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    Cycle around Angkor Wat

    by Merebin Written Mar 1, 2013

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    There are plenty of places to hire bicycles from in Siem Reap - including most traveller hostels. It is a reasonably short and easy ride along flat roads to the Angkor Wat complex, and cycling means you can go at your own pace without having a driver waiting for you (it's cheaper, too!). The one downside is that some of the more far flung temples are a little too distant to get to this way.

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    • Cycling

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    Killing Fields

    by martensd Updated Feb 3, 2013

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    While it's been a few years ago that I visited the Killing Fields, it is something I will never forget.
    I have long ago visited Dacau Concentration Camp in Germany, I found the killing fields to be even more disturbing.
    It was more in your face, made more so by the fact that while walking around, we discovered human bones and clothing only partially buried. The temple that was built to house the human skulls and clothing of the victims makes to realize the inhumanity to man.

    We made the trip out the the Killing Fields, Choeung Ek on the backs of motor scooters with our Cambodian guides. These two young men were terrific, guiding us night and day for three days.

    That is a very long trip considering it is only about 15K, on the back of a little scooter over some unpaved roads.

    The trip to the site I believe took us well over an hour and when we arrived we discovered what at first seemed like a tranquil little rest stop along side a slow moving river.
    It is just once you begin to walk the fields and see the mass graves that you come across, that you realize the brutality that took place.
    The temple built to house the remains was disturbing from the standpoint that they built this lovely temple only to house death and brutality. A vivid reminder to say the least.

    You can sit at picnic tables along side the river and almost forget what transpired here....almost.
    But believe me, the visit will stay with you for quite some time.

    Related to:
    • Archeology
    • Museum Visits
    • National/State Park

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    Coconuts

    by Melisin Updated Aug 25, 2012

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    There are small cafees serving cold drinks and Cambodian foods in almost every temple entrance in Angkor .. (See my before and after eating coconut photos in my cambodia pages:) Although the merchants are very very insisting to serve a drink for you, ne ma problem..

    it is always great experience to talk with Cambodian local people who are always helpful with a lot of things. and offcourse best opportunity to practise some Cambodian, Khmer language.

    it is absouletly great to enjoy some leisure between the temple visits under the sun..

    delicious coconuts
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    The Angkor Temples

    by Maria81 Written Dec 25, 2011

    My travels to Angkor:

    I have visited Angkor on a 4-day trip for my birthday, in October 2009. The amount of time I had was quite limited but I did manage to see the main sights. Still, a return is definitely being considered!

    Things to do in Angkor:

    The magnificent Angkor Wat - the showpiece of the area. Ta Prohm, left to the (now civilised) jungle with its 'Tomb Raider' associations. The Bayon with its multitide of faces said to represent the ancient Khmer kings. The Angkor Thom area. Other temples - the better known Preah Khan, East Mebon, Banteay Srei, Thomannon, Banteay Kdei and Pre Rup. The man-made lake of Sra Srang. And the lesser known temples - like Ta Som, Lolei, Chau Say Tevoda, and Neak Pean. Plan to watch at least a couple of the magnificent sunrises (unfortunately, very early!) and sunsets (thankfully, not too late!).

    Choice of Hotel:

    Le Medirien Angkor in Siem Reap

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    HIRE A "MOTO" FOR A CHEAP WAY TO GET ABOUT

    by DennyP Updated Dec 9, 2011

    CAMBODIA
    Well, the most inexpensive and practical way to get about on my budget when in Cambodia was the "Moto" Remorque. This is a Motor-Cycle that pulls a very colourful and well fitted out trailer. These trailers can hold usually four. I hired my "Moto" for three days as that was the amount of time that I wanted to spend exploring Angkor Wat. The price I negotiated for the three day hire included pick-up, all waiting times and return to my Hotel. This was I found to be an exceptionally good deal over the three days . The driver being local is also very knowledgeable and can advise you on most things that are important. He was very reliable and was where he said he would be always.
    Note:* The price you negotiate will depend on your bargaining skills and BEFORE you enter the vehicle to start your journey, MAKE SURE that you have agreed on a "complete price" for everything involved in your hire costs... Also , keeping in mind that these people don't make a lot of money, so don't be Too hard with your bargaining price.

    MY MANY MOTOS ANOTHER ROAD SIDE MORE ROADSIDE SNACKS   TARANTULAS SPIDERS.
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    Angkor Thom

    by petert51 Written May 17, 2011

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    Angkor Thom is a ruined citadel several kilometres north of Angkor Wat. Built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries Angkor Thom encloses a rectangular area of nine square kilometers and at its peak may have held a population of over 100,000, living in tiled or thatched houses. The complex was bounded by walls and a moat. Bridge with Naga balustrades lead to each of the gates of the city and each gate is crowned with 4 giant faces. While Angkor Wat is Hindu in inspiration, Angkor Thom is a three-dimensional representation of Buddhist cosmology.
    The Bayon Temple lies in the middle of Angkor Thom and is best known for the gigantic face sculptures that adorn its thirty-seven surviving towers. The structure is simply amazing. What at first appears to be a random pile of stone blocks actually consists of massive stones shaped into fluid sculptures, without apparent use of cement or mortar.
    The faces are thought to represent a Buddhist deity that projected benevolence outward to the four directions of the kingdom or are they the face of King Jayavarman VII who built most of what you see in the Angkor Archeological Park.

    Gate to Angkor Thom Bridge to Angkor Thom with Naga balustrades The Bayon at Angkor Thom Stone Faces @ The Bayon The many faces of Angkor Thom
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