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What is Cambodia like?
That’s a big question and there are two ways to look at it. What is Cambodia like for locals or what is Cambodia like for tourists? Let’s just address the issue from the perspective of a visitor.
Cambodia is in Southeast Asia and borders Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. It has a coast on the south and most of the land is covered with a jungle-like vegetation.
Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia and it’s a busy and dirty city. There aren’t too many skyscrapers and it’s certainly not as modern as nearby cities like Bangkok or Kuala Lumpur. It has a reputation as a slightly dangerous place and can be a bit confronting at first.
Outside of Phnom Penh, though, Cambodia is quite rural. A lot of people make their living from farming and live on quite a small income. It’s not unusual to see huts near fields or small wooden houses by the side of the street. The people are generally quite friendly and welcoming of foreign tourists.
Cambodia has a long history and at one point in time was an extremely powerful country. At its peak in the 10th and 11th centuries, it stretched across most of Southeast Asia – including what is today Thailand, Laos and southern Vietnam. A lot of ruins from this period still remain in Cambodia and much of the tourism revolves around these. The temples at Angkor are the most famous but there are lots of other ones as well. Some have been restored but others are still covered in jungle or are just skeletons of what they once were.
Cambodia is not particularly modern and so the infrastructure can be limited. There are some train services, for examples, but most people travel through the country on local buses that have varied levels of comfort. There is decent internet in most cities and large towns but it’s not always reliable. Accommodation can be basic (and cheap) in many places but the influx of tourists means there are also some good quality hotels in the most popular areas. If you’re travelling independently in the country, you need some patience to get around but it is never too uncomfortable or dangerous.
Overall, Cambodia is a very beautiful country where the lack of development means much of the land has been untouched and is a pleasure to explore. But the level of poverty means you can’t expect Western standards and it’s best to approach a visit with a degree of flexibility.
Other Cambodia FAQ:
- Is Cambodia a third world country?
- Why is Cambodia poor?
- Why is Cambodia called the Killing Fields?
- Is Cambodia safe for travellers?
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