Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

Cambodia : A country that deserves to be visited

A trip that changed my life forever and a country that gave me a new perspective to successful living – Cambodia, in many ways defines extreme suffering and ultimate triumphs of an entire human population. A country that until recently was on the brink of total destruction, now has significant stories to tell, beautiful sights and sounds to share. Many would argue that the influx of huge numbers of tourists every year is a major cause behind some of the grave social issues within the country. While that is true to a certain extent, Cambodia is one country I personally believe that actually deserves and needs more tourists. When I say tourists, I mean ethical and responsible travelers. Here are four reasons why.

A couple of these four reasons might not be the usual “oh it’s a fairy-tale/paradise” ones, but are definitely worth exploring for pure humanitarian reasons.

Marvel and learn at the majestic Angkor Wat

Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm Ruins of Angkor

Touted as one of the most visited destinations in the world, the ruins of this ancient city is hugely popular owing to the magnanimous Angkor Wat and the mythical ruins of Ta Prohm temples. A paradise for architecture and history buffs, this huge ancient city complex is spread across the jungles in the outskirts of Siem Reap. Each and every stone of its structures signify the importance of these monuments to Cambodian society that relates back from the ancient bygone era of the Cambodian kingdom to the more recent turmoil of the Khmer Rouge. Mesmerizing at dawn and dusk, with the sheer audacity of the huge structures to its minutest intricate details, this place commands the awe and admiration like the Pyramids of Giza or Machu Picchu.

Soak in the beautiful landscapes

Otres Beach in Sihanoukville

Amid the most revered attraction of Angkor Wat the amazingly beautiful landscape of Cambodia stays very much underrated till today. Once I ventured out of Siem Reap I was greeted with the lush green countryside with a backdrop of the cloud-covered mountain ranges. Not until recently, the beach town of Sihanoukville (although it has a seedy vibe after sundown), the beautiful island of Koh Rong and the sleepy riverside settlement of Kampot were being visited by travelers. Jungles, mountains, islands, rivers and beaches – Cambodia has it all. Truly, one just needs to look beyond Angkor Wat to experience the rustic and laid-back atmosphere this country has in store.

Support the campaign against child prostitution

Child prostitution is the major issue in Cambodia right now

Cambodia is still very much an underdeveloped country with a majority of the silent population suffering from the aftermath of a devastating civil war. Poverty in this country stares at you in one of the ugliest forms – child prostitution. Children as young as 5-6 years are being traded as commodities and pushed into the sex trade and yes, the rise in tourism has a lot to do with it. That is where the need for ethical tourism and responsible travel comes in. There are organizations like Childsafe Cambodia that have various initiatives towards safeguarding the present and future of vulnerable children. An influx of more responsible travelers who are willing to learn, understand and help the situation of these kids, can go a long way in giving the wonderful Cambodian society the helping had they need and deserve.

The Scars of Khmer Rouge

Khmer Rouge
Khmer Rouge regime claimed more than 3 million lives

A bloody, destructive regime that took almost 3 million Cambodian lives through mass executions, famine and disease, yet it remains among one of the least talked about civil wars. Considering it was not so long ago for human memory, every Cambodian above the age of 40 has lived through those times. The disastrous affect it had on this country are still evident from almost every facet of the Cambodian society. The faces and eyes of these people tell a million stories – one of which I heard from a survivor – which need to be heard. More and more travelers who visit the “Killing Fields” at Phnom Penh now get a brief knowledge on the Khmer Rouge and its atrocities. Like many other travelers, I became aware of this reality only after I visited Cambodia and that made me realize the need for people all over the world to learn and know about the difficult past.

There are some journeys that stay with us for a very long time. Some destinations have such an impact on our psyche that completely changes the way we look at the world. Cambodia has been THAT place for me. The six days of my stay in Cambodia were influential enough to change the course of my own notion of life. It is an absolutely beautiful country with a lot to offer. The iconic structures of Angkor, the beautiful beaches, rivers and mountains are a testimony to that. However, for a nation that is still trying to stand on its feet, the stoic resilience of its people with hope in their hearts is what makes this place so endearing.

Cambodia Pin

P.S. Here my every mention of being a traveler is meant to be for ethical and responsible travel only.


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  1. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    Child prostitution is an ugly and awful problem prominent in so many countries it’s shocking. I must say though, I know a LOT of people who’ve traveled to Cambodia so I’m not sure it’s un-dertouristed-but perhaps there needs to be a movement within the tourism industry there, to market the other areas of Cambodia and not just the top highlighted most visited UNESCO site spots?

    I def plan to visit there in the next 5 years-Cambodia and Laos and Vietnam have been on the top of my Asia list since i was a teenager… and when I visit, I’ll attempt to go beyond the top sites, stay with locals and see more of the country 🙂

    you are lucky to get to see so much of this lovely country!

  2. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    I’ve wanted to go to Angkor Wat ever since a student of mine went over a vacation and brought back pictures. It’s so sad to hear about the child prostitution. I would very much like to do something to help.

  3. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    Tamshuk, I never knew this about Cambodia. In my perception it has always been a beautiful country with exotica landscapes and beautiful sights.
    I am so sorry that it is one of the countries that had to go though a bloody regime. And it is also very painful to know about child prostitution.

  4. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists
    Vyjay RaoAuthor

    Cambodia is such a lovely place and has so much history, heritage and culture to offer that it is a must on any travelers itinerary. For me the Angkor Wat is enough to take me there.

  5. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    Very nice post – agree with you – it’s an amazing country – last week they discovered that there is a much bigger city hidden underneath Preah Khan temple .It’s fascinating to think of how life was back then

  6. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    I totally agree. I don’t understand why sometimes Cambodia is underestimated and why a lot of people actually believe that there is nothing else to see besides Angkor Wat. It is a very beautiful country, with a painful history and its people deserve better. Very good list!

  7. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    I have been seeing more and more pictures of Angkor Wat. I am actually surprised that Cambodia is not a more popular destination. You selected four great reasons for everyone to add Cambodia to their list.

    I didn’t know anything about The Scars of Khmer Rouge but it is stories like the one you described that really breaks my heart.

  8. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    I planned a trip to Cambodia recently, but unfortunately the plans fell through as the I didn’t have enough time to visit. I really wished I’d been able to, and I still hope one day to visit there – so thanks for this lovely post!

  9. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    I visited Cambodia a while back but only got to see Siem Reap and S’ville. I never went to Koh Rong but really want to return, and would love to see the river region too (Kampot?)

  10. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    Repinned! Cambodia is high up on my travel list! Beautiful photos and I love that you included support options for child prostitution and slavery!

  11. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    One of the most beautiful posts that I have read on Cambodia or Kampuchea. One of the countries that I want to visit and savour the heritage of Angkor. Do you plan to travel to India?

  12. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    Quite interestingly, this is only place in Southeast Asia that I have never been to yet. I will visit this country especially after reading this article on a newly discovered medieval city underneath the Cambodian jungle. Have encountered dangerous cases of scamming, there, Tamz?

    • Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

      I haven’t faced any scams in Cambodia myself. But there are definitely some that exist out there. Especially the Orphanage tours, they are a big scam besides being very exploitative in nature

  13. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    Totally agree! This is also one of the places I would like to explore here in Asia, and I guess wouldn’t mind to spend a little to at least help to boost its economy, specially the locals.

  14. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    I 100000% agree with this post. Cambodia is a beautiful country filled with genuine people. Unlike many other places, I felt that Cambodians appreciated tourists and the business that comes with it. Glad to see writers speaking up about the problem with child prostitution as well.

  15. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists
    Nick KembelAuthor

    I visited in 2002 when the Khmer Rouge had only recently been totally eradicated. And I totally shared your feeling! What an amazing country. I was amazed at how friendly the locals were, despite all that they had been through, so I would add that as a point on your list. I’ve been back twice since then, and I still want to go again. Thanks for sharing!

  16. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    Cambodia is wonderful, but what a tragedy that is going on with these litlle children. I cannot imagine it. I am so glad Childsafe Cambodia exists.

  17. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists
    Rashmi & ChalukyaAuthor

    Cambodia definitely looks like a must visit place atleast for the Angkor Wat. And your post has given more wonderful reasons. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Four reasons why Cambodia deserves more tourists

    I agree, Cambodia is a magical place! Such wonderful, beautiful people and incredible temples and art as well. A must see for the avid traveller!

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