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Cambodia is an amazing place with its 1,000 year old temples kept in relatively good condition. Angkor Wat is the reason people go to Cambodia, but there are enough large ruins and temples keep anyone engaged for two full days. Be aware that for the most part, you are able to examine and climb up the steps to the tops of most of these gargantuan stone temples. Angkor Wat itself is the one temple where “touching” is no longer allowed. Damage has been done by millions of “touchy feely” tourists. Angkor Wat is said to be the largest religious temple in the world.

The photos below are not Angkor Wat, which should give you an idea of how many sites there are to see.

Cambodia1

Cambodia2

There are a thousand temples in Cambodia, of which 10% can be visited.  The rest are hidden deep in jungles and surrounded by land mines. (See - Safety)

GETTING THERE
Cambodia is a great side trip from Bangkok, and any hotel or good travel agent can get you hooked up with a 2-3 day tour. (Having done the three day tour, unless you are an archaeologist, I recommend a two day tour).

VISA: As with Thailand, Cambodian officials will give you an entrance visa upon arrival.

The Three Ways To See Cambodia:
A) By Yourself
If you have a tour guide you will immediately find strangers leaning in and straining to listen to what your guide is telling you. These leaners are people (with tour books in their hand) who thought they could save some money and see Cambodia on their own.  They quickly discover otherwise and spend every hour of the day trying to find a tour guide to listen to. You can certainly “do it alone” in Thailand. You can’t in Cambodia. Unless you are a backpacker who’s just there for the vibe, don’t kid yourself – do it with a tour.

Also – (See – Safety)

B) Group Tour
This will be cheaper than a private tour, but: 1) You’ll move at the rate of the slowest person in the group. 2) The person closest to the guide will always hear more than those in the back. 3) You’ll get stuck doing things you probably won’t want to do. “Next stop, the wood carving museum and gift shop!” Ugh!

C) Private Tour
By far the best way to go if funds allow. You can pay up to $1,000 per person including airfare,  four star hotel, driver and tour guide for a three day tour. The prices drop for fewer days and lower quality hotels. Hotels in Cambodia run from $5 a night to $1500 a night. Backpackers love the $10 rooms. Up to you how you want to price it.

Leaving early in the morning from Bangkok, the tour will start the minute you get through Cambodian customs. Your private tour guide will take you to the hotel just long enough to register and drop off your luggage, then it’s off to the temples.

THE FOOD
The local food (inexpensive) is just OK. The hotels will have Western style (expensive) food.
      
Safety

Make use of a guide! Everyone knows it’s easier getting on a roof than it is getting off of one. It’s amazing how many people will climb frighteningly steep angles to get up to the top room of a temple only to panic about how on earth they will ever get down! Those that have a guide will find there is usually one easy way - and four hard (and dangerous) ways down.

These temples usually have four sides with steps on each side leading to the top. Three sides may be in bad shape, but one side is in good shape. Coming down, it makes a BIG difference – especially if it’s raining. One side of the temple may have iron rails installed to get down. Only the professional guides know these things.

Falling off a ruin or tumbling down massive, irregular sized, steep stone steps of a temple will really bring the word ruin to your mind. Take it slow like everyone else.

Travel insurance is provided by most tours, but keep in mind that if anything should go wrong with you, it would be wise to get yourself to Bangkok for anything more than aspirin treatment. Cambodia has some of the worst medial facilities in the entire world and you would be wise to avoid treatment there.

Malaria (nighttime) and dengue fever (daytime), both carried by mosquitoes, can be a problem in Cambodia. See your doctor before visiting the region. Typically, one malarial pill a day (on a full stomach) will protect you if you get bitten, but your first defense should always be deet spray. Malaria pills are simply a back-up plan for poorly applied insect repellant. Don't let tropical mosquitoes bite you. Period.

This is the tropics - you’ll need to use sunscreen no matter how dark you think you are. Note that sunscreen ALWAYS goes on first, and is absorbed by the skin BEFORE applying any bug repellent. Deet is a poison – treat it as such.

Malaria can kill you. Dengue fever will ruin your trip. Deet is the lesser of the three evils, so use it.

LAND MINES
Be aware that there are land mines and tons of unexploded U.S. bombs that are waiting for careless farmers, playful children, and tourists with no tour guide. Stay on the roads and worn paths or suffer the consequences. If you have to stop for an emergency bathroom break on the side of the road, do not run off the road to squat behind a tree. The Khmer Rouge sprinkled the roadsides with land mines many years ago. The unexploded mines are still live.

Blazing a new trail of any kind in Cambodia is a foolish suicide mission.

The Khmer Rouge movement is now a thing of the past. Do not fear that regime, only the mines that they left behind.

Why Go??   
Cambodia offers a massive expanse of intricately carved stone temples showcasing what mere mortals could accomplish 1,000 years ago. It is nothing short of astonishing. And even more astonishing is that once abandoned, these mammoth stone temples were engulfed and torn apart by the jungle, as if the jungle itself was a huge parasite.  

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