Relatively a smaller Asian country, Cambodia has a rich culture. The country is filled with Buddhist temples, natural beauties, unique architecture, and historic buildings. Recently, the people of Cambodia started to call the country the Kingdom of Wonder to attract tourists from all over the world. Here are the 5 places that make Cambodia truly the Kingdom of Wonder.
Cambodia was originally the Khmer Empire from the 9th century to the 15th century. In the beginning, the city of Koh Ker was the capital of the whole empire. Surely, Koh Ker was one of the most important cities of the Khmer. In its prime, the city had 180 sanctuaries, 40 temples, various pyramids, and shrines symbolizing the power of the Empire.
In the 10th century, the Khmer moved the capital but Koh Ker did not lose its popularity. The city continued to be a busy center until the fall of the Khmer. Today, the city hides under heavy forests in Preah Vihear province. Arguably, the most noteworthy attraction at the site is the Koh Ker Temple. Koh Ker is one of the places that make Cambodia the Kingdom of Wonder, for sure.
Today, Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy just like the United Kingdom. While the people vote for the government, there are royal members at the head of the state. The royal family of Cambodia lives in the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh which is the capital. The construction of the palace began in 1866 and lasted for 4 years. Since then, the Cambodian royalty has resided in the palace.
The Royal Palace consists of various buildings and compounds. The Throne Hall, Moonlight Pavillion, Napoleon Pavillion, Silver Pagoda, and the Royal Gardens are some of the impressive places inside the palace. Throughout the years, different royal members added or reconstructed parts of the palace. Today, the Royal Palace is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Cambodia.
One of the most important Buddhist temples in the world, Bayon Temple is the jewel crown of Cambodia. The Bayon is in the heart of the former Khmer capital Angkor Thom. The name of the temple actually has a funny story. Since the temple was to honor Buddha, the Khmer wanted to call it the Banyan Temple because Buddha reached enlightenment under a banyan tree.
However, the workers at the site mispronounced the name as Bayon which stuck. What makes the Bayon stand out is the faces at its peak. The Khmer sculptors carved in 4 smiling faces of Buddha looking at different directions. It is highly possible that the sculptors took inspiration from the face of the Khmer king at the time, Jayavarman VII.
Koh Rong Island
If the beautiful Koh Rong Island isn’t enough to make Cambodia the Kingdom of Wonder, nothing probably is. The second largest island of Cambodia, the biggest one in the Gulf of Thailand, Koh Rong is out of this world. The famous French explorer Henri Mouhot stumbled upon the island during a trip and wrote that the island’s beauty was enough to compensate for the travel’s miseries.
Today, the island is a huge tourist attraction. Koh Rong offers many hotels, restaurants, and most notably 23 beaches which are all white sand. Nearly half of the 60-kilometer coastline is a white-sand beach. The island’s name means cave, tunnel, or shelter in the Khmer language. Even its name suggests that Koh Rong is a shelter from the world’s troubles and problems.
A highly important cultural and historical site both for Buddhists and Cambodians, Phnom Yat is in Pailin City and on top of a hill. The hill is 60 meters tall and 700 meters long. The most striking part of the hill site is the Phnom Temple which the Burmese migrants built. The temple is covered with highly graphic murals which is common in temples of Cambodia.
The temple has an interesting story, to say the least. According to the legend, an old lady called Penh lived near the river. One day Penh went to the river to fish but soon found a Koki tree floating by in the water. When villagers pulled the tree, they realized that the tree had a hole in it with 4 Buddha statues and 1 Vishnu statue. Afterward, Penh built the temple and place the statues there out of respect.