Angkor Wat is a temple complex near the city of Siem Reap in central Cambodia. The temples were constructed between the 9th and 12th centuries as a holy capital for the kings of Cambodia. Most of the temples are surrounded by moats and contain artificial lakes. Vegetation has grown up around and through the complex, surrounding some of the temples with huge tree roots, which only adds to its mystical appearance. Numerous companies in Siem Reap offer tours of the complex, or travelers can explore it on their own. Daily and weekly passes are available.
Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda
The Royal Palace of the Khmer kings is in downtown Phnom Penh and is still the home of the country’s king and his family. Parts of the palace are open to the public for tours, including the throne hall where kings are crowned. The palace is built in a traditional Khmer style, and is heavily decorated with gold, brocades and other luxury materials. Nearby, the Silver Pagoda is the king’s Buddhist temple, and contains a statue of the Buddha made of gold and covered in diamonds, as well as another statue of Buddha entirely in crystal. The temple floors are of silver, hence its name.
Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
In the mid-1970s a military regime called the Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, took over Cambodia, instituting a reign of terror and genocide that eventually killed nearly 2 million people. Tuol Sleng (tuolslengmuseum.com) was a high school that the Khmer Rouge turned into a secret prison where thousands of Cambodians were tortured and killed. Today Tuol Sleng is a museum and memorial dedicated to the victims of the Khmer Rouge. It has exhibits about the prison, including thousands of photographs of inmates, year-round.
Bokor National Park
Bokor National Park is in the southern part of Cambodia and was originally founded as a French colony during the early to mid-20th century. The park has numerous protected eco systems and features a wide variety of endangered species indigenous to Southeast Asia. Most of the French buildings are still standing on site, although they have all been abandoned for decades. The large hotel and casino (also known as the Bokor Palace) at the top of Bokor Hill is a popular tourist destination, not only to explore the ruins of the hotel, but also for the views of the park and the coastline.