Cambodia is a mysterious place, its history – like dappled sunlight falling through foliage onto an ancient stone temple – a mixture of darkness and light. Traverse the shining waters of Tonle Sap Lake, past tranquil villages and glowing rice fields, and it’s hard to reconcile the peaceful surroundings with the brutality of the Khmer Rouge.
Today, a sense of age-old calm has returned to this beautiful land. People farm rice, fish in Cambodia’s many lakes and rivers, and work to revive the country’s traditional arts and crafts.
This quiet, pastoral beauty is the backdrop for one of the most astonishing archaeological sites on earth. Built between the ninth and thirteenth centuries by Khmer kings who were considered living gods, the temples of Angkor were abandoned in the fifteenth century. Reclaimed by the jungle, Angkor was dismissed by outsiders as a myth.
In 1860 a French explorer named Henri Mahout stumbled upon the eerie ruins, sending forth reports of a “lost city” before he succumbed to a fever. Angkor has lost none of its mystery or magic. Climb through the carved stone passageways explored by Mahout and you’ll feel a sense of awe at the artistry and extravagance of this long-gone civilization.
Welcome to the mystical land of Laos, where soaring mountains, thick forests and the fertile Mekong River Valley are graced by a history devoted to man’s spiritual yearnings in the form of countless temples and ancient palaces
The capital Vientiane has a welcoming provincial town feeling and the World Heritage site of Luang Prabang, the seat of former kings, is a must-see highlight.