Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is of major importance to Cambodia. The lake expands and shrinks dramatically with the seasons. From November to May, Cambodia’s dry season, the Tonl? Sap drains into the Mekong River at Phnom Penh. However, when the year’s heavy rains begin in June, the flow of the Tonl? Sap changes directions and an enormous lake forms. Tonl? Sap is home to many ethnic Vietnamese and numerous Cham communities, living in floating villages around the lake.
Banteay Srei Butterfly Centre
More than 30 species of Cambodian butterflies flutter around Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre in Siem Reap province, making it one of the largest fully enclosed butterfly centers in southeast Asia. Visitors can also learn, and see first-hand, the insects’ journey from egg to caterpillar, pupa, and finally, adult butterfly.
Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center
Nature lovers will be in their element at Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, where animals rescued from the clutches of poachers and illegal traders are nursed back to health by Wildlife Alliance. Animals include elephants, monkeys, tigers, and sun bears. A behind-the-scenes tour is also available. Looking for Best Siem Reap Accommodation?
Cambodia’s capital is the frenetic heartbeat of the nation; a city of chaotic streets abuzz with motorbikes and car horns that can frazzle at first glance. Deserted completely during the Khmer Rouge madness and left to wither and decay, Phnom Penh has bounced back to become one of Southeast Asia’s most dynamic cities. For visitors, this is Cambodia’s most cosmopolitan destination, with a caf? and restaurant scene unrivaled in the rest of the country. It’s also home to a scattering of important historic sites that help unravel both Cambodia’s modern and ancient history. The National Museum is home to a swag of Khmer sculpture that traces the nation’s history from the pre-Angkorian age right through to the phenomenal majesty of the god-Kings of Angkor. The Royal Palace provides gorgeous examples of traditional artistry, while Tuol Sleng Museum and the killing fields of Choeung Ek speak of the horror and brutality the people of this country suffered under Khmer Rouge rule.
Tonle Sap is Cambodia’s most important waterway and Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake. As well as being an important source of food and a vital tool for Cambodian irrigation, the lake itself is home to 170 floating villages that depend on fishing for their livelihood, with homes built directly on the water. The houses, shops, churches, schools, and temples of these villages are built on rustic buoy foundations of lashed together barrels and bamboo, and all transport is by boat. They’re a fascinating place to spend a day exploring. One of the most interesting is the sprawling village of Kompong Luong, near the town of Pursat on Tonle Sap’s western shore, although the most popular village to visit is Chong Kneas near Siem Reap.
For a touch of Indiana Jones-style temple exploring, you can’t beat Banteay Chhmar. This mammoth temple complex sits consumed by surrounding jungle in Cambodia’s lonely northwest, providing the perfect opportunity to discover the highlights without the crowds. It was built by the 12th-century Angkorian king Jayavarman VII, and the remarkable stone reliefs along its walls are some of the most intricately detailed you’ll see in the country. In particular, the spectacular bas reliefs depicting Avalokitesvara on the south wall and the dizzying array of battle scenes depicted on the eastern walls are prime examples of the Angkorian era’s artistry.