Cambodia: Ancient, Vibrant and Fascinating

by isvolunteers on Tuesday, 24 May 2016

ISV’s Thailand Tour Manager, Jing Srimanas, discusses what’s in store this season on ISV’s Ancient Cambodia Excursion – a remarkable 6 day optional extra for participants traveling to Thailand.

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Discover the mystical temples of the World heritage listed Angkor Wat on ISV’s Ancient Cambodia Excursion. (c) ISV

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At its peak, Cambodia’s Angkor Kingdom stretched from the Mekong in Vietnam to the south of Myanmar. (c) ISV

Cambodia is one of the fastest growing tourist destinations in Southeast Asia, with the Siem Reap province in the north-west being a particular drawcard due to its idyllic environment and the magnificent Angkor Wat temple – the largest religious complex in the world measuring an amazing 162 hectares (1,626,000 sq meters)!

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The Angkor Empire reigned supreme for 400 years, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in Southeast Asia since. (c) ISV

At its peak, the Angkor Kingdom stretched from the Mekong in Vietnam to the south of what is now Myanmar. Sharing its borders with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, Cambodia’s history predates that of Thailand.

Group pic at Angkor

One of our adventurous excursion groups last season. (c) ISV

Over 1,200 years ago, the Angkor Empire reigned supreme for 400 years, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in Southeast Asia since! Grandiose cities were built under powerful ‘God-Kings’, wars were waged and land was claimed. Religions shifted from Buddhism to Hinduism to Shivaism. This mix of historical influences is unique in Southeast Asia, and the temple ruins that we see today as part of Angkor’s World Heritage site illustrate this enchanting past.

Today, Cambodia has roughly 15 million people that are ethnic Khmers (90% of the population). However unofficial stats show that up to 20% of the population is ethnic Vietnamese, Chinese, Cham Muslims, in addition to nomadic hill tribe minorities.  This blend of cultures gives Cambodia a distinctive and lively atmosphere.

When you walk through the streets at night, it often feels like old Indochina on one street, and modern Asia on the next. You can relax outside at a café built in the French colonial style and enjoy food that ranges from traditional Khmer fish amok, to Chinese dumplings or a Thai curry.

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“When you walk through the streets at night, it often feels like old Indochina on one street, and modern Asia on the next.” (c) ISV

Due to Siem Reap’s multiculturalism, there are also a range of religious influences including Buddhism, Hinduism, Animism, Islam and Christianity. These influences are best reflected in the many markets and shops around the city and surrounding villages that sell handicrafts in their respective styles. Local spices, such as black pepper and cumin, are considered to be of highest quality in the world.

ISV’s 6-day ISV Cambodia Excursion showcases this ‘Pearl of Southeast Asia’, offering a taste of the ancient kingdom, its enduring culture and modern village life. We have spaces available on our 21 July departure to Thailand, so email info@isvolunteers.org to sign up today!

Thidarat (Jing) Srimanas, Thailand Tour Manager

Click here to read more about Angkor and why it is considered one of the world’s most important archaeological sites.

Click here to read more information on Cambodia’s history from Tourism Cambodia.

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