What is the main reason you should visit Cambodia before you die? To go see Angkor Wat, of course.
The world’s largest religious monument that was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the 12th century for the Hindu god Vishnu. And that stretches over 1.6 km.
Because let me tell you: I went to Cambodia with no expectations. But I left Cambodia feeling grateful for experiencing something so magical.
Just arriving at the site and viewing the temple from a distance alone will make your jaw drop.
But once you get inside and see the structure and thousands of storytelling bass-relief scriptures up close, you really start to feel like you’re viewing something that’s from out of this world.
What also greatly added to my experience was having a friendly Khmer guide; the guy in the picture below.
He had a ton of knowledge about the history of the temple because he used to be a buddhist monk.
And he could even read some of the ancient scriptures.
But what really stuck with me was the moment he explained how Angkor Wat was constructed.
I learned that five million tons of sandstone were used to construct the building. Each block of stone weighed up to 3300 pounds.
And each stone had to be transported from the holy mountain of Phnom Kulen, which was over 31 miles away.
But that’s not all.
It is estimated that a mind-boggling 300,000 labourers and 6,000(!) elephants were used to construct the building. No advanced machinery was used. And it took over 35 years to complete.
I started imagining what that must have looked like: being there at the site, seeing thousands of elephants and people work together to transport these massive 3300 pound rocks.
And slowly constructing the biggest religious structure the world has ever seen.
It must have been a site to behold, to say the very least.
And it’s no wonder why, in 1840, French explorer Henri Mouhot wrote that Angkor Wat was grander than anything Greece or Rome left behind.
It honestly makes me kind of sad that so many people (who have the opportunity to travel) will never witness Angkor Wat.
Because I know that the majority of people that go to South-East Asia will stick to (touristic) places like Thailand and Bali. And overlook Cambodia.
Let me tell you: Even though I’ve probably travelled to more than 20 countries by now, I’ve been to places like Venice, Barcelona and Istanbul, and I’ve lived in Thailand for over 4 months now…
…Cambodia was easily one of the highlights of all my travels.
My advice to you: Go to Cambodia. You will fall in love with the people, the country’s rich history, and everything else Cambodia has to offer.
Spending your money there also feels good. Because the country ranks high on the list of poorest countries.
And it’s heavily reliant on tourism; around 25% of the economy relies on travel and tourism.
This is why the Cambodian economy took such a big hit after covid (as you can read here: https://www.dw.com/en/coronavirus-wreaks-havoc-on-cambodias-tourism-industry/a-53649498).
So, put Angkor Wat on your must-see list before you die. You won’t regret it.