Appreciating the High Points of Khmer Culture
Historically, Cambodia has been on a roller coaster ride. Highs and lows include being the dominant force in the region in the era of the Khmer Empire, controlling most of mainland South East Asia around 1,000 years ago, French colonization, the infamous Khmer Rouge and genocide, and the formative steps to healing and recovery today.
Although Cambodia only formally came into being as a country on November 9th 1953, it existed long before under different guises. The official name is ‘The Kingdom of Cambodia’, in Khmer pronounced as Preăh Réachéanachâk Kâmpŭchéa, often shortened to just Kampuchea. Kampuchea derives from the Sanskrit word Kambuja or ‘Golden Land’or ‘Land of Peace and Prosperity’. More often Cambodians refer to their home country as Srok Khmer, meaning ‘Khmer’s Land’. Cambodia shares borders with Laos, Vietnam and Thailand making it a central part of the region.
The best way to experience Cambodia’s diverse history is to visit. Here we introduce two historically intriguing places that make historical high points come alive.
Sambor Prei Kuk – Kampong Thom
At Sambor Prei Kuk travelers can witness amazing examples of pre-Angkorian temples. These temples date back to the period when the country had more Indian influences. Founded by Jayavarman I, the Chenla Kingdom was the start. Guests can visit Sambor Prei Kuk travelling between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, or vice versa.
Angkor Wat – Siem Reap
Growing out of the remnants of the Chenla Kingdom came the Khmer Empire, founded by Jayavarman II in the 7th century AD. He and his followers instituted the cult of the God King and began a series of conquests that formed an empire that flourished in the area from the 9th to the 15th centuries. The God King belief existed up to King Sihanouk’s death in 2012. Angkor Wat was the capital of this empire, reaching into much of modern day Thailand, Vietnam, Laos and even some parts of Myanmar. The most famous of Cambodia’s temples – Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Beng Melea – were all constructed in this period where Cambodia was the largest and most influential empire in the region. The temples in the Angkor area serve as amazing examples of Khmer artistry and architectural skill.
For other examples of historically influential sights in Cambodia, more information, and bookings, please contact [email protected].