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#72 Cambodia – Phnom Penh & Kampong Thom

The 20th Century wasn’t kind to many South East Asian countries. But for many, Cambodia suffered more than most, a whole generation of its elite and educated exterminated by the Khmer Rouge. So whereas its neighbors have found ways to thrive despite political turmoil and war, the resurrection of Cambodia seems to lag.

The Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh, is often overlooked by visitors to the region, who prefer to head straight to Siem Reap, home to the astounding temples of Angkor Wat and Ta Phrom. Those who prefer the region’s cities meanwhile, head instead for Bangkok, Saigon, Hanoi, or increasingly, Yangon. But with a gem of a Royal Palace, and a laid-back vibe that the cacophony of modern world has drowned out in the capitals of Thailand and Vietnam, Phnom Penh is increasingly being recognized as a more authentic contemporary experience of the region.

Kampong Thom is geographically the heart of the country, a vast region of rural fields and small communities that are slowly forming into larger towns, especially on the Stung Sen River.

In its jungles though, lay ancient temples that pre-date the more famous ones further north, such that most of those here can be found standing alone in total peace and quiet, abandoned for over a century.