Happy New Year, Cambodia-Style

Choul Chnam, the Khmer New Year, celebrates the beginning of the Buddhist religion. For three days in mid-April, thousands of Cambodians head for the Angkor temples to celebrate, picnic, and sight-see. Learn more about the holiday and how it’s celebrated.

Chaul Chnam Thmey: Happy New Year in Cambodia

In many places around the world, December is a month filled with holiday celebration. In Cambodia, a predominantly Buddhist nation, the New Year is celebrated in April (right in the middle of the hot season) and is the most important spiritual and social event of the year. Author Tom Vater discusses how the holiday is celebrated.

Why do you think Angkor Wat should be on someone’s “bucket” list?

The ruins of Angkor Wat are surely amongst the most breathtaking buildings ever erected. From here, a thousand years ago, one of the world’s great empires ruled large portions of Southeast Asia, fought wars, and built temples—hundreds of temples, some of them so large it took 80,000 people to keep just one in running order. Eventually abandoned by the vagaries of history, the temple ruins have been back on the tourist map for the past decade. Despite the crowds the temples now attract, Angkor remains a show-stopping experience. Surrounded by jungle, the ancient Khmer monuments—exquisite and bombastic in turn—are magnificent architectural marvels rivaling any old structure in Europe. However, it is the interplay between nature and stone that gives Angkor its “Lost City” ambience, its sublime beauty. Visit in the rainy season and you will have corners of some of the ruins all to yourself.

—Tom Vater

Encountering the Khmer Smile in Angkor Wat

Tom Vater believes a “trip of a lifetime” need not be a trip to the end of the world, but it does perhaps need to be a trip that will linger in the memory long after one has returned home. For him, the very first time he visited Angkor Wat was such a trip, and he shares the moment that made him fall in love with Cambodia.

Cambodia’s Top 10 Temples

Cambodia’s most famous temple, Angkor Wat, now attracts up to 6,000 visitors per day. Others, almost as spectacular but more remote, attract but a handful of visitors. Whether you’re looking for a secluded spot or something more well-known, these 10 buildings will not disappoint.

The Temples of Angkor: Spending One to Three Days in Angkor Wat

The main temples of Angkor can be seen in a day, but that hardly does justice to this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Three days in Angkor gives you enough time to soak up the main structures at leisure and get a good impression of the former might of the Khmer culture.

Moon Angkor Wat

A group of young monks, their robes a luminous orange, cross the causeway. A stone’s throw away, rice paddies and golden temple roofs of Angkor shimmer in the morning sun. Monkeys swing from the trees and elephants stand in the shade nearby, waiting for passengers. This is the trip of a lifetime. It will leave […]

Moon Trips of a Lifetime

Moon Trips of a Lifetime is a sampler of four dream vacation destinations. Excerpted from Moon’s Handbooks series, this inspirational ebook offers information on vacation spots that include Angkor Wat, Cusco and Machu Picchu, the Galápagos Islands, and the Taj Mahal. Rather than providing in-depth coverage on just one location, this is a fun-to-browse guide […]