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Ok, I haven’t quit my job at KATU, but after reading this post, you’ll see that the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism should be paying me!

We did enjoy Thailand. Aidan, especially, loved the island of Koh Samui. However, if you have the opportunity to visit one place in Southeast Asia, make it Cambodia! Everything that we did in Thailand, we could have done in Cambodia as well. I’m told that Cambodia has lovely beach resorts on the Gulf of Thailand; Cambodia has elephants and ziplines – plus so much more. And honestly, you can’t beat the value and level of service.

So to convince you of the country’s merits, I’ve compiled Shellie’s Top 5 Reasons to Visit Cambodia:

5) Cambodians want you here! These people have been to hell and back. They’re ready to recover – physically, financially, emotionally – but they need help. By offering an unbeatable value, Cambodians hope to attract more tourists and add more, better-paying jobs.

4) From the great feats of the ancient Khmer civilization to the unthinkable acts of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia’s history is worth exploring.

3) You have an opportunity to work with plenty of socially-responsible travel companies and businesses in Cambodia, making a difference in people’s lives – Beyond Unique Escapes (village tours), Angkor Artisans (training and employment in arts and crafts), and Haven Restaurant (training and employment) to name a few.

2) Cambodians are genuinely friendly and eager to share themselves as well as their culture with you. In Siem Reap, we were on a first name basis with the hotel staff; nearly all of them grew up in poor rural villages and were now supporting their families back home.

1) Cambodians make the best croissants that I’ve ever tasted, equal to those I’ve eaten in Paris… and a whole lot cheaper.

Travel Tip 45: Avoid mega hotels in Siem Reap.

Avoiding big hotels, including chains, has been our rule on this trip. This advice is especially true in Siem Reap. The huge hotels are frequented by tour groups. Stick to the boutique hotels. While boutique usually translates to “expensive” in the United States, that’s not the case in Cambodia. We found these hotels to be extremely reasonable with an exceptional level of service.

Travel Tip 46: Go to Cambodia during the rainy season.

It may seem like an odd suggestion to travel to Cambodia during monsoon season, but you’ll thank us after you step outside. It’s hot and humid here, similar to Florida during the summer. But in the dry season, our guides tell us that it’s even worse. Plan to be active in the early morning (temple tours, village visits). By noon, you’ll want to be sitting poolside with an umbrella drink – wonderfully cheap in Cambodia. The rain comes in the later afternoon and evening.