My Top 10 Favorite Places in Asia: #3 – Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap, in the northwestern corner of Cambodia, is the home of the ancient kingdom of Angkor, which dominated the region from the 9th to 13th century AD.

It combines two things I love – Asia and history – making it one of my favorite places anywhere.

This ancient Khmer kingdom has some interesting facts attached to it:

At its peak, it had an agricultural and aqueduct system which feed an incredible one million people.

The temple ruins of Angkor are spread out over a huge stretch of land, each temple outdoing the other in grandeur and scope until you come upon the most famous of them all – Angkor Wat.

This Khmer kingdom was Hindu in influence, not Buddhist. Hinduism was also one of its downfalls as more egalitarian religions came upon the scene supplanting it.

The ruins of Angkor had largely been forgotten to the world until a French explorer, Henri Mouhot, stumbbled upon it during an expedition in the 1860s. What a grand discovery it must have been – walking through the forsaken jungle to suddenly come across some of the most majestic ruins in the world.

A day touring the ruins (see pictures below) is completely exhilarating and awe-inspiring. I even found the modern day town of Siem Reap to be quite charming with wonderful cafes and restaurants and an easy relaxing atmosphere to kick back and enjoy.

It’s a place I want to return to. It’s a place I highly recommend to anyone on this side of the world. It truly is a must see. That’s why it is #3 on my Asia list.

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Let’s review the countdown:

10. Malacca, Malaysia

9. Chiang Mai, Thailand

8. Singapore

7. Hong Kong

6. southern Vietnam

5. Sabah, West Malaysia

4. Beijing, China

3. Siem Reap, Cambodia

2. ???

1. ???

My Top 10 Favorite Places in Asia: #6 – southern Vietnam

I have had the privilege of visiting four different parts of southern Vietnam (admittedly, all of them are quite a ways back): Quy Nhon, Nha Trang, Dalat, Ho Chi Minh City. When taken as a whole, southern Vietnam has quite the interesting scope, making it a wonderfully fun and exciting place to visit.

Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by its residents, is the largest city in Vietnam – the commercial hub which has the openness and vibrancy of any modern southeast Asian city. It’s a city on the move, driven by entrepreneurs and a pop-cultural movement that sets the pace for the growing and quickly modernizing nation. From Ho Chi Minh City, head west to Cu Chi and visit the former free-fire zone and the maze of tunnels used by the Viet Cong to wreck havoc on American bases in the region during the war years. Or you can head south into the Mekong River Delta and experience one of the planets most fertile and productive rice regions.

Da Lat is the quaint mountain-top town several hours drive out of HCM City. Dalat is known for its quaint French villas, a year-round wonderfully cool climate, and beautiful serene scenery.

If beaches are more your thing, head over to Nha Trang and enjoy the wonderful seafood and restaurants along the beautiful white sandy beach that stretches the length of the city. I spent 10 days in Nha Trang enjoying the surf and sand – one of my favorite family vacations I’ve ever been on.

If you want to explore further north, you can hit the other beach town of Quy Nhon, or head up into the wild mountainous regions and indulging in places like Ban Me Thuot to see the booming coffee plantations.

Southern Vietnam is full of exciting and memorable places to visit, easily notching an important slot in my top ten favorite places in Asia.

Review so far:

10. Malacca, Malaysia

9. Chiang Mai, Thailand

8. Singapore

7. Hong Kong

6. southern Vietnam

5. ?????