Another of Asia’s legendary ancient kingdoms, Cambodia first rose to fame in the 12th century AD when the Khmer Empire began construction of a sprawling city that came to be called Angkor. Although Angkor Wat is its most renowned temple, the Angkor Archeological Park (400 square miles) embraces scores of other stone monuments — like the giant heads of Bayon and jungle-shrouded Ta Prohm.
Since tourism returned in the early 1990s, nearby Siem Reap has grown from a quiet fishing village on the shore of Tonle Sap lake to a funky tourism town with a wide array of restaurants, craft shops and boutique hotels.
Although many people now visit Angkor directly from Thailand, it’s worth stopping in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh. Perched on the Mekong River, the old royal capital and French colonial city offers lively markets, river cruises, moving genocide memorials and a wonderful National Museum. Cambodia is also a budding beach destination, especially Koh Rong and other islands in the Gulf of Thailand.