When we think about historical sites, famous icons like the Taj Mahal or the Pyramids of Giza might spring to mind. But there’s a South East Asian country closer to home with incredible historical sites that will transport you back to another time into the perfect setting for your history or culture trip.
You might have heard of the mysterious Angkor Wat. But, more likely, you’ll know this world wonder and UNESCO heritage site, by its famous exterior. It’s the largest religious monument in the world, dating back to the 12th century.
Cambodia, like its neighbours, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, is adored by tourists. But more so, for Cambodia, over the past decade. The devastating effects of the Khmer Rouge in the mid-late 70s indelibly changed the country. Today, this history is what draws millions of tourists per year – both to better understand this time, as well as see the mystical architecture, which has managed to survive that destructive period.
It’s hard to categorise a Cambodia school trip as just ‘history’ or ‘culture’. The country lost nearly two million people, which was relatively recent, from a historical standpoint. If you’re teaching history, a visit to Wat Thmey (otherwise known as Siem Reap’s Killing Fields), while haunting, is an important piece of understanding the country.
Offering this sight as an option to your students is an important idea. While certainly confronting, however, it can help them connect with what happened to develop empathy – one of the many emotional benefits of travelling as a teenager.
And then, there’s the mythological temples, Buddhist influences, and the centuries-old Khmer Kingdom.
Yes, the Angkor Wat is famous, but have you heard of the Banteay Srei? It’s a 10th-century temple (even older Wat – or temple – that Angkor), dedicated to the Hindu god, Shiva. It once belonged to the region’s medieval capitals of Yasodharapura and Angkor Thom.
Students can visit the floating village of Chong Khneas and marvel at the way these communities live. Organise a traditional wooden boat tour of the Tonle Sap Lake – a well-known wonder of Asia. Nestled between lines of mangroves, your students will see life like they never have before.
Learn more about the benefits of travelling to Cambodia with a specialist education provider. We know what New Zealand high schools (and young travellers) need.