Do you know?
The Kingdom of Cambodia (formerly known as the Khmer Empire) is a country located on the Indochina of Southeast Asia region. This place is considered as a sleeping gem awaiting the discoverers to admire.
Many people came to know Cambodia via the infamous wars and the Khmer Rouge. But Cambodia is gradually changing and becoming a major tourist destination on the Asian tourist map. In addition to exploring the Khmer Rouge genocide ruins, tourists will be overwhelmed by the local Khmer culture through its distinctive architecture as well as the friendliness of its people. Most prominent is the archaeological heritage of Angkor which has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
The Cambodian people are very friendly and hospitable. This is also because the state religion is Buddhism, so people here always treat visitors as if they were Cambodian. Cambodia is also home to beautiful scenery. Your Cambodia adventure is sure to be a must for exploring the mysterious jungle, pristine beaches, and uninhabited islands.
Rarely anywhere in the world can blend the darkness of wars, the timeless beauty of nature and local culture to deliver such an inspiring experience. This Cambodia Travel’s Guide will lead you to explore the best of this incredible country.
Location & Population
Cambodia is located on the Indochinese peninsula of Southeast Asia with an area of 181035 km2. Cambodia is connected to the Gulf of Thailand in the south while it neighbors Thailand on the western and northwest borders. The eastern part of this kingdom meets Vietnam while sharing the same edge with Laos in the northeast. The capital of this beautiful country lies in Phnom Penh. This is also the place where royal Cambodians live.
Like most Southeast Asian nations, Cambodia is a coastal country. Cambodia has 443km of coastline with many islands of different size. Thus, this gives Cambodia an advantage to develop marine tourism.
The Kingdom of Cambodia is the fastest growing country in the Indochinese Peninsula regarding population. This ratio is 1.6% in 2016 with a total population of 15.76 million, more than in Laos (1.4%) and Vietnam (1.1%). Most of the people here are Khmer, and they are mainly Buddhist.
The Environment & Climate
Most of Cambodia is made up of the Tonle Sap basin and the Mekong Delta. One characteristic of Cambodian terrain is that the country has a dense river system (12% of total area). The Mekong and the Tonle Sap are two rivers that are important in indigenous culture as well as in the regulation of climate here.
Cambodia is a country with two distinct seasons that are influenced by the tropical and monsoon climate. The dry season lasts from December until the next April. The rainy season, which occurs between May and November, brings significant rainfall to the whole country. It is noteworthy that the humidity in Cambodia is always high. At night, humidity is usually maintained at 90% or higher. However, during the dry season, humidity can be reduced to 50% during the day and stays at 60% in the rainy season.
Average temperatures in Cambodia range from 21 to 35 Celsius degrees throughout the year. However, in the summer there will be some heat waves, especially in March and April.
Language & Currency
The official language of the Cambodian kingdom is Khmer. Khmer is a South Asian language and is influenced by Sanskrit and Pali language. Also, Cambodian people use English in some large cities such as Phnom Penh as a second language. When traveling to this country, you need to prepare some essential communication to easily communicate with the local people. Alternatively, you can purchase the Cambodia Private Tour with our friendly Cambodian guides.
In Cambodia, two currencies are recognized as official currencies: Cambodia Riel and U.S Dollars. Banks and ATMs in Cambodia distribute both currencies simultaneously. What is surprising here is that the Cambodian Riel is only used to pay for small transactions such as dining or paying Tuk Tuk. In contrast, Cambodians prefer using dollars. Also, Cambodians do not like to use the $2 bill because it is believed that this note shall bring bad luck to its owner.
Cambodian tourism not only attracts visitors by its outstanding scenes but also because of its rich cuisine. The dishes here are boldly traditionally inherited from the cuisine of the Khmer Empire before the 15th century.
For Cambodians, spices are an essential factor in making a good meal. Spices used in dishes are often made with a variety of ingredients to bring a unique flavor. There is a mixture of spices called Kroeung that put Cambodian dishes to a whole new level.
Rice is the main ingredient in every meal of the Cambodians. Several favorite Cambodian foods often include this ingredient. At mealtime, Cambodians usually eat one soup and three main dishes.
Visitors may be surprised during their Cambodia tours when they find out that Cambodian love to consume insects. Scorpion or grilled spider is one of the dishes that you can try during your Cambodia adventure.
The transportation system in Cambodia is not as modern as compared to its neighbors. The aviation system is not yet widespread and mainly serves the needs of tourism. You can fly to some big cities like Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville with minimal carrier options. International flights to Cambodia are limited as well and expensive.
The railway in Cambodia is equally poor. The recently reconstructed rail line only serves passengers in Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and Battambang. Notably, by 2018, the Cambodian government has resumed railroads from Thailand to Thailand after 45 years of abolition.
Most of the urban transport in Cambodia are carts, motorcycles and small buses. Motorbikes are the best means to explore the tourist destinations in the city. Also, you can use Tuk Tuk if you are traveling with more than two people.
Most tourists arriving in Cambodia are required to have a Visa with the exception of citizens from the following 9 countries: Brunei, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Seychelles, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Travelers can obtain a visa on arrival at all Cambodia international airports as well as Cambodia’s land borders. The standard cost for tourist Visa is 30 USD/person. Note that the cost of issuing a visa may vary in some countries.
For more accurate information and understanding of Cambodian tourist visa procedures, contact our tour agency. Also, the Cambodian government also allows visitors to apply for an eVisa before their arrival. Traveler can apply for eVisa here.
Once been called the “Pearl of Asia” in the early 20th century, Phnom Penh is the bustling capital city in Cambodia. Rare places in Asia still retain the charm of both the ancient and the early modern era as here.
Here the Penh, not only does modernity exude via skyscrapers rising day by day, but it also contains the most Asian things. Next to the French colonial buildings are the Khmer architecture that reflects a strong cultural tradition.
Cambodians pay their highest respect to the King as well as to Buddhism. This has made the royal palaces, as well as temples in Phnom Penh, become an essential part of the lives of the people here. Try visiting Wat Langka, the National Museum of Cambodia or Ta Prohm Temple to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the spiritual life of the locals.
Contrary to its natural tranquility, Phnom Penh reflects a harsh period of Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge’s remaining. Destinations like S21 Prison, the Killing Fields will make you think of something called “Dark Tourism.”
On the banks of Tonlé Sap lake, Siem Reap is a province of Cambodia, 314 km up north from Phnom Penh. The city of Siem Reap is once known as the capital of the Angkor Empire and is the epitome of the brilliant Angkor culture.
The city witnessed a groundbreaking change when UNESCO recognized the Angkor Archaeological Society as the World Heritage Site in 1992. Soon after, many 5 star hotels, as well as service facilities, kept growing like mushrooms after the summer rain. As of now, Siem Reap has become the most vibrant city in Cambodia with buzzing nightlife streets, outdoor activities and amazing cuisines.
People keep praising this land as a gateway to the past. The architectural works of Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm, and Prasat Krayan Temples are the most obvious examples of the most brilliant civilization in Southeast Asia.
Situated on the banks of the Sangker River and to the southwest of the Tonle Sap, Battambang has not been much affected by the urbanization, nor has it been tourism exploited too much.
For those who want to learn about the Cambodian life, Battambang is a good community to start that journey. When you start wandering the area around Battambang, you will not be able to find the shadow of tall buildings. Instead, the natural landscape quickly gobbled up your mind. Perhaps standing outside the flow of development has created an untouched charm of Battambang. The hustle and bustle does not exist in this gentle city.
Walking around the city, several French colonial houses and a lot of “Wats” will make you feel like living in the 90s again. However, the special thing in Battambang is the rural area where visitors can experience the most authentic local life. A quick trip to the picturesque suburbs would fresh up your mind.
Exploring the Angkor
Honored by UNESCO as the World Heritage Site (1992), Angkor Wat was the representative of Southeast Asian civilization at the time. There are many options with flexible prices for you to visit this relic such as walking, cycling and even hiring a private helicopter.
The Angkor complex is a collection representing the entire Khmer art from the 9th to 15th centuries with masterpieces of architecture and sculpture. Every step inside these ancient temples will lead you to sacred rituals as well as the cultural activities of the ancient Khmer. It would be a mistake if you did not explore ancient temples like Ta Prohm. The temple was built by King Jayavarman VII dedicated to his mother. This religious site is nothing more than ruins, but it has powerful vitality. Visitors will enjoy seeing the century-old trees as Knia covering all over the roof and statues here.
Incredibly, the atmosphere here would surprise visitors with not only the world-class architecture but also the excellent vibe from local people, monks, and nature. Angkor is also an ideal place to watch the sunrise or admire the golden sunset fall behind the great shrines. Take the tripod and follow the weather forecasts as such spectacular scenes are something can’t be missed.
Cruising on the Tonle Sap Lake
Tonle Sap is Cambodia’s largest freshwater lake and also the largest lake in Southeast Asia. This lake plays a vital role for indigenous peoples as it provides a large number of fishery resources to the region.
The most impressive part of the trip to this lake is that visitors will be exposed to different ethnic groups such as Khmer, Vietnamese and Muslim. Enjoy visiting the exotic floating villages with many schools, pagodas, and churches built right on the lake.
The daily life of local people is not the same as in other places in Cambodia. Although they are influenced by seasonal water levels, they always keep their optimism on their lips and their confident smile is what attracts visitors. You will enjoy being involved in activities such as throwing the net with fishermen or unexpected boat racing.
Touring around Phnom Penh for Ancient Architecture
Although Phnom Penh was a relatively new city when it was built in the late 19th century, the architecture in the town is highly aesthetic as well as reflects the unique culture of Cambodia.
The most characteristic feature of Phnom Penh is the appearance of Khmer architecture mixed with French colonial buildings. Besides, Cambodia and China have a long-standing trade relationship so that you can experience a wide range of Chinese-style architecture in this charming city.
Touring around Phnom Penh is like browsing through different stages of history. Travelers can easily see sacred temples with brilliant yellow tiles and huge statues. But those emotions of these traditional works will soon be filled with new insights. It is not difficult to find French Colonial buildings interspersed with bustling Chinese markets.
To make the trip more enjoyable, try moving with Tuk Tuk. Wandering around the city is among most enjoyable experience you can get while staying in Phnom Penh.
The Siem Reap Quadbike
When you are no longer interested in sitting on the bus and traveling constantly to the attractions, the Siem Reap Quadbike is a special treat for the rebel hearts.
The whole journey is an exciting invitation to the wilderness of Cambodia. It will take you to remote rural areas where there are no longer having the shadow of tall buildings. During your trip, you will have the opportunity to visit the Buddhist monasteries as well as centuries-old temples that have been abandoned.
Your adventure will not only help you better understand the Cambodian countryside but also help you get closer to the native people. And the best gift they can give you is the enthusiasm shown by the carefully prepared local dishes.
There are many options in our Cambodia itinerary. You can choose to customize your plan to fit your needs.