Cambodia

Nestled in Southeast Asia, Cambodia stands as an independent state, a small yet captivating country renowned for its plethora of natural wonders, historical landmarks, and distinctive cultural traditions. From the allure of warm seas and beautiful beaches to the mysteries of impenetrable jungles and the serenity of full-flowing rivers, Cambodia offers a diverse tapestry of experiences. The people of Cambodia, with a unique identity set apart from other nations, are universally known for their openness, friendliness, and spirit of independence. Welcome to Cambodia, where the country eagerly anticipates your visit!

Cambodia on the Map

Cambodia on the map

Geographical Insights

Situated in the southern part of the Indochina peninsula within Southeast Asia, the Kingdom of Cambodia shares its borders with Vietnam, Thailand, and Laos. To the south, it is embraced by the Gulf of Thailand, a part of the vast Pacific Ocean, showcasing a coastline extending for 443 kilometers.

The topography of Cambodia is primarily characterized by lowland terrain, with plains covering nearly 75% of the nation’s expanse. In the southern and northeastern regions, low mountain ranges add a touch of elevation. Mount Oral, towering at 1,813 meters, claims the title of Cambodia’s highest peak.

Flowing from north to south, the Mekong River gracefully traverses Cambodia, acting as a natural divider between the larger western half and the smaller eastern half of the country. Originating in Laos and continuing its journey to Vietnam, the Mekong spans 435 kilometers within Cambodia’s borders.

An integral water feature is the Tonle Sap Lake, recognized as the largest lake in Southeast Asia. During the dry season, the lake spans around 3,000 square kilometers, yet in the rainy season, it undergoes multiple expansions, reaching an impressive 16,000 square kilometers. With an average depth of only 9 meters, Tonle Sap connects to the Mekong River, forming a crucial waterway.

Cambodia boasts ownership of approximately 60 small islands along its coast, adorned with lush forests, creating idyllic settings for tourism enthusiasts.

The country’s rich and diverse natural landscape comprises jungles and dense tropical forests that envelop almost 60% of its territory. These habitats are home to a myriad of wildlife, including elephants, tigers, buffaloes, various monkey species, and a plethora of mammals, birds, amphibians, and insects. Cambodia’s natural tapestry invites exploration and discovery, making it a haven for nature lovers.

Safety Recommendations for Tourists in Cambodia

In the global Peacefulness Index, considering factors like overall tranquility, attitude towards tourists, and others, Cambodia ranks 96th, neighboring Bolivia and Bangladesh.

A key concern for a secure vacation lies in ongoing disputes between the Chinese diaspora and the local population. The active Chinese land acquisitions in recent years have generated negative reactions from the Khmer, resulting in clashes, primarily in Phnom Penh and other major cities.

While serious crimes against tourists are rare due to a low overall crime rate, the country’s economic challenges contribute to a significant presence of pickpockets and scammers preying on unsuspecting visitors.

Traffic in Cambodia is characterized as chaotic, with drivers often disregarding rules. Foreigners, at times, operate vehicles under the influence of alcohol, with scooters being the primary mode of transportation.

Sanitary conditions are notably poor, particularly concerning street food. Caution is advised, and consuming only bottled water is recommended. Khmer cuisine, rich in spices, not only offers a unique flavor but also helps combat the rapid multiplication of microorganisms in the hot and humid climate.

The country’s hot climate, unfamiliar to European tourists, poses an additional challenge. Local fauna, including numerous poisonous snakes and insects, may even infiltrate hotel rooms. Mosquitoes, carriers of tropical diseases such as Dengue fever, hepatitis, and typhoid fever, are prevalent.

The Gulf of Thailand harbors poisonous jellyfish and sea urchins, while potentially dangerous sharks like bull sharks and blacktip reef sharks could approach the shores, although recorded attacks on people remain rare.

For a safe vacation in Cambodia, adherence to behavioral rules and personal hygiene is crucial. Following these guidelines ensures an enjoyable and secure travel experience in the country.

Celebrations in Cambodia

  • Праздники 1 Новый год

Khmers are known for their exuberant spirit, finding immense joy in the celebration of various occasions that hold significant cultural and religious importance. At the state level, Cambodia observes a total of 18 holidays, categorized into secular and religious festivities.

Secular celebrations encompass pivotal events such as Independence Day, Constitution Day, and the Day of Righteous Anger, among others. The royal family holds a revered status in the country, with official holidays dedicated to the birthdays of the king, queen-mother, and the king’s father. The Day of Royal Plowing, marking the first furrow, is also a nationally celebrated occasion.

Religious holidays, officially recognized, include Khmer New Year, Makkha Bucha (commemorating monks’ gathering), Vesak (honoring Buddha’s birthday), Pchum Ben (dedicated to ancestors), and Bom On Tuk (celebrating the water festival). These occasions showcase the rich tapestry of Cambodia’s cultural and religious heritage, fostering a sense of unity and reverence among its people.

Things to Do in Cambodia

  • Развлечения 1 пляж Сиануквиль

Cambodia’s tourism industry, while relatively nascent, is steadily developing, with infrastructure unfolding to support the growing interest. Though trailing behind its Southeast Asian counterparts like Thailand and Vietnam in terms of quantity and quality of services, Cambodia holds immense potential as a tourist haven. Boasting a spectrum of offerings, from sun-kissed beaches to lush jungles and enigmatic temples, Cambodia promises a rich and diverse recreational experience. Here are ten of the most compelling attractions that beckon explorers to this enchanting country.

1. Beach Retreats: Along the Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia unveils stunning sandy beaches framed by dense tropical greenery. The gentle sea entrance makes it an ideal destination for families, with Sihanoukville’s beaches standing out due to their well-developed tourist infrastructure.

2. Diving Delights: Cambodia offers ideal conditions for diving enthusiasts, with warm seas and stable temperatures year-round. Exploring depths up to 30 meters, divers encounter vibrant coral reefs and diverse marine life, including the opportunity to swim alongside harmless cat sharks.

3. Surfing Surprises: While not synonymous with surfing, Cambodia surprises enthusiasts with excellent spots such as Bamboo Island off Sihanoukville’s coast. The rainy season from June to September brings optimal waves, attracting surfers seeking a unique experience.

4. Fishing Adventures: Fishing aficionados can indulge in Cambodia’s diverse options, from renting yachts for Gulf of Thailand excursions to exploring the unique fishing communities on Tonle Sap Lake. Here, amidst unconventional boats and a glimpse into traditional lifestyles, visitors can try their luck at fishing.

5. Trekking Trails: Embark on foot to explore Cambodia’s vast landscapes, with trails ranging in difficulty. National parks and purpose-built eco-settlements like Chi Phat offer trekking opportunities, while mountain treks, including a ascent to the country’s highest point, Mount Oral, provide awe-inspiring views.

6. Yoga Escapes: Sihanoukville invites visitors to partake in meditation tours amidst lesser-traveled jungles and ancient temples. These serene settings become ideal places for meditation and yoga, with tours even offering sessions within working monasteries.

7. Biking and Kayaking Adventures: Cycling enthusiasts will find Cambodia’s flat terrain perfect for biking tours. Jungle rides may be challenging but offer a unique perspective. Additionally, kayaking on the kingdom’s rivers, characterized by strong currents without rapids, provides a safe yet educational adventure.

8. Waterfall Wonders: Cambodia boasts numerous picturesque waterfalls, like the one in Phnom Kulen National Park, featuring a scenic route and a refreshing swimming opportunity. Park entry costs $20.

9. Phnom Penh Exploration: The capital, Phnom Penh, captivates with its temples, royal palace, and Silver Pagoda. A rich tapestry unfolds with museums, monuments, and a stark contrast between traditional Khmer neighborhoods and modern Chinese skyscrapers.

10. Angkor Wat: No visit to Cambodia is complete without exploring the majestic Angkor Wat temple complex. Built in the 12th century and dedicated to Vishnu, the complex comprises over 20 temples. A day pass costs $37, while a three-day pass is priced at $62, offering an immersive journey through this architectural marvel.

What’s Important to Know About Cambodia

If you’re planning a visit to Cambodia, it’s essential to be acquainted with the following key aspects:

Language

The official language in Cambodia is Khmer, serving as the mother tongue for the vast majority of the population (96%). While French, a remnant from colonial times, is still used in some educational institutions and remembered by older Khmer individuals, the contemporary trend leans towards the popularity of learning Chinese and English.

Population

Cambodia is currently home to just over 17 million people, with only 24% residing in urban areas. Remarkably, Cambodia is characterized as a mono-ethnic state, with approximately 97% of the population being Khmer. While the Thamas, Chinese, and Vietnamese are represented to a minor extent, the overwhelming majority identifies with the Khmer ethnicity.

For a more in-depth understanding of Cambodia, including its cultural nuances and local practices, additional details can be explored through reputable sources.

  • More interesting facts about Cambodians, their character and local color can be found in this article.

Currency

The national currency of Cambodia is the Cambodian riel, which is subdivided into 100 sen. However, sen denominations are no longer commonly used in circulation.

Banknotes available for use include denominations of 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000, and 100000 riel. Additionally, coins are circulated in values of 50, 100, 200, and 500 riel.

For convenience, tourists are advised to carry US dollars, with Thai baht or Chinese yuan being acceptable alternatives. Transactions within the country are often conducted in US dollars, which are widely accepted and freely exchanged. Consequently, tourists typically receive change in Cambodian riels when paying with US dollars, minimizing the need for currency exchange.

As a reference, the approximate exchange rate is 1 US dollar to 4000 Cambodian riels.

Religion

Buddhism is the state religion of Cambodia, practiced by nearly 98% of the population.

Other religious affiliations include Islam, with approximately 1.1% of the population identifying as Muslim, and Christianity, which represents about 0.5% of the country’s populace.

Climate

Cambodia experiences a tropical monsoon climate characterized by a consistent average annual temperature. Summer conditions prevail throughout the year, with an average temperature of around +25 degrees Celsius. While maximum temperatures can occasionally soar to +38 degrees, they typically hover around +32 degrees.

The country’s rainy season occurs during the summer months, brought by the wet monsoon from the Indian Ocean. This period typically spans from May to October.

From November to March, Cambodia transitions into its dry season. Although temperatures remain relatively stable, the humid southwest monsoon gives way to a drier northeast monsoon. This period sees a higher frequency of sunny days.

March through early May marks the Cambodian summer, known for its intense heat and minimal winds, making it a challenging time for vacations.

The optimal time to visit Cambodia is from November to March, during the high tourist season when vacation prices tend to rise.

Water Temperature in the Gulf of Thailand

The average water temperature in the Gulf of Thailand remains consistent throughout the year, providing favorable conditions for beach vacations and allowing travelers to choose the most suitable time for their preferences. For instance, winter months are ideal for relaxing vacations with children, while summer and early fall are favored by surfing enthusiasts.

  • Water temperatures in winter (December-January) range from +28 degrees in December to +29 degrees in February.
  • In spring (March-May), temperatures range from +29 to +31 degrees.
  • During summer (June-August), temperatures range from +29 to +28 degrees.
  • In fall (September-November), temperatures drop from +28 degrees in early fall to +29 degrees in November.

Natural Disasters

Cambodia is widely regarded as the safest place in Southeast Asia in terms of natural disaster threats. Earthquakes are exceptionally rare, and the absence of high mountains means there are no volcanic risks.

Tropical cyclones, a common natural disaster in the region, typically bypass the kingdom. Cyclones originating from the Indian Ocean are obstructed by the large islands of Indonesia, while those from the Pacific Ocean dissipate over the territory of Vietnam.

However, floods pose the most significant threat to the country. During the summer months, Cambodia receives over 75% of its total annual rainfall, amounting to up to 1,500 millimeters. This heavy precipitation causes rivers to overflow, Lake Tonle Sap to swell, and extensive flooding across vast areas of the country. These floods impact almost the entire territory, resulting in loss of life and widespread destruction.

In contrast, the dry season sees an increase in forest fires, particularly in mountainous regions. These fires are often ignited by careless handling of fire and land clearing for agriculture. Typically, these fires remain localized and pose minimal danger to tourism.

  • You can read about the most devastating disasters in Cambodia’s history in this article.

Political System

Cambodia operates under a constitutional monarchy. The king is selected for life from members of the Sisowath and Norodom dynasties but is unable to transfer power to their children.

Legislative authority is vested in a bicameral parliament comprising the Senate and the National Assembly.

The appointment of the prime minister is made by the king, following a vote of confidence in the National Assembly.

Administratively, Cambodia is divided into 23 provinces (khat) and one centrally administered city.

The capital of the country is Phnom Penh.

Largest Cities and Resorts

Phnom Penh stands as the largest and most populous city in Cambodia, with a history dating back to 1372. Today, it is home to over 2 million residents. Tourists flock to Phnom Penh for its abundance of architectural wonders, including the Royal Palace and Moonlight Pavilion, Wat Phnom Temple, Silver Pagoda, numerous museums, and the captivating historical center.

Sihanoukville serves as Cambodia’s premier beach resort destination. Established in 1957, the city now accommodates 73 thousand inhabitants. It boasts well-equipped beaches, including those found on nearby islands, drawing visitors seeking sun, sea, and sand. The surrounding area features Ream Nature Park, a popular spot among tourists for its natural beauty.

Siem Reap emerges as a rapidly expanding tourist hub in Cambodia, complete with its own international airport. Its primary draw is the awe-inspiring temple complex of Angkor Wat, though the city also boasts two dozen other remarkable ancient temples nearby. With a population of 170 thousand, Siem Reap continues to enchant travelers with its historical and cultural riches.

Symbols of Cambodia

Angkor Wat stands as the foremost attraction and national symbol of Cambodia, drawing the highest number of tourists to the country.

Banana holds the status of the national fruit, representing a staple element of the daily diet for Cambodians.

Kupri, the Cambodian forest bull, is among the rarest animals on the planet, symbolizing the country’s unique biodiversity.

Krama, the Cambodian scarf, serves multiple purposes as a piece of clothing, towel, or even a hammock, embodying versatility and practicality in Cambodian culture.

Royal Ballet embodies classical Khmer dance, serving as a revered form of folk art and recognized as a masterpiece of UNESCO’s intangible heritage, showcasing Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage to the world.

Getting to Cambodia

For European or American tourists, the primary mode of entry into Cambodia is by airplane. Residents of neighboring countries such as China, Malaysia, and Singapore can also access Cambodia via intercity buses through Thailand or Vietnam.

Cambodia features three international airports: in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, and Siem Reap.

Phnom Penh airport serves as the kingdom’s main international gateway, accommodating over 3 million passengers annually. Regular flights from destinations such as Tokyo, Bangkok, Beijing, Singapore, and Doha operate to and from Phnom Penh. Presently, there are no direct flights connecting Cambodian airports with European capitals.

Cost of Vacation in Cambodia

The expense of a vacation in Cambodia can vary significantly, contingent upon whether you opt for independent travel or utilize the services of a tour company with trusted guides.

Situated in Southeast Asia, Cambodia lies quite a distance from Europe and the US, making air travel lengthy and relatively expensive. For instance, a round-trip ticket from Paris to Phnom Penh can start from 500 euros in the lowest price bracket.

Basic tour packages to Cambodia typically start from $1200 to $1600 for a 7-day itinerary, inclusive of flights. This option is budget-friendly and suitable for travelers on a tight budget.

Within the country, tourists can expect the following expenses:

Food: Prices for meals are considerably lower than in Europe. For example, a meal for two at an inexpensive restaurant ranges from $15 to $40, excluding alcohol. Fast food options cost between $5 to $7, while a cup of cappuccino is priced at $1 to $2, and a cheeseburger at $2.

Accommodation: The average cost of a double room in a three-star hotel ranges from $25 to $40, while hostel accommodation starts from as low as $10 per room. Five-star hotels offer rooms starting at $160.

Sightseeing: While many beaches in Cambodia are free to access, additional fees may apply for certain activities. Admission to museums, temples, and monasteries typically ranges from $5 to $40. Excursion prices vary widely; for example, a popular day trip to Angkor costs around $210, while a visit to Tonle Sap Lake starts from $120, and a national park excursion from $150.

Souvenirs: Visitors often purchase locally crafted items such as traditional clothing (starting from $5), crocodile skin belts (starting from $100), clay dishes, statuettes, beads, and palm tree crafts. Local products like coffee (from $10 per kilogram), aromatic pepper ($15 per kilogram), and alcoholic beverages like snake tinctures and palm whiskey (starting from $25 per bottle) are also popular. Souvenir costs vary widely and are subject to individual preferences.

Transportation: Getting around cities is convenient with tuk-tuks (costing $2 to $4) or scooter rentals (starting from $5 per day, depending on the season). Bus tickets range from $0.5 to $3, while taxi fares start at $1 per boarding, with an average of $1 per kilometer thereafter.

Considering a reserve amount for unforeseen expenses, a 7-day vacation for two in Cambodia, including flights, typically ranges from $1500 to $2500. However, vacation costs can vary significantly depending on individual preferences and choices.

Request

If you have already visited Cambodia, please share your impressions in the comments. Please write a few words, what you liked most of all, what moments remained in your memory forever, and what you would recommend to other tourists. We will be very grateful for your recommendations!

Note Before Comment Form

Cookie Law Policy Accept Button Read More