Cambodia

Largely a land of plains and great rivers and lies amid important overland and river trade routes linking China to India and Southeast Asia. 

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Overview

Contemporary Cambodia is the successor state to the mighty Khmer empire, which, during the Angkorian period, ruled much of what is now Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The remains of this empire can be seen at the fabled temples of Angkor, monuments unrivalled in scale and grandeur in Southeast Asia. The traveller’s first glimpse of Angkor Wat, the ultimate expression of Khmer genius, is sublime and is matched by only a few select spots on earth, such as Machu Picchu or Petra.

Cambodia has a hot and humid tropical climate. The country is dominated by the wet southwest monsoon from May to October and the dry northeast monsoon from November to April. Most of the rain falls in the southwestern hilly area and the coastline facing the Gulf of Siam. The central lower areas are somewhat drier but hotter. Temperatures are between 23 C and 26 C at night, and 30 C to 35 C during the day most of the year, but April sees temperatures of 40 C occasionally. September and October are the wettest months. The country experiences the heaviest precipitation from September to October with the driest period occurring from January to February. Disastrous flooding occurred in 2001 and again in 2002, with some degree of flooding almost every year.

What you should know

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Summary

Area: 280 miles (450 km) from north to south and 360 miles (580 km) from east to west
Population: (2023 est.) 16,493,000
Capital : Phnom Penh

Experience the rhythm of rural life and landscapes of dazzling rice paddies and swaying sugar palms in Cambodia’s countryside. The South Coast is fringed by tropical islands dotted with the occasional fishing village. Inland lie the Cardamom Mountains, part of a vast tropical wilderness providing a home to elusive wildlife and a gateway to emerging ecotourism adventures. The mighty Mekong River cuts through the country and hosts some of the region’s last remaining freshwater dolphins. The northeast is a world unto itself, its wild and mountainous landscapes home to Cambodia’s ethnic minorities and an abundance of natural attractions and wildlife.

Visa

All visitors, except citizens of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam need a visa to enter Cambodia. The official price for a tourist visa is US$30 and US$35 for an Ordinary visa and people from most countries throughout the world can get a visa on arrival.

Visas can be obtained at Cambodian embassies or consulates. Visas are also available “on arrival” at both international airports, all six international border crossings with Thailand, some international border crossings with Vietnam, and at the main border crossing with Laos.

Tourist Visas

All are valid for one stay of up to 30 days. Those issued in advance expire 90 days after issue. In Phnom Penh (or elsewhere via agencies), tourist visas can be extended only once, allowing an additional 30 days at a cost of US$15.

e-Visa

Citizens of most nations can apply for an e-Visa online at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation website, through a service provided by a private Cambodian company (CINet). This is a normal Tourist Visa but costs US$25 instead of the normal US$20. The visa arrives as a PDF file by e-mail within 3 business days. The application requires a digital photograph of yourself (in .jpg format). You can scan your passport photo or have a passport sized photograph taken with a digital camera. There are other websites pretending to make a Cambodian e-visa. At best, these are just on-line travel agencies which will charge you more (US30$-45) and get the same US$25 visa for you; at worst, you may end up with a fake e-visa.

You need to print two copies (one for entry and one for exit) of the PDF visa, cut out the visa parts and keep them with your passport.

Money
The Cambodian Riel is the currency of Cambodia. Our currency rankings show that the most popular Cambodia Riel exchange rate is the USD to KHR rate. The currency code for Riels is KHR, and the currency symbol is ៛.
Best Times for This Excursion

Events and Festivals

  •  Chinese New Year -Thanks to the large Chinese population in Cambodia, Chinese New Year is an important holiday even outside the Chinese community. It will fall some time between late January and late February every year following the lunar calendar. Many consider it the one day in Cambodia that everyone goes to bed with a full stomach.
  • Chaul Cham or the Khmer New Year, is held in mid-April, this is a massive party that lasts for 7 days. People visit wats with offerings and prayers.
  • Visakha Puja celebrates Buddha’s birth enlightenment and passing in nirvana. Candle-let processions take place at Angkor Wat. It falls on the eighth day of the fourth moon (in May or June).
  • P’chum Ben or The Spirit Festival, is a celebration to honour ancestors in September or October, people make offerings to spirits at Buddhist Pagodas across the whole country.
  • Bon Om Tuk celebrates the reversal of the Tonle Sap river and falls in early November. Boat races take placeall over the country. Phnom Penh has the largest celebration. The 2010 celebration attracted an estimated 2,000,000 visitors from outside the city (many city residents flee the city during this time). The city becomes very crowded, and as the events of the 2010 festival show, where close to 400 people died in one night, crowd control is a serious issue.
Language

Khmer is spoken by 95% of the population. Additional languages are English, Vietnamese, Chinese, French and languages spoken by ethnic minority groups found in the far eastern and western parts of the country.

Many of the younger people in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have at least a grasp of English, Korean or Japanese.

Safety
Other than unexploded ordinances (UXO), bombs and other explosives left over from wartimes, Cambodia is pretty safe. In order to avoid unexploded ordinances, it is best to stay on marked trails and official roads at all times. This is because every year landmines that have been buried by rains can resurface meaning places have to be cleared regularly. The dangers of mines and unexploded ordinance to travelers is minimal, though. While Cambodians, especially children, in remote rural areas are still victimized by the remnants of the war, there are no reports of travelers ever being killed or injured by mines or UXO.

The other common threat to travellers are pick-pockets. Make sure you watch your bags and pockets at all times from pick-pockets, many of whom are street children. Some of them are very skilled and can get violent if confronted.

Lastly, watch out when walking on the beach late at night alone in some areas of the coast, as there have been some attacks on travellers lately. One attack involved a traveller getting stabbed by a local gang on the beach at around 10:00pm.

In general, staying safe in Cambodia is the same as being safe anywhere else. Always be aware of yourself, your possessions and your surroundings.

There’s a magic about this charming yet confounding kingdom that casts a spell on visitors. In Cambodia, ancient and modern worlds collide to create an authentic adventure.

TOP SPOTS

Kampong Chhnang

Built on the marshy banks of the Tonle Sap, the town of Kampong Chhnang is composed of many houses on stilts on the river and prolonged by even a very large village of Vietnamese fishermen. Wicker crafts and pottery.

Kompong Thom

The quiet town of Kompong Thom province, situated on the banks of a river, usually serves as a starting point to visit the temples in the area. which Sambor Prei Kuk, a remarkable remnant of the Khmer civilization.

Pursat

Pursat City, crossed by a river, is lovely and green. The French have rebuilt under the protectorate, there are still some beautiful colonial buildings. The city is known for its marble work.

Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is the capital of Camboge, located in the southern half of the country, at the confluence of the Tonle Sap and Mekong. One million three hundred thousand Phnom Penh residents living on 290 km of the territory of the Municipality of Phnom Penh.

Tonle Sap

The Tonle Sap in Khmer which means “great river of fresh water,” but that most commonly translated as “Great Lake”) is a hydrological system combined lake and river, of paramount importance to the Camboge. The lake is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and a major site of ecologically, recognized as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997.

Battambang

The second largest city, Battambang, is founded in the eleventh century on the banks of the River Sangker. Surrounded by plains considered the breadbasket of Cambodia, Battambang has an important place in the economy. Some elements of colonial architecture, a key market and beautiful surroundings make the charm of Battambang.

Siem Reap

Siem Reap is situated close to the archaeological complex of Angkor and about 314 km north-northwest of the capital Phnom Penh. Siem Reap has colonial and Chinese-style architecture including the French Quarter and around the Old Market. In town there are Apsara dance festivals, craft shops, sericulture farms, rice fields, fishing villages and sanctuaries for birds near the Tonle Sap Lake.

Angkor consists of many significant archaeological sites, including Angkor Central: Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm Kel, Phnom Bakheng Baksei Chamkrong, Prasat Bei, Thma Bay Kaek, Angkor Thom (Baphuon Bayon, Phimeanakas, King of the Elephants Terrace, Terrace King lepers, Tep Pranam, Preah Palilay, Preah Pithu, Prasat Suor Prat, Mangalartha, Khleang).

Sihanoukville

Sihanoukville, formerly Kompong Som, is the only seaport in deep water Camboge the south of the country.  It was renamed in honor of Norodom Sihanouk, the former king of Cambodia.

The city is connected to Phnom Penh by a railway (230 km) in poor condition.  Increasingly, the majority of freight transport is by trucks on the excellent national road that connects Phnom Penh 4 and Sihanoukville in 4-5 hours time.  Sihanoukville International Airport, located 12 km east of the city, is managed by the French group Vinci but no scheduled flights there is effective.

Private Group Tours & Bundles

If you have a specific interest be it art, history, cooking or whatever

We will do our utmost to design your tour to include (or be totally about) whatever you like. We have arranged for all types of people to do all sorts of interesting things and meet interesting people.

We have taken war veterans to old battle sites, pilgrims to pagodas, students to visit schools and forestry experts to the forest. Organised visits to artists’ private studios and visits to charity organisations to give donations. Whatever red tape or permission is required, whatever introductions are sought, we will take care of everything so that you can enjoy a rich and fulfilling experience.

Bridge, photography, traditional music, war history, ancient history, architecture, textiles, motorcycling, cycling, trekking, shopping, ceramics, kayaking.  Vespa/Jeep tour, spiritual tour, modern or traditional shows, arts,fashion, cooking class, street food, homestay, home host dinner, special event (honeymoon, anniversary, birthday…), incentif, seminar.

Need ideas?