Copyright © 2020. Exotic Indochina Travel. All Right Reserved.
Official Name: Kingdom of Cambodia
Area: 181,035 km2
National Independence Day: 09 November, 1953
Population: 15,827,241 (Projection 2016) Male: 48.8%; Female: 51.2%
Annual Population Growth Rate: 1.6%
Cambodian Outbound Tourism: 1,752,269 (2017)
Density: 87 Language: Khmer
Capital: Phnom Penh Provinces: 24
Cities: 26 Khans: 12
Districts: 159 Communes: 1,406
Sangkats: 240 Village: 14,383
Country Code: +855 Time: GMT +7 hours
Religion: Buddhist 96.4%, Muslim 2.1%, other 1.3%, unspecified 0.2% (1998 census)
Currency: Official currency: Cambodian riel (KHR), unofficial currency: US $
Ethnic group: Khmer, Vietnamese and Chinese minorities
Coastline: 443 km
Internet domain: .kh
International dialing code: +855
Electricity: 220V AC 50 Hz
Driving: Right hand side; International Driving Permit no longer accepted. Local required.
Weather and Climate
Located only 10 degrees north of the Equator, Cambodia is in the tropical climate zone. Temperatures are warm to hot year-round, with an average temperature around 27° C (80° F). The seasonal rotation is driven by the monsoon cycle and includes the rainy season and the dry season. The dry season has two different stages a cool phase and hot phase.
- Dry Season Phase 1 (Cold): The monsoon cycle resets itself in the first phase of the dry season (November-February), ranging between 17-27° C (60-80° F).
- Dry Season Phase 2 (Hot): The dry season continues into the months of March-May, however during this portion of the year the temperatures begin to rise drastically. Temperatures tend to fall in the 29-38° C (84- 100° F) range peaking in April and May.
- Rainy Season: The hot season continues into the summer months (June – October), Temperatures during the rainy season range between 27-35°C (80-95° F). As the rainy season comes to an end the days start to become cooler and the rain becomes less frequent as the cycle starts over.
Best times to visit Cambodia
The best time to visit Cambodia is between November and March, when there is very little rainfall and temperatures are at their most pleasant. Water levels in the rivers and Lake Tonle Sap are high from November until January, after which point navigation can be tricky. From late February onwards the heat starts to build, and the land is very dry. The dry season is best time to travel to Cambodia if you want guaranteed sunshine, and these months also tend to be less hot and humid.
Good times to visit Cambodia
The months which fall either side of the rainy season, being from April until June and October, are also a good time to visit Cambodia. Although there may be some rain in these months, humidity levels will be lower than in the green season, and it is a good time of year to travel. Temperatures can be very high in April and May, but once the rains arrive in June the heat dips. October starts off rather rainy before the first glimpses of the dry season appear towards the end of the month, and is cooler than the earlier months. Rainfall in these months tends to come as short sharp afternoon showers.
Cambodia’s Green Season
The Green Season falls between July and September and represents the months with the highest amount of rainfall. Travelling to Cambodia in the rainy season has the advantage of lush green countryside, fewer tourists and vastly reduced rates. It does not rain all day, every day, but in short heavy bursts that only last an hour or two. This is a great time to see Cambodia’s temples without the crowds, and experience life on the waterways of the Mekong and Lake Tonle Sap. Rainfall peaks in September and in this month it is best to avoid the more remote areas in the east of the country as travel becomes more difficult and journey times increase.
Don’ts for Cambodia
- Never touch a Cambodian person on the head, even children.
- Try not to raise your feet high or show the bottoms of them. Even putting your feet on the seat opposite of you is a bad idea.
- When seated on the ground, tuck your feet beneath you so that they do not point at someone. Be especially careful about pointing your feet at images of Buddha.
- Unless told otherwise, always remove your shoes before entering a home or business.
- Do not use your left hand to hand someone something.
- Pointing with your index finger is considered rude. Instead, gesture with your right palm with all the fingers straight.
- Don’t demean Cambodia. Travelers often do this without realizing. Saying something along the lines of “the bus will be late, this is Cambodia” or cracking jokes about outdated infrastructure doesn’t make locals feel good.
Dos for Cambodia
- Showing Respect for Elders: Aside from monks, elders are given the highest level of respect in Cambodia. Always acknowledge an elder’s status by allowing them to control the conversation, walk first, begin eating first, and take the lead.
- Interacting With the Opposite Sex: be careful when you with the opposite sex. Even putting a hand on a local for a picture can be misinterpreted.
- Proper Dress in Cambodia: Avoid short shorts, miniskirts, tight stretch/yoga pants, or other clothing that is too revealing.
- Greeting People in Cambodia: The traditional Cambodian greeting, known as som pas, is made by putting your two hands together in a prayer-like gesture in front of the chest with fingertips pointing up. Give a slight bow with your head.
- Buddhist Monks in Cambodia: The monks are highly respected within society — take an opportunity to have a friendly interaction!
- Temple Etiquette in Cambodia: Remove shoes and hats before entering the worship area — no one is exempt. Turn off phones and MP3 players. Remove your headphones. Avoid loud or disrespectful conversation inside of temples. Dress modestly by wearing long pants and covering your shoulders. Avoid sitting higher than seated monks or statues of Buddha. Do not touch a Buddha statue, and ask for permission before taking photos. If you do take photos, drop a small donation in the box. Don’t turn your back to statues of Buddha to take a selfie.
- Visiting a Home in Cambodia: Remove your shoes even if not told to do so by your host. Remove your hat while indoors. Bring a small gift such as fruit, flowers, or candy to your host; hand your gift to them with both hands. Don’t expect them to open it right away or make a big deal. Let your hosts lead. Always wait for the eldest person to sit; the same applies to eating. Avoid conversation about business, politics, or war when at the table.
- Tips for Saving Face: When negotiating prices (it’s expected and not considered rude), allow the other party to “save face” by giving just a little on the final price. Alternatively, you can return to buy from them again later. Be sure to give genuine compliments and gratitude to people when merited. Humility is an important attribute in Cambodia. Politely deflect compliments sent your way or credit someone else (your family or your teacher are good choices). When offered a gift, politely refuse at first, but in the end always accept it very graciously with both hands.
CAMBODIAN TOURIST DESTINATIONS
You’ll embark on Ferry upstream to Silk Island, known locally as Koh Dach. Once on the island, you’ll explore the villages, with plenty of opportunities to engage in conversation with the local community. Around 12km north of Phnom Penh is a group of small artisan villages locally known as, Koh Dach. Getting to the villages takes just a short taxi ride, but you will feel worlds away from the bustling city of Phnom Penh and you may find that you are the only westerner there. Most of the residents of these villages make a living by weaving silk ware so you know it is a good place to learn the process.
Banteay Srei is off of the beaten path, and many tourists wandering through Angkor won’t venture far enough north to see this 10th century Hindu temple. The walls of the temple are filled with delicately carved scenes from ancient Hindu tales.
Its rose-colored sandstone walls are decorated with carvings and bas-reliefs, which are among the most accomplished Angkor has to offer.
The Killing Fields
Located outside of Phnom Penh the killing fields are one of the largest mass grave sites in Cambodia. During the rule of the Khmer Rouge it is estimated around 1 million people were executed and buried here. This is a great place to help you understand Cambodia’s dark past.
Angkor Thom that was the masterpiece of King Jayavarman VII. Following the occupation of Angkor by the Chams from 1177 to 1181, the new king decided to build an impregnable fortress at the heart of his empire.
Terrace of the Leper King
This intricately carved platform was the royal crematorium and the statue that was originally thought to be the leper king is now believed to be Yama, the god of death.
Terrace of Elephants
Originally used as a viewing gallery for the king to preside over parades, performances and traditional sports.
At the exact center of Angkor Thom, this is an eccentric expression of the creative genius and inflated ego of Cambodia’s most celebrated king. Its 54 towers are each topped off with the four faces of Avalokiteshvara (Buddha of Compassion), which bear more than a passing resemblance to the king himself.
Ta Prohm has been abandoned to the elements, a reminder that while empires rise and fall, the riotous power of nature marches on, oblivious to the dramas of human history. Left as it was ‘discovered’ by French explorer Henri Mouhout in 1860, the tentacle-like tree roots here are slowly strangling the surviving stones, man first conquering nature to create, nature later conquering man to destroy.
Tonle Sap Lake and the Floating Villages
Take to the water of the largest lake in Southeast Asia to explore floating villages and flooded forest. Tonle Sap acts as natural flood barrier for the Mekong River
Southwest of Siem Reap lies Southeast Asia’s largest and most spectacular freshwater lake. There are many tourist traps around the lake but one you must visit is Chong Khneas, the famous floating village. Also be on the lookout for large water birds like Ibis, Pelicans, and Storks.
Believed to be the world’s largest religious building, this temple is the perfect fusion of symbolism and symmetry and a source of pride and strength to all Khmers. Built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, this is most famous temple at Angkor.
Tasom offers some beautiful photo spots, especially the rear entrance where tree roots adorn the gateway.
Angkor Night Market
Angkor Night Market is a recently established market focusing on handcrafts, souvenirs, and silks. It has a tourist twist and isn’t quite representative of the true night markets of Cambodia, but is still worth checking out.
Wat Thmei (Killing Field)
Contains a unique glass-walled stupa containing the bones of victims of the Khmer Rouge. Some of the bones were recovered from a nearby well while others are the remains of soldiers who died on a nearby battlefield.
Chreav Communities Village
Being with oxcart riding tour, along the way, you see free chemical vegetable farm, local activities, typical stilt houses, authentic Cambodian living style, learning about Khmer culture, custom and tradition.
Apsaras Dance Performance
This is for those travelers thirsting for cultural highlights of Cambodia. No visit to Cambodia is complete without attending at least one traditional Khmer dance performance, often referred to as ‘Apsara Dance’ after one of the most popular Classical dance pieces. Traditional Khmer dance better described as ‘dance-drama’ in that the dances are not merely dance but also meant to convey a story or message.
We will go to local pagoda, where you should change to clothes we can get wet in as here we will experience the ceremony “Srouch Teok”, which roughly translates into “Water blessing”. A monk will chant in ancient Pali as he splashes water over us, washing away our sins and bad luck so we can start fresh and by being a good person can increase our good luck.
Kulen Mountains & 1000 Lingas
Also referred to as Phnom Kulen (“Mountain of the Lychees”) by locals. The sandstone from this mountain was the main supplier of construction materials for the Angkor Kingdom. The sacred site of The River of a Thousand Lingas, which features hundreds of lingas carved in the sandstone bed of the river, which date back to the 9th century. Further downstream, large blocks of stone, also under water, are carved with Apsaras dancers and Vishnu figures. Next on the agenda is a wander around the mountain-top pagoda which is home to relics, statues and a large reclining Buddha.
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace compound build in 1866 by the Predecessors of King Norodom, is the most conspicuous feature and also one of impressive colorful Khmer-style Palaces. Nearside the Royal Palace is Silver Pagoda (The Emerald Buddha temple), display plenty of Buddha Statues that were decorated and made by diamond, emerald, gold and silver.
Wat Phnom is a Buddhist temple located in center of Phnom Penh city. It was built in 1373, and stands 27 meters above the ground. It is the tallest religious structure in the city. The pagoda was given the name of Wat Preah Chedey Borapaut.
Wat Botum is one of the most important and original pagodas in Phnom Penh.
Bamboo Railway Station
The Bamboo Train has been set up by the villagers to facilitate the transportation of goods and people. The train in itself is very basic – one platform on 4 wheels activated by a small motor. Sitting on the platform we travel the 8km to the next station through beautiful landscape and rice paddies.
The distinctive red building with a beautiful Khmer architecture was build since 1917 and contains more than 5000 art objects made of sandstone, bronze, silver, copper, wood and others.
Toul Sleng Genocide Museum
Toul Sleng Genocide Museum (also known as S21) ironically a former school, located in a quiet Phnom Penh suburb, this was the infamous Khmer Rouge prison / torture center.
This is where Toul Sleng prisoners were forcibly marched and then executed; it is now a memorial site located in a beautiful tranquil setting.
Mekong Boat trips
Cruise the river as the sun sinks behind the spires of the Royal Palace.
Enjoy an unhurried spin through the old French quarter.
Bokor National Park
We drive from Phnom Penh to Bokor National Park where you will drive up the winding 35km road through lush jungle scenery to the cooler summit hill station. Start excursions at Bokor Mountain. Whole day historical and scenery tour. Visit Old Catholic church – The old Catholic church at Bokor Hill Station looks like the priest has locked it up only yesterday. Inside, bits of glass still cling to the corners of the windows and the altar remains intact. Then visit, Wat Sampov Pram aka 5 boats Wat – The name Wat Sampov Pram or 5 boats Wat came about because the five oddly-sculpted rocks nearby resembled boats. It was named after The Legend of the Pagoda of Five Sailing Boat.
Phnom Udong is the ancient Cambodian capital during the latter stages of the Khmer Empire and crowning site of many past kings. Consisting of a series of stupas atop a large hill, there are outstanding views across the surrounding plains below. Phnom Oudong was bombed and desecrated by the Americans and then the Khmer Rouge, but still possesses a beauty that no war has been able to steal from it.
Kep / Kampot
The southern coast of Cambodia, edging the border with Vietnam, once served as a glamorous seaside resort for the French in the early 1900s. Evocative of the French Riviera towns along the Mediterranean coast; the towns of Kep, Sihanoukville and Kampot have tree-lined, wide roads fringing the ocean, large statues, luxury villas, casinos and even a palace overlooking the Gulf of Thailand.
Ream National Park
Just 30 minutes away from Sihanouk Ville. Here, take a boat trip through the stunning mangrove forest and on to a beautiful stretch of tropical sand beach in the National Park area. Relax for a bit over here and take in the natural beauty of this place, before continuing to Sihanouk Ville.
Well-preserved ancient hilltop pagoda near Battambang, with superb views from summit.
Phnom Pros (Man Hill) and Phnom Srei (Woman Hill)
According to local tradition, two teams of men and women competed to build a stupa on the summit of each hill before dawn. After being tricked into thinking that daybreak had already come, the men lost the competition and, as a result, forever after had to be the ones to approach the women for their hands in marriage.
Koh Trong Island
We take a ferry to Koh Trong Island, which is a small island in the middle of the Mekong just opposite Kratie town. We begin our journey cycling around the island from the local community for our easy and peaceful 9km ride. We will pass many traditional Khmer houses built on stilts. Keep an eye open for traditional rooftop decorations. The numbers on the top of the roof indicate the year the house was built. The narrow roads are perfectly designed for cycling with plenty of shade while simultaneously allowing you to pass close to people’s homes without intruding too much on their privacy. Although some villagers are shy, plenty of children and even adults will offer friendly smiles and “hellos” welcoming tourists to their island home.
One of the many deep pools where the rare freshwater Irrawaddy river dolphins gather to feed. We board a local boat and cruise out into the mighty Mekong for a chance to encounter with gentle creatures. Viewing is almost guarantee, although it is easier to see the dolphins in the shallower waters of the dry season, than in the swollen river of the wet season.
Wat Nokor-Kampong Cham
Also called Nokor Bachey Pagoda is an 11th century Mahayana Buddhist shrine made of sandstone and laterite with a large reclining Buddha and numerous alcoves containing Buddha images.
Home to blissful beaches, tropical Islands, fresh seafood and lively nightshift
Preah Vihear Temple
Which sits at the top of the Dangrek Mountains. Preah Vihear is known as the Temple Mountain, which was built at the beginning of the 10th century as a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. The temple had further works added to it by the following three kings. The temple today is still a Hindu site, but Buddhist Monks pray at the temple to the Gods. The temple area consists of three stories surrounded by two galleries.
Is an overgrown ruin 90mn away from Siem Reap. It is huge, but little known and largely untouched. Besides this temple, we see a small quarry where sandstone was cut to build the temple. The technique used to cut the stones will be explained there.
Temple, which mirrors Chau Say Tevoda (just to the north), as it was built around the same time and has a similar plan. It is also dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu.
Chau Say Tevoda
Built during the second quarter of the 12th century opposite of Thommanon, it was dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu.
EXOTIC INDOCHINA TRAVEL
(+84) 978 258 404