Cambodia is the Kingdom of Wonder. Visiting Cambodia, you will discover an amazing world from untouched beaches and colonial architecture to vivid forest, stunning rivers and lakes as well as plentiful ecosystem. Not only the legendary Angkor Wat – Symbol of Cambodia, you will have chance to explore many distinct ancient places of Khmer Rouge in both rural and urban landscapes.
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Spoken language: Khmer
Currency: Riel (r) or US dollar
Area: About 181,035 km2
Population: About 16 million
Capital: Phnom Penh
Religions: Theravada Buddhism (97%), Islam, Christianity, Animism
Flag: The Cambodian flag has an image of Angkor Wat. It is the only national flag in the world with a picture of a building on it.
Cambodia is a country of brilliant history and heritage. If French colonial era and Khmer Rouge are Dark ages of Cambodia, it also experienced the peak period with Khmer Empire with Angkor Temples. Dating back from about the 10th century, the complex of Angkor Temples has still maintained incredible architecture, even still be a mystery of the world.
In Phnom Penh, the Killing Fields and Toul Slen Genocide Museum are witnesses to a dolorous Cambodia under Khmer Rouge. Besides, there are also beautiful palaces and temples to discover in Phnom Penh and beyond. Read more
As an agricultural country with rice being the main foodstuff, Cambodian food is mainly influenced by Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese cuisine with a blend of fresh ingredients and flavors. Unlike spicy Thai cuisine, Cambodian one is rather mild and has a lot of pickled and tangy flavors.
Typically, a Cambodian meal includes main dishes, three or four little dishes, rice and a soup. There is the little bit concept between Cambodian and neighboring countries in cooking, the Khmer food offer a little bit of every flavor. Chili is usually served on the side, up to personal preference, than can take the heat or not. Some famous food of Cambodia are Fish Amok, Banana Blossom Salad, Lap Khmer, Kampot Pepper Crabs, Green Mango Salad, etc.
Phnom Penh is the capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Some its architectures reflect the blend of Khmer Culture, French influence and Buddhism. This is also a bustling city with number of restaurants, bars and coffee. Moreover, not only discovering spiritual spots or historic sites, visitors also can take a boat trip to explore mighty Phnom Penh and majestic Tonle Sap Rivers.
Siem Reap is a must-see destination in Cambodia, attached to Khmer Empire, the most outstanding heritage of which is Angkor Wat. It is no accident that it is regarded as the gateway to the ancient world because of thousands of Angkorian ruins lying spread over some 3000 square kilometers around the town, regardless of its crowed population. It is a lively city with Psar Chas Market, lovely café, living bars, souvenir shops and colorful nightlife. It is also interesting for visitors to visit floating markets on the Tonle Sap Lake nearby.
Battambang is the second largest city, following to Phnom Penh, built in 11th century in the northwestern Cambodia. It is famous for well-preserved French colonial architecture and Khmer one too. The other reason to add it into your must-see destination list in Cambodia is its rich history with Wat Banan Temple and Phnom Sampeau, etc. While Banan Temple is witness of Khmer empire, completed between 10th and 13th century with five towers in the classic Khmer architectural style, Phnom Sampeau recalls dolorous memories of Khmer Rouge, especially in its Killing Caves. Battambang’s cuisine also attracts visitors. Considered as the “rice-bowl” of Cambodia, Battambang is a good place to try traditional Khmer cuisine with fresh ingredients and reasonable expense. In general, it is certainly said that no one will regret to visit Battambang.
Kampong Cham is the third largest city in Cambodia with almost population following Muslims, and Christians. Kampong Cham is the places for old school experience, ancient villages and handicraft-making excursions. Its waterfront architecture is also an attractive thing with the blocks of colonial buildings along the Mekong.
Temple of Angkors
For Cambodian tourism, temples of Angkor, especially Angkor Wat are a permanent symbol of Cambodians. It is a mystery of lost city and unique ancient architecture of Khmer empire. The awe-inspiring Angkor Wat is the most famous of the temples in design of five corncob towers.
In the Southwest of Cambodia, you will have chances to discover unspoilt beaches, stunning islands and greenery scenery. There are a lot of destinations in travel bucket list of visitors there, namely Sihanoukvlile, Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloem, Koh Ta Kiev, Koh Russei (Bamboo Island) and Koh Tonsay (Rabbit Island). The are impressive by diverse sea animals for water activities, untouched natural environment and authentic Khmer cuisine.
The east of Cambodia is the prioritized choice for visitors, interested in discovering nature and wildlife of Cambodia. The well-preserved system of rainforests, the countryside of Kratie riverside, the rare freshwater Irrawady dolphins in Kampie, the impressive waterfalls Ka Chhang, Katieng and Chha Ong in the Rattanakiri Province are the all of destination, you can not miss out in Eastern Cambodia.
There are two seasons in Cambodia, dry season from October to April, and the wet season between May and September with the heaviest rainfall in August and September.The best time to visit Cambodia is from October to April with little rain, blue sky and moderate temperature.
When is the dry season in Cambodia?
Cambodia’s dry season takes place from October to April, thanks to the effect of dry north-east monsoon with hot wind blowing cross the whole country. While November to January are pretty cool (around 20°C – 25°C), the temperature is hotter to April, when visitors prefer to visit Angkor Wat in the early morning and late afternoon.
Because Cambodia undergoes the moderate temperature, less rainy and less humidity during this time, it also experiences the biggest number of tourists to Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Battambang, etc.
In other remote parts, such as Mondulkiri & Ratanakiri in the north east regions, journey times are shorter and the roads are at the best. Kep and Sihanoukville Isand on the south coast are full of brilliant sunshine and favorable sea conditions.
When is the rainy season in Cambodia?
Cambodia’s wet season runs from May to October due to the southwest monsoon. During the period, daytime temperature reaches over 30°C. The early months of rainy season (May – July) remain so hot with infrequent rainfall. In the later months (late July to September), the rain is more constant and heavy, especially in coastal and rural regions.
Consequently, it is pretty difficult to visit remote areas such as Mondulkiri & Ratanakiri, because the bad situation of roads and journeys. It takes longer time for access to Bamboo Island near Kep due to high seas.
On the upside, there are some advantages to discover Cambodia in monsoonal time. It is the disappearance of dust and the return of lush greenery countryside. In the dramatic decrease of visitors, Angkor Wat still is majestic among moats brimming with water. And Tonle Sap will be 5 times bigger than usual during wet season, which makes travellers immerse in spectacular flooded forest and heroic floating villages.
When is the best time to visit Angkor Wat?
Each year, there are millions of tourists visiting Angkor Wat, especially between December and February. This period is seen as peak season for tourism in Cambodia and Angkor Wat because the weather is cooler at this time so crowds is unavoidable. In dry season, experiencing sunrise or sunset is extremely valued, and it also means you will undergo crowed, but you can avoid hot weather at midday when putting a visit in the early morning or late afternoon.
The weather is dry, bright but hotter between March and May. In some cases, walking around Angkor Way in the heat is compulsory because it is so big, taking a lot of time for travel around.
During the rainy season from Jun to October, the number of visitors to Angkor Wat drops severely because of the journey to Angkor full of mud roads or floods and intense humidity sometimes. It is likely to rain in the afternoon, so it is better to visit it in the morning.
By Air: Phnom Penh and Siem Reap Airport are two main international ones in Cambodia. If there is not direct flights to Cambodia, visitors can select stopover flights via Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Laos.
By Bus: With not much budget and for valued local experience, lots of visitors prefer shuttle bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap, then Phnom Penh or Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) to Phnom Penh, then Siem Reap. All of them have daily regular departure, so it is very convenient for passengers.
By Rail: Other way to come Cambodia is by train from Bangkok to Siem Reap.
By Road: If not liking any delay or sharing space with strangers or coming Cambodia sooner, clients can rent a taxi or drive to Cambodia from Bangkok, the most important one is that they have their own visa and passport to cross through customs.
By water: Sihanouk International Seaport and Phnom Penh one are two mains ports in Cambodia. Boats get used to travelling along Tonle Sap Lake, Bassac and Mekong Delta.
There is a bus system connecting among all major towns in Cambodia such as Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Battambang, Sihanoukville, Kampot, Kep, etc. Going by bus is the cheapest and most convenient to travel around Cambodia.
Minibuses and “share taxis” are also other good options to travel by road. Share taxis are faster than taking the bus when you can be active about time.
For short local trips, it will be very interesting for you to hire a motorcycle or a tuk-tuk or a cycle rickshaws (cyclos).
Another exciting experience is travel by boat around Cambodia. It is available for trip between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Siem Reap and Battambang. In the south, there are regular ferries and fast catamarans between Sihanoukville and Koh Rong.
It is no coincidence that Cambodia is considered as the gateway to an ancient world. Below are top 10 best places to travel in Cambodia, which can convince any fastidious traveller to list Cambodia into their travel bucket list.
- Temple of Angkor
Angkor was the capital of Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 14th centuries. It is such a historical treasure that makes it become one of the most significant archeological sites in Southeast Asia. More than one hundred ancient monuments are found over some 300 square kilometers of farm lands and rice fields. Among them, Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom are two best-known ruins. The former is the world’s largest single religious site, the latter is impressive with a lot of massive stone faces. Many temples in Angkor Complex have been restored, making it become one of the wonders of the ancient world while putting an outstanding insight into Khmer history.
2. The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
The Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda is typical example of Khmer architecture in the 20th century. The Palace serves as the King’s residence, a venue for court ceremony and as a symbol of the Kingdom. It is built in 1866 in the harmony of Khmer architecture and European style as well as echoes of the palace in Bangkok. Covering an area of nearly 180,000 square meters, the Palace is an impressive complex of spectacular buildings including the layout of defensive wall, throne hall, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Stupas, towering spires and mural paintings. The Silver Pagoda is located next to the Royal Palace, separated by a walled walkway and named for its floor which is covered in gleaming silver.
3. Koh Ta Tiev
Koh Ta Tiev is a tropical paradisiac island in Gulf of Thailand, just a few kilometers off the coast of Sihanoukville. It is an untouched area with electricity limitation and no wifi, being the perfect choice for anyone escaping from bustling life. Visitors can experience authentic Khmer cuisine, enjoy jungle trekking, thrilling snorkeling and kayaking or simply swimming in clean blue water.
Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest city, attracting travelers keen on Cambodian history. As a important trading center in the 18th century, Battambang later became a part of French Indochina, still maintaining some colonial buildings until now. There are some Angkor-style temples and Buddhist shrine in the town. Getting around by foot or bicycle to enjoy rice paddies and bamboo railway is also interesting. More excitingly, Statues, mostly of animals and gods, can be found in public areas, the most well-known of which is an ancient king. Other worth place is Central Market or Pasar Nat, dating back from French colonial period.
Kampot is located on a river not too far from the Gulf of Thailand. It is the gateway to Bokor National Park, named for its abandoned French hill station, hotel and casino, besides good climate and lush rainforest. Kampot also gives visitors chance to ride a boat on sunset, explore caves to see ancient ruins and take in scenic waterfalls along the route.
Kep is a heaven for a variety of beach activities, seafood cuisine. Kep was founded as a colonial retreat for the French in the early 19th century. Despite some buildings were destroyed during Khmer Rouge, it still maintain some ruins of old villas. Most people visit this island in daily tours, snorkeling to discover the corals on the bottoms of the shallow sea, taking in panoramic ocean views at Kep National Park, visiting a butterfly preserve or how to grow organic peppers.
7. Floating villages on Tonle Sap
Tonle Sap Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia with a wide variety of interconnected eco-regions, which was declared a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1997. It is also the home to dozens of local floating villages with bamboo and stilts houses. You will have opportunity to discover floating markets, schools, pagodas and find out local life.
8. Koh Rong Samloem
Koh Rong Samloem is a small island without residents and there are only resorts for tourists here. It takes 3 hour boat riding to get this amazing island. Koh Rong Samloem is as an on-earth paradise with a beautiful coastline, white sandy beaches, turquoise water and diverse sea animals. It is a perfect choice for swimming, reading books on a swing, enjoy moments in tree house, or snorkeling to discover sea animals.
Along the banks of mighty Mekong, Kartie is a right place for visitors to have a plan to experience Mekong, especially dolphin-watching tours. The endangered Irrawaddy dolphins are endemic to the Mekong, so there are a lot of environmental solutions to limit their dwindling numbers. Tourism has played an important role in protecting dolphins as an alternative economy to fishing. To see Irrawaddy dolphins, tourist can come Kampi in the north of Kratie and embark on boat here.
10. Prasat Preah Vihear
Prasat Preah Vihear is an ancient Hindu Temple built in the 6th century during Khmer Empire. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Located on the top of Dangrek Mountains looking at Cambodian floodplains, Prasat Preah Vihear is a monumental temple complex of complicatedly carved pavilions in the connection to long causeways in order to honor the god Shiva.
Cambodian Cuisine is influenced by some neighbors in Asia such as Thailand and Vietnam as well as France too. Khmer food is simple and traditional, especially milder than Thai food with herbs, spices and chilli served on the side, rather than blended into the dish. Much like the rest of Asia, rice is main ingredient in most meals of Cambodian. It is cooked in many forms such as rice cakes, rice noodle soup and rice porridge, etc. Influence of French style can also be found on the menus with lots of coffee options as well as French-style baguettes. It is very common for tourists to get around and enjoy Cambodian street food, deep into Khmer Culture with stir-fries, noodle dishes and filled baguettes.
Cambodians drink a lot of green tea and fruit smoothies. They like iced sugar-cane juice and fresh juice of green coconuts. Beer is also the favorite drink of local residents, their national beer is Angkor. Find out more about food and drink in Cambodia.
Besides mysterious Angkor temple discovery, Cambodia has a dramatic number of interesting outdoor activities and sports. From exploring cultures such as Elephant ride, cycling, horse-riding in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Cambodian villages to discovering nature such as trekking, hiking, wildlife rescue center in Phnom Penh, Thousand Lingas, Kulen Mountain, Cardomom Mountains, etc as well as water sports as diving, snorkeling in Kep, Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloem, Sihanoukville, etc, all of which bring visitors unforgettable experiences.
There are a wide variety of accommodation options from standard to luxury class in Cambodia. Almost mid-range and luxury hotel categories are only popular in main town and tourist hotspots such as Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Battambang, Sihanoukville and Kep. You can find many hotels, chic boutiques and resorts in both Khmer Style and modern style, up to your expectation.
Camping is not common in Cambodia, but in some places such as on the beaches or islands of the south coast, it is possible and available.
The budget accommodation can be extremely cheap at around 10USD per night, even budget guesthouses and hostels at about 2USD per night.
You can book online or contact via travel agency for the best consultation.
Almost foreigners, except for Southeast Asian citizens need a visa to enter Cambodia. Tourist visas have valid for a stay up to maximum of 30 days after entry.
Visitors, who are required to get Cambodia visa, can apply an E-visa or visa on arrival.
For E-visa, please access here: https://www.evisa.gov.kh/
For Visa on arrival, clients need:
- Original passport with at least 6 month validity and 2 blank pages
- 2 photos of 4*6 cm
- Visa Application form
Find out more information, please click here