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Old Town Lijiang
|Angkor Wat; Songzanlin Monastery; Tibetan monastery; ||
|South East Asian Information|
This tour visits the following countries. Please select one to view its details.
| Cambodia | China | Hong Kong | Thailand |
|To see our current selection of tours in Cambodia click here.|
Being located in the tropical zone north of the equator, Cambodia has a monsoon climate. Monsoon season runs May - November, meaning that the most pleasant season for visitors is generally the dry season, stretching from November/December - April. Immediately after the monsoon, the blanketing green of the countryside can be stunningly beautiful. In the north, winters are generally colder, while throughout most of the country temperatures remain fairly constant. The average year-round temperature in Cambodia is 27.7C (the highest monthly average being 35C, the lowest monthly average being 21C). There is often seasonal flooding in Phnom Penh and the rest of Cambodia in late July and early August, and, because the majority of roads are dirt, travel may be disrupted at these times. At the peak of the wet season it can rain as often as two in every three days.
Lightweight clothing is worn all year. Rainwear is essential during the monsoon season.
181,035 sq km (69,898 sq miles).
78.4 per sq km.
Phnom Penh. Population: 2 million (2007).
Constitutional monarchy since 1993.
Bordered to the west by Thailand, to the north by Laos and to the east by Vietnam, Cambodia is a roughly circular country with a southern coastline giving onto the Gulf of Thailand. The landscape comprises tropical rainforest and fertile cultivated land, with lush highlands rising in both the northeast and southeast. Rivers are a central feature of its make-up, with Phnom Penh situated at the confluence of the Bassac, the Tonle Sap and the mighty Mekong. A large inland lake, also called Tonle Sap, sits close to the Angkor Temple Complex in the north. There are numerous beaches and offshore islands along the southwest coast.
However, Cambodia’s main landscape is its jewel, comprising tropical rainforest and fertile cultivated land, with lush highlands rising in both the north east and south east. This rich, nutritious land also includes a wealth of nature, including rare and endangered species such as Indochinese tigers, Asian elephants and freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins.
Unfortunately Cambodia suffers from high rates of illegal trading in endangered wildlife and logging, and man is fast wiping out these incredible creatures and their habitat. Around Cambodia visitors can find various eco-camps and rainforest preservation trips offering excursions, education and an alternative form of income to locals previously involved in illegal trade.
Khmer is the official language and spoken by 95% of the population. Chinese and Vietnamese are also spoken. French was widely spoken until the arrival of the Pol Pot regime and is still taught in schools. English is commonly spoken in Cambodia. It's estimated that over 50% of the population are conversational in English, but travellers in rural areas may find in hard to communicate in smaller villages. Learning a few basic Khmer words will get you far, and earn you respects from the locals.
95% of the population are classified Buddhist (Theravada), the remainder are Muslim and Christian. Buddhism was reinstated as the national religion in 1989 after a ban on religious activity in 1975.
GMT + 7.
Sensitivity to politically-related subjects in conversation is advisable. Avoid pointing your foot at a person or touching someone on the head, as it’s considered insulting. Women should keep their shoulders covered and should not wear shorts when visiting pagodas. Photography: Permitted, with certain restrictions such as the photography of military installations, airports and railway stations. It is considered polite to ask permission before photographing Cambodian people, especially monks.
220 volts AC, 50Hz. Two-pin plugs are in use. Power cuts are frequent.
Head of Government
Prime Minister Hun Sen since 1985.
Head of State
King Norodom Sihamoni since 2004.
The golden era of the Khmer dynasty, from the 9th to the 15th centuries, made the kingdom of Kambuja (from where modern-day Cambodia gets its name) one of the most powerful in Asia. A long period of decline followed, before the country fell under French colonial clutches in the 1800s. Independence was finally achieved in 1953, after which Norodom Sihanouk was appointed king. His first reign lasted until the 1970s, when a coup d’etat and the Khmer Rouge led to years of repression and the execution of tens of thousands. Following a period of Vietnamese occupation, Sihanouk returned to the throne in 1993. His son, the current monarch, took over following his father’s abdication in 2004. Politically, Hun Sen and the extreme-left Cambodian People’s Party have been in power since a disputed election in 1998.
Riel (KHR; symbol CR) is the country's official currency but locals prefer to use dollars. Riel notes are in denominations of CR100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000, 500, 200, 100 and 50. Dollars notes (not coins) are widely accepted, yet visitors in small villages and shops vendors may not have change for high notes (including $10+). It is advisable to keep hold of small Riel change wherever you can as it is very useful.
US Dollars are widely exchangeable and can often be used as payment in their own right. Thai Baht can be easily exchanged close to the Thai border, but other currencies are generally only recognised at banks and airports.
Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs
Credit cards are now more widely accepted in upmarket hotels, shops and restaurants catering to visitors. There are ATMs in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. It is always best to carry cash (US Dollars if necessary) in small denominations.
Limited acceptance. Traveller's cheques are generally not recommended. Traveller's cheques in US Dollars can be changed at banks and some hotels, but can be difficult to change outside major cities.
The import and export of local currency is prohibited. Foreign currency may be exported up to the limit declared at customs on arrival.
Mon-Fri 0800-1500. Some banks are open on Saturdays 0800-1130.
Exchange Rate Indicators
1.00 GBP = 6220.4 KHR 1.00 USD = 3992 KHR 1.00 EUR = 5247.2 KHR 1.00 CAD = 3978.59 KHR Currency conversion rates as of 9 May 2013
Cambodia might be one of South East Asia’s smallest countries, but it is superlative in stature. Though the nation was brought to its knees under Pol Pot's destructive regime in the 1970s, it has recovered sufficiently to become one of the highlights of South East Asia. It’s a beloved spot for backpackers, who can enjoy 50-cent beers whilst overlooking some of the most awe-inspiring historical remains on the planet. While, the striking magnificence of the Angkor Temples has long been the main draw for budget and luxury travellers alike, as has the country’s ancient Khmer heritage, wild jungles, steamy cities and a past that's equal parts inspiring and saddening.
Approximately 2 million tourists visit the country each year. Uber cool bars and decadent hotels have popped up in Cambodia’s main cities Siem Reap and Phnom Penh to serve this growing industry. Meanwhile, the up and coming beach town Sihanoukville offers a laid back Asian beach vibe, golden sands and opaque waters to those seeking solace, away from the chaotic cities.
Cambodia's capital, Phnom Penh, is one of the region's most absorbing cities - a laconic waterside feel offset by rampant nightlife and a proud local culture. In recent years the city has evolved into a somewhat arty hub, with its boutique fashion store shops and galleries, yet the authentic buzz remains. A simple street walk offers a unruly, yet beguiling, scene of rickety tuk tuks, wayward moto drivers and vendors selling everything from Balut – fertilised duck egg – to bowls of spiders, both popular street food.
Elsewhere, beaches and lashings of tropical adventure all help keep visitor numbers healthy. The intrepid may seek out the hill tribal region of Mondulkiri or Rantanakiri, the sleepy conservation village of Chi Phat, the isolated temples of Preah Vihear and Banteay Chhmar, and the lesser travelled areas of Kampot or Kep.
Cambodia’s national parks are also a must visit. The country is filled with minerals, exotic fauna and over 240 reptile species, 850 freshwater fish species and 212 mammal species, including 16 globally endangered mammals such as Indochinese tigers, Asian elephants and freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins. Wildlife specialists frequent the region to monitor these incredible creatures, while eco-tourists take part in activities and tours to help maintain funding for various conservation projects.
Other tourist sites include both world-wonder-worthy ancient temples at Angkor Wat and, in stark contrast, the Killing Fields - exhibiting the atrocities that took place under Khmer Rouge. Somehow, through Cambodia’s traumatic history, which included years of torture, colonization, carpet-bombing, pillaging and poverty, Khmer people remain some of most gentle, happy and friendly sorts on earth.
From www.worldtravelguide.net copyright Columbus Travel Publishing Ltd, May 2013.