Travel to Cambodia

Cambodia Cambodia Cambodia Cambodia Cambodia
Cambodia

Cambodia had its hey day during the Angkorian period when the Khmers ruled much of what we now know as Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Evidence of this is seen in the sublime Angkor Wat, which is easily on a par with Machu Picchu or Petra.  Turbulence and instability have whittled away at the might of the former empire, but what hasn’t been diminished is the radiance of the Cambodian people. Their smiles light up the room and their unbreakable spirits and unshakable optimism impact everyone they encounter.

Angkor Wat - It is not hyperbole to say that the temples of Angkor take ones breath away. It is a sight that is matched by few other places on earth. Built between 1112–52, Angkor means heaven on earth and the collections of temples is one the most inspired monuments ever conceived by the human mind; the perfect fusion of creative ambition and spiritual devotion. In the same league as the Taj Mahal, the Pyramids and the Great Wall of China, Angkor Wat is a worthy tourism pilgrimage to undertake.

Siem Reap – is the gateway to Angkor Wat, and much more. Visitors to Angkor Wat often stay 2 nights in this chic town which offers all the comforts of modern Asia, including spas, fine dining restaurants and shopping.  If this modernity is not what you were looking for, to be found just a short distance away are floating villages, picturesque rice paddies and rare bird sanctuaries.

Phnom Penh – the capital of Cambodia was once considered the Pearl of Asia, until war and revolution removed some of the lustre.  Happily, the city has regained its compelling attraction and the shining spires of the Royal Palace, the glimmering waters of the Mekong River, and the golden tones of the monks’ robes serve to celebrate Phnom Penhs comeback. .

Most visitors to Cambodia are intent on seeing Angkor Wat, then moving on. Which is a shame, as Cambodia has much to offer, is definitely worthy of more time, and holds up as a stand alone destination.  Savvy travelers are expanding their itineraries to include the authentic villages in the north, and the peaceful, white sand beaches, surrounded by majestic mountains in the south.

People

The Kingdom of Cambodia has a population of over 15 million. 96% of Khmers are Buddhists.

Language

Khmer is the official language of Cambodia. English is widely spoken in tourist areas. Older people speak French rather than English.

History

In 802 AD, Jayavarman II declared himself king, so marking the beginning of the Khmer Empire, which ruled much of SE Asia for more then 600 years, during which time great wealth was amassed.  The construction of Angkor Wat was a testament to the pride and power of the empire. 

Cambodia fell to Thailand in the 15th century, and was ruled a vassal state by its neighbours. In 1863, Cambodia became a protectorate of France, which doubled the size of the country by reclaiming the north and west from Thailand.

In 1953, Cambodia regained independence.  During the Vietnam War the US attempted to halt the spread of communism by bombing Cambodia. In 1970 a coup was carried out and the king was overthrown. The Khmer Rouge emerged as a major power, led by Pol Pot also known as ‘Brother Number One’. Countless people were killed by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge; perhaps as many as 3 million.  The Khmer Rouge were ousted the Vietnamese backed People’s Republic of Kampuchea in the Cambodian–Vietnamese War (1979–91). 

Following the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, Cambodia was governed briefly by a United Nations mission until elections were held in which around 90 percent of the registered voters cast ballots. The 1997 coup placed power solely in the hands of Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People’s Party, who remain in power as of 2016 .

Currency

The Cambodian Riel is the currency of Cambodia. The currency code for Riels is KHR, and the currency symbol is ៛

Best Time to Travel

The best months to travel in Cambodia are November through April, when it is dry.  Outside of these months, humidity increases and the rains come, but there are benefits to traveling at this time - the countryside is verdant, rivers are high, and the temples are less crowded. Toward September,  the water level of Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in SE Asia and home to Cambodia’s floating villages, rises and the lake comes to life.

Health Requirements

There are no require shots or medications for travellers arriving from the US into Cambodia, however malaria is present in Cambodia and visitors may want to take preventative medications.  Please check with your travel clinic for their recommendation based on your personal health history.

Visa Requirements

US nationals are eligible for visa on arrival. You will be required to have a passport valid for at least 6 months from your date of return with at least 2 blank visa pages.  Two passport size photos and $30 cash in exact change is required. This is subject to change without notice.

Tipping & Porterage

Tipping is appropriate and appreciated.  A Tipping Guide will be provided with your final Trip Packet.

Credit Cards

In both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh there are several ATMs that distribute US dollars. US Dollars are accepted as widely as the riel, although change will likely be given in riel. Visa and Mastercard are accepted only at major hotels, American Express less so.  Cash is needed for shopping at street markets.

Electrical Appliances

Cambodia operates on 230 volts, 50 hertz and requires plug type A or C
For information on plugs and voltage, please visit http://www.worldstandards.eu/electricity/plugs-and-sockets/    Adaptors are easily and cheaply purchased locally.

Water

Bottled water is recommended and is inexpensive and widely available. Tap water is not potable.


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This Destination

Cambodia

Related Destinations

Bali & Indonesia
Bhutan
Cambodia
China
Hong Kong & Macau
India
Japan
Laos
Malaysia
Myanmar
Nepal
Northern India
Philippines
Singapore
South Korea
Southern India
Sri Lanka
Taiwan
Thailand
Vietnam

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