Cambodia

Capital city: Phnom Penh

Language: Khmer

Temperature: 21°C – 35°C

Best time of year to visit: November to April

Time zone: GMT + 7 

Currency: Riel (CR, KHR)

Exchange rate to RMB: 1 KHR = 0.0016 RMB (April 2016)

Plug converter: The standard is European type plugs (with two round pins). 230 volts AC, 50Hz

Country code: + 855

Flight:Major Chinese cities Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou have direct flight to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Highlights

Cambodia might be one of the smallest Southeast Asian countries, but its History and culture make it one of must-see destinations in one’s lifetime. The spectacular Angkor Wat complex in Siem Reap attracts travellers from all around the world and rightly so. Other temples are well worth a visit too and experiences such as a journey down the iconic Mekong river will make your holiday in Cambodia truly unforgettable.

Nature

Cambodia is a roughly circular country. It shares a border to the west with Thailand, to the north with Laos and to the east with Vietnam. The landscape includes both tropical rainforest and cultivated land. In this rich and nutritious land, live a variety of animals including rare species such as Indochinese tigers and Asian elephants. The mekong River flows through the country and a large inland lake,  called Tonle Sap, can be found close to the Angkor Wat complex in the north. There are also several beaches and offshore islands along the southwest coast which make Cambodia a great choice for relaxation too.

History

There is evidence showing that the early history of Cambodia can be traced back as far as 4000 B.C.. Chinese and Indian traders exchanged goods with people living on the coasts of present Cambodia and Vietnam as early as the 1st century A.D..

Cambodia’s golden era came with the arrival of the Khmer dynasty, which ruled from the 9th until the 15th century. The Kingdom of Kambuja became one of the most powerful in Asia and the Khmer established their famous capital in Angkor.

After, a long period of decline followed and the country became a French colony in the 1800s. In 1953, Cambodia finally became independent. However, shortly after, the Khmer rouge ruled the country in 1975. During that time, tens of thousands of people were executed in a systematic genocide campaign , targeting academics, the wealthy, the educated, city dwellers and even simply people who wore glasses. In 1979 the Vietnamese army captured Phnom Penh and occupied Cambodia, which was then renamed the People's Republic of Kampuchea.

Following UN intervention, the king Sihanouk returned to the throne in 1993. In 2004 he retired. In the subsequent elections, the left-wing Cambodian People’s Party, led by prime minister Hun Sen, obtained the most votes.

Culture

95% of the population is Buddhist (Theravada) and Buddhism was appointed as the national religion in 1989. There are also some Muslim and Christian minorities. As the Knmer empire played a strong influence on the culture, you will find a large number of temples dedicated to the culture and religion of the empire.

During your stay, it is recommended that you avoid pointing your foot at a someone or touching them on the head. Both these actions are considered as insulting. Also, when visiting temples, pagodas and any other religious sites, women should keep their shoulders covered and should not wear short shorts or skirts.

Food

Cambodian food is quite similar to the one of its neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam though fish is more predominant such as in the traditional dish Fish Amok, a must when travelling in the country. The basic for any Khmer dish is rice, not only sticky rice, but also the fragrant jasmine rice grown in paddy fields across the nation. The French influence can also be noticed with coffee and nom pang (baguette sandwiches with pork) available all over the country. A Vietnamese influence can also be noticed in the flavours as well when it come to noodle soups such as kuy teav.

Shopping

There are quite few souvenirs which can purchased in local markets ranging from silks, textiles and statues to carvings, silverwork and Buddhist artworks. The omnipresent krama (a unisex checked scarf usually made of cotton) is one of the unique products of Cambodia.

Suggested places for shopping include markets such as Phnom Penh Central Market or Angkor Night Market. Alternatively areas such as Street 240 and Street 178 offer interesting art boutiques.

What to pack?

Lightweight clothing can be worn all year. Gumboots, umbrellas and raincoats are advisable during the rainy season. Also, do not forget your beach wear, sun screen and sunglasses when going to beach.