The Kingdom of Cambodia is an independent nation with a population of 7 million. Cambodia has a demarked geographical trait: it is a basin covered by highlands. Here the farmer has a plain life – an original civilization and a philosophy of mildness. After years of fighting, people redefined the meaning of “PEACE” and started to rebuild their lives. Cambodia is divided into 20 states and is rich in forests, rubber, gems, and fish.
Cambodia’s national language is the Khmer language. The script originated in India. As in other former French colonies, the educated old generation speaks good French while the young lot speaks English. Outside the big cities of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and the South Coast, most people only speak Khmer but it is usually easy to find somebody who can speak English.
Buddhism is the dominant religion in Cambodia with 90-95% of the population. Islam is followed by a very small percentage, by the Chams on the Vietnamese border. Christianity and Hinduism comprise of 1% of the Cambodian people.
Despite its turbulent history, Cambodia is a safe country to visit. All tourist areas have been cleared of landmines with a small portion remaining in remote areas. However, never leave your belongings unattended.
Cambodian handicrafts include rattan weavings, woodcarvings, handmade papers, silks and the krama, which is traditional Cambodian scarf. Phnom Penh and Siem Reap’s local markets are the best places for shopping and there are also dozens of charity-run shops throughout the country.
Cambodia is GMT + 7 and does not operate a daylight-saving system.
Tipping for good service is always appreciated in a country where the average annual income is incredibly low compared to Western standards. It is customary to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of a tour. Hotel porters should also be tipped. Do not let a guide talk you into tipping more than you plan to. It is totally up to you who you tip, and how much based on services received.
Cambodia has two distinctive seasons: Rainy from June to October and dry from November to May. Traveling during the rainy season has its benefits as the temple moats in Siem Reap are full, making for great photos. The rains are usually in the afternoon and last 1-3 hours. The dry season can be dusty, but easier for walking through the jungle terrain around the temples. The temperature is fairly steady 30-35 Celsius during the day time, although November to January often has cooler temperatures.
Food is closely related to the cuisines of neighbours Vietnam, Thailand and the Laos, but there are some local dishes distinctly available. In large number of restaurants in Phnom Penh and Siemreap, great Chinese and Vietnamese dish but it is the local dishes which are prepared the best. Rice is the staple and Battanbang region is the country’s rice bowl.
The capital city Phnom Penh is famous for its beauty, especially the area around the Royal Palace where magnificent Khmer towers share the glory with French villas overlooking the banks of the Tonle Sap river.