GENERAL INFORMATIONS CAMBODIA
of Cambodia: The geographical framework of Cambodia is
found bordered by the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, Laos
to the north and Vietnam to the east and southeast. Its main artery
is the Mekong valley, which crosses from north to south. This
is joined at Phnom Penh by the Tonle Sap, spreading to the northwest
in a large plain of water that extends for some 140 kilometers
by 30 and irrigates the surrounding plains.
Every year the weather varies from 25°C to 30°C with an
average temperature of 27°C The maximum temperature is 40°C
in April and lowest temperature is 16°C to 18°C in January.
In Cambodia the high temperature increases to 220 days per year.
There are two seasons clearly : dry monsoon (from October until
April) and raining monsoon (from May until September).
Population and area: Cambodia has a population
of 11,426,223 people in an area of 181,035 square kilometers
Language and communication: The official language
is Khmer . English and French are widely spoken and practical
in conducting businesses.
Time Zone: Cambodia is 7+GSM.
Business Hour: Government offices open from 7.00
AM to 5.00 PM on weekdays only. The lunch break is from 12.00
AM to 2.00 PM. Banks open from 8 AM to 3 PM.
Electric current: Standard voltage is 220 volts.
Currency: Riel is an official currency. Dollars
and traveler's cheques in dollars are widely accepted.
Airport Tax: International departures: US$ 20.
From Phnom Penh to Siem Reap US$ 15. All other domestic destinations
Religion: The national religion is Buddhism of
the Small Vehicle, or Theravada, of the Pali language. The monastic
life plays the principal role and remain the popular faith.
Local food: Rice and fish are the staple diet
and the harvest is regulated by the rhythm of the rains and floods.
The fish are plentiful. During the dry season, and entire village
is built on Tonle Sap Lake. Their belongings suspended on the
poles with rachs of dried fish. There are other many kinds of
food made of mixed-vegetables cooked by using red meat or pork
Transportation: There are cars and motorcycles
for rent in the city. Rickshaws and taxi's are also available.
Travelers can travel by air, car, boat or train to get from one
province to another.
Communication: Mobile phones are widely used.
Phone cards can be used on both mobile and regular telephones.
Public phones with phone cards are common in Phnom Penh. Phone
cards can be purchased at most hotels, post offices and supermarkets.
events and feasts in Cambodia
New Year's Day
07 January Victory
08 March International
13-16 April Khmer
01 May International
07 May Bon
11 May Bon
Chrat Preah Neangkoal
01 June International
18 June Birthday
of Samdech Prereach AkeakMohesey Norodom
24 September Constitution
Day and Recoronation of H.M Preah Bat Samdech Preah
29 September Pchum
of Bun Kathen
30-31 October 01-November King
Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk's Birthday
09 November Independent
10-12 November Water
and Moon festival
10 December Human
is one of the main industries in the Kingdom of Cambodia and strong
efforts are made to promote the country as a unique destination,
rich for its diversity and cultural heritage.
Since the last national election, a new era of peace and political
stability is taking root in the country. The chance for visitors
is to discover the deepest heart of the Kingdom by travelling
to very little known areas and understanding more about the splendor
of the Angkor civilization.
The traveler will, at first, visit Cambodia for the temples of
Angkor. Besides the impressive grandeur of the ancient capital,
beauty has been scattered into thousand facets through the Kingdom.
Cambodia has much more to offer than its famous cultural sites.
to the improvement of the roads and the open sky policy which
facilitate the access to the country (direct flights are connecting
Cambodia to Bangkok, Hanoi, Pakse, Singapore, Vientiane, Kuala
Lumpur, Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City
operated by Bangkok Airways, Silk Air, Lao Aviation, Malaysia
Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Eva Air…).
Other routes are under negociation.
Land entry points, from Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, allow visitors
to combine the countries in the region and provide a very unique
travel experience.There are more possibilities now with the better
roads in Cambodia.
are available upon arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport,
Siem Reap International Airport and at the following border check-points:
Poi Pet, Pailin, O'Smach, Koh Kong (border to Thailand); K'am
Samnor/Chau Doc and Bavet/Moc Bai (border to Vietnam) and Dong
Krolor (border to Laos).
Visas are required prior to arrival by boat at the border at Voeun
Kam (border to Laos).
accommodation choice is developing very quickly in Siem Reap and
standard hotels are now available in almost all regions newly
open to tourism.
through Cambodia has become a safe and very special experience,
providing a wide spectrum of different destinations to satisfy
capital of the Kingdom, Phnom Penh, is located at the confluence
of three rivers: the Mekong, the Bassac and the Tonle Sap.
Strongly influenced by its French colonial past, Phnom Penh is
a mix of architectural styles, promenades along the river, markets
and pagodas... Visitors should not miss the Royal Palace, the
Silver Pagoda, the National Museum and Wat Phnom. The “Killing
Fields” and Tuol Sleng Museum, chronicle of the Khmer Rouge's
period, help for the understanding of recent Cambodian history.
are several places of interest to visit near Phnom Penh as for
example Angkor Borei. Only 20 km from the provincial town of Takeo,
the capital of the pre-angkorian kingdom of Funan (6th C.) and
of Water Chenla (8th C.), the site is easily accessible by boat
along a small river. Its museum displays reproductions of objects
from these periods and even some originals found in the region.
Udong, ancient capital of the Khmer Kingdom, offers spectacular
views of the surrounding country and the innumerable sugar palm
trees that punctuate the countryside. King Ang Dung, the great
grandfather of the present king was crowned here and many locals
and foreign residents like to picnic here on weekends.
Another worthwhile excursion from Phnom Penh is the Phnom Chisor
Temple. On the top of the hill, there is an amazing view of the
surrounding plains, with a fine Angkorian temple (Suryagiri -11th
Reap known for Angkor Wat, one of the greatest religious monuments
in the world. Besides the temples of Angkor, Siem Reap is a quiet
and pleasant town, offering promenades along the river and around
the old market. Excursions to the fascinating floating villages,
sunset cruises, tours to the inundated forest or the bird reserve
of Prek Tuol are to be combined with a tour to the temples.
Some temples have been lately re-opened to tourism, such as the
fabulous Preah Vihear Temple. Well over 100 km to the North-East
of Angkor, on the Thai border, Preah
Vihear Temple (or Prasat Phra Viharn) dates from the beginning
of the 11th century. It dominates the plain from its prominent
position in the Dangrek Mountains at an altitude of more than
700 m and was only returned to Cambodia by a ruling of the International
Court of Justice in The Hague in 1963 (previously occupied by
At 1h30 from there is Anlong Veng: the Khmer Rouge leaders used
Anlong Veng as their last strong hold and hideout in this remote
area, along the Cambodian/Thai border. It reveals the remains
of Pol Pot's (Khmer Rouge Leader No. 1) house and burial site,
built in close range of man made artificial lakes. The rainy season
from May to October complicates the visit of temples in remote
the same area is Koh Ker. The road has recently been renewed and
is now subject to a toll. The old capital of ruler Jayavarman
IV is located North and can be visited in one day from Siem Reap.
Beng Melea is a huge 12th century temple complex, 40 km east of
Bayon, which was completely ruined even though it was built at
about the same time as Angkor Wat. Very secluded located, to the
North-West of Siem Reap, is the rarely visited Banteay Chhmar
temple, one of the capitals of Jayavarman II. It was rebuilt by
Jayavarman VII and dedicated to his sons who were killed in battle
repelling a Cham invasion in 1177.
Deep in the jungle, a visit of secluded Kbal Spean, known as the
river of the Thousand Lingas, is highly recommended. The rocks
of the river have been carved (11th-13th Century), which gives
it a magical touch.
second largest city in Cambodia, Battambang is located in a rich
and fertile plain. The Sangker River flows through the town center,
which is filled with interesting colonial architecture. The region
has numerous Angkorian and post-Angkorian sites. Some of the most
interesting are the Wat Ek (11th C. - Suryavarman I),Wat Toul
Baset (7th C.) and Phnom Banon.
less visited regions are located in the North of the country.
Tropical lush jungle cover the mountain areas, hiding the rich
wildlife in its grandiose sceneries. Trips are difficult or even
impossible during the rainy season... Mondolkiri is the largest
province geographically but also the least populated. Around Sen
Monorom, capital of the province, there are 11 different hill
tribes, each with a distinct language, culture and traditions.
is the dream of adventurous travelers. Banlung, the capital of
this province, is situated around 600 km from Phnom Penh. The
Jarai, Kreung and Tampuan hill tribes reside here where they still
practice a way of life untouched by modernization. The Yeak Laom
Lake lies in the crater of an extinct volcano.
Southern Cambodia has access to the Gulf of Thailand and offers
ideal opportunities to finish a tour in the Kingdom. Kampot is
a pleasant town 5 kms inland on the banks of the river Tuk Chhou.
A nice place to enjoy a boat trip on the river. Kampot is also
a base for excursions to the Bokor National Park in the
Elephant Mountains. The nearby seaside resort of Kep (Kep-sur-Mer)
is located 25 km from Kampot. This beautiful coastal area was
once the favorite holiday spot for Cambodia’s French-influenced
elite during the middle of 20th C. From Kep fishing boats can
take you to one of the island scattered in the bay.
Kompong Som (Sihanoukville) is Cambodia’s only deep-sea port.
The beaches are some of the most unspoiled and finest in all of
Southeast Asia. The nearby islands can be reached by fishing boats.
Various Hotels and local restaurants serve fresh, delicious seafood.
new 1,9 kilometres Koh Kong Bridge was officially declared open
on 4th April 2002 by Prime Minister Hun Sen. This magnificent
8 million dollar masterpiece of Technology links the estuary of
Koh Kong with Thailand (South-West), enhancing to promote tourism,
investment and trade, as well as reducing travel-time to Phnom
Penh to about 6hrs only. However, this new wide laterite highway
built by the Thai Army, requires 4 tricky ferry crossings and
is not suitable during the rainy-season.
new cruise and shipping possibilities have emerged last year and
are now proposing new ways to discover Cambodia such as:
Cruising on the RV Mekong (Saigon – Siem Reap – Saigon)
Many veteran travellers will be familiar with the much loved Pandaw
Fleet owned and operated by the Irrawaddy Flotilla Company in
Myanmar. The original Pandaw was a Scottish built paddle steamer
refitted to a high standard of comfort with deluxe staterooms.
The intention was to recreate the atmosphere of the colonial steamers
that carried royal princes, viceroys and a succession of famous
artists, writers and poets. The RV Mekong is of similar design
to the Pandaws with a spacious dining room on the Main Deck, an
ample cocktail bar on the Upper Deck and a large sun deck area
above, half covered by an awning, which affords the best views
of the river life around. The RV Mekong did operate its first
cruise in October 2003, starting from April 2005 onwards, the
RV Tonle Sap will cruise in the same waters. The boats offer Upstream
Saigon – Siem Reap for 7 nights / 8 Days v. v. (see the schedule
in the Program “River Journeys in Cambodia”).
Toum Teav / The traditional Khmer wooden boat (Phnom Penh – Siem
Reap – Phnom Penh)
An extraordinary way of cruising quietly between the two most
visited cities is the nicely decorated M/V Toum Teav, equipped
with 10 cabins (7m2) and bathrooms with shower (3m2), a library
salon, a sundeck and an open restaurant. Possible to charter during
3 days/2 nights (max. 20 passengers), leaving Phnom Penh on Monday
at 8 a.m. to arrive in Siem Reap on Wednesday around noon. The
return takes place from Siem Reap on Thursday at 8 a.m. and arrives
on Saturday in Phnom Penh around 6:00 pm. Another option is their
Phnom Penh – Saigon cruise for 7 days/6 nights or Phnom Penh -
Kratie for 3 days/2 nights (see the schedule in the Program “River
Journeys in Cambodia”).
Speed Boat from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc (Vietnam) v.v.
Victoria boats operate a daily service between Phnom Penh and
Chau Doc. This breathtaking and comfortable way to travel down
the Mekong River is an excellent approach to observe the daily
life of Cambodian people, along this very important waterway.
It operates every day sailing from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh at 07.00h-12.30h
and from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc at 13.30h-17.30h.
from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc (Vietnam)
Since May 2002, a daily boat service (capacity: 20 person, operated
by Hang Chau Tourism) operates from Chau Doc (Vietnam) to Phnom
Penh (08.30-12.30h) and v.v. (14.00-17.30h). It sails from the
Ving Phuoc Hotel in Chau Doc to Phnom Penh (Preah Sisowat quay),
without transferring boats. A fantastic and uncomplicated way
to travel along the breathtaking Mekong River with easy immigration-
and custom formalities into Cambodian- or Vietnam.
Express Boat on Tonle Sap Lake (Siem Reap-Phnom Penh v.v.)
The M/V Mekong Express, a Japanese-made Motor-Vessel, is operating
between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap on odd days and Siem Reap and
Phnom Penh on even days. The modern boat comes with a new engine
with a capacity of 140 seats, equipped with modern furniture,
air-conditioning and sundeck. The journey between the two cities
takes 5 hours. The M/V Mekong Express does not operate, during
the low water period from February to July.
Journey from Battambang to Siem Reap on Asian Trails wooden boat
For a traveler to Cambodia curious about the local culture, embarking
on the a boat journey from Battambang to Siem Reap is a must.
The day long journey is a unique approach to discover people's
way of life in one of the most fascinating ecosystems on earth
: the Sankger river and the Tonle Sap lake.
As the river progresses towards the lake, human activities grade
progressively from a pure land-based farming to a floating life
of fishing. One can marvel at the many picturesque scenes of daily
life on land and water.
more and more tourists come into the region, touring slowly but
surely by bicycle ensures experiences that few others will have
the opportunity to savour. Remember that just a couple of kilometers
off the highways and byways lie villages that hardly any Westerners
will ever see. Asian Trails offers several Cycling Tours around
the countryside of Siem Reap up to the hearth of the temples of
Angkor. The technical level is normal. The land is mostly flat.
Some portions of the itineraries are on sandy ground which asks
for some physical effort. The daily distances are not too long
but the accumulation of days of cycling with sometimes hard climatically
conditions can be improving and asks for good physical condition.
Another adventurous way for discovering the best off-road of Cambodia
is riding a motorcycle. Asian Trails proposes different tours
on dirt bike. Don't ride or don't care to? We go to all the same
locations in four-wheel vehicles or Jeep. Preah Vihear, Anlong
Veng, Koh Ker are amongst the most popular destinations.
Cambodia is developing quickly and the number of visitors
is increasing. If the visit of Angkor is a must and is unrivalled,
more and more globe-trotters realize that the country has much
more to enjoy: a smattering of golden undeveloped beaches, unspoilt
forests, beautiful old colonial cities like Phnom Penh, Battambang
and Kratie and even more important a very relaxing atmosphere.