The quaint and delightful town of Siem Reap serves as a hub for exploring the Angkor Temple complexes and has evolved into a sought-after resort destination, boasting an array of captivating galleries, artisanal crafts, and a multitude of distinctive boutique hotels.
This town presents an exceptional opportunity to seek out budget-friendly treasures, including replica antiques, contemporary art, exquisite photography, and fashion inspired by Khmer culture. While it's a formidable challenge to convey the immense scale and grandeur of Angkor Wat and its neighboring temples, it is entirely possible to capture the enigmatic aura and ambience of these complexes. These astonishing temple-cities, believed to be the creations of kings regarded as divine incarnations, were once inhabited by hundreds of thousands of people, each designed to surpass its predecessors in magnificence.
Phnom Penh, the city graced by the enduring spirit of old Indochina, remains among the rare few where this atmosphere lingers. Along the riverbanks, set against the sweeping backdrop of the Mekong, one can savor a splendid few hours observing Buddhist monks, traditional wooden boats, cyclo pousses, and street vendors meandering along.
Meanwhile, Sihanoukville on Cambodia's coastal shores stands in stark contrast to the rest of the country, featuring palm-fringed beaches and a serene coastal ambiance. A journey through Cambodia is an enriching, deeply moving, and contemplative experience that leaves you yearning for more.
Angkor Wat: Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Angkor Archaeological Park encompasses numerous temple ruins, including Bayon, Banteay Srey, and the iconic Angkor Wat. Its artistic and archaeological significance, as well as its visual impact, place it in the same league as renowned wonders like the Pyramids, Machu Picchu, and the Taj Mahal.
Battambang: Exuding a more relaxed atmosphere and nestled amid picturesque countryside, Battambang is an excellent place to explore cultural villages and witness the traditional production of rice paper, prahoc (a typical Cambodian fish paste), and grolan (sticky rice stuffed in bamboo). Preserving beautifully crafted French colonial architecture and offering delightful cuisine, this town is certainly worth a visit.
Phnom Penh: Phnom Penh, once known as the "Paris of the East," is currently undergoing a remarkable renaissance, with a proliferation of new restaurants, cafés, boutiques, and hotels. Nevertheless, much of Phnom Penh retains its timeless charm, making it one of the few cities where the ambiance of old Indochina endures. The riverside promenade remains the favored locale for a plethora of restaurants and bars.
Siem Reap: Nestled amidst rice paddies and stretched along the Siem Reap River, the charming provincial capital of Siem Reap Town serves as the gateway to the ancient temple ruins of the Khmer Empire, which are a millennium old. The town itself is a cluster of historic villages, initially forming around individual pagodas and later enriched by a French colonial-era center.
Tonle Sap Lake: Tonle Sap, often referred to as "The Great Lake," serves as the lifeblood of Cambodia, sustaining millions of people. This immense lake boasts the world's highest fish population and is a habitat for a diverse array of bird species, making it a remarkable natural wonder.
When to go / useful information
When to go
Cambodia experiences a tropical monsoon climate characterized by two distinct seasons. The rainy season prevails from May through to November, marked by humid and muggy days with frequent rainfall.
On the other hand, the dry season extends from December to April and is characterized by ample sunshine. However, temperatures remain relatively consistent year-round, hovering around the mid-30 degrees Celsius range.
Currency: Riel (KHR) – US Dollars widely accepted
Language: Khmer is the official language of Cambodia
What makes it special: When you hear the name Cambodia, you can't help but be instantly transported to the enigmatic allure of Angkor, the colossal temple cities constructed by kings revered as deities. From the intricate beauty of Bantei Sreay, also known as the Temple of the Women, to the gradual reclamation of Ta Phrom by the lush jungle, where tree roots intermingle with the stone structures, the Angkor temples possess an otherworldly charm that is truly unparalleled. Yet, Cambodia offers so much more than just Angkor. It boasts palm-fringed beaches in Sihanoukville, saffron-clad monks embarking on silent pilgrimages, and age-old farming techniques showcased on Tonle Sap Lake, which have endured for centuries.
Weather: Cambodia features a tropical monsoon climate characterized by a rainy season that spans from May to November. During this period, expect sultry, oppressive days with high humidity. From December to April, the dry season prevails, offering plenty of sunshine. Nevertheless, temperatures remain relatively constant throughout the year, typically hovering around the mid-30 degrees Celsius mark.
Social customs: The majority of Cambodians adhere to the principles of Theravada Buddhism, which centers on the idea of reincarnation. According to this belief, your conduct in your current life influences whether you will be reborn as a higher or lower being in your next life. With this spiritual perspective in mind, Cambodian people are inherently mindful of their manners, striving to avoid causing offense to others and displaying the respect that is integral to their hierarchical society. Foreigners will discover Cambodians to be friendly and courteous individuals. If uncertain about Cambodian etiquette, a good rule of thumb is to observe and follow their lead, refraining from excessive exuberance when exchanging greetings.