Cambodia Country Guide


Battambang by Milei.vencel

The Kingdom of Cambodia (sometimes transliterated as Kampuchea to more closely represent the Khmer pronunciation) is a Southeast Asian nation situated on the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula. Cambodia borders Vietnam to the east, Laos to the north, Thailand to the northwest and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest. The country is home to 15 million people, who are predominantly (95%) Buddhist.

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Cambodia in the region from (CIA) World Factbook

Ever since the fall of Angkor in 1431, the once mighty Khmer Empire has been plundered by all its neighbours. Cambodia was colonised by the French in the 19th century and experienced a false dawn of independence in 1953. The North Vietnamese used Cambodia as a sanctuary and route to supply arms to their forces fighting against the South Vietnamese during the Vietnam War. As a result, Cambodia suffered aerial bombings by the US from 1964 to 1973. The country then suffered a reign of terror under the Khmer Rouge beginning in 1975 and only began to totter back on its feet after the UN-sponsored elections in 1993.

Why Visit Cambodia
For decades, Cambodia was outside the radar for most travellers to Southeast Asia due to the lack of security. Poverty is still very evident and many of Cambodia's people still subsists on less than USD1 a day. The provision of even basic services remains spotty and political intrigue remains as complex and opaque as ever. However, the security situation has improved immeasurably as well as improving infrastructure and tourist facilities. Today, increasing numbers of visitors are rediscovering the country's cities, temples and beaches. However, travelling beyond the most popular tourist destinations is still an adventure but security has improved.

Royal Palace complex in Phnom Penh by AJ Oswald

Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city in Cambodia, known for its chaotic traffic but home to temples, markets and culinary treats. Siem Reap is the gateway to the ancient ruins of Angkor and now sports luxury hotels, chic nightspots, ATMs and an airport fielding flights from all over the region. Battambang is Cambodia's second largest city and gateway to nearby temples and the Bamboo Railway. Sihanoukville is a seaside town in the south and getting good press as an up and coming beach destination in Southeast Asia.

Beyond the cities, Angkor Archaeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the Temple of Angkor being the most well-known. Tonle Sap is the largest lake in Southeast Asia, featuring floating water villages including schools and shops. Developed by the French colonialist in the 1920s, Bokor National Park is a hill station offering several walking tracks. Situated on the bank of the Mekong River, Kampung Cham is a small town in the Cambodian countryside with its "wild west" feel but laid back atmosphere.

Market in Cambodia by Justin Watt

Western-style accommodation is available in most major cities and towns across Cambodia. Even less-touristic places such as Kampong Chhnang have a number of affordable guesthouses or hotels. Basic guesthouses can go as low as USD2 per night in the countryside but prices in the cities are usually in the USD5-10 range. At the budget end, expect to provide your own towels, soap, toilet paper, etc. If you want air-conditioning and hot water, the price creeps up close to USD10-20 and you can easily pay over USD100 if you want to stay in a branded five-star hotel.

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Kampong Cham
Koh Kong
Phnom Penh
Siem Reap

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