Cambodia

Summary

An ancient civilisation imbues this country, which for centuries was the heart of the Khmer Empire, an empire which ruled much of south-east Asia. Relics of this powerful rule abound throughout the land, from the magical and mysterious Angkor Wat to the walled city of Angkor Thom. Alongside such man-made miracles is the birding paradise of Tonle Sap Lake, the tigers and elephants of the Cardamom Mountains, the beaches of Sihanoukville and Kep, and of course the fascinating capital Phnom Penh.

Experiences

  • Spend a few days exploring the mystical temples of Angkor Wat
  • Take a cruise around Tonle Sap Lake
  • Learn about local way of life at a cultural homestay
  • Ride on a bamboo train in Battambang
  • Learn about Cambodia's tragic history at Choeung Ek Killing Fields
  • Enjoy the annual Giant Puppet Parade in February
  • Watch the traditional Apsaras dance performance
  • Relax on the secluded beaches of Kep
  • Visit the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh
  • Take a hot air balloon ride over Siem Reap and the surroundings

Seasons

Described as tropical, Cambodia's climate has two distinct seasons, rainy and dry with average temperatures between 26 and 28 degrees Celsius. The climate remains warm and humid throughout the year. 

Dry Season: The dry season stretches from December to July with the temperature averaging 28 degrees Celsius.  The cooler months being from November to February and the hotter months from March till May.

Rainy Season: Running between August and October. The beach resort of Sihanoukville in the south has a longer wet season and sees more rainfall than inland.

Best time to go

Although Cambodia can be visited year round, the best time to visit is in the cooler dry season, from November to June.

If visiting the Tonle Sap in full flood is on your list, then the best time to go would be during rainy season, from August to October. Be warned though, temperatures and humidity levels can be rather high in this period.

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Fast Facts

  • Capital – Phnom Penh
  • Currency – Riel
  • Point of Entry –  Phnom Penh, Siem Reap
  • Airlines – British Airways and Thai Airways via Bangkok
  • Flying Time – 12 hrs 15 mins
  • Time Zone – GMT + 6 hrs
  • Visa – Required - can be obtained on arrival

Insider tips

  • When visiting Angkor Wat after sunrise, most tourists head swiftly back to their hotels for breakfast. Instead, stay out until 9am when the temples are remarkably peaceful.
     
  • National Dish - Amok is Cambodia’s national fish dish, and it is delicious. It’s prepared in a variety of ways. Frizz  in Phnom Penh runs a great cooking school, so you can not only try the amok but also learn to make it.

  • Restaurants the Locals Love - The Sailing Club at Knai Bang Chatt Hotel in Kep has amazing views, and the seafood is fresh and delicious.

  • Meal Worth the Splurge - Restaurant Le Royal at the Raffles Hotel in Phnom Penh has a sophisticated degustation menu that allows diners to try a wide range of dishes in a single meal. It’s a true fusion of the best of Khmer and French cuisines in an atmospheric colonial setting.

  • Don’t Forget to Pack - Even in the cool season it’s just so hot and sticky that clothes get dirty really fast. While laundry service is available, clothes often can’t be returned quickly, as they’re dried on a line, which takes time in such humidity. So don’t pack too light!

  • Don’t Miss - Battambang. This little town on the Tonle Sap Lake has fascinating Khmer Rouge history and beautiful ancient temples.

  • Hidden Gem - The National Museum in Siem Reap offers an audio tour on the history of the Khmer empire. It’s a great way to prepare to visit the temples because it gives you a basic understanding of Khmer culture and the significance of the monuments.

  • Things to do to see Local Life - In Phnom Penh, you can visit one of the islands offshore where you can get a real taste of local life and then head back to the city for a foot massage in the afternoon, followed by a walk and dinner along the riverside. In Siem Reap, visit the temples and join the locals having picnics overlooking Angkor Wat and the moat.

  • Perfect Souvenir - You can’t head home without a kroma, the traditional Cambodian checkered scarf.

     

Battambang


Cardamom Mountains


Kepp


Mekong River


Phnom Penh


Siem Reap


Sihanoukville

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