Welcome to Cambodia
Cambodia is a place unlike any other. Explore the best of South-East Asia’s magnificent temples and monuments, beautiful warm beaches and its charming people. We trust you will enjoy your stay in our Kingdom of Wonder and we look forward to extending our warm Cambodian hospitality to you and your family, soon.
The Kingdom of Cambodia
Norodom Sihamoni, born into the royal family, and currently serving as the King of Cambodia, is considered by many to be quite a different picture from the usual nobility. As a child, he was sent to a foreign nation to study, and having spent his childhood and adolescence in Prague, the city became like a second home to this prince. He showed a strong inclination towards culture and performing arts, and graduated in classical music and dance from the ‘Academy of Music Arts’ in Czechoslovakia. To further his artistic skills, he travelled all the way to North Korea to study film making. For twenty years, this prince lived in Paris, teaching and choreographing dance, and forming his own group called ‘Ballet Deva’. He has also been the ambassador for his country to the ‘United Nations’ and ‘UNESCO’ conventions.
In 2004, his father the late King Norodom Sihanouk decided to hand over the kingdom to someone who was not politically biased, and Sihamoni seemed to be the obvious choice. The latter was crowned king by a council of nine people, and though there were initial doubts about his capability as a ruler, he has since then done justice to his post. He pays special attention to health care and education, particularly in the rural areas.
An Insider’s Guide to Angkor Archaeological Park
The Angkor Archaeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage listed site, sprawls over some 400-square km in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Once the seat of the Khmer Empire that ruled over most of South-East Asia from the 9th to the 15th centuries, this archaeological site houses dozens of Hindu-Buddhist temple complexes encompassing hundreds of temples and smaller structures. The sheer size of these magnificent architectural showpieces with incredibly detailed artistry are nothing short of breathtaking. Reduced to semi-ruins by nature and time, these monuments now carry a whole new appeal, one of mystery and romance, amidst the great swathes of forest and smothering roots.
Temples to Explore
Visiting all the temples in a day can be a daunting task. It’s better to pick the temples you’d like to see and plan your trip accordingly. However, if you have no plan in mind, most tuk-tuk and moto drivers will have an itinerary ready. For ease of planning, the temples can be broadly categorized into 5 groups:
Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom
The Grand Circuit (Le Grand Circuit)
The Small Circuit (Le Petit Circuit)
The Roulos Group
Explore the Wonders - Beach
Cambodia has some of the most incredible temples and fascinating history in the whole world. You can happily spend days marveling at jungle-clad temple Ta-Prohm, or the intricate pink bas-reliefs of Banteay Srei. But if you’d like to swap shrines for the seaside, just for a little bit, Cambodia is also home to a collection of islands that may just be the source of all those beach clichés. Cambodia and beaches… sandy resorts lined with boozy backpackers? It’s not far from the truth in some areas, but luckily, there is more than enough paradise to go around in the Gulf of Thailand. Expect lush forests, white sand free of footprints, freshly caught food and glorious wildlife, if you know where to look...
Otres Beach, Sihanoukville: Sihanoukville has a reputation as a haven for party-lovers, but take time to look beyond Serendipity Beach to Otres. Otres is away from the main stretch and as such, the sand and sea there is generally cleaner and the beach quieter. It stretches for about 2km, so if there are a few too many sun loungers for your liking, continue further south. If you get bored of snoozing, or having a paddle, head into one of the shacks that line the sand for a spot of dinner and a cool beverage. There are a handful of boutique resorts here to trail home to after a quiet drink, rather than a bar-hopping bonanza.
Long Beach, Koh Rong Island: There are some islands that have, somewhat unfairly, gained a bad reputation. Koh Rong Island is one such example. While in Koh Touch you’ll find the odd full moon party and buckets of sugary cocktails, 7km Long Beach has calmer, quieter waters, small fishing villages and untamed forests. At night time, you can shun the bright lights of the beach party for the underwater luminous glow of plankton. Koh Rong is a great base for adventure too. Go diving to spot busy marine life and a rich variety of flora and fauna, jump in a kayak to glide through some of the more remote areas, or hire a mountain bike to break up those long lazy days on the beach.
Koh Rong Samloem: Koh Rong tends to get all the attention. However, peace and quiet is becoming harder to come by, so travelers are turning to the tranquil shores of neighboring Koh Rong Samloem. Home to a few shore-front bungalows, the beaches are postcard-perfect, with white-powder sand flanked by palm trees, and shimmering water to swim and snorkel in. The perfect place to escape the rat race, the remote island goes back to basics with most facilities – think electricity running for a few hours at night and limited internet access.
Top Attractions in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is the capital and most populous city in Cambodia. Once described as the "Pearl of Asia”, the city was considered as one of the most beautiful cities in the whole Indochina back in the 1920’s. The four-year reign of the Khmer Rouge however left its traces.
Today, the city is leaving its dark past behind and is rapidly developing into a modern Southeast Asian capital. With its unique mix of culture, history, spiritualism and modernity, Phnom Penh offers countless things to do for every taste.
The National Museum is a must-see for all history lovers. It houses a rich collection of Khmer sculptures, relics and artefacts. The four galleries are arranged chronologically. Visitors should allocate at least an hour to indulge in Cambodia’s glorious past.
The Royal Palace is another one of the capital’s prominent landmarks that should be on everyone’s bucket list. Located on the western bank of the Tonle Sap River, visitors can admire traditional Khmer architecture combined with French-style landscaped gardens.
Located in the same complex as the Royal Palace, is the Silver Pagoda. With its complex golden roofs and tranquil gardens, the pagoda offers a calm oasis away from the busy streets of Phom Penh.
Souvenir hunters and architecture enthusiasts will also enjoy a visit to the Central Market (Phsar Thmei). It was built in 1937 during the French colonial period in Art Deco style. The building consists of four wings dominated by a central dome.
In and around the building, travellers will find a bustling bazaar. From handicrafts, over local art to jewelry, flowers, food and fruits, the busy alleys filled with vendors offer almost everything that a travelling heart desires.
No visit to Cambodia is complete without learning about the Khmer Rouge. The Toul Sleng Museum and Killing Fields of Choeung Ek explain the country’s darker part of history very well.
The Toul Sleng Museum used to be the Toul Svay High School. Between 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge took over the school and turned it into the country’s largest prison also known as S-21. Today, the building serves as a testament to remember the crimes that were committed by the regime. Visitors should consider hiring a guide who can share the stories behind the photos and documents that serve as silent witnesses of Cambodia’s cruel past.
For the execution, the prisoners from S-21 were transported to the killing fields of Choeng Ek. Today the area serves as a memorial and a reminder of the cruelties committed by Paul Pot’s regime.
To learn more about Cambodia’s wildlife, the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center is the perfect address. Both adults and children will enjoy a visit to the biggest rescue and rehabilitation centre in the country. Many of the animals are endangered or rescued from illegal wildlife trafficking. The money of the entry ticket is used to rescue more animals.
Towards the evening, when the sun is less hot, a walk along the river promenade can be very enjoyable. It becomes especially lively during the night. Street vendors populate the streets and locals come to the promenade to enjoy the evening breathe near the river.
The Essence Of Cambodian Cuisine
Cambodian food is a thousand-year-old tradition. To discover it, you must step back in time to the era of the kingdom of Angkor, the cradle of Khmer civilisation, when Cambodian cuisine forged its unique identity. Here, cooking is an oral art that has been passed down over time from mother to daughter. It is from this ancestral rite that Cambodian cuisine developed. Thanks to the influence of many countries, Cambodian cooking has been enriched and expanded over the centuries. China introduced the steaming method and the use of soy and noodles and India introduced curries, to name but two examples. These influences contribute to the particularly wide range of flavours that surprise the palate and stimulate the taste buds. Salty and sweet, and downright bitter and sour, go hand in hand or are blended subtly, sometimes within a single dish, to create a deliciously harmonious and original result. There’s food to please even the pickiest of palates.
Fish is readily available and can be found in many of their dishes, from fish soup broth to fermented fish paste, to spicy grilled fish as a main course. Depending on whether you are eating a sweet dish for desert or having it as a side to your main course, sticky or jasmine rice is among the favourites. In many of their sauces and deserts, the French influence is evident as well. Where you will get a taste of the French influence is when you bite into the baguettes. They are always fresh and crisp, and they are fantastic as a mid-morning snack when cycling around the city.