Cambodia, a country that has not received the attention that Southeast Asia deserves in tourism for many years, has always been in the shadow of its neighbor Thailand, has been forced to withdraw from wars and massacres for a while, and now it is becoming popular among travelers from all over the world with its breakthroughs in tourism in the last 15 years. Nevertheless, I will share with you all my notes and suggestions about the country, which has a long way to go, in the Cambodia travel guide article.
Cambodia Travel Guide
Offering travelers unique options in terms of sea, natural beauties and history, this fascinating but orphaned country of Cambodia, with its history, delicious food, turquoise sea and always mild climate, is among the places you will want to see again and again.
Of course, the best time to travel to the country is between November and April, which is also called the dry season, when there are no monsoons.
History and Management Style: The country, whose history started with the Khmer Empire, which was effective in all Southeast Asia, between 1863-1953 as a French colony, and between 1975-1979 under the tyranny of the Khmer Rouge under the leadership of Pol Pot, is today known as the Kingdom of Cambodia.
While the colonial period was difficult for the country even with its own dynamics, the dictatorial regime that followed left Cambodia with pain that it still cannot erase. The Khmer Rouge, the most brutal and cruel regime of the 20th century, is responsible for the torture and massacre of 1 million or a little more people in the country.
The regime, whose aim was to create peasant agriculture collectively by taking China as an example, and to highlight national values, turned the pressure it exerted into the massacre of all low or high educated people in the country, but at the end of the process that started with the intervention of its neighbor Vietnam in 1978-1979, it reached its present state.
Population and Ethnicity: The largest ethnic group living in Cambodia with a population of 16 million is the Khmers with a rate of 90%, and there is a 5% native population of Chinese and Vietnamese origin.
Geography: Cambodia, whose capital is Phnom Penh, is located between Thailand and Vietnam with an area of 182,035 km².
Climate: Cambodia, which has a typical Southeast Asian climate, is a tropical and rainy country. I recommend you to go to the region that does not fall below 20 ° C all year round, during the dry season between November and April.
Religion: In the country whose official religion is Theravada Buddhism, 95% of the people are Buddhists.
Language: While the official language of the country is Khmer, there are a large number of people who speak French due to past colonial experiences, while the rate of English speaking among today’s young population is rapidly increasing.
Time Difference: summer is 4 hours ahead according to the time zone from Turkey to Cambodia.
Currency: Riel of Cambodia, indicated with the KHR symbol, and as of October 2017 it is $ 1 4.043KHR.
1.Transportation in Cambodia
Transportation in Cambodia: I want to start by saying that Cambodia’s transportation infrastructure is not very adequate. Although the intercity roads are in relatively good condition, transport vehicles are generally old, mostly without air conditioning and the times specified in the tariffs are not observed. However, I can say that it is very cheap and fun.
There are three options for intercity transportation. Buses, ferries and trains running on rivers. Bus and ferry services are much more common than trains.
Prices generally range from $ 5 to $ 10, even over long distances. In this way, you can travel between any two cities, especially Phnom Penh. On camboticket.com, you can get price and time information before traveling, as well as buy tickets for buses and ferries.
The only railways in the country are Royal Railways, which operate between Phnom Penh – Battambang and Phnom Penh – Aihanoukville.
Among the trains, where you can find tariff information on Royal-railway.com, there are air-conditioned and comfortable wagons as well as older types. Prices are also changing at the level of 5 USD. I would like to point out that both routes of the train journey pass through breathtaking views.
Urban Transportation in Cambodia: Urban transportation is more or less the same in all cities in the country. Your options include Tuk Tuk (also called remok in Cambodia), Cyclo (a kind of seat bike you ride by pedaling from where you sit), if you are the only one, rent a motorcycle with a driver or take a taxi.
In fact, the prices of all these are also very affordable. You have to bargain according to the address you will go, not the taximeter, and I recommend you not to pay more than 1 USD per kilometer.
City buses are also an option, but I cannot recommend it to those who do not know the city very well, as they are very crowded and their stops and departure times are mixed.
Finally, the transportation part of the Cambodia travel guide article; I want to close it by saying that it is likely to be rude no matter what you travel by train, bus, ferry. Beware of pickpockets!
2.Food and Drink in Cambodia
Although the typical menu of Khmer cuisine consists of soup, salad, fish as the main dish and vegetables with it, you can see the effects of Thai and Vietnamese cuisine when we go into the special dishes.
There are many similarities in terms of aromas and cooking styles. Some of the most important dishes that I can recommend to you in the Cambodia travel guide article from the local cuisine, where rice and fish are important;
Fish Amok, which is steam-steamed fish between banana leaves, Samlor Machu Trey, a sweet-sour soup made with fish, Twa Ko, a Cambodian sausage, Nom Banh Chok, a Khmer-style noodle, a roast beef with sauce Lok Lak (but usually made with pork, so those who do not want to eat should mention it), Lap Khmer, Khmer-style steak salad marinated with lemon, Cambodian Curry (also known as Khmer Red Curry), which is a vegetable-meat or chicken stew with curry sauce.
The country’s desserts are mostly tropical fruits and rice. Kuay Namuan, a banana dessert made with coconut milk, Coconut Custard, also a coconut pudding, and Mango and Sticky Rice made with mango and rice are among the desserts that I recommend you try.
There are many restaurants where you can taste the local dishes of the country, but my favorites are:
- In Phnom Penh; Maris Cambodian Restaurant on Morodom Boulevard and Kabbas Restaurant on Preah Ang Eng Street,
- In Siem Reap; Marum near Sinn Sisa Mouth Cafe and Wat Polanka Temple on Sok San Street,
- In Sihanoukville; Nyam on Tola Street.
Let’s talk about international cuisine options. Although Southeast Asia is delicious, it is extremely foreign to western palate. That’s why the food of this country may not be suitable for everyone. Therefore, in this part of the article, I would like to mention the fast food chain restaurants in the country.
- In the city of Phnom Penh; You can find Domino’s Pizza on Preah Sisowath and Oknha Tep Phan Street, Burger King, Phsar Dek and Preah Sisowath, KFC, Corner Street, Charles De Gaulle Boulevard and Samdach Sothearos Streets.
- In Sihanoukville, on the other hand, options are more limited, but KFC is available at Krong Preah.
- In Siem Reap; Burger King and KFC on Sivatha Street are saviors for those who hesitate to try local food.
As I mentioned at the beginning of the Cambodia travel guide, the country offers different options for those who love sea tourism, history or nature tourism. Therefore, places to visit are spread all over the country. In summary;
Kratie, Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri are extremely rich and touristic areas in terms of natural beauty in the north and northwest.
In the North and Northeast, Siem Reap and Battambang are extremely rich in historical monuments. The capital city of the country, Phnom Penh, is also an ideal city to see both historical buildings and museums of Cambodia’s genocide in the last century.
The Southeast region of the country is the rapidly rising trend of beach tourism in recent years with dozens of tropical islands such as Koh Rong and Koh Tonsay, especially Sihanoukville, Kampot and Kep.
4.Shopping in Cambodia
What to Buy from Cambodia: Although it is not the first country I would recommend for shopping, there are specific products you can buy when you go to Cambodia.
Especially with the leadership of the state and non-governmental organizations, the handicrafts of the local people are among the products I recommend you buy from this country.
Among these are Cambodian silk and shawls produced from it, affordable ready-to-wear products due to the development of the country’s textile production in recent years, jewelry made of semi-precious stones and wicker products.
Where to Shop in Cambodia: As it is still a developing country, it is a bit difficult to find shopping malls that we are used to in Cambodia. Shopping culture is mostly shaped around markets and bazaars. Here are a few touristic, cheap and interesting markets that I can recommend to you in the Cambodia travel guide:
- In Siem Reap; Psar Chas, Angkor Night Market and Made In Cambodia Market,
- In Phnom Penh; The Russian Market named Phsar Tuol Tom Poung, the central and old market of the city called Psar Thmei and Psar Reathrey Night Market,
- In Sihaboukville; Phsar Leu.
5.Where to Stay in Cambodia?
At the end of the Cambodia travel guide, I would like to mention a few important points about places to stay if you are making an individual trip to the country.
First of all, accommodation is very cheap because it is a cheap country in every sense. Accommodation in hostels in the country – if you are a backpacker – starts at 4–5 USD per night.
It is possible to find clean rooms for 3 to 4-star hotels for 10 USD. If aesthetics are also important to you, you can increase your budget slightly and evaluate accommodation options at the level of 15-10 USD.
Where to Stay in Siem Reap? The 3-star Villa Um Theara, the 4-star Shinta Mani Shack and the 4-star Villa Indochine D’angkor are among my favorite hotels.
For Phnom Penh; The 5-star Raffles Hotel Le Royal, the 3-star Vacation Boutique Hotel are among the different options you can find here.
Apart from that in Sihanoukville; I recommend the 3-star Sunset Lounge due to its excellent location on the beach, the friendly and solution-oriented attitude of the staff and its clean and comfortable rooms.
On Koh Rong Island; I recommend the Soksan Natura Beach for its location, breathtaking sea view, friendly staff and peaceful atmosphere.