- Main Airports – Phenom Penh International Airport (PNH), Siem Reap International Airport (REP)
- Currency – Khmer Riel (KHR) and U.S. Dollar (USD)
- Language – Khmer
- Population – 15.7 Million
- GDP (Cambodia) – $15.2 Billion
Welcome to Cambodia!
Cambodia is one of my favorite countries I’ve ever visited. Despite facing extreme poverty, the local Khmer people are among the nicest in the world. While Cambodian history is sadly filled with blood, sweat, and tears, its political corruption doesn’t stop it from being one of my favorite destinations. Cambodia has a rich history, delicious food, warm people, and many sights to see and experience. Be sure to keep the below activities and suggestions in mind during your Cambodia travel!
The native Khmer people make up approximately 90% of the Cambodian population, making the language and food predominately Khmer. The main religion is Buddhism, so when making your way to a temple, be sure to cover your bare shoulders and legs as a sign of respect. The Khmer people are very welcoming of other cultures and are willing to teach tourists about their way of life. They are definitely among of friendliest cultures and why I enjoyed this beautiful country so much. While their currency is the Cambodian Riel (KHR), U.S. dollars are also accepted in tourist areas. But if you’re paying with dollars make sure to carry small bills and don’t expect to receive change, since the country doesn’t use U.S. coins.
1) Angkor Wat
Located outside of Siem Reap, we recommend going for a tuk-tuk ride to visit Angkor Wat, the famous temple complex in Cambodia which is also the largest religious monument in the world. The ancient Khmer people built a massive stone city so intricate you could get lost in the twists and turns of the maze. They were founded upon agricultural rice farms with an extensive irrigation and water distribution system consisting of moats, canals, huge reservoirs called barays, and intricate hydraulics. After multiple battles and finally a major drought, the people migrated and the city soon became lost. After an excavation in the 19th century, this lost civilization gained popularity and has since then been open to the public.
To get the most out of your visit, set aside at least two full days for this ancient wonder. Also, make sure to wear your best walking shoes because old stones, fallen debris, tree branches and tree roots are scattered all over this area. As you make your way through this maze, feel the city come to life with every step you take.
2) The Killing Fields
Although a place of great tragedy and sadness, it is also a place for remembrance. The Killing Fields are a series of fields across the country where genocide was practiced by the Khmer Rouge regime. I could not bear to take more than one photo out of fear of showing disrespect to the deceased. This is something to experience with your own eyes.
3) Coastline Daze
Experience the Cambodian beach life by pushing your feet in the sand, feeling the sea breeze against your skin, and relaxing! Enjoy a weekend without Wi-Fi on the beaches of Sihanoukville or go island hopping through the Gulf of Thailand. Wherever you go, there will surely be a plethora of coconuts to be had. So drink up and soak up the sun! If the weather is nice enough, you may be able to see the phosphorescent plankton in the sea glow!
Cities in Cambodia with the best beaches:
- Koh Rong
- Ream National Park
Best Islands to Visit:
- Koh Russei: Locals island
- Koh Rong Sanloem: Chill island
- Koh Ta Kiev: Absinthe island
- Koh Tang: Diving island
- Koh Thmei: Nature island
Khmer food is amazing! I highly recommend eating as locally as possible during your trip. With the use of many local spices, the Cambodians achieve culturally diverse flavors that you don’t see back home. The secret is in the sauce, as I always say.
Since the 13th Century, the Kampot province in Southeast Cambodia is known for having the best variety of aromatic pepper. The pepper used to be known as the King of Peppers, so make sure you get a taste of this floral, musky spice. It’s even said to have amazing medicinal properties.
Top Dishes to Try:
- Khmer Red Curry
- Nom Banh Chok: Khmer Noodles
- Kdam Chaa: Fried Crab
- Ang Dtray-meuk: Grilled Squid
- Khmer Barbecue
- Bai Sach Chrouk: Barbecue Pork and Rice
- Fish Amok: Fish Mousse with Coconut Milk and Kroeung
- Fried Tarantulas
Keep hydrated and nourished with fresh local fruits! The fruit shakes are made with local fruit, ice, milk and a sweetener such as honey or sugar cane.
- Passion fruit
Check out these other activities during your trip to Cambodia:
1. Visit the Kampot Pepper Fields
2. Try Angkor, the local beer
3. Go jungle trekking through Koh Kong
4. Explore the floating villages of Kampong Phluk
Be different and make a difference! There are thousands of projects to get involved with in Cambodia. Whether you’re volunteering for school, for your résumé or because you just feel like it, there is a program for you! When planning your Cambodia travel, keep these in mind:
1. TEFL Volunteer
Teaching English as a Foreign Language is a great way to spend your time in Cambodia. As I mentioned above, education is so important for the growth and development of this country. If you have your TEFL certification and are heading to Cambodia, check out this site for a three-month teaching program.
2. Elephant Volunteer
If spending time in the jungle with magnificent, massive elephants, constructing guesthouses and tending to the farms sound like a blast to you, then Elephant Valley Project, in Mondulkiri, Cambodia is for you!
3. Various Volunteer Projects
Go Overseas has a variety of programs to choose from including: caring for children, helping with dentistry, saving the forest or diving and marine conservation. If you want to volunteer and you’re not sure what you want to do, this site is great for you.
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