Situated on the Indochinese peninsula, Cambodia is bordered by Thailand and Laos on the north and Vietnam on the east and south. The Gulf of Thailand is off the western coast. The size of Missouri, the country consists chiefly of a large alluvial plain ringed by mountains with the Mekong River to the east. The plain is centered around Lake Tonle Sap, which is a natural storage basin of the Mekong.
Khmers have called their country Kampuchea (usually rendered Kambuja), since the l6th century. The name is derived from the word kambu-ja, meaning those born of Kambu (a figure of Indian mythology), which was first used to refer to the people of Cambodia in the 10th century. The Portuguese Cambodia and French Cambodge from which the English name Cambodia is derived, are adaptations of " Kampuja".
The country's capital Phnom Penh is renowned for its beauty, particularly the area surrounding the Royal Palace where magificent Khmer towers share the boulevard with coloured French villas overlooking the banks of the Tonle Sap river.
The unit is the RIELS. Riel demoninations are 100, 200 and 500. Exchange rates are subject to fluctuation. US$ are generally accepted thoughout the country. In Phnom Penh, some credit cards can be used and limited services and purchasing and cashing traveller cheques.
Cambodia lies in a tropical zone between 10 and 14 degree of latitude north the equator. The temperature is fairly uniform throughout the year and averages 25 degree centigrade (77 degree fahrenheit). The relative humidity is higher at night and usually in excess of 90 percent, during the day the average humidity is 80 percent.
The Cambodia has an area of about 181,305 squares kilometres, bordered to the north by Thailand and Laos, to the east and the south by Vietnam, to the west by the gulf of Cambodia.
The Cambodian language is Khmer, which is inherited itself - and advanced in education with application of Indic languages Pali and Sangkrit from India. Some technical languages are borrowed from French. However, English is commonly communicated in hotels and business compounds at present days.
The majority of the people of Cambodia are followers of Thervada and Hinayana school of Buddhism which was introduced to Cambodia between the 13th and 14 centuries and was the state religion until 1975.
A fifteen-day tourist visa can be obtained at US$ 40 upon arrival at Pochentong Airport. Visitors should bring along at least 4 photos, and sign the visa applications form upon arrival. Visa extensions are possible through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Office of Immigration.
ANGKOR WAT AND SIEMREAP
The glorious and world-famous Angkor Wat situates in Siemreap Province and is just a few kilometers from the town. One can reach Siemreap by taking daily direct flight from Phnom Penh. Temples of Angkor were built between 7th and 11th century when Khmer civilazation was at its height of its extraordinary creativity. Angkor Wat is the cultural home of the Khmer people and one of the ancient wonders of the world. Its magnificent architecture was the evidence of the Khmer's strong belief in religions - Hinduism and Buddhism. First discovered by Western archeologists in the late 19th century, the lost city of Angkor is just re-opening to the exploration to the modern civilization.
ANGKOR WAT - ANGKOR THOM
The fortified city of Angkor Thom, some 10 sq km in extent, was built in its present form by Angkor's greatest builder, Jayavarman 7 (reigned 1181 to 1201), who came to power just after the disastrous sacking by the Chams of the previous Khmer capital, is enclosed by a square wall eight metres high and 12 km in length and encircled by a moat 100 meters wide, said to have been inhabited by fierce crocodiles. The city has five monumental gates, one in the north, west and south walls and two in the east wall. The gates, which are 20 metres in height, are decorated on either side of the passageway with stone elephant trunks and crowned by four gargantuan faces of the bodhisatva Avalokitesvara.
ANGKOR WAT – BAYON
The temples of Angkor Thom, is located in the city's geographic centre. The 50-tower temples is an awesome sight. At first glances, the complex seems a shapeless mass of stone. Suddenly, further scrutiny reveals a face, enigmatic and silent, watching with half-closed eyes. Soon, another face is made out, and another, and still yet another, until they are all round silent, heavy and impressive, staring from a primitive and remote time. Every visitors to Angkor Wat has to pay entrance fees.
Cambodian food is closely related to the cuisines of neighbouring Thailand and Laos, and to a lesser extent, Vietnam, but there are some distinct local dishes. In the growing number of restaurants in Phnom Penh and Siemreap, you will find excellent Chinese and Vietnamese dishes but it is the local dishes which are often the best prepared and most interesting. Rice is the principal staple and and Battanbang Region is the country's rice bowl. Most Cambodian dishes are cooked in a wok known locally as a chnang khteak.
Cambodian cuisine includes noodles, soups, grills, stir-fried, curries, salads, desserts, lots of vegetables, tropical fruits, and of course rice which is the staple food for Cambodians. Cambodian culinary secrets are rarely written down; the recipes were instead handed down from mother to daughter. From an ancient origin has come a traditional cuisine of unsuspected treasures: a unique blend of flavors and colors that enhance the natural ingredients used.
Cambodians perfected the art of blending spice paste using many ingredients like cloves, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and turmeric. They add other native ingredients like galangal, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, cilantro, and kaffir lime leaves to these spices to make a rather distinctive and complex spice blend known as “kroeung”.
Although noodles are also popular, almost every meal includes a bowl of rice. A wide range of curries, soups and stir fried are usually served with rice. Being in a country that produces many rice varieties, tourists can enjoy the best aromatic grains and various types of glutinous rice. The latter is more commonly served with a salad or in desserts with fruits.
There are two other unique ingredients that give Cambodian cuisines their fabulous typical flavour. One is a pungent fermented fish paste known as pra-hok and the other, the kapi, a fermented prawn paste. These require an acquired taste for most but they are beloved by some who used them in many dishes or even taken as a dipping sauce. Collectively, these ingredients have become an important aromatic combination commonly used in Cambodian cuisines.
Typically, a Cambodian meal is served with rice and at least three other dishes. It usually includes a soup (samlor), served alongside the main dishes. Each of the individual dishes will either be sweet, sour, salty or bitter; these exist side by side in harmony, sometimes even within a single dish, to offer an original melody. Chili is usually left up to the individual to add. In this way tourists are subtly ensured that they get a bit of every flavour to satisfy their palates.
Typical Khmer Dishes
In the Khmer diet, rice and freshwater fish play big roles because of the abundance of both. Amok is national dish, made from fish, coconut milk and curry paste.
All the ingredients are mixed together and put in banana leaf cups with coconut cream on top, then steamed. Another common form is amok chouk – snails with curry steamed in their shells. Best served with a plate of hot rice.
This dish is popular in many households in Cambodia as it’s not only easy to make but it also has a lovely taste. Its ingredients include fish, garlic, lemongrass, celery, tamarind juice, bean sprouts, pineapple and seasoning with sugar, fish sauce, and salt.
Many people also add some fresh green herbs and hot chili pepper on top before serving.
This popular Cambodian stir-fry is another common dish found throughout the country. After put beef in the heat oil with garlic, stir fry until the beef become tender. Then add vegetables such as red peppers and onion as well as the kroeung mixture.
Kroeung is lemongrass paste which is considered very healthy, made from a variety of Asian herbs such as lemongrass (known to have a benefit in lowering acne and pimples), kaffir lime leaves and galangal.
Twa ko is a Cambodian sausage made from beef or pork and various spices. Just like any good homemade sausage, the authentic Khmer sausage contains at least 20-25% fat.
Some prefer to use pork belly as the main ingredient; it definitely serves the purpose well. Twa ko can be enjoyed on its own in barbecued, grilled or pan-fried style or served with steamed rice and fresh vegetables.
Many locals start their day with nom banh chok, a popular dish known as Khmer noodles in English.
It consists of rice noodles topped with green fish gravy and lots of fresh vegetables including cucumbers, green beans, mint leaves, banana blossom and bean sprouts. It’s very similar to the Thai dish ‘kanom jeen’.
The simple and yummy bai sach chrouk is pork marinated in coconut milk or garlic before slowly grilling, and then served with broken or fractured rice and a small bowl of clear chicken broth as well as some fresh vegetables.
As part of the street food culture, it is available everywhere especially in busy neighborhoods. It’s so popular that many middle and upper restaurants also include it on their menus. Try it with iced coffee. It's so delicious!!
Kuy teav is a noodle soup made from pork or beef stock and rice vermicelli and toppings including bean sprouts and green onions. A variety of meat choices can be added, such as pork, chicken, fish balls and beef as well as seafood.
In some places, it’s served alongside sweet, spicy, garlic sauce and a small slice of fresh lime. This is when the real flavours start. Head to the open-air food stalls at any market; you will find kuy teav shops within no time.
Lok Lak is a traditional Khmer dish, which is basically stir-fried beef slices (or pork) in a light brown sauce, served with rice and/or green salad and pepper sauce. Most restaurants across the county offer this dish but tastes are varied depending on the chefs and regions.
The beef or pork slices must first be marinated before cooking so that they are tastier and juicier.
Many visitors are fascinated to see how many different types of banana there are – and how good they all taste. Other fruits to try in Cambodia are coconut, rambutan, mango, pineapple, mangosteen and durian – though the last item may not be for everyone; it has an unusual smell and taste.
In the major cities, it is easy to get a hold of foreign beers such as Carlsberg, Heineken, Tiger, Guinness and Singha. Local brands such as Angkor, Angkor Stout and Bayon are also available everywhere.
Coffee and tea are usually available anywhere in the country. Imported wine is found only in the main tourist areas.