English is widely spoken in Cambodia
More and more travelers are choosing to visit Cambodia in addition to the more well-known travel destinations in Southeast Asia such as Thailand and Vietnam. A must see for most Cambodian travelers is the Angkor Wat temple complex, but the country has much more to offer. Experience the beautiful landscapes with white sandy beaches, rice fields and green hills and learn more about the turbulent but terrible history of the country.
facts and figures
Cambodia is home to more than 16 million people, most of whom are Buddhist. The capital of the country is Phnom Penh with about one and a half million inhabitants. The official language of Cambodia is Khmer, which is spoken by 95% of the population. In addition, Vietnamese, Chinese and Cham, the language of a people who live across several Southeast Asian countries, are spoken to a small extent. To travel to Cambodia, you need a visa, which can be easily applied for online. It is recommended that you apply for the visa online before departure if you meet the requirements to use this visa.
|total area||181,035 km²|
|religion||Buddhist (96%), Muslim (2%)|
|currency||Cambodian Riel (KHR)|
|Time difference||5 (summer time) or 6 hours (winter time)|
|Flight duration||11 to 12 hours|
|electricity||Type A, C or G (travel plug required)|
|tap water||Not safe to drink|
The Kingdom of Cambodia is a Southeast Asian country bordering Thailand, Vietnam and Laos and encompassed by a coastline of around 441 km in the south. The country with a total area of more than 181,000 km² is divided into 24 provinces and the Phnom Penh Special Administrative Region. The Mekong, the longest river in Southeast Asia, flows from Laos in the north through Cambodia to Vietnam in the southeast. Almost all borders with neighboring countries are formed by low mountain ranges. The interior of Cambodia consists of fertile lowlands. The country is criss-crossed by large rivers and lakes. Particularly noteworthy is the Tonlé Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, which is connected to the Mekong by the Tonlé Sap River. The surface of this lake can reach up to 16,000 km² during the rainy season.
The creation of the State of Cambodia
In the 1st century AD, the kingdoms of Funan and Zhenla emerged in Indochina. In the 6th century, Zhenla took over the Hindu-influenced Funan, and a great empire emerged that was the dominant power in the region for 250 years. The period from the takeover of power by Zhenla to the relocation of the center of power to the west near the Tonlé Sap Lake, i.e. to Angkor, is called the pre-Angkor period.
In the ninth century, the Khmer Empire emerged, the capital of which had been Angkor since 889 AD. The cultural bloom also falls during this period; the then-built Angkor Wat temple complex, probably the most extensive complex of religious buildings in the world, can still be visited. The Khmer Empire extended over large parts of Southeast Asia. In addition to present-day Cambodia, large parts of the present-day Laos and Thailand as well as part of Vietnam also belonged to the empire. After several wars with Thai kingdoms, the capital Angkor was conquered by the Thai in 1432 and the Khmer people moved their capital to Phnom Penh, which is still the capital of Cambodia today.
French colonial rule and the Vietnam War
From August 11, 1863 to November 9, 1953, Cambodia was ruled by France. First, Cambodia became a French protectorate and on October 17, 1887, it joined the Vietnamese protectorates Tonkin and Annam and later also Laos in the Indochinese Union. In 1953, the Kingdom of Cambodia became independent from France under King Sihanouk, who ruled the country as an autocrat.
During the Vietnam War, Cambodia was badly hit by American bombers. Cambodia was the second most heavily bombed country in Southeast Asia after Laos, despite being neutral in the Vietnam War. The Americans suspected that there was a route from North Vietnam through Laos and eastern Cambodia to support the Viet Cong with troops and supplies. The bombing resulted in an estimated 600,000 civilian casualties in Cambodia.
In 1970, Cambodian officers led by General Lon Nol overthrew King Sihanouk's government and proclaimed the Khmer Republic. Civil war broke out and Sihanouk joined the communists, later known as the Khmer Rouge. The goal of the Khmer Rouge was to create an egalitarian society based on Mao's model. In 1975 they conquered the capital Phnom Penh, while at the same time the Viet Cong took the south of Vietnam. Under the leadership of Prime Minister Pol Pot, attempts were made to turn Cambodia into a communist agrarian state. There were forced relocations from the city to the countryside, as well as forced labor, collectivization and mass killings. Those who did not cooperate or did not support the regime were forced to do so or interrogated in torture prisons. Under his rule, 1.7 to 2.2 million Cambodians were murdered, a fifth to a quarter of the population.
In 1978 the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge were driven back to the northwest of the country. With the support of China, the Khmer Rouge waged a guerrilla war against the new Cambodian government in the 1980s. In 1991 a peace treaty was signed and Cambodia came under the administration of the United Nations. In 1993, the country held elections for the first time in a long time, and Sihanouk became king again. However, the situation in the country remained unstable until 2003. The country is currently ruled by the CCP (Cambodian People's Party).
Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate which makes it warm all year round. The temperature fluctuates between an average of 30 degrees Celsius in November and December and 35 degrees Celsius in April. The country only has two seasons, a dry season and a rainy season. The months of November to May belong to the dry season, when there is little rainfall. In the rainy season - from June to October - the amount of precipitation can be quite large.
Best travel time
The dry season - from November to May - is seen by most travelers as the best time to visit Cambodia. However, there are advantages to traveling during the rainy season. Then there are fewer tourists in the country, which means that the famous sights and beaches are less crowded. Accommodation and flights are also usually cheaper during the rainy season.
Average maximum temperature in ° C
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Average minimum temperature in ° C
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Average number of rainy days
Population and culture
Buddhism plays an important role in Cambodian culture and has been the country's state religion since 1989. The majority of the population (around 95 percent) belong to the Khmer people. In addition to the larger Cham (an Islamic group), Chinese and Vietnamese minority groups, there are also smaller minority groups of Thais, Laotians and a number of mountain peoples. The consequences of the Cambodian civil war and the rule of the Khmer Rouge are still clearly visible. Due to the enormous death toll during the Khmer Rouge era, around half of today's population is under 22 years of age. Part of the population is illiterate because the school system is still being developed.
When staying in Cambodia, it is advisable to take into account local manners and norms and values that are different from European ones. For example, not all Cambodians want to be photographed. Please also make sure that you behave respectfully in places that are sacred to Cambodians and that you wear clothing over your shoulders and knees. Travelers planning to volunteer in Cambodia are advised to find out about the possible negative consequences in advance. Volunteering in orphanages in Cambodia can (unintentionally) harm local people. In addition, it is not recommended to bring up political issues in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge is a hot topic in the country that Cambodians generally don't like to talk about.
The currency of Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel (KHR), also known as the Khmer Riel. In addition, a lot is paid in Cambodia with the American dollar. Currently, € 1 is equivalent to approximately 4,464 Cambodian riels. Note that many supermarkets, hotels or shops do not accept (slightly) damaged notes. You can withdraw cash at most ATMs in Cambodia with a German, Austrian or Swiss bank card (= debit card). As a rule, it is possible to withdraw both Cambodian riels and American dollars. If possible, take a credit card with you so that if the debit card (bank card) is not accepted, you can still pay or withdraw money. Credit card companies usually charge high transaction costs when withdrawing money abroad. Before you leave, remember that many banks have blocked the use of debit cards outside the euro zone as a security measure by default and check with your bank to see if your debit card can be used in Cambodia or if the block needs to be unblocked first.
The cost of living in Cambodia is generally very low for western tourists. You can book an average hotel room from an amount of 20 to 30 € per person per night. An inexpensive meal is available from € 2.25, a more extensive meal in a restaurant costs around € 8 per person. Tickets for the Angkor Wat temple complex currently cost US $ 20, 40 or 60, depending on how many days the complex is visited.
German, Austrian and Swiss tourists need a visa to enter Cambodia. In most cases, the Cambodia visa can be easily applied for online by completing the digital application form and paying the cost. Then upload a scan or photo of the passport and a photo to the website. Visa applications for Cambodia are usually approved within a week. Holidaymakers who are traveling to Cambodia at short notice and do not yet have a visa can submit an urgent application. The visa is then usually issued within 24 hours. Before submitting the application, check that you meet all the requirements for the visa.
Apply for the Cambodia visa now
Safety and health
Cambodia is generally a safe country to travel to, although there are some risks to consider. In rural areas of Cambodia there are still mines and unexploded bombs, mostly near the border with neighboring countries. Avoid these areas that are marked with warning signs or a police tape or other barrier tape.
The situation on the border with Thailand, particularly in the provinces of Preah Vihear and Oddar Meanchey, is tense. The boundaries in this area are not clearly marked, so it is advisable to keep a certain distance from the border in order not to violate the boundary.
Of course there is crime in Cambodia too. Travelers are therefore advised to be careful about pickpockets and muggers and to keep valuable documents in a safe place. The best thing to do is to avoid protests and political demonstrations.
Vaccinations and (prophylactic) drugs
Some vaccinations and prophylactic medication are recommended when traveling to Cambodia. A yellow fever vaccination is only required for travelers traveling to Cambodia from a yellow fever area (countries in Africa and South America). In addition, the standard vaccinations according to the Robert Koch Institute's vaccination calendar and a vaccination against hepatitis A are of course recommended for all travelers. Depending on the length of stay and activities in Cambodia, vaccinations against typhoid, hepatitis B, rabies and Japanese encephalitis may also be advisable. Please note that schistosomiasis occurs in the freshwater waters of Cambodia and take appropriate precautionary measures (i.e. not swimming, diving, water skiing, etc. in freshwater waters).
Visitors to Cambodia are also advised to protect themselves from mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria, Zika virus, chikungunya fever or dengue fever. In most parts of the country there is a medium risk of malaria, highest in the rainforest on the border with Thailand and Laos, and a lower risk in a broad belt through the center of the country from SE to NW along the Mekong to north of the Tonle Sap. It is advisable for all travelers to wear covering clothing (long pants and long sleeves) and to rub the exposed skin with a protective agent such as DEET. Besides DEET, there are newer active ingredients such as Icarin, but due to the long experience with DEET, DEET is still recommended for malaria prophylaxis. DEET is commercially available in various concentrations, the difference not being in the effectiveness, but in the length of the duration of action. 30 percent DEET works for about 3 to 5.5 hours, 40 percent for about 4 to 8 hours and 50 percent for about 5 to 10 hours, depending on various factors such as perspiration or absorption in the skin.
Please contact a doctor or a vaccination expert well in advance of your departure in order to obtain personal advice on the necessary vaccinations and malaria prophylaxis.
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