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 GENERAL INFORMATION
 

 The Kingdom of Cambodia is an independent country with a population of more than 7 million people. With a surface area of 181,035 sq. km and once a French colony, is the least known Indochinese country. Cambodia has a distinct geographical personality: it is a wide basin surrounded by highlands. In this basin the farmer has created a simple life - an original civilization and philosophy of mildness. After many years of war, people rediscovered the meaning of "PEACE" They started to rebuild and reconstruct in all fields. Cambodia is divided into 20 provinces and rich in resources, forests, rubber, gems, fish and . It is bordered to the North by Thailand and Laos, to the East and South by Vietnam, and to the South and Southwest by the Gulf of Thailand. Much of Cambodia is relatively flat with vast tracts of land given over to rice production. Other areas of Cambodia are mountainous, including the Dangrek, Cardomen and Elephant mountain ranges.

the Kingdom of Cambodia is now safe to travel and tourism has once again become possible. Indeed, the country and Phnom Penh in partucular is undergoing something of a renaissance. Often overshadowed by the traumatic events of its recent past, Cambodia as home of the Khmer culture remains one of the most important and exotic countries in South East Asia.

Climate and Seasons

As a tropical country, Cambodia is bathed in almost all year sunshine and has a high average temperature. There are two distinct seasons, the dry and the monsoon. The monsoon lasts from May to October with southwesterly winds ushering in the clouds that bring seventy five to eighty percent of the annual rainfall often in spectacular intense bursts for an hour at a time with fantastic lightening displays. The dry season runs from November to April averaging temperatures from 27 to 40 degrees Celsius. The collest and most comfortable for those from cooler climates is from October to January.

 

Language

The Cambodian language, Khmer, is part of the Mon-Khmer family and has its origins in Sanskrit and Pali. It is spoken all over the country except in some tribal areas where local indigenous languages are used. In larger towns and cities English is spoken by an increasing number of educated people. French is spoken by some of the older members of society and Chinese by many of the business people.

food

Rice and Fish are the main staple of the typical Cambodian diet though many dishes are prepared with beef, pork or chicken. Sea food is abundant in coastal areas with shrimps and crab among the favorites. Local specialties include Amok (fish-cooked in coconut milk) and a variety of soups, and curries similar in taste though not in spiciness to Thailand.

 

RELIGION

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.

Currency and Banking

The official currency in Cambodia is the Riel which come in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 50000 and 100000 notes. However, in the major towns and cities, US dollars can be freely spent though travelers are recommended to use smaller denomination notes as change may be difficult. Most places will refuse old, tatty or damaged US bills. Due to the economic problems in the region, the currency has slipped 3900 riel per one US dollars in September 01. Popular local and international currencies can be exchanged openly and freely. Major credit cards are only accepted in a few places so travelers cheques or cash are recommended.

 

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 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.

PHNOM PENH

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.

HOW TO REACH CAMBODIA & ANGKOR WAT

There are direct flights to the capital of Phnom Penh from Bangkok, Hanoi, Hochiminh City, Hong Kong, Kuahlupur, Singapore and Vientiane. From Phnom Penh, one can take direct flights to Siemreap (Angkor), which are now operates on daily basis. Because of its vast architectures and plentiful of myths and informations, visiting of the great Angkor Wat with a knowlegable and well-trained guide is highly recommended and fun.

Events and Festivals

Cambodia has a wealth of traditional and international festivals. Most of these are a time of great rejoicing for the predominantly rural populace, many of whom flock to the capital to join in the celebrations and witness the organized fireworks displays which accompany the festivals. It is at these times the nation unites with a shared common understanding of values and traditions and they are looked forward to with great expectation. Even in times of hardship people try even harder to make these times special. All the traditional festivals are influenced by the concepts of Buddhism, Hinduism and royal cultures. The following are the most important of the celebrations organized throughout the year.

Water festival (October or November)

Pchum Ben (September)

King Sihanouk's Birthday Celebration (October 31)

.Khmer New Year's Day (Mid April)

Angkor Festival (November or December): This festival is a showcase of performing arts with Angkor Wat as a backdrop. Performers from all over Asia attend this festival performing great epic stories from myths and legends, including the Ramayana, with their own national dance costumes and musical and rhythmic inter-pretations.

Royal Ploughing Day (May)

Independence Day (November 9)

Chinese New Year (January or February): Due to the large number of people of Chinese descent who run much of Cambodia's business enterprises; and also Vietnamese immigrant communities, the Chinese New Year is widely celebrated, especially in Phnom Penh.

National Day (January 7):One of the more recent additions to the festival calendar, this day marks the end of the Khmer Rouge Regime.

International Half Marathon (Late December)

Other Holidays and Festivals

Cambodia also celebrates other special days including: International Women's Day (8 March), International Worker's Day (1 May), Genocide Day (9 May), Vesak Bucha Day - the anniversary of the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha (Late May), Ploughing the Holy Furrow (Late May), Chol Vassa - Buddhist Lent (July), and International Human Rights Day (10 December).

 

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