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FOR VISITING ANGKOR
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CAMBODIA

Country factfile

  • Country area: 181,035 km2
  • Population: 14,805,358 (2011 estimate)
  • Population density: 81.8/km2
  • GDP per capita: $1,024
  • Currency: official: Riel – de facto: US dollar (1 USD = 4100 Riel)
  • Time zone: GMT+7
  • Traffic: right
  • Phone country code: 855
  • Internet code: .kh
  • International airports: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap

Climate

  • Cambodia lies on the northern edge of the tropical belt. Hence the weather is mainly determined by the monsoon patterns. It’s pretty hot all year round, but during the ‘summer’ months regular rain and high humidity can make it really sweaty. But this is also the best period for taking pictures: the fields and jungle are lush green, the moats around the temples are filled with water, and the dust in the air and on buildings is minimal.
  • Don’t be deterred by the wet season: it rarely rains more than a couple of hours – mostly in the (late) afternoon – and the rest of the day offers often more clouds, which is great for breathtaking pictures and takes the burning sun off your head. This said, it is a good idea to avoid September and October, particularly if you want to travel to the countryside, as heavy rain may cause some local flooding and can turn unpaved roads into real mud baths. However, if your main destinations are the cities (like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap) and the Angkor temples, a visit at any time is possible. If you’re looking for some cooler weather, then November to March is your best bet.
  • Siem Reap
    Jan
    Feb
    Mar
    Apr
    May
    Jun
    Jul
    Aug
    Sep
    Oct
    Nov
    Dec
    Max °C
    32
    33
    34
    35
    35
    33
    32
    32
    31
    31
    30
    30
    Min °C
    19
    21
    23
    24
    24
    24
    24
    25
    25
    24
    23
    23
    Rain mm
    15
    10
    50
    90
    120
    170
    190
    150
    240
    320
    130
    80
    Wet days
    1
    2
    4
    8
    16
    20
    22
    20
    20
    20
    9
    3
    Hum %
    73
    75
    70
    75
    82
    80
    83
    83
    85
    83
    78
    74
  • If you find the above chart too difficult, you can use below summary as a rule of thumb:
    • November to February: cool and dry;
    • March to May: hot and dry;
    • June to August: hot and wet;
    • September to October: cool and wet.

What, where?

  • ANGKOR (Siem Reap)
    The unrivalled number one destination in Cambodia is definitely Angkor. It consists of dozens of temples, palaces and other buildings, spread out over an area of more than 400 km2. At its heydays (12th century) the old capital city had a population of more than 1 million, making it one of the largest cities in the world at that time. The immense Khmer Empire was the dominating power in much of South East Asia for over 600 years.
  • PHNOM PENH
    The current capital Phnom Penh has retained much of its French colonial atmosphere, even if the wide boulevards are filled up with modern cars surrounded by uncountable bicycles and motorbikes. The Sisowath Quay at the Mekong riverside is the place to be to soak up past and present impressions. The city further offers a series of cultural highlights like the Royal palace and the National Museum, as well as reminders of the darkest years under the Khmer Rouge regime (e.g. Tuol Sleng detention center).
  • SIHANOUKVILLE
    Sihanoukville is not only the country’s premier port, but also its most famous beach resort with wide white beaches and terrific seafood. It’s expanding fast but still offers a series of quiet palm fringed peninsulas catering for a variety of tourist tastes.
  • BATTAMBANG
    One of those sleeping provincial towns surrounded by endless rice paddies and stretching along the Sangker river with an authentic although fading colonial atmosphere. During the wet season it can also be reached from Siem Reap by boat over the expanded Tonle Sap. A memorable experience.
  • KOH KONG
    The new rising beach resort, close to the Thai border. Concentrates on eco-tourism and those travelling further into (or coming from) Southeast Thailand.
  • KAMPOT / KEP
    The historic port city – now shaded by Sihanoukville – still retains a laidback atmosphere and is easy to reach from Phnom Penh. Nearby Kep, famous beach resort in the last century, still has retained a lot of its old glory, and a royal holiday mansion.
  • KAMPONG CHAM
    The third largest city of Cambodia (after Phnom Penh and Siem Reap), it still largely unexplored by tourism, retaining plenty of French colonial charm and a laid back atmosphere. Most visitors are just passing by, but those who stay for a few days won’t regret it. Since the recent opening of a new bridge over the Mekong, it starts recovering from decennia of decline. Facilities are still primitive, but this is more than off-set by the (still) very authentic atmosphere.
  • SEN MONOROM (Mondulkiri Province)
    Situated at an elevation of 800m, this provincial capital is a bit cooler than the other main destinations (particularly at night). Although one of the least touristy areas in Cambodia, the city is rapidly developing and no one knows how long it will take for the original ethnic lifestyles to disappear. Till to date it is however still possible to have an authentic encounter with the original lifestyles of the local ethnic tribes.
  • BANLUNG (Ratanakiri Province)
    Another provincial capital, laid back and still offering a quite authentic encounter of about a dozen ethnic minority groups. Although more and more plantations are growing rubber, cashew nuts and oil palms, Banlung still gives you a definite ‘edge of civilization’ feeling. If you’re visiting the hill tribe villages, it is strongly recommended that you take a guide along. English is not spoken, and you might trespass unknowingly local taboos, offending the villagers.
     

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