Cambodia is a country in South East Asia, bordered by Thailand to the west, Laos to the northeast and Vietnam to the east.
We visited Cambodia with kids and spend there over 3 weeks mostly in Siem Reap (visiting Angkor Wat Temples) and on the Cambodian Coast. Cambodia and Cambodian People felt like the most fascinating place we visited. I wanted to learn more about it, so I did research about the Most Interesting Facts about Cambodia.
What is Cambodia Famous For?
Angkor Wat is a temple complex in Cambodia and is the country’s most famous landmark. It was built as a Hindu temple city by the Khmer Empire in the early 12th century, at what was then the edge of their empire. The many temples at Angkor Wat are considered to be among the best examples of Khmer architecture, specifically of sandstone construction.
Seeing Angkor Wat is one of the main things which brings tourists to Cambodia from all over the World.
The second most famous landmark is the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. It is often referred to as the “Pearl of Asia“. The first time I went there and saw it from a distance, I thought we had arrived at an island. Travellers who want to visit the country should make sure that they spend at least 2 days in Phnom Penh.
The Kingdom of Cambodia – name
The name of Cambodia in the local Khmer language is “Kampuchea“, which comes from Sanskrit Kambujadeśa “, the land of Kambuja”.
Cambodia changed its name more than any other country in Asia. It was known as
- The Kingdom of Cambodia: 1953-1970
- The Khmer Republic: 1970-1975
- Democratic Kampuchea: 1975-1979
- The People’s Republic of Kampuchea: 1979-1989
- The State of Cambodia: 1989-1993
- The Kingdom of Cambodia: 1993-till now
Cambodia is also known as the “Kingdom of Wonder.” It has a rich history and culture. The people in Cambodia are known for being very warm, friendly, and welcoming to visitors.
Read more if you want to learn other countries nicknames.
Official Language of Cambodia
The official language is Khmer. Khmer is spoken by about 97% of the population. It belongs to the Mon -Khmer family of languages which also includes the Lao language.
French is taught as a second language in Cambodia’s secondary and tertiary education systems.
Cambodia is home to the largest religious monument in the world.
Some of the famous Cambodian landmarks include the largest religious monument in the world- Angkor Wat, a complex that includes the temples and a ruined city. Most visitors to Cambodia are often surprised by how big it is, with many buildings being built in recent years, for example.
The Angkor Wat temple complex is the largest religious monument in the world. It was built by King Suryavarman II between 1113 and 1150 and was meant to be a Hindu temple.
The temples were discovered in 1860 and are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are thousands of tourists that visit every day to see its impressive architecture, stunning artwork, and tree roots that cover its magnificent stone structures. The temple’s name means “city of temples”.
Cambodia national flag 3 horizontal stripes, two blue stripes top and bottom, red middle stripe with a picture of Angkor Wat. that’s the only flag in the world that features a building
Colors of the Cambodian Flag – blue is for Cambodia’s monarchy; red is for its people; white stands for peace. The Angkor Wat in red symbolizes Khmer civilization, while blue stripes stand for the water sources of Cambodia (the Mekong river).
The current king of Cambodia: King Norodom Sihamoni Facts
The king of Cambodia is Norodom Sihanouk. He became the King of Cambodia on 14 October 2004.
The current king was a ballet dancer before becoming king. He was not selected as the king by the public; instead, he was officially selected by his predecessor.
King fluently speaks Cambodian, French, Czech (!), and good English and Russian.
Cambodia Population is on of the youngest in SEA
The population is very young, with more than 30% of the population under 15. and 65% between 15-64 years old. Such a young society is a result of genocide that happened during the Khmer Rouge between 1975-79. During this time, almost 2 million people were killed between
The currency in Cambodia is called Riel and during our visit, it was trading at approximately 4,100 Riels to 1 US Dollar. The Cambodian government has done a lot to stabilize their economy and ensure that the value of their currency does not fluctuate too much.
In ATM, you withdraw dollars or Riels. You can pay in both currencies, and if you pay for something up to $10 value, the change will be in riels.
Facts about Cambodian Food
The most famous dish in Cambodia is Amok. It consists of a whole fish (usually catfish) cooked in a thick coconut milk curry. The fish is placed inside of a banana leaf and steamed to perfection.
Most Cambodian food is rich in flavour, especially when it comes to the use of fresh herbs as well as crushed chilis and chilli peppers.
Cambodians will eat almost anything
Most Cambodians will eat anything, including insects and worms. That’s the result of tough times and starvation during the Khmer Rough rules when Cambodian people had to be inventive when it comes to food. At that time, foods like a fried tarantula, boiled silkworm pupa, roasted grasshoppers, fried snakes or scorpions were commonly eaten.
Now you can try all of these weird foods on the night markets in Siem Reap or Phnom Phen.
When Cambodians eat, they usually prefer using the right hand instead of using utensils. This is because when monks take food, they do not need to touch it with their left hands as it is considered unclean.
Facts about Cambodia’s Wildlife
The Mekong river cuts through Cambodia for most of its length. It is not particularly wide – averaging around 1 kilometer in width. The Mekong is home to many species of fish and other aquatic life that can be spotted while out on the water.
Despite their enormous size, many of the areas surrounding the temples have remained untamed jungles since they were abandoned. This provides a home to many wild animals, including tigers and elephants.
The biggest lake in Asia – Tonlé Sap Facts
Tonlé Sap, located in Cambodia, is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and has a surface area of 6,500 square kilometers (2,500 sq mi). The lake is fed by two different rivers, which are the Mekong River via its mainstream and the Tonlé Sap River.
The river waters feed into the lake from a height of 630 meters above sea level.
The Tonle Sap lake’s volume varies seasonally due to the flow, which is higher during the rainy season than in the dry season. The lake level can change up to 100 meters.
UNICEF is currently working with the government of Cambodia in order to improve freshwater quality. One example of their projects includes helping Cambodia monitor and evaluate existing water infrastructure such as dams that have been built.
Tourism in Cambodia
Tourism is on the rise in Cambodia, and it has extensive impacts on the country’s economy. It attracts many visitors every year because of its location as well as its rich and ancient culture and history. Cambodia is home to many ancient temples that are still in good condition, such as Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.
In fact, before the pandemia, tourism was 2nd source of income in Cambodia.
Tuk-tuks in Cambodia
Tuk-tuks in Cambodia are the main way of transportation.
Cambodian Tuk-Tuks are different from Thailand or India. In here motorbike is not connected with the rest of the tuk-tuk but separate. It almost looks like a motorbike is a horse connected to the tuk-tuks carriage.
Cambodia is a big bike producer
The Japanese have established a few factories in Cambodia that offer jobs to Cambodians, and the country has become quite good at producing high-quality bikes. It is possible to purchase inexpensive bikes from here or more expensive bicycles made with a higher grade of parts than from other countries, including e-bikes.
What is Cambodia’s Climate?
The climate of Cambodia is tropical, with a rainy season from May to October. The rainy season brings strong winds from the northeast. It is commonly known as a “monsoon”. As a result, Phnom Penh can be hot and humid with temperatures up to 36 °C (97 °F).
Cambodia’s weather doesn’t have any strong patterns in time, but it does change often. There are days when it will be hot and sunny all day long, but there are also days filled with the smell of rain.
Funerals in Cambodia
Funerals in Cambodia are expensive, so the government will sometimes sponsor a funeral to help those who are unable to afford it. People usually attend the funeral by bringing food as gifts and cooking for the family. The event typically lasts for seven days.
Khmer New Year
Khmer New Year is the most important holiday in Cambodia. The Buddhist celebrations occur on various days during the months of April or early May, depending on the lunar calendar. Many Cambodians believe that Khmer New Year will determine what kind of year they are going to have. For example, if it is a good New Year, then they believe there will be a lot of luck, happiness, and peace in Cambodia for that year. If it is not so good, then there will be bad luck and misfortune in Cambodia for that year.
The festival follows two weeks of Buddhist Lent to celebrate the new year. It starts with a choreographed dance called “chou preap”, which signifies getting rid of one’s past mistakes and bad attitudes. During the next three days, temples are visited by people for prayers and offerings of food to Buddha. On New Year’s Day, some people will make a special trip to the nearest Mekong River or ocean shore where they will wash away their sins in a tradition called “Pchum Ben”. It literally means ‘washing the sins away. The cleansing process will end with a feast shared by friends and family.
Land Mines and rats in Cambodia
According to Unesco Cambodia the third-largest country in the world with the most landmines. A Cambodia has an estimated 5,000 minefields that have not been deactivated. There are about 2,000 km² of land in Cambodia that is contaminated by mines and UXO (unexploded ordnance) leftover from the war in Vietnam.
the HeroRATs are rats that have been trained to sniff out landmines and unexploded ordinances. These HeroRATs are the smartest of their kind and can be a big help in Cambodia if they continue to live long enough for that to happen. They won two years in a row at the “Best Animal” category on MTV’s award show, the VMAs. You can visit Hero Rats in Siem Reap.
The reason why the HeroRATs were created was to “save on the number of people killed or maimed by landmines”. Rat is trained to find the land mine and same time, light enough to not cause an explosion.
Facts about Cambodia Society
In Cambodia, a woman is supposed to stay at home and take care of the children while the man goes out and works. The husband runs all money matters in the family; he will give his wife enough money for food expenses. Although many things have changed in the past several years, it is still very common for Cambodian women to have less freedom than men.
In Cambodia, there are many professions that are for only men or only women. There are jobs geared toward men like becoming a soldier or police officer and jobs geared toward women like teachers or nurses.
What to wear in Cambodia?
During our travels through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, we tried to dress as local as possible to make friends with the people from the countries that we visited. Dressing up like a tourist will always draw attention (positive or negative). However, it also stands out more and creates a vibe that does not give people to get too close. Of course, when visiting Angkor Wat or Phnom Penh, wear clothes that cover your shoulders and knees.
Cambodians are easygoing
Cambodians are very friendly and like to smile. They also tend to complain about the hot weather often, so they’re not afraid to express what they feel. They don’t really mind tourists photographing them as well.
There is no McDonald’s in Cambodia.
Another difference between Cambodia and other countries in the region is that there is no McDonald’s in Cambodia.
Other countries without McDonald’s are Iceland, China, Vietnam, Iraq and Cuba.
What is Cambodia famous for? – Summary
Cambodia is an ancient country in Southeast Asia with a rich culture and history. It has been ruled by Khmer, French, Japanese and Americans throughout its long existence as a nation
Cambodia Facts – Pin it for later
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