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THE LAND
The Kingdom of Cambodia, formerly Kampuchea, is a Southeast Asian nation that borders Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and the Gulf of Thailand. The capital city is Phnom Penh.

Situated in the southwest of the Indochinese peninsula, Cambodia occupies a total area of 181,035 square kilometers and borders Thailand to the west and northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east, and Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.

Cambodia’s terrain consists mainly of low plains, with mountains to the southwest and north.

Two dominant physical features of Cambodia are the Mekong river, which runs from north to south of the country, and the Tonlé Sap Lake.
Natural resources include oil and gas, timber, gemstones, iron ore, manganese, phosphates, hydropower potential.

PEOPLE AND POPULATION
-    Population    : about 15 millions
-    Density          : roughly 79 people/square kilometer

Cambodia's population is relatively homogeneous. Its minority groups include Vietnamese (2,200,000), Chinese (1,180,000), Cham (317,000), and Khmer Loeu (550,000). The country's birth rate is 25.4 per 1,000. Its population growth rate is 1.70%, significantly higher than those of Thailand, South Korea, and India.

CLIMATE
Cambodia's climate, like that of the rest of Southeast Asia, is dominated by monsoons, which are known as tropical wet and dry because of the distinctly marked seasonal differences.

Cambodia has a temperature range from 21 to 35 °C (69.8 to 95 °F) and experiences tropical monsoons. Southwest monsoons blow inland bringing moisture-laden winds from the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean from May to October. The northeast monsoon ushers in the dry season, which lasts from November to March. The country experiences the heaviest precipitation from September to October with the driest period occurring from January to February.

Cambodia has two distinct seasons. The rainy season, which runs from May to October, can see temperatures drop to 22 °C (71.6 °F) and is generally accompanied with high humidity. The dry season lasts from November to April when temperatures can rise up to 40 °C (104 °F) around April.

LANGUAGES
The Cambodian language is derived from the Mon-Khmer (Austro-Asiatic) language family. Khmer is renowned for possessing one of the largest sets of alphabets; it consists of 33 consonants, 23 vowels and 12 independent vowels. Ninety percent of Cambodia's population is of Khmer origin and speak the Khmer language, the country's official language.

French, once the language of government in Indochina, is still spoken by many older Cambodians. In recent decades, many younger Cambodians and those in the business-class have favored learning English. In the major cities and tourist centers, English is widely spoken and taught at a large number of schools because of the overwhelming number of tourists from English-speaking countries. Even in the most rural outposts, most young people speak at least some English, as it is often taught by monks at the local pagodas where many children are educated.

RELIGION
Theravada Buddhism is the official religion of Cambodia, which is practiced by more than 95 percent of the population. The Theravada Buddhist tradition is widespread and strong in all provinces, with an estimated 4,392 temples throughout the country. The vast majority of ethnic Khmers are Buddhist, and there is a close association between Buddhism, cultural traditions, and daily life.

Islam is the religion of the majority of the Chams and Malay minorities in Cambodia. The majority of Muslims are highly populated in Kampong Cham Province. Currently there are more than 300,000 Muslims in the country. One percent of Cambodians are identified as being Christian; of this, Catholics make up the largest group followed by Protestants. There are currently 20,000 Catholics in Cambodia which represents only 0.15% of the total population.

CULTURE
Various factors contribute to the Cambodian culture including Theravada Buddhism, Hinduism, French colonialism, Angkorian culture, and modern globalization. Cambodian culture not only includes the culture of the lowland ethnic majority, but also some 20 culturally distinct hill tribes colloquially known as the Khmer Loeu. Rural Cambodians wear a krama scarf which is a unique aspect of Cambodian clothing.

Cambodians have been raised to respect their culture and are very traditional in their way of life. Tourists will see the well mannered Cambodian expressing a friendly “Chumreap Suor” when they meet one. Cambodians traditionally greet with a Sampeah, which involves pressing the palms together before the chest with a slight bow and greeting with a polite ‘Chumreap Suor’. Women usually greet both men and women with the same traditional greeting.

Khmer culture, as developed and spread by the Khmer empire, has distinctive styles of dance, architecture and sculpture, which have been exchanged with neighbouring Laos and Thailand through the history. Angkor Wat (Angkor means "city" and Wat "temple") is the best preserved example of Khmer architecture from the Angkorian era along with hundreds of other temples that have been discovered in and around the region.

Traditionally, the Khmer people have a unique method of recording information on Tra leaves. Tra leaf books record legends of the Khmer people, the Ramayana, the origin of Buddhism and other prayer book series. They are greatly taken care of and wrapped in cloth to protect from moisture and the climate.

Bon Om Teuk (Festival of Boat Racing), the annual boat rowing contest, is the most attended Cambodian national festival. Held at the end of the rainy season when the Mekong River begins to sink back to its normal levels allowing the Tonle Sap River to reverse flow, approximately 10% of Cambodia's population attends this event each year to play games, give thanks to the moon, watch fireworks, dine, and attend the boat race in a carnival-type atmosphere. Popular games include cockfighting, soccer, and kicking a sey, which is similar to a footbag. Based on the classical Indian solar calendar and Theravada Buddhism, the Cambodian New Year is a major holiday that takes place in April.

CLOTHING
Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for traveling in Cambodia. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects. A lightweight raincoat and umbrella are a good idea in the rainy season and the umbrella can also protect the direct sunlight.

Shoes (and socks) must be removed before entering any religious building or private home. It is therefore useful to wear shoes without too many laces and which can easily be taken off.

DINNING
Khmer cuisine is another name for the foods and cuisine widely consumed in Cambodia. The food of Cambodia includes tropical fruits, rice, noodles, drinks, dessert and various soups.

The staple food for Cambodians is rice. Almost every meal includes a bowl of rice, although noodles are also popular. A wide range of curries, soups and stir fries are served with rice. Many rice varieties are available in Cambodia, including aromatic rice and glutinous or sticky rice. The latter is more commonly found in desserts with fruits like durian.

Khmer Cuisine shares much in common with the food of neighboring Thailand, although it is generally not as spicy; and Vietnam, with whom it shares and adopts many common dishes and a colonial history, both being part of the French colonial empire in Southeast Asia. It has also drawn upon influences from the cuisines of China and France, both of whom are powerful players in Cambodian history. Curry dishes, known as kari show a trace of cultural influence from India. The many variations of rice noodles show the influences from Chinese cuisine. Preserved lemons are another unusual ingredient not commonly found in the cooking of Cambodia's neighbors, which is used in some Khmer dishes. Coconut milk is the main ingredient of many Khmer curries and desserts.

A legacy of the French is the baguette, which the Cambodians often eat with pâté, tinned sardines or eggs. One of these with a cup of strong coffee, sweetened with condensed milk, is an example of a common Cambodian breakfast.

Typically, Cambodians eat their meals with at least three or four separate dishes. A meal will usually include a soup, or samlor, served alongside the main courses. Each individual dish will be either sweet, sour, salty or bitter. Chili is served on the side, and left up to individual diners and to their taste. In this way Cambodians ensure that they get a bit of every flavor to satisfy their palates.

NOTE: Throughout most Asian countries including Myanmar MSG (Monosodium Glutamate) - known locally as 'AJINOMOTO' - is still used in food preparation in some restaurants. Some travelers who may experience swollen feet, hands or headaches will more than likely have had a good amount of MSG in the food. It is always best to inform your guide when ordering if you do not wish it to be added to your food.

WATER
The number one rule is be careful of the water and ice, even though both are almost always factory-produced, a legacy of the French. If you don’t know for certain that the water is safe, assume the worst. Reputable brands of bottled water or soft drinks are generally fine, but you can’t safely drink tap water. Only use water from containers with a serrated seal. Tea and coffee are generally fine, as the water will have been boiled.

The simplest way of purifying water is to boil it thoroughly. Vigorous boiling should be satisfactory; however, at high altitude water boils at a lower temperature, so germs are less likely to be killed. Make sure you boil it for longer in these environments.

Consider purchasing a water filter for a long trip. Total filters take out all parasites, bacteria and viruses and make water safe to drink. They are often expensive, but can be more cost effective than buying bottled water. Simple filters (which can even be a nylon mesh bag) take out dirt and larger foreign bodies from the water so that chemical solutions work much more effectively; if the water is dirty, chemical solutions may not work at all. Chlorine tablets (Puritabs, Steritabs or other brands) will kill many pathogens, but not some parasites like giardia and amoebic cysts. Iodine is more effective in purifying water and is available in tablet form (such as Potable Aqua).

TIME
Cambodia, like Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand, is seven hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time or Universal Time Coordinated (GMT/UTC).

ELECTRICITY
Cambodia uses 220V, and a mixture of flat 2-pin, round 2-pin or 3-pin plugs. It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor. Power outages happen occasionally but most hotels have their own generator.

CURRENCY
Cambodia’s currency is the Riel and its second currency (some would say its first) is the US Dollar which is acceptable everywhere. Dollar bills with a small tier are unlikely to be accepted by Cambodians.

The Cambodian Riel comes in notes of the following denominations: 50r, 100r, 200r, 500r, 1000r, 2000r, 5,000r, 10,000r, 20,000r, 50,000r and 100,000r.

CREDIT CARDS
Top-end hotels, airline offices and upmarket boutiques and restaurants generally accept most major credits cards (Visa, MasterCard, JCB and sometimes American Express), but many pass the charges straight on to the customer, meaning an extra 3% on the bill.

Cash advances on credit cards are available in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Kampot, Battambang, Kampong Cham and other major towns. Canadian Bank and Union Commercial Bank offer free cash advances, but most other banks advertise a minimum charge of USD 5.

BUSINESS HOURS
Most Cambodians get up very early and it is not unusual to see people out and about exercising at 5.30am if you are heading home at that time. Government offices, which are open from Monday to Friday and Saturday mornings, theoretically begin the working day at 7.30am, break for a siesta from 11.30am to 2pm, and end the day at 5pm. However, it is a safe bet that few people will be around early in the morning or after 4pm, as their real income is earned elsewhere.

Banking hours vary slightly according to the bank, but most keep core hours of 8am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday, plus Saturday morning. Attractions such as museums are normally open seven days a week and during these days staffs have had their arms twisted to stay open through lunch.

Local restaurants are generally open from about 6.30am until 9pm and international restaurants until a little later. Local restaurants may stay open throughout, while international restaurants sometimes close between sittings. Many bars are open all day, but some open only for the night shift, especially if they don’t serve food.

Local markets operate seven days a week and usually open and close with the sun, running from 6.30am to 5.30pm. Markets shut up shop for a few days during the major holidays of Chaul Chnam Khmer (Khmer New Year), P’chum Ben (Festival of the Dead) and Chaul Chnam Chen (Chinese New Year). Shops tend to open from about 8am until 6pm, sometimes later.

COMMUNICATION
The advent of mobile phones has allowed Cambodia to catch up with its regional neighbours by jumping headlong into the technology revolution. Mobile phones are everywhere in Cambodia, but landline access in major towns is also improving, connecting more of the country to the outside world than ever before.

Sending faxes is getting cheaper as telephone charges drop. The cheapest fax services are those via the internet; these can be arranged at internet cafes.

When travelling with a mobile phone on international roaming, just select a network upon arrival, dial away and await a hefty phone bill once you return home. Note that Cambodian roaming charges are extraordinarily high.

DOMESTIC AIRLINES
Cambodia Angkor Air is the only airline currently operating domestic flights in Camboida. This airline uses French-Italian ATR turboprop planes, a type of plane well suited for the local conditions, airports and distances. The configuration is 70-seats (ATR 72) in rows of 4 seats with a middle aisle. Entry-exist is at the back of the plane with standard one-class configuration. Cambodia Angkor Air is owned by Vietnam Airlines and Cambodia and also operates some international flights with plans for expansion within the region.

INTERNATIONAL AIRLINES
The following airlines are currently fly into Camboida: Air Asia, Air France, Air Berlin, Asiana Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Cambodia Angkor Air, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Souther, Dragon Air, Eva Air, Jet Star, Korean Air, Laos Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Myanmar Air, Shanghai Airlines, Silk Air, Singapore Airlines, Skywings Asia Airlines, Thai Airways and Vietnam Airlines.

INTERNATIONAL DEPARTURE TAX: There is a departure tax of USD 25, payable by cash or credit card, on all international flights out of both Phnom Penh International Airport and Siem Reap International Airport.

ENTRY REGULATIONS
Most visitors to Cambodia require a one-month tourist visa (US$20), although some visitors enter on a one-month business visa (US$25). Most nationalities receive a one-month visa on arrival at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports, and at land borders. One passport-sized photo is required and you’ll be ‘fined’ US$1 if you don’t have one. It is also possible to arrange a visa through Cambodian embassies overseas or an online e-visa (US$25) through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (www.mfaic.gov.kh). Arranging a visa ahead of time can help prevent potential overcharging at some land crossings.

Those seeking work in Cambodia should opt for the business visa as, officially, it is easily extended for long periods and, unofficially, can be extended indefinitely, including multiple entries and exits. A tourist visa can be extended only once and only for one month, and does not allow for re-entry.

Travellers are sometimes overcharged when crossing at land borders with Thailand, as immigration officials demand payment in baht and round up the figure considerably. Arranging a visa in advance avoids this potential problem. Travellers planning a day trip to Prasat Preah Vihear from Thailand do not require visas, but may be asked to leave their passport on the Thai side of the border to ¬ensure they don’t continue on into Cambodia.

Overstaying your visa currently costs a hefty US$5 a day.

TIPPING
Tipping is not traditionally expected here, but in a country as poor as Cambodia, tips can go a long way. Salaries remain extremely low and service is often superb thanks to a Khmer commitment to hospitality. Hence a tip of just USD 1 might be half a day’s wages for some. It is considered proper to make a small donation at the end of a visit to a wat; most wats have contribution boxes for this purpose.

INSURANCE
Medical facilities are rather limited in Cambodia and it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before traveling. Such an insurance should absolutely cover the cost of an evacuation flight out of Cambodia which is sometimes necessary either on a regular flight or on a special flight. For adventure tours such as cycling proof of purchase of a travel insurance policy will be required. In Siem Reap the Royal Angkor International Hospital has been fully operational since November 2007.

PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
International New Year’s Sunday, 1 January 2012
Day Victory over Genocide Saturday, 7 January 2012
Day Chinese New Year Monday, 23 January 2012
(Not a public holiday, but many private company closed.)
Meak Bochea Day /Magha Puja Day Tuesday, 7 February 2012
Women’s Day Thursday, 8 March 2012
Cambodian Khmer New Year/Chaul Chnam Thmey Saturday, 14 April 2012 to Monday, 16 April 2012
Labour Day / May Day Tuesday, 1 May 2012
Visaka Bochea / Visaka Buja Day Saturday, 5 May 2012
Royal Ploughing Day Ceremony Wednesday, 9 May 2012
HM King Sihamoni’s Birthday Sunday, 13 May 2012 to Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Children’s Day Friday, 1 June 2012
HM the Queen Mother’s Birthday Monday, 18 June 2012
Pchum Ben Day Friday, 14 September 2012 to Sunday, 16 September 2012
Cambodia Constitution Day Monday, 24 September 2012
Cambodia Coronation Day    Monday, 29 October 2012
Former HM King Sihanouk’s Birthday Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Cambodia Independence Day Friday, 9 November 2012
Water Festival / Bon Om Thook    Tuesday, 30 October 2012 to Thursday, 1 November 2012
Human Rights Day Monday, 10 December 2012

DOs AND DON’Ts
  • Ask for permission before taking photographs of any Cambodian people or monks.
  • It is customary to remove your shoes when entering a place of worship such as a pagoda or temple. Additionally, visitors should dress appropriately when inside a religious site (upper arms and legs should be covered, hats removed).
  • It is respectful to remove your shoes when entering someone’s home.
  • Though not always expected, a respectful way of greeting another individual is to bow the head slightly with hands pressed together at the chest (known as “Sampeah”).
  • If invited to dine in a Cambodian family’s home, it is polite to bring a small gift for the host such as fruit, dessert, or flowers.
  • If invited to attend a Cambodian wedding, it is customary to bring cash as a wedding gift.
  • When using a toothpick at the table, use one hand to cover your mouth.
  • Keep business cards ready, and present them with both hands. Accept business cards with both hands.
  • Don't use your feet to point at someone.
  • Don't touch a Cambodian person on the head.
  • Don't begin eating if you are a guest at a dinner and the host has yet to take a bite.
  • Women should never touch male monks or hand something directly to them.
  • Keep public displays of affection to a respectful minimum.
NOTE: In general, the dos and don’ts are mostly the same when you visit the Southeast Asia countries.

USEFUL PHRASES

Greetings
Hello Suo Sday
Goodbye Chom Reab Lea
How are you? Sok sabai chea tay?
I'm fine Knhum sok sabai chea tay
Yes Baat (for man)
Cha (for woman)
 
No Otay
Thank you Orkun

Getting to Know
Do you speak English? Teu nak ach niyeay phea sar anglei ban tay?
What is your name? Teu nak chhmuas a vei?
What is this called in Khmer Teu Nis hauv thameich chea pheasar khmer?
Speak slowly Nee yeay yeut yeut
My name is ... (Arun) Knhum chhmua ... (Arun) 
I understand Knhum yol heuy
I don't understand Khnum ot yol tay
Where are you going? Teu nak kampong toev na?
See you tomorrow Saek chuob knea


Shopping
How much for this? Teu nis thlay pun mann?
Expensive Thlaiy
Market Phsar

Directions
Please take me to... Soum choun knhum toev...
Where is Noev tee na
Slow down (you'll need this one!) yeut yeut
Stop here Chhop tee nis heuy
Turn right Bort sdam
Turn left Born chhveng
Go straight Toev trang

Places
Bank Thorneakea
Pharmacy Or soth s'than
Toilet Bongkun
Hotel Santhakea
Guesthouse Ph'teah som nak
Embassy Sathantoot

Numbers

1 Muoy
2 Pee
3 Bey
4 Buon
5 Pram
6 Pram-muoy
7 Pram-pee
8 Pram-bey
9 Pram Buon
10 Dorp

Money/Cambodian Currency

50 Haa-sep
100 Muoy-roy
500 Pram-roy
1000 Muoy-poun
5000 Pram-poun
10,000 Muoy-meun