CAMBODIA TOUR PACKAGE
CAMBODIA TRAVEL AGENCY I TRAVEL AGENCY CAMBODIA
A Tailor-made specialist offering private tours and travel throughout Cambodia
Virtually decimated During The Frightening Era Of Pol Pot, Cambodia Has A New Found Confidence In The Modern World And Rejoices In Its Profound Ancient History, Once At The Cultural Heart Of All Southeast Asia
Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap province, close to the town of the same name, and its neighbouring temples of similar splendorous wonder, between them draw over two million tourists annually from all over the world to touch the ancient past and unlock its mysteries.
Evocative and otherworldly, these temples are just a fraction of the bewildering array of impressive ancient monumental buildings strewn across this land. At its height, Angkor was a city of over one million inhabitants, and the ancient capital of almost all of southeast Asia.
Because of its widespread cultural appeal, the area also boasts many premier hotels and international standard golf courses.
South of Ankor lies the enigmatic Tonle Sap, a fascinating example of the complexities of planetary natural climactic rhythm, and the largest lake in South-east Asia, teeming with fish and supporting many floating communities. The lake is great for waterborne day trips and also home to Prek Toal water bird sanctuary.
Further downriver, the Tonle Sap merges with the majestic Mekong where the capital city of Phnom Penh, once known as the pearl of Asia, has been restoring and re-inventing itself to health after its almost complete decimation by the Khmer rouge during the 1970’s.
In spite of the damage wrought to the city in those dark times, there are still many worthy sights in the city to captivate the visitor, including the splendid Silver Pagoda, Royal Palace and the city’s many Wats. Like its neighbours, Laos and southern Vietnam, the motion of life is governed by the mighty presence of Mekong River, upon which one can easily take a cruise to nearby attractions or for further onward travel.
To the south, close to the beautiful Ream National Park, coastal Cambodia’s main tourist beaches are centred in the southwest of the country, around Sihanoukville, and its scattering of offshore islands.
Whilst some resorts have been developed, many of Cambodia’s very finest beaches are entirely unspoilt and lacking in facilities, a situation which is rapidly changing, but where this is the case, most are accessible for a pleasant day trip my boat, with their little developed status very much a part of their appeal to beach aficionados.
Imagine a holiday without restrictive itineraries, impersonal treatment and unwanted travelling companions. If you want to escape from indifferent service and small print extras, you’ll love the freedom of our fully-customized travel.
Tell us what you’d like to see and do, browse through our sample tours or use our web site to design your holiday yourself. Whatever you choose, with Avada Travel, you get exactly what you want and more besides.
CAMBODIA TRAVEL GUIDE
All essential information about Cambodia that you’d need to know prior to your Cambodia tours with Avada Travel Combodia
Population: 14.7 million
Capital City: Phnom Penh (2 million)
People: Khmers (90%)
Currency: Riel and US Dollar
Time Zone: GMT +7 Hours
International Dialing Code: +855
Passport and visa
A 30 day single entry tourist visa for Cambodia can be obtained upon arrival and is a requirement for all nationalities except those of Laos, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore, all of whom are exempt from requiring a visa.
Visas are available upon arrival in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports and from border checkpoints at the overland crossings in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. Visitors should be in possession of a passport with validity in excess of six months beyond their intended departure date from Cambodia.
A passport photocopy and a passport sized photograph (3 x 4 cm) are required at all entry points. The visa fee is payable in US $ (currently $20). For most visitors visa on arrival is the most practical option.
A Cambodian Visa can also be purchased in Advance from Cambodian embassies, valid for 30 days from the moment of entry, and must be used within 3 months of the date of issue.
E-visas are now obtainable online from the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation at www.mfaic.gov.kh, but are only valid for air entry at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Phones and Internet Service
Post in Cambodia is routed by air through Bangkok, making the service much more reliable than in the past. Telephone connections to the rest of the world are widely available but can be expensive. Internet access is available in most major tourist places such as hotels and restaurants.
People, History & Culture
Quickly rising in the ranks of Asia’s top travel destinations, Cambodia is a humble yet majestic country with a story as dynamic as its culture. Despite its recent past being marred with war and genocide, Cambodia is now ripe with progressive energy. Thanks to the recent influx of tourism and renewed interest in Khmer culture, Cambodia is in the midst of a cultural renaissance. Historical icons like the UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Complex and a pristine southern coastline have put Cambodia into the spotlight for travellers to the region.
Much of Cambodia’s draw is thanks to the Khmer people, though, who are regularly regarded as some of Southeast Asia’s friendliest locals. Yet not so long ago, Khmer culture and the heart of its people were nearly destroyed. Between the years of 1975 and 1979, nearly one fifth of the country’s population was wiped out by the ruling Khmer Rouge in an effort to transition the nation to a solely agrarian society. Nowadays, this grisly period in Cambodia’s history is immortalised in some of Cambodia’s most visited tourist sites, and visitors are encouraged to learn about this dark period at various killing field sites and prison museums.
Beyond its tragic past, however, Cambodia is a perfect place to witness remnants of the ancient Khmer Empire, heralded as one of the most advanced and powerful ancient empires in the world. Credited with incredible feats in engineering and infrastructure, the Khmer Empire proves continuously fascinating for scholars and archeologists alike who continue to uncover fascinating evidence of this mysterious civilisation’s glorious past. Perhaps one of the best places to learn about this exceptional empire is at UNESCO World Heritage recognised Angkor Wat, the largest religious structure in the world and a distinct point of pride for the Khmer people.
Getting around Cambodia’s cities is both inexpensive and a travel experience in itself. Most cities’ best-known mode of transportation are tuk-tuks – motorised open-air carts that are more maneuverable than a car but safer than a motorbike. Most tuk-tuks in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and other big cities have cushioned seats and make for an exciting mode of transportation when visiting temples, museums and other city sites.
Generally, cost for trips in major cities like Siem Riep are approximately $1-3. Journeys shorter than a kilometer are never less than $1, and prices can increase at nightfall. It is important to keep your belongings close, as bag snatching in Phnom Penh can occur. Also, expect to pay extra depending on the number of passengers there are or for excessive baggage.
Tuk-tuks are one of the most convenient and practical modes of transportation for visitors. While popular with locals, motorbike taxis are unregulated and can drive recklessly. Motorbike transportation in Cambodia is not recommended by Buffalo Tours, and it should be noted that it is not usually covered by insurance.
Always remove your shoes, socks and hat and wear conservative dress, which should wholly cover your arms and legs, prior to entering a temple or home in Cambodia. Also be aware that it is considered rude to show the bottom of your feet toward a Buddha image or your host, which can most easily be accomplished by sitting cross-legged.
Never point at a person, or touch their heads. In general the people of Cambodia are not used to being touched by strangers, so tapping, hugging or putting your arm around someone is likely to regarded as a violation and cause unintended offence.
The standard greeting amongst Cambodians is not shake hands but instead to use the Sampeah, similar to the Thai Wai, raising the hands, palms and fingers placed together in a manner similar to prayer, touching your body between your chest and head, accompanied by a very slight bow.
In modern areas, handshaking is acceptable between men but a man should only shake hands with a woman if she proffers her hand first. In general, foreign men should be very careful about touching local women as this is not customary and can easily be misunderstood. It is not the practise in Cambodia, especially for women, to touch a monk, or even their robes.
Do not point at things, especially religious objects. If you need to attract attention, motion with the palm of your hand. It is a common gesture in many societies to affectionately ruffle the hair of children, but the head is considered sacred in Cambodian society and such gestures will not have the intended effect.
Avoid political comment and criticism.
Visitors to Cambodia should be aware that it is highly likely that they will witness attitudes towards animals, which may cause distress, and prepare themselves in advance to deal with these matters with calm and sometimes considerable restraint.
Overt public displays of affection between couples is frowned upon, particularly in traditional areas, and shows disrespect to the native culture.
Tipping for services in Cambodia is in general unnecessary but will be accepted by Taxi drivers, tour guides, restaurant and hotel staff.
When dining, Chopsticks should be used only for eating and never employed as a means of gesturing, drumming or placing in your hair. When you have finished your meal place the implements together level across the top rather than leaning into the bowl, and on no account leave the chopsticks pointing straight up as this is traditionally interpreted as a curse or omen of death.
If provided with a fork and spoon, the fork is used for prodding and manipulating food on the plate but eating should be performed with the spoon, using the right hand. Sticky rice is often eaten with the hand, for which the right hand only should be used. Despite the instinct, you should never lick your fingers afterwards. If using a toothpick, it is polite to cover your mouth with your hand.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT CAMBODIA?
Cambodia’s dry season runs from November to April. December and January are the ‘coolest’ months, with an average temperature range of 21-32º C, and are therefore the most popular times for visitors, a side effect of which is that major sites tend toward crowding.
From February the weather becomes increasingly drier, hotter and dustier, culminating in Cambodia’s hottest month of April with average temperatures of between 24-35º C and peak temperatures reaching in excess of 40º C.
During May and June, the temperatures begin to ease off only slightly and gradually, with the arrival of the wet season, which lasts through to October and is characterised by high humidity, heavy short downpours, mostly occurring during late afternoon or evening, with maximum rainfall peaking in September.
Although the wet season can be wet, hot and sticky, Cambodia’s nature flourishes during these months, with the country green and lush. If visiting Cambodia’s main attractions, this should not present an obstacle to travel, particularly for the early months of the wet season, though if planning travel to remote areas, localised flooding can interrupt journeys and hamper travel plans.
Although the north of the country has a slightly cooler winter, weather patterns remain fairly constant throughout the country. February is considered the best month for Cambodia’s beach resorts.
Festivals and National Holidays
The most important holiday for Cambodia is Khmer New Year, or Chaul Chnam Thmey (meaning, ‘enter new year’ in Khmer) held between April 14 and 16. These three days are based on the Buddhist calendar, marking the end of the harvest and the welcoming of the rainy season. Typically, each of the three days are distinct in their customs and traditions, with the first day believed to be when “angels” visit homes. You will find many Khmer locals spending this first day cleaning their homes and donning their best clothing. On following days, pious Buddhists will spend time giving alms to the poor, washing Buddhist idols with scented water and elders and enjoying Karlan rice cake, a sticky-rice treat roasted over charcoal.
Second in significance on to Chaul Chnam Thmey is Pchum Ben holiday, a 15-day religious festival in veneration of the dead. Celebrated in September or October, Khmer locals believe that this marks the time of year that the gate’s of hell open and ghosts of relatives once again roam the earth. Families pay respect to deceased ancestors of up to 7 generations, offering food and gifts at family altars. If you’re in Cambodia during this holiday, you might find that ancestral altars and temples are especially vibrant and lively.
Other major holidays include:
Victory Day, 7 January
Bonn Visak Bochea, Mid-May
Royal Ploughing Ceremony, May
Water Festival, October or November
The central tower of Angkor Wat is closed to visitors on Buddhist holidays.
TOP PLACES TO VISIT IN CAMBODIA
The once sleepy provincial town of Siem Reap is now one of Cambodia’s most visited cities, thanks to its proximity to the nation’s most treasured landmark – Angkor Temple Complex. Beyond its ancient temples, though, lie some of Cambodia’s most idyllic countryside and Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, Tonle Sap. At the city centre lays an old market filled with day spas, boutiques, galleries and artisanal handicraft stores.
During the days of French Indochina, the city of Phnom Penh was known as the “Pearl of Asia”, and still retains much of its historic charm. With an incredible history and a collection of some of Asia’s most beautiful art-deco buildings, palaces and pagodas, Phnom Penh is now a hub for an emerging contemporary arts and music scene. The capital is also home to Choeung Ek the Khmer Rouge prison turned museum and Tuol Sleng, one of the most well known killing fields of Cambodia.
The small riverside city of Battambang is just far enough off of the tourist track to have a uniquely laid-back and enchanting atmosphere. Famous for flavourful cuisine, beautifully preserved French architecture, 11th Century temples and its unconvential bamboo train, Battambang is a fantastic place to see Khmer countryside life unfold. Fishing villages on the banks of Sangkar River are the perfect backdrop for a retreat.
Cambodia’s southern coast boasts some of Southeast Asia’s best beaches, but remains more remote and untouched than the region’s better-known seaside destinations. Quiet waters and mild weather makes for great diving and snorkeling conditions, while secluded beaches in Sihanoukville are a getaway favourite. The historic coastal town of Kep is also home to stone pebble beaches and fascinating abandoned architecture, namely the mysterious Bokor Hill Station in nearby Kampot.