Cambodia is bordered by Thailand, Laos and Vietnam and in its turbulent past, was invaded by two of its neighbors several times. It shares the powerful Mekong River with Laos and Vietnam. The river enters the country from Laos in the North, and in its southbound journey almost divides Cambodia into halves.
The Mekong splits off into two at Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, before ending in Vietnam. One of its tributaries feeds Tonle Sap (Great Lake), the largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia, which lies south of Siem Reap, the town closest to the Angkor temple complex.
The Land of Smiles
Known as the Land of Smiles, Cambodia's gentle culture is influenced by Theravada Buddhism practiced by the bulk of its 13 million ethnic Khmer who live alongside substantial minorities of Chinese, Vietnamese, Cham Muslims and hill tribes. Angkor Wat, the ancient temple at the heart of a sprawling, monumental complex of stone block structures in Angkor, is a testimony to the power of the Khmer kingdom, which peaked during the 11th century.
At that stage, the Khmer kingdom included parts of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. However, with the decline of the Khmer kings and in a slow weakening of power marked by incursions from the Thais, Vietnamese and later the French and Japanese, the country was slowly chipped away to its present size, which is one half of Germany.
Angkor Wat, a Megawatt Tourist Must
Inspired by the rapid modernization of it neighbors, Cambodia is shedding its painful and devastating recent history of genocide and foreign occupation and is opening its doors to tourism and development. Its economy grew around 11% a year between 2004-2007, spurred by garment manufacturing, tourism, construction and real estate development.
Tourists stream to the wondrous, megalithic temples of Angkor Wat, its intricately carved bas reliefs of gods and asparas, giant carved heads, sky-touching spires on giant temples and wide water moats. Mysterious and enigmatic, it is no surprise that Angelina Jolie's movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was filmed on Ta Prohm, a temple still overrun by the jungle.
An unspoiled countryside, pristine and uncrowded beaches, boat cruises down the Tonle Sap and Mekong, views of floating villages and rural riverside towns and traditional handicrafts drawing from a rich and ancient culture are just a few of innumerable attractions.
|Visa requirements||Most visitors to Cambodia require a visa to enter the country and all travelers must have a passport valid for 6 months after their planned exit from Cambodia. Most nationalities can get a visa on arrival at the international airports (Siem Reap and Phnom Penh) without prior registration. These Visa On Arrivals are valid for 30 days, single entry and requires two photo. Electronic Visas are now available through the Ministry’s website with a processing time of 3 days. A scanned copy of the passport and 25USD paid by credit card will issue an emailed visa which the traveler must print and bring with them. Most border crossings accept e-visas, however it is recommended to double check before hand. Visas are available at the Thailand/Cambodian checkpoints however scams are rampant and it is recommended to arrange visas in advance in your home country or through the e-visa program.|
|Currency used||Cambodia Riel (r)|
|Country name||Kingdom of Cambodia|