General information

Kingdom of Cambodia (as officially called) is located in the Mekong river sub region, bordered by Thailand to the west and north, Laos to the north, Vietnam to the east and north-east and the gulf of Thailand to the south-west.

Local standard time is GMT + 7 hour

Cambodia has land area of 181035 square kilometers, stretching 580 km east-west and 450 km north-south. It is divided into 24 provinces and municipalities. The topography is generally of low land flat plains, though there are mountain ranges in the south-west and north-east corners. The highest peak is Mt. Aoral on the border between Pursat and Kampong Chhnang provinces.

Mekong river passes through the country from Laos to Vietnam. Tonle sap lake (one of the world's large fresh water lakes) is the home of submerged forest, bird sanctuaries and fishermen villages. During the wet season the lake area swell to a much larger than its original size of about 2500 sq-km.

Generally speaking there are 3 seasons: rainy season from early June to end of October (average temperature 27 to 36ºC), cool season from November to February (average temperature 17 to 28ºC) and hot season from end of February till end of May (average temperature 29 to 40ºC). In the hills the coolest temperature in December and January can be as low as 10ºC.

People, religions and languages
In 2000 the population is approximated at 11.7 millions. About 1.3 millions may be living in the capital Phnom Penh. Roughly 90% are Khmer, 5% are Chinese and Vietnamese and the rest are hilltribes and others. Majority (nearly 90%) of the population follow Buddhism. There are Muslims, Christians and others living in the country.

Official language is Khmer. English and French are fairly understood and spoken in the tourist areas such as Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanouville. Since Cambodia was under the French rule till 1953, some older generations could remember French.

Economy and currency
Agricultural sector employing 75% of the country's workforce, contributes about 41% of the country's GDP (gross domestic product). Service sector contributes about 21% of GDP. Most of the Cambodians are still living in poverty. Tourism is becoming one of the most popular economic activities.

Cambodian Currency is "Riel". US$ is generally accepted in tourist areas. Thai Baht money can be used in the areas close to border with Thailand. Credit cards and travelers' cheques are accepted only at major international hotels.

Cambodia country code is 855. Below are the area codes for some provinces. Note the first digit "zero" is to be discarded while calling Cambodia from overseas.
Phnom Penh = 023
Siem Reap = 063
Battambang = 053
Sihanoukville = 034
Rattanakiri = 075
Takeo = 032
Kampong Cham = 042
Kratie = 072
Kampong Chhnang = 026
Koh Kong = 035
Kg Thom = 062
Kampot = 033
Sisophon = 054
Kg Speu = 025
Stung Streng = 074
Svay Rieng = 044
Pursat = 052

Mobile phones in Cambodia have different prefixes. At the time of writing (end of 2001) there are 5 codes: 011, 012, 015, 016 and 018.

In Phnom Penh there are card phones along several roads, from where overseas calls can be made. People can also call overseas at provincial post offices and hotels in the major tourist areas.

Tourist and business visas can be obtained at a Cambodia embassy abroad. At Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports 30 days tourist visa can be obtained on arrival. Visa on arrival can be had at border crossing points between Thailand and Cambodia too. However please check out with the local travel agents to know the up to date situation. Tourist visa fee is US$ 20 and you need to submit a photo together with the passport and application letter.

Getting there
There are direct flights from Bangkok, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh city, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and Vientiane. Please check with your travel agent for the flight details and cost.

Overland entry and exist

Between Cambodia and Vietnam
|| Moc Bai in Vietnam and Bavet in Cambodia ||
There is a bus service between Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh city, but it is recommended to check with a local agency or hotel. Other means are by taking a private or shared taxi or van car. Border crossing is on land. The distance between the two cities is about 150 km. Visa on arrival to both Cambodia and Vietnam is not possible at this check point.

Between Cambodia and Thailand
|| Aranya Prathet in Thailand and Poipet in Cambodia || Border opens 0700 to 1700 hour ||
There are air-con buses running between Bangkok's New Morchit Bus Terminal and Aranya Prathet. Traveling time is about 4.5 hours. From Aranya Prathet bus station one needs to take a tuk tuk (three wheeler taxi) to the boarder check point. This 5 km short trip will cost about Thai Baht 50 to 60. Border passing is on foot over a small bridge. In Cambodian side (Poipet) people can get visa on arrival. It needs a fee of US$ 20 (or equivalent Thai Baht money), valid passport and a photo.

Between Poipet and Siem Reap there are buses running without a time table. The cost is about US$ 5 one way. Normally these buses do not have air-con, and they tend to wait till the bus is full. Pick up trucks are sometimes available for rent. Up to this time (2002) the road to Siem Reap is in very poor condition and the trip will take somewhere from 6 to 10 hours for the 140 km journey. It is not recommended to travel overland during the rainy season. The other way is to travel to Battambang by pick up truck (ticket costs about US$ 5) and overnight there. Next day take a boat which leaves Battambang at about 0700 hour and arrives Siem Reap boat pier at Phnom Krom 3 hours later, costing US$ 15.

|| Trat in Thailand and Koh Khong in Cambodia || Border opens 0700 to 1700 hour ||
From Bangkok take a bus at Eastern Bus Terminal (Ekamai) to Trat, which takes about 5 hours. Air-con mini buses run between Trat and Haad Lek (Thailand's border town with Cambodia) from 0500 hours till 1700 hours. Ticket for this 1.5 hours trip costs Thai Baht 100. Border crossing here is also on foot. In Cambodia side visa on arrival is available (same condition as Aranya Prathet). From Cambodian immigration it is a few kilometers down to a boat pier which could be done by a taxi available there. Then one may cross the river by ferry boat (about Thai Baht 20 to 40) to Koh Kong town. A bridge crossing is now available and taxies can take you to Koh Kong directly. From Koh Kong people can travel to either Phnom Penh or Sihanoukville.

Koh Kong - Phnom Penh. Taxies charge Thai Baht 300 to 400 for a 6 to 8 hours ride on a rough road. They usually leave Koh Kong at around 0700 hour. In Phnom Penh taxies depart at around 0700 hour to Koh Kong.

Koh Kong - Sihanoukville. Large speed boat leaves Koh Kong at about 0800 hour and takes 3.5 to 4 hours to Sihanoukville. Ticket costs US$ 15. The return speed boat departs Sihanoukville at 1230 hour. There are now air-con buses running between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville on a relatively better and new road.

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Salawin river, Mae Hong Son province, northern Thailand
Hike & Hilltribe village homestay to Salawin river, Mae Hong Son

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