The Seasons in Cambodia

The Wet Season
The wet season comes courtesy of the southwest monsoon which blows from May to October, bringing with it some 75% of Cambodia’s annual rainfall. Not surprisingly, the wet season is characterised by rain, and during the peak of wet season from July to September it can rain as much as two out of every three days. However, the rainy days are usually just a few hours of heavy downpour and not all-day rain, although the latter do occur.

From a more cheerful perspective, monsoonal Cambodia is also a beautiful country to travel around in. The roads are not dusty and the lush greenery of the country returns. Angkor Wat in particular can be stunning during the wet season — the murals have a more unique appearance and feel. Observing Angkor Wat with a lightning storm as a backdrop is an electrifying experience. There are also fewer tourists going about in the country, so if you prefer to dodge the crowds, wet season can be a good time to visit.

Regionally, the Cardamom Mountains get the heaviest rain in the country, while the entire coastline gets rough seas and a lot of rain.

The Dry Season
The dry period runs from October to April, when the dusty northeast monsoon arrives. Blowing like a hair-dryer set to high, the northeast monsoon dries out the country very quickly. While November and January are quite cool (high C20s) by April, the weather can be scorching and very dry. Characterised by heat and dust, this season coincides with Cambodia’s peak tourist season when travellers arrive in their droves between November and January to take advantage of the lack of rain, enjoy the sun and the relatively cooler months.

Cambodia’s beach strips at Kep, Sihanoukville and Ko Kong bask in brilliant sunshine with clear calm waters  and if you’re a beach person, dry season is the best time for you.

Cambodian cuisines

Cambodian cuisine includes noodles, soups, grills, stir-fried, curries, salads, desserts, lots of vegetables, tropical fruits, and of course rice which is the staple food for Cambodians. Cambodian culinary secrets are rarely written down; the recipes were instead handed down from mother to daughter. From an ancient origin has come a traditional cuisine of unsuspected treasures: a unique blend of flavors and colors that enhance the natural ingredients used.

Cambodians perfected the art of blending spice paste using many ingredients like cloves, cinnamon, star anise, nutmeg, cardamom, ginger and turmeric. They add other native ingredients like galangal, garlic, shallots, lemongrass, cilantro, and kaffir lime leaves to these spices to make a rather distinctive and complex spice blend known as “kroeung”.

Although noodles are also popular, almost every meal includes a bowl of rice. A wide range of curries, soups and stir fried are usually served with rice. Being in a country that produces many rice varieties, tourists can enjoy the best aromatic grains and various types of glutinous rice. The latter is more commonly served with a salad or in desserts with fruits.

There are two other unique ingredients that give Cambodian cuisines their fabulous typical flavour. One is a pungent fermented fish paste known as pra-hok and the other, the kapi, a fermented prawn paste. These require an acquired taste for most but they are beloved by some who used them in many dishes or even taken as a dipping sauce. Collectively, these ingredients have become an important aromatic combination commonly used in Cambodian cuisines.

Khmer NoodleA MokKhmer Fruits

Typically, a Cambodian meal is served with rice and at least three other dishes. It usually includes a soup (samlor), served alongside the main dishes. Each of the individual dishes will either be sweet, sour, salty or bitter; these exist side by side in harmony, sometimes even within a single dish, to offer an original melody. Chili is usually left up to the individual to add. In this way tourists are subtly ensured that they get a bit of every flavour to satisfy their palates.

Korko

Korko, the hearty traditional gravy is truly quite delightful; its base ingredient is actually toasted rice pounded and turned into a tasty base and complimented by prahok, pork and pumpkin, which together add a delicious warmth and texture to the palate. Korko, is one of those great fusions of traditional ingredients cooked to perfection.

Prahok Kties

Prahok Kties is a delicious staple dish of Cambodian cuisine. Prahok, which means fermented fish, is GOLD to Cambodian cuisine, and can take up different shapes of flavor, depending on the recipe. Prahok Kties is fried with pork taken from the belly sides of the hog, which accentuates the flavor, particularly with the amazing quality of pork (sakchru) that Cambodia produces. It leaves you with an amazing taste in your palates.

THE KINGDONG OF CAMBODIA

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.

  Geography

Cambodia Map 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 geographic coordinates are 13 00 N, 105 00 E.

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.

  Population

Cambodia’s population is approximately 14 million. Ninety per cent of residents are Khmer; the rest are Cham (Khmer Muslim), Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Thai, Phnorng, Kuoy, Stieng, Tamil, etc. Population density is 78/ km2

  Climate

Like most of Southeast Asia, Cambodia’s climate is hot and warm almost all year round. The climate is dominated by the annual monsoon cycle of rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season lasts from May to October, and the dry season from November to April. December to January are the coolest months, while the hottest period is in April. The average temperature is around 27-28ºC.

  National Flag

National FlagThe flag of Cambodia symbolizes the country’s slogan: Nation, Religion, King. The two large blue stripes represent royalty and the center red stripe represents the nation. The image of the white temple stands for the nation’s religion.

  National Flower

National FlowerThe romduol, a small yellowish-white flower, is the national flower of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Since ancient times, Cambodian women have often been compared to the Romduol flower because of its attractive fragrance; a unique scent that is prominent in the late afternoon and can travel over long distances with the wind. With its sturdy stems that measure up to 30cm, the Romduol plant can grow to a height of 12 meters. These plants are being planted to enhance public parks.

Takeo Province

Takeo province, bordering Vietnam to the south, is blessed with natural beauty and many historical sites. Takeo is often recognized as “the cradle of the Cambodian civilization,” and contains several significant pre-Angkorian sites.

While heading towards Takeo, make a trip to Phnom Chisor to visit a well-preserved 11th century temple from the Angkor era. The temple is built on the crest of the hill and surrounded by panoramic views of the countryside. The climb up– 503 steps– to the top may be vigorous, but the stunning view of the countryside at the end makes it truly worthwhile. This ancient temple is now an active one where Buddhists make pilgrimages on religious occasions. There are monks’ quarters and a school. Fine carvings of Hindu deities can still be seen on the towers and at the libraries, and unique carvings decorate the door of the main temple.

In Takeo, the Tonle Bati—a favourite recreational spot for the locals during leisure—is a pleasant place to stop by for a standard Khmer meal. The nearby Tonle Bati Temple is a ‘largely intact’ Angkorian-style temple with a picturesque garden. The Yeay Pov Temple, named after King Ta Prohm’s mother, is another another historical temple situated near the popular Tonle Bati Lake.

For families, a visit to the Phnom Ta Mao wild life rescue centre is an enriching trip. The centre was set up to preserve rescued rare and endangered local wildlife. Eighty hectares of the area serves as a zoo for visitors.

 

Ta Phrom TempleTa Nei TempleWeaving in TakeoMountain in Takeo

Capital City of Cambodia

Phnom Penh, once known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’, is the capital and largest city in Cambodia. It is now a cultural, commercial, and political center that offers a unique blend of traditional charm and urban bustle.

Today, Phnom Penh is a place of diverse economic and urban growth. A swift wave of development has brought in new highrise buildings–including a 30-storey business center–restaurants catering to every palate, and stylish hotels promising all levels of luxury. Contributing to this development are burgeoning culinary and nightlife scenes that can rival any other in the region.

The alluring capital city also features a wide variety of historical and cultural attractions, along with myriad opportunities to sample local Cambodian culture. Here, classic colonial facades endure alongside sleek new eateries, golden-spired pagodas, and buzzing markets– all evidence of the dynamic energy of Phnom Penh’s city streets.

Phnom Penh’s famous riverfront is lined with trendy pubs, bistros, and restaurants. Stores offering beautiful Cambodian silk products and chic galleries dot the side streets. Add to this a blooming arts scene and a heady dusk-to-dawn nightlife and you’ll understand why Phnom Penh has become such a well-loved and compelling tourist destination.


Around Phnom Penh

Royal PalaceThe vibrant streets of Phnom Penh are full of colorful sights. The city possesses an exciting range of historical and cultural attractions to tout, along with countless restaurants and nightspots.

For a taste of Cambodian history and royal life, visitors can tour the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda located just next to the palace grounds. A short walk away, the National Museum beckons with room after room of Khmer sculpture, ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects. To get a taste of city life, visitors can walk along Sothearos Boulevard, sampling local foods and patronising a clutch of ‘antique’ shops that sell silver trays, betel boxes, belts, ancient coins, silver or wooden statuettes and famed marble carvings from the province of Pursat.

Visitors may also find it pleasant to take leisurely strolls around Phnom Penh. Boulevards peppered by elegant colonial buildings and a bustling riverfront lined with cafes and restaurants make this a truly beautiful city to see on foot.

For those interested in shopping, ‘Phsar Toul Tum Poung’ also known as Russian Market offers antique pieces, sundry sounvenir items, and factory over-run designer clothing at hugely discounted prices. Visitors who prefer air-conditioned comfort may opt to stop in the city’s modern shopping complexes (Sorya Shopping Centre, Sovanna Centre and the City Mall).

A sunset cruise down Phnom Penh’s Tonle Sap river serves as a perfect, relaxing end to an activity-filled day. Catch the soft river breezes and watch as Cambodia’s capital begins to light up and shimmer for the evening.

Toul Tum PoungSorya Shopping CentreSovanna CentreCity Mall