Cambodia: Holidays and National Customs
|January 1||New Year|
|January 7||Victory over the genocide|
|8th of March||International Women’s Day|
|1st of May||Labor Day|
|1st of May||International Children’s Day|
|September 24||Constitution Day|
|23rd October||Signing of the peace treaty in Paris|
|October 30th – November 1||Birthday of the king|
|November 9||Independence day|
|10th of December||International day of human rights|
Source: Countryaah – Cambodia Holidays
|End of January to mid-February||Chaul Chnam Chen – Chinese New Year|
|Mid-April||Chaul Chnam – The Khmer New Year is celebrated over three days. One brings the temples, the wats, gifts. The celebrations include splashing each other with water or talcum powder.|
|early May||Chat Praeh Nengkal – In early May, the royal ceremony will be held in front of the National Museum in Phnom Penh. A team of oxen is presented to predict the harvest.|
|May to June||Visakha Puja – Buddha’s birthday is celebrated with light festivals in the wats, the temples.|
|Mid-September to early October||P ‘chum Ben – During the feast of the dead, sacrifices made of food, flowers and paper money are made in the temple complexes.|
|beginning of November||Bon Om Tuk – The victory of Jayavarman VII over the Cham is celebrated. They occupied Angkor Wat in 1177. It is one of the most important festivals in the country. It also reminds of the beginning of the dry season and the associated drying out of the Tonle Sap.|
Sbai Taoi are leather shadow play figures that come from the tradition of the Khmer culture.
The ideas of what is meant by a particularly favorable travel climate depend on a number of factors. For example, cultural travelers see the climate very differently than people who want to spend a pure beach holiday, for example. The state of health or age can also play an important role. Therefore, our travel time recommendations are divided into the following two categories:
Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate.
It rains from May to October, during which time around 80% of the total annual precipitation falls. The dry season is from November to April. The months of May to September are characterized by damp heat. And the months of December to January are the coldest.
People who prefer a moderate climate and lower temperatures should use these months to stay in the country.
- Abbreviationfinder.org: Presents the way that KH stands for the nation of Cambodia as a two-letter acronym.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Ruins of Angkor Wat
The temple city near the city of Siem Reap from the years 850 – 1110 AD was overgrown by the jungle for years before it was rediscovered for tourism. At its heyday, around 1 million people lived in the 200 km² area. The common people lived in wooden buildings, of which there are no remains today.
You can see a large number of stone temples from different epochs.
The temples also served as a depository for the rice produced in the surrounding area. Agriculture was so productive, thanks to the sophisticated irrigation technology, that it became the basis of the city’s wealth. The predecessor city in the north of the country had its wealth due to trade.
Around 1430 the city was abandoned and the Thais from Ayuttaya moved from the west into the area of Angkor.
A new capital was established in the southwest near the present-day capital, Phnom Penh.
You should definitely plan several days to visit the extensive facility!
For film fans, it should be mentioned that the temple city served as the backdrop in the anti-war film “Apocalypse Now” by Francis Ford Coppola (born 1939) and with Marlon Brando (1924 – 2004) from 1979.
The complex was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1992
Preah Vihear Temple
The location of the temple complex is spectacular. It is located on a 500 m high rock and accordingly offers impressive views of the plain. Construction of the complex began in the 9th century.
This temple complex – located in northern Cambodia on the border with Thailand – was awarded to Cambodia by the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 1962, although Thailand had also made claims. In February 2011 there was a 4.6 km² area around the temple to shootings between the Cambodian and Thai armed forces – with about 10 dead.
The temple was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008
Sacred buildings, temples
The temples of Angkor
Angkor Wat is visually, architecturally and artistically stunning. It is a massive three-story pyramid, crowned by five beehive-like towers, which measure 65 m from the ground.
Angkor Wat is the center of every visit to the temple complex.
Suryavarman II constructed it in the form of a massive temple mountain and dedicated it to the Hindu god Vishnu. It served as the state temple, although the temple’s unusual west orientation led some to believe it was built as the king’s burial temple. The complex was built in the early and mid-12th century as a temple complex.
Angkor Wat is surrounded by an outer wall that measures 1,300 x 1,300 meters. The temple itself is around 1 km²large and consists of three floors supported by a central tower. The wall of the temple is covered inside and outside with bas-reliefs and carvings.
The reliefs of the outer wall of the lower floor depict stories and characters from Hindu mythology and the historical war of Suryavarman II. The central tower contains four Buddha figures on the third floor, each looking in different directions and shows that, although Angkor Wat as Hindu temple, it later served as a Buddhist temple because Theravada Buddhism became Cambodia’s dominant religion in the 14th century.
Bakong stands 15 m high and with a size of 650 x 850 m on the outer wall. The Hindu temple was constructed in the late 9th century by the third Angkor king Indravarman I () as a state temple.
Bakong shows that stones were used in place of bricks very early on. Although started by Indravarman I, the temple received additions and was expanded by later kings. The upper area and the tower could have been built in the 12th century. The temple is also embedded in picturesque vegetation.
Probably the most astonishing temple after Angkor Wat is Bayon with its gigantic stone faces that made it world famous. It is an indescribable work of classical Khmer art and architecture. Bayon was the Buddhist state temple of Jayavarman VII. And in many ways it represents the top of his massive building measures. The complex was built in the late 12th century.
The temple complex has 37 towers, most of which have four faces. It is not entirely clear who they are supposed to represent, probably Loksvara, the Boshisattva of Mahayana Buddhism, or perhaps a combination of Buddha and Jayavarman VII.
The most beautiful thing about the temple are probably the bas-reliefs on the outer wall of the low floor, which show scenes from daily life during a sea battle against the Cham, and the upper floor, where the faces are. The unfinished carvings on the other walls are also worth seeing. They probably represent the death of Jayavarman VII and the subsequent end of his building activity.
Some of the reliefs on the inner walls were made at a later time under the Hindu King Jayavarman VIII.
late 12th century Jayavarman VII
When it was constructed, this small island temple was located in the central part of the area that was last built by a Khmer king in the Angkor area.
At the time of its construction it was called Rajasri. Its later name means “writhing serpents”, which goes back to the Nagas who surrounded the temple.
Opposite the temple is the statue of the horse Balaha, which was supposed to protect drowning sailors. Neak Pean appears to have been used for forgiveness, and water was believed to have healing powers.
This 4.5 hectare temple complex is located in the archaeological park of Angkor Wat. The complex was built between 1190 and 1210 under Jayavarman VII (1162-1220). Under Indravarman II. (11871243) the facility was expanded.
The temple is a typical flat temple and was built from the laterite bricks and sandstone typical of the local Khmer buildings.
Laterite bricks are bricks that are formed from weathered surface rock and are similar to bauxite.
At this point, in the 9th century under Jayavarman II (), the 500-year-long age of Angkor began.
Phnom Kulen is the mountain on which Jayavarman II initiated a royal cult in 802.
He thus declared a united and independent Cambodia under only one ruler. ‘Soon after, he moved his capital from Kulen to Roluos, where it would remain for nearly a century before being relocated to the Angkor area.
Unfortunately, the temple is a little more than 50 km from Siem Reap, so you should plan at least half a day for the visit.
There is also a separate entrance fee for Phnom Kulen.
This relatively small Buddhist temple is located around 1 km north of the Angkor Wat temple complex in the old and last capital of the Angkor Empire – Anghor Tom.
The complex probably dates from the first half of the 12th century. The temple tower, which stands on a 6 m high, three-tiered base, is striking in the approximately 50 by 50 m large complex.
The tower has a footprint of only 5 by 5 m and has an entrance door in all four directions. The temple complex is surrounded by a laterite wall.
This temple mount is dedicated to the addition god Shiva. In its day it was known as the “mountain with the golden tips”.
The first temple was constructed entirely of sandstone by Jayavarman V () in the late 1st and early 11th centuries as his state temple.
Unlike the previous kings, he built Ta Keo outside of his capital area.
Many of the Angkor temples are partially unfinished, but in the case of Ta Keo, construction seems to have stopped, especially in the early stages of construction, as there are very few carvings.
Ta Prohm (Jungle Temple)
This Buddhist temple complex dates from the mid 12th and early 13th centuries. has so far only been partially freed from the jungle that overgrows it.
In some cases, however, the temple was deliberately left in its original state. Therefore, massive silk wool and fig trees grow from the towers and corridors and are a fantastic sight.
Parrots fly from tree to tree and thus contribute to an indescribable jungle atmosphere. Its dark corridors and open spaces are also
a wonderful experience.
Ta Prohm was one of Jayavarman’s VII () first major temple projects. It was dedicated to the king’s mother and was actually constructed as a Buddhist monastery.
The temple complex, which is almost the same size as Angkor Wat, was built in the 12th century AD under Suryavarman II (1112 – 52). The temple complex is about 80 km from Siem Reap.
The temple complex is located in the north of the country and is not yet very well developed for tourism and is therefore difficult to reach.
The river is about 50 km northwest of Siem Reap. In the spectacular riverbed in the jungle there are lots of reliefs of Hindu saints.
The former capital under Jayvarman IV (928 – 942) from the 10th century is located in the Preah Vihear Province, about 3 hours by car from Siem Reap.
Royal Palace in Phnom Penh
The rectangular palace, actually a complex of royal buildings, was built by King Norodom in 1866 and the residence of the Cambodian King, Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk, and the Cambodian Queen Preah Reach Akka-Mohesey Norodom Monineath Sihanouk. Only during the years of the rule of the Khmer Rouge was it not available to the kings. In addition to the Khmer, the architects of this palace were Thai and French.
When the king is absent, the palace can be visited by the public. Within the palace area there is also the coronation hall, an open-air theater for the royal dance group, and the balcony on which the king presents himself to the public. There is also an open-air pavilion (the moonlight pavilion), which is often used to entertain the king, and the king’s private residence. The latter houses a collection of Cambodian artworks by artists from around the world. You should also take a look at the royal office. The architecturally difficult to reconcile Napoléon III’s pavilion. was a present from the French Empress Eugenie in the 20th century.
Near the southeastern palace wall is the White Elephant House, which traditionally serves special royal occasions such as births, weddings and funeral celebrations. The high palace walls, which surround the entire palace complex and have several gates, represent the oldest part of the palace. They are covered with Khmer frescoes. The Silver Pagoda is also located within the complex.
caves near Kampot. In one of the caves there is a brick temple from the 7th century AD.
Cities and buildings
Battambang, the administrative seat of the province of the same name, is located just 290 km northwest of Phnom Penh and is not far from the Thai border. Together with Siem Reap, the province was under the control of the Thais for years and was only ceded back to Cambodia in 1907 at the insistence of the French.
Due to its geographical location, the city is ideally suited for the cultivation of rice, vegetables and fruit, which has made the Battambang region the new agricultural center of the country and thus not only allowed economic growth, but also attracted many new residents to the province.
Today Battambang has around 180,000 residents.
The city is also known for its delightful French Colonial architecture, whose flair will cast a spell on everyone when strolling through the small, dreamy streets of the city or along the Sangkae riverbank.
Those who reside in the Battambang region should by no means miss a ride on the traditional bamboo train, the so-called Nory. But also numerous temples, wine tastings and the world-famous Battambang Circus are wonderful attractions.
The former capital under Jayvarman IV. (928 – 942) from the 10th century is located in the Preah Vihear Province, about 3 hours by car from Siem Reap.
Sambor Prei Kuk
The city was the capital in the 7th century, around 100 temples are now scattered in the jungle. The plant is located in what is now Kompong Thom province.
The city of Sihanoukville, also known as Kampong Saom, is located on the Gulf of Thailand and is about 160 km southwest of the capital Phnom Penh. With almost 200,000 residents, it is one of the largest cities in Cambodia and is increasingly becoming the economic mainstay of the country. This is particularly due to its paradisiacal location, which has made Sihanoukville a popular travel destination for tourists who, on the one hand, have had enough of mass tourism from Thailand, but do not want to forego white sandy beaches, traditional food and the advantages of life. The city is known, among other things, for its excessive nightlife, which has also made it attractive for smuggling, prostitution and gambling. Sihanoukville is also an important point of contact for the country’s industry, as the major port located there generates imports and exports for Cambodia and finally secured the country’s long-awaited economic decoupling from neighboring Vietnam around 1960. Sihanoukville can be reached not only by land or water, but also by plane. The local airport is located in the province of the same name, about 18 km from the city of Sihanoukville.
Western Baray of Ankir
The historical facility with the dimensions of 8 km by 2.3 km was created artificially to ensure the water supply for the population of Angkor Wat. The city’s population at its heyday was up to 1 million.
National Museum in Phnom Penh
The museum contains a fantastic collection of sculptures from the Khmer culture.
Tuol Seng Museum
In the rooms of the school in Phnom Penh, which the Khmer Rouge regime used as a torture site, there is now a museum that commemorates the victims.
grave The grave is in Anlong Veng, a place in the northeast of the country on the border with Thailand.
Killing Fields (Choeung Ek Memorial) and Toul Sieng Genocide Museum
The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, about 15 km southeast of Phnom Penh, bear witness to the unbelievable atrocities under the Pol Pot regime. The remains of thousands of victims make this immediately visible to everyone.
The disturbing place can easily be reached by motos or taxis. Here around 17,000 people were cruelly tortured, beaten to death or mutilated by units of the Khmer Rouge. They are synonymous with the mass murder of the Khmer Rouge against their own population between 1975 and 1979. On display are images of thousands of skulls and other human remains. These litter the Cambodian fields. Most of the dead probably came from the “Security Prison 21”, a place of systematic torture that is now the “Tuol-Sleng” museum. Only a handful survived the horror. The remains of the dead are now generally kept in a stupa, which was built in memory of the murdered on the grounds of Choeung Ek.
The museum is open daily and there is an entrance fee.
Royal University of Phnom Penh
The Royal University of Phnom Penh in the capital of Cambodia is the largest and also the oldest university with around 12,000 students and around 400 employees. It was founded in 1960 and has a particularly good reputation in the natural, spiritual and linguistic sciences. She works closely with NGOs and the government to make the country of Cambodia attractive as an intellectual location and to further develop it sustainably. Due to the low tuition fees, Cambodia is also an attractive place to study for other students from the Asian region who cannot afford to attend university in their home countries.
Ream National Park
The national park is located on the coast in the southwest of the country, not far from the city of Sihanoukville.
Koh Tonsay, in English “island of the rabbits”, is located in the south on the Vietnamese border. Here you can enjoy the country life wonderfully.
Koh Rong and Koh Kong
The two islands of Koh Kong and Koh Rong are now important sources of income for the country Cambodia, which can compete with fewer islands compared to neighboring Thailand. Nevertheless, many tourists come to Koh Rong and Koh Kong every year to admire the still quite untouched sandy beaches and mangrove forests and to spend a few days vacation in paradise. Both are located on the Gulf of Thailand in Koh Kong Province not far from Sihanoukville. Quaint bungalows right on the beach, numerous family accommodations as well as inexpensive restaurants and bars offer tourists enough opportunities to stay here for a few days and explore the picturesque nature on foot or by boat. Especially Koh Rong is becoming more and more popular among tourists,
Tonlé Sap Lake
Siem Reap is located about 30 minutes north of the western foothills of the Tonlé Sap Lake (“Great Fresh Water River”), which can be reached via a road along the Siem Reap River.
The lake is the largest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia and swells periodically from 2,700 km² to more than 16,000 km² in the wet season.
Fishing villages and semi-flooded forests frame the lake and offer an excellent place to see the original Cambodia and a unique ecosystem, replete with birds and other creatures. Boat trips through these areas take either 2 hours or 3 days.
Most travel agencies organize boat trips.
Freshwater dolphins near Kratie
In the Mekong near Kratie, with a bit of luck, you can see some of the endangered freshwater dolphins.