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  • khmer architecture lobby
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  • The Mystery of History
  • Temple Beyond Escapes

About the Destination

The town of Siem Reap, in northern Cambodia, is the primary access point for the Angkor Archaeological Park. The name Siem Reap literally means "Siam Defeated". These days, however, the only rampaging hordes are the tourists heading to the Angkor Archaeological Park.

Geography

Cambodia, also known as Kampochea, is a country located in Southeast Asia that is bordered by Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.  Covering an area of about 181,035 sq km, Cambodia is about half the size of Vietnam.  The capital of Cambodia is Phnom Penh and has the distinction of also being the largest city.

A low-lying alluvial plain in the center of Cambodia makes up most of the country, although in the South there is the Mekong Delta.  There are several mountainous regions, one of which forms a border along the coastline with another separating Cambodia from Thailand.

Population of Cambodia

An estimated 85-90 percent of the population lives in rural areas. Ethnically the population consists of about 90 percent Khmer, 5 percent each of Chinese and Vietnamese and small numbers of hill tribes (Chams and Burmese). Khmer is the country's official language. It is spoken by more than 95 percent of the population. French, as a second language Ian a is also spoken, mostly by older people. English is more commonly spoken by the younger generation.

The Cambodian population presents several important features. First, due to the baby' boom after 1979, it is a young population with at least half (50% according to some sources, more according to others) under 18 years of age now. Secondly, the proportion of women in the adult population is high, 56% of those who are 18 years old or more being females. Also as a result of the war, there is a rather high proportion of women-headed household; at least 25% according to UNICEF.

Cambodia and Laos' populations are dwarfed by those of Vietnam and Thailand, and average population densities in the smaller countries are much lower than in Vietnam. Even the very densely populated areas in Cambodia do not have such a concentration of population as can be found in the Red River and Mekong River Deltas in Vietnam.

The population of Cambodia is 12,491,501 (2001 estimate). Population growth per year is estimated at 2.3 percent, one of the highest rates in Asia. The rate of infant mortality is also high. The population density is 69 persons per sq km (179 per sq mi), with the densest concentrations on the heavily cultivated central plain. The mountainous regions of the country, where malaria is widespread, are thinly populated, as are the poorly watered northern provinces. During the late 1970s, under the brutal rule of the Khmer Rouge, all of Cambodia's towns were depopulated, and residents were forcibly relocated to rural areas. A process of reurbanization began in the 1980s.

Khmer Art and Culture

Throughout Cambodia's history, religious principles guided and inspired its arts. A unique Khmer style emerged from the combination of indigenous animistic beliefs and the originally Indian religions of Hinduism and Buddhism. These two religions, along with the Sanskrit language and other elements of Indian civilization, arrived in mainland Southeast Asia during the first few centuries.

Cambodia Climate and Weather

The climate can generally be described as tropical. As the country is affected by monsoon, it is hot and humid with an overage temperature around 27.C (80.F). There are two distinct seasons: the Rainy Season and the Dry Season. However, the Dry Season is divided into two sub-seasons, cool and hot. These seasons are:

  • The Rainy season:  From June till October 27-35.C (80-95.f)
  • The Dry season (cool):  From November till February 17-27.C (80-95.F)
  • The Dry season (Hot):  From March till May 29-38.C (84-100.F)

Cambodia Economy

Cambodia’s economy grew rapidly, at more than 8 percent per year, between 2004 and 2012. GDP growth slowed during the global economic downturn in 2008-09 and then picked up again to reach a four-year high of 7.3 percent in 2012.  The economy is expected to grow at around 7 percent in 2013, driven by strong exports, private investment and agriculture, and underpinned by a solid macroeconomic position. Economic growth broadened over the past few years, thanks to sustained growth in the agricultural sector, driven by increases in rice prices in global markets.

Poverty in Cambodia has fallen sharply. World Bank estimates suggest that Cambodia achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving poverty in 2009. However, a vast majority of families who were lifted out of poverty were only able to do so by a small margin. Today, the poverty rate is 20.5 percent. Still about 2.8 million people are poor, and about 90 percent of them live in the countryside.

Currency of Cambodia

The official currency in Cambodia is the Riel which come in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 50000 and 100000 notes. However, in the major towns and cities, US dollars can be freely spent though travelers are recommended to use smaller denomination notes as change may be difficult.

Most places will refuse old, tatty or damaged US bills. Due to the economic problems in the region, the currency has slipped from 2500 Riels to 3700-3900 per one US dollars (at the time of this writing), meaning Cambodia is an even better value for money tourist destination than before. Popular local and international currencies can be exchanged openly and freely. Major credit cards are only accepted in a few places so traveler cheques or cash are recommended.

Religion

Theravada Buddhism is the prevailing official religion in Cambodia and approximately ninety percent of the population is Buddhist. Islam, Hinduism and Christianity are also embraced in Cambodia.

Customs and Tradition

Cambodian culture and tradition have had a rich varied history dating back many centuries. Over the years, the people of Cambodia developed a set of unique tradition from the syncretism of indigenous Buddhism and Hinduism.

Cambodians have been raised to respect their culture and are very traditional in their way of life. Tourists will see the well mannered Cambodian expressing a friendly “Chumreap Suor” when they meet one.

Since Buddha statues and images represent the revered Buddha, visitors are asked to treat all such statues and images with respect, so as not to offend local people. In Cambodia, regardless of religion, the country maintains a harmonised state.

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