Where is Cambodia located and how to get there?
Located in Southeast Asia and bordering Thailand, Laos and Vietnam, Cambodia was part of the former French Indochina territory until 1954. For international travellers, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are the primary gateways, as both are well-connected with major travel hubs in Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, and China (including Hong Kong) via direct connections.
Furthermore, the route between Vietnam and Cambodia on the Mekong River is also extremely popular and there are many luxury cruises and speed boats operating between the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and Phnom Penh in Cambodia, with some going up to Tonle Sap near Siem Reap. If you are interested in a great overland adventure, Cambodia shares multiple border crossings with Thailand and Vietnam, and one border crossing with Laos.
Where are Cambodia’s top places and experiences?
With incredibly hospitable people, majestic monuments, complex history, pristine landscapes, world-class accommodation options and amazing food, Cambodia offers superb experiences to suit every style and taste. Being a relatively small country, travelling within Cambodia is easy, making it an ideal destination for those who appreciate slow travel. Given below are some of our favourite regions and experiences in the country:
- Siem Reap: An ancient capital where you will find yourself taken over by a sense of exploration and adventure, Siem Reap is the gateway to the fabled temples of Angkor.
- Phnom Penh: A burgeoning capital, Phnom Penh showcases the modern Cambodia, a society determined to rise above its dark past.
- Cardamom Mountains: One of the prettiest and remotest regions of Cambodia, and part of the Koh Kong Conservation Corridor, this is a real treat for those who love nature and wilderness.
- Kep: Showcasing super laidback coastal Cambodia, Kep is a sleepy town that was once a thriving retreat for the French and a popular weekend getaway for the local elite.
- Southern Islands: Like Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia is blessed with pristine isles featuring paradisiacal white-sand beaches surrounded by warm and marine life rich waters of the Gulf of Thailand. Select a private island such as Song Saa for an exclusive experience.
- Along the Mekong: One of Cambodia’s most striking features is the Mekong – the world’s twelfth longest river, which flows across the country from its northeast border with Laos until it is joined by the Sap River near Phnom Penh on is southward journey into the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
When is the best time to visit Cambodia?
Blessed with a tropical weather, Cambodia can be visited all year round. There are two distinct seasons: dry season, which runs between October and late April, and wet season, which runs between May and late September. During the cooler months, the average temperatures are in the region of mid to high 20 degrees Celsius, and during the hottest months – usually April, May, and June – the average temperatures are in the region of 35 degrees Celsius with high level of humidity. Overall, the best time to visit the country is between November and April.
How can you help protect and nurture Cambodia’s local environment and communities?
Due to Cambodia’s traumatic recent past, almost an entire generation was lost. The country is slowly trying to rise above it, but there are so many social and economic challenges remain including poverty, lack of education and poor healthcare infrastructure. There are many organisations across the country that are doing exceptional work to aid the society on its path to recovery.
Phare Ponleu Selpak - meaning The Brightness of the Arts – is a non-profit Arts School located in Battambang, offering support to children, youth, and communities through artistic, educational, social and community outreach programmes since 1994. Also known as Phare Circus, its performers tell uniquely Cambodian stories using theatre, music, dance, and acrobatics.
Formed just after the defeat of the Khmer Rouge, the organisation’s founders are nine refugees who have lived through one of the most atrocious periods in the region’s history and saw the need to support the young and vulnerable especially immediately after the post-Khmer Rouge period. Initially set up as an art school, the organisation subsequently set up a music school, theatre school and finally the circus school.
The organisation’s public school is attended by more than 1,200 school and their alternative schools focusing on creative arts are attended by about 500 kids. Their signature Phare Circus is operated in Battambang and Siem Reap offers these students and graduates an excellent opportunity to hone their skills and earn a decent living. You can support this great cause by attending the circus show, offering a donation or a specific grant to the organisation or by volunteering with them.
The Song Saa Foundation - the philanthropic art of Song Saa Private Island Resort is dedicated to protecting the habitats of the Koh Rong Archipelago and improving the welfare of its communities. Since its inception in 2013, the Foundation has undertaken various initiatives including setting up of Cambodia’s first ever marine national park, Cambodia’s first island-based solid waste management programme, promotion of an organic agriculture scheme to support local livelihoods, running one of the largest health and education programmes in the country that benefited over 3,000 inhabitants, and rehabilitation of coral reefs. In 2018, the Foundation developed a marine plastic upcycling project in collaboration with the Global Shapers Community to reduce marine plastic waste in Koh Rong Archipelago.
The Shinta Mani Foundation - one of Cambodia’s most successful philanthropic foundations, the Shinta Mani Foundation’s mission is to improve the lives of under-privileged Cambodians by providing opportunities to overcome poverty. Established in 2004, the Shinta Mani School of Hospitality has provided free-of-charge training in hotel operations to disadvantaged youth to help them develop the necessary skills to find employment opportunities. Besides this, the Foundation runs various other initiatives to support rural communities across the country via education, health care and direct financial assistance. So far, with the help of Shinta Mani’s guests and donors, the Foundation has sponsored over 900 piglets, 800 school supplies, 641 bicycles, 1,500 water wells, 110 homes, and provided medical care to over 9,000 families. Over 270 students have graduated from the training school and have found employment opportunities within the group’s own establishments and elsewhere.