Cambodia is the most ethnically homogeneous nation in Southeast Asia. More than 95 percent of its 11 million citizens are ethnic Khmers. Chinese Cambodians form the largest minority group, followed by Cham Muslims. Remote mountain areas are home to a number of smaller ethnic groups. The dominant religion is Hinayana Buddhism
The Kingdom of Funan covered much of present-day Cambodia from the first to sixth centuries, to be replaced by the even more powerful Kingdom of Angkor in the eight century. The legacy of this era is what draws most visitors to Cambodia; from the ninth to 13th centuries Angkor 's rulers presided over the construction of one of the most astonishing architectural achievements in the world. While more than 100 temples remain, these magnificent structures are but a mere shadow of the fabulous religious capital that once stood here. Hundreds of wooden palaces, houses and public buildings are long gone.
In 1864 the French added Cambodia to their colonies in Indochina. Independence was declared in 1953. In 1969 the war in neighbouring Vietnam spilled over into Cambodia, as American and South Vietnamese troops invaded to attack northern Vietnamese forces that were operating in Cambodia.
On April 17th, 1975, a Cambodian resistance group, the Khmer Rouge, took control of the capital, and proceeded to implement one of the most destructive campaigns of social re-engineering ever recorded. As the Khmer Rouge wished to create a peasant-led, agrarian cooperative, Cambodia 's cities were forcibly emptied and people were resettled in rural labour camps. Anyone with foreign ties or education was liable to be executed. By the time Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1978 and overthrew the Khmer Rouge, between one in four and one in six Cambodians were dead.
In the middle of 1993 the United Nations oversaw elections in Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge's leader, Pol Pot, died of natural causes in April 1998.
Two monsoons dictate Cambodia's climate. From November to April, a north-eastern monsoon brings cool air but little rain, while a south-western monsoon, which occurs from May to October, causes heavy winds and rains. During the summer rainy season it tends to rain in the late afternoons.
Cambodia's currency, the Riel, exchanges at a rate of about 3,990 to the US Dollar. U.S. Dollars are welcome. Credit cards and traveller's cheques are widely accepted in Phnom Penh and Siem Riep. Credit card advances for Mastercard, JCB and Visa are available at the Cambodian Commercial Bank on the corner of Pochentong and Monivong streets in Phnom Penh. For ATM machine, you can only find ATMs in the capital city of Cambodia, Phnom Penh & it is at Soriya shopping mall or Canadia bank branches with the address 265-269, Ang Duong (St. 110), Phnom Penh.
Most nationalities are eligible to receive a one-month visa on arrival at Phnom Penh airport or Siem Reap airport. The cost is $20. Bring payment in US dollars and one passport photo.
You can gather more details on obtaining a visa for Cambodia by visiting: www.cambodianembassy.org.uk
ANGKOR WAT PASS:
You will need a passport photo for your entry-pass to Angkor Wat. Passes to the temples cost $20 for one day, $40 for two - three days and $60 from four days up.
In Southeast Asia, revealing clothing is unacceptable off the beach. Shorts are generally fine'as long as they aren't too short. People tend to dress as well as they can afford to - Asian people are often astonished by some traveller's' choice of dirty and tattered clothing.
When visiting pagodas, temples or Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum in Hanoi, shorts and tank-tops are unacceptable. Your knees and shoulders must be covered. Footwear and socks must be removed in pagodas. Shoes are usually removed upon entering private homes too. In terms of behaviour, public displays of affection between men and women are considered shocking. On the other hand, it's perfectly normal for a pair of men or a pair of women to link arms or hold hands. Upon meeting someone new, people may simply nod to each other or may shake hands. Using both hands to shake someone's hand is a warm gesture of respect.
The following immunizations are recommended for travellers in Southeast Asia . Consult your doctor or local health department to discuss which ones you need:
Diptheria and tetanus:
Combined vaccinations for these two diseases are usually given in childhood and should be boosted every ten years.
Vaccination provides immunity for up to ten years and involves an initial injection followed by another six months to one year later.
Vaccination takes the form of an injection or capsules.
This vaccine is only recommended for travellers making extended visits to rural, northern Vietnam. Protection lasts for three years.
People making longer trips to remote areas should consider rabies vaccination, which involves three injections over a period of three to four weeks.
Japanese B Encephalitis:
People on trips of a month or more to areas suffering from recent outbreaks should consider getting this vaccine, which involves three shots over one month.
If your trip to Indochina or Burma includes stops at beaches and mountainous areas, you will need clothes for all temperatures. A swimsuit, sunglasses, a hat, t-shirts, shorts that are not too revealing, long trousers, some light-weight, long-sleeved tops and a light jacket that is wind- and rain-resistant will get you through most trips. If you plan to visit northern Vietnam, Laos or Burma in the winter, you'll need a warm coat. Mountainous areas can get chilly; choose clothes you can layer. If trekking is on your agenda, you will need sturdy footwear - plus lots of socks. Slip-on shoes or sandals are useful for visits to pagodas or people's houses, as you'll save time taking your shoes on and off. Larger cities like Ho Chi Minh City and even Phnom Penh and Yangon offer upscale bars and restaurants, so be sure to pack some clothes and shoes for a nice evening out. Leave your flashy jewellery at home.
TOILETRIES & MEDICATION:
While imported beauty products are readily available in major cities, you'd be wise to pack staples like sunscreen, contact lens solution, tampons and mosquito repellent, as well as prescription medication. Many medicines are available in Indochina without prescriptions, but they may be out-of-date or of poor quality.
You should bring a money-belt to safely carry your travel documents and cash, and ensure that your luggage has a lock. Bring photo-copies of your passport and visa, plus some extra passport-sized photos if you're applying for on-arrival visas. When flying into or within Vietnam, you will probably be given baggage claim tags (they will be stuck to the back of your ticket). Keep these, as you will need to show them when leaving the airport.