March 21

Cambodia – Most Interesting Facts

Are you planning a trip to Cambodia? Are you fascinated by its culture and history? Would you like to explore its natural beauty and attractions? If yes, why not take some time to learn a few interesting facts about Cambodia before you leave for the journey - surely, you're eager to get to know this unique Southeast Asian country!

With centuries of history and a mix of spiritual influences, Cambodia is a perfect destination for any curious traveler. From traditional temples and ancient monuments to vibrant markets full of colors and flavors - exploring this unique country can be both amusing and enlightening.

In this article, you will find a few interesting facts about Cambodia that will introduce you to the captivating culture of this country and help you set the scene for the journey of your dreams. Get ready to dive into an amazing adventure!

1. Cambodia’s flag - unique features of the national symbol

The Cambodian flag may be considered special because it is the only national flag in the world that features a building. The structure presented on the flag is the Angkor Wat, a temple serving as a reminder of the country's ancient heritage.

Considered the heart and soul of the country, Angkor Wat was built in the early 12th century and is the biggest religious complex on the planet, listed as a world heritage site.

Although red, blue, and white (the colors visible on Cambodia’s national flag) are rather popular in the flag designs, they all carry a significant meaning.

The blue and red stripes on either side of the Angkor Wat represent Cambodia’s two main rivers - the Mekong and the Tonlé Sap. The white piece in the center stands for purity and the nation's major religion - Buddhism.

2. Angkor Wat - largest religious monument in the world

The Angkor Wat is an ancient temple complex located in Cambodia. Dating back to the 9th century Khmer Empire, it is one of the largest religious monuments in the world, serving as a symbol of Cambodia’s wealth and strength.

Considered one of the greatest architectural masterpieces, the temple takes a spot on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to its cultural importance and historical significance.

During its glory days, Angkor Wat served as a political and religious center of power, with many sculptures dedicated to Buddhism. Nowadays, the temple is a major tourist attraction in Cambodia, where visitors can explore its majestic ruins while gaining insight into the culture and developments of the Khmer Empire.

It is widely regarded as one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia, drawing millions of visitors each year.

3. Khmer - the official language of Cambodia

While there are around 19 indigenous languages spoken within Cambodia, Khmer is the only official language used daily in government, education, and media. Related to Thai, Lao, and Vietnamese, it is written with an abugida script.

Given its grammar complexity and complicated spelling rules, it is said that it can take over 5 years to become fluent in reading, writing, and speaking Khmer! What an incredibly fascinating language!

Interestingly, Khmer uses numerous French loanwords, especially from periods when Cambodia was colonized by France. Even the name of the country comes from the French word “Cambodge” - it originated from the way Frenchmen were pronouncing the Khmer word Kampuchea.

It is worth noting that although westerners tend to call the country Cambodia today, citizens of Asian countries are more likely to call it the Country of Kampuchea.

4. Geckos - lucky creatures that predict the future

Geckos are regarded as a symbol of good luck and fortune. Many Cambodians believe finding a gecko in your house will bring you wealth and success, as these animals symbolize prosperity and abundance.

It is said that Geckos are messengers of the gods and can bring blessings to those who treat them with due respect.

As god-sent creatures, geckos are also believed to have the divine power to predict future events. Many Cambodians say that counting the chirps of a gecko will foresee the future of a relationship - it’s considered good luck if a gecko is in the same room as the couple and calls out at least seven times.

 Although these beliefs might seem a little strange to outsiders, Cambodian people take these superstitions very seriously.

5. Cambodia eVisa - an easy way to cross the border

Naturally, planning a visit to Cambodia requires you to take care of all the necessary documentation. You should have not only a valid passport but also a visa that will remain in force for the duration of your trip. Luckily, since 2006, it has been possible to apply for a visa for Cambodia online - through the eVisa application form.

The electronic permit is a great facilitation of travel for thousands of foreign visitors to Cambodia. The registration is effortless as you are only required to complete an application form, submit the necessary documents (scan of the passport’s bio-data page, current photo of the applicant), and cover the mandatory visa processing fee.

Once your inquiry has been approved, the authorized Cambodia eVisa will be delivered to your e-mail address. The document will remain valid for 90 days from the date of issue.

6. April - New Year celebrations in Cambodia

The Cambodian New Year, also known as Choul Chnam Thmey, takes place in April. It is a cheerful three-day holiday that marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the Khmer calendar year.

During the festive celebrations, Cambodians clean their homes, prepare traditional meals, and visit local Buddhist temples to offer their prayers and receive blessings for the next year.

From dancing to traditional music to playing competitive games, the Cambodian New Year celebrations are full of energy. The highlight of the holiday is a parade around the city walls where people dressed in bright, colorful clothes take part in activities such as boat racing. During this time, Cambodians come together to socialize and exchange gifts while also indulging in some of their favorite cuisines.

7. US Dollar - the unofficial currency of Cambodia

Although the official currency of Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel (KHR), the US Dollar is widely accepted throughout the country. Many businesses, especially in tourism, accept payments in USD.

If you start looking for souvenirs to buy for your relatives, you will notice that all the items have two prices written on them - one in KHR and one in USD. Interestingly, all ATMs dispense cash in USD.

Cambodia's reliance on the US Dollar started around the time of the Khmer Rouge fall. Now, the majority of government transactions take place in USD. This phenomenon is not only unique to Cambodia, as neighboring countries of Laos and Vietnam also report high amounts of financing assumed through US Dollar currency due to its raised stability and convenience for those trading across borders.


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