HISTORY AND GEOGRAPHY
The Kingdom of Cambodia, known locally as Kampuchea or Khmer, has a land area of 181,035 square kilometers, comprising of one capital city and 25 provinces. The Kingdom was part of an ancient Kingdom of Funan that occupied wider area, and during that period Hinduism heavily influenced Khmer culture. Then, during the zenith period of the Khmer Empire between 9th to the 13th century, many huge temple complexes such as Angkor Wat were built.
As a country in Southeast Asia, the Mekong River, which flows through Cambodia, and the Tonlé Sap, one of the richest sources of fresh water in the world (Great Lake) are lifeline of the people who live along the waterways. Cambodia shares borders with Thailand to the West and North, with Lao to the North and Vietnam to the East and South.
Siem Reap province is 10,299 square kilometers in size and most visited in Cambodia. It’s located in the Northwest of the country bordering to the North with Oddar Meanchey, to the East with Preah Vihear and Kampong Thom, to the West with Banteay Meanchey and to the South with the biggest fresh water reserve in Southeast Asia, the huge Tonle Sap Lake.
The province in general, especially in the Southern part consists of typical wet plains for Cambodia, covering large swaths of rice fields and other agricultural plantations. The northern part is turning into an undulating area covered with some deeper, green forests. A quite distinguished mark of Siem Reap Province is the smaller, but important Siem Reap River. It rises from Phnom Kulen, meanders through the northern part of Siem Reap Province and eventually empties into the Tonle Sap Lake.
POPULATION AND PEOPLE
Currently, the population of Cambodia is around 15 million people, of which 90% are ethnic Khmers, and several minorities are Chams (Khmer Islam), Vietnamese and Chinese, etc.. Hill-tribes such as the Pnong, Tampoun, Jarai and Kreung are now dominating the country’s mountainous regions.
Siem Reap is the major tourist hub in Cambodia as it is where world famous temples of Angkor is located. The province is the 6th largest in population size and 10th in land area.
Cambodia has a tropical climate – warm and humid. In the monsoon season, abundant rain allows for the cultivation of a wide variety of crops. This year-round tropical climate makes Cambodia ideal for developing tourism. Travelers need not to fear natural disasters such as erupting volcanoes or earthquakes, and the country is not directly affected by tropical storms.
Cambodia can be visited throughout the year. However, those plans to travel extensively by road should avoid the last two months of the rainy season – September and October – when some countryside roads may be impassable. The average temperature is about 27°C; the minimum temperature is about 16°C. December and January are the coolest months, whereas the hottest is April.
General information about the provincial climate:
Cool season: November- March (23°C-29°C)
Hot season: March- May (27°C-37°C)
Rainy season: May – October (24°C-33°C, with humidity up to 90%.)
Even thought the official religion is Theravada Buddhism, practiced by almost 90% of population, freedom of practicing other religions is respected. Beside Buddhism, a total of about 5% of the population practice Islam and Christianity.
The official language is Khmer while English has increasing became popular and widely spoken in tourist destinations. French was popular then and spoken usually these days by older or well educated Cambodians.
About 70 percent of the population work in agriculture such as rice cultivation, rubber, cassava, and pepper. Cambodia is also rich in hardwood (teak and mahogany) and precious gems which are found in the north-west. Major driven sectors of Cambodian economy are garments, tourism, and light manufacturing assembly. Agriculture products is another emerging sector. The economic model is market economy, and the country has adopted laws and policies that it is considered to be one of the region’s most liberal economy for investors, local and foreigners.
A valid passport and visa are required for entry. Visas can be obtained in advance via Cambodian embassies and consulates abroad or internet (e-visa) or on arrival at the International airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and other international border checkpoints. Travelers should bring two passport-size photographs and fill out the forms. A one-month tourist visit visa costs US$20 while a business visa costs US$25 –the latter can be extended indefinitely. It is required that the passport must be valid for at least 6 months from the arrival date and have one blank page for the visa.
Mane Hariharalaya accepts payments by Visa Card and MasterCard as well as cash. Cambodian riel is the country’s official currency; however the US dollar is widely accepted in most places. Traveler’s cheques in US dollars can be changed at most banks in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. If you travel to the more distant provinces, it is advisable to take plenty of riel. Credit card facilities are readily available in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap but are limited in other locations. ATMs are widespread, thought fee as high as US$5 per withdrawal may be charged for international withdrawals. The currency exchange rate between Khmer Riel (KHR) and US Dollar is quite stable; general rate is approximately 4,000 KHR to US$ 1.
Mane Hariharalaya has its own classic bamboo bicycles, motor bikes, Cyclo (Tricycle), Remork (motorized carriage). Guests can enjoy riding the bicycles, Remork and Cyclo free of charge, but upon availability. Guests who want to travel at a greater distance can inquire the hotel for rental services, including bike, electronic bike, motorcycle, quad bike, car, chartered boat, chartered helicopter, etc.
The best and most inexpensive way to travel in and around Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is by Cyclo, Moto-dop (motorcycle taxi) and Remork. Fares increase at night.
Cambodia is seven hours ahead of GMT.
Government offices are open from 7:30am to 5pm, weekdays only. Lunch break is from 11:30am to 2 pm. Banks open from 8am to 4pm. Most businesses open between 8am to 5pm.
The electrical supply uses 220 volts.
Mane Hariharalaya provides a mobile phone for guests during their stay in the hotel, so the guests can call the hotel or any of the curators for assistance at any time.
Mobile phones are extremely popular in Cambodia and almost everyone carries one or two. Sim card prices range from as little as 0.50 US$ to hundreds or even thousand US$. Mobile numbers start with codes such as 010, 011, 012, 013, 015, 016, 017, 018, 060, 077, 098 and so forth. Mobile SIM cards can be purchased at the airports on arrival and can be topped up at local roadside vendors.
Cambodians are usually casual in their dressing except when they are attending formal events or business meetings, in which formal wear is required. It is not unusual to see both men and women wearing kroma, a long, narrow, checked cotton fabric around their neck or on their head or lower body part (men only). In the provinces, traditional sarongs, a garment consisting of a long piece of cloth worn wrapped round the body and tucked at the waist or under the armpits, are also worn frequently.
When visiting temples, wats and pagodas, shoulders should be covered and pants or shorts length should be below the knees.