Cambodia’s culture is deeply rooted in the culture of the ancient Khmer Empire. The strong Indian influence at this time is evident in architecture and iconography, but also in religion, dance and literature. Today’s Khmer still identify with their ancient culture and at the same time use it as a figurehead for tourism. Therefore, the care and maintenance of traditional culture and the associated sanctuaries and monuments in Cambodia are of great importance, which is expressed not least in the Angkor temples, which were declared a cultural and historical reserve and national park in 1925. The music, traditional dances and the popular shadow games also show the characteristics of the independent Cambodian culture, which is still maintained in its original form and forms the basis for new developments. The revival of Cambodian art and culture, launched in 1979, can be seen in the state-subsidized restoration of monuments and shrines as well as in the reopening of two art schools and in the exhibitions of works of art in the National Museum in Phnom Penh, which escaped destruction by the Khmer Rouge.
Among the most famous sights in Cambodia are undoubtedly the historical temple complexes in the province of Siem Reap, some of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, especially the Angkor Wat complex. The ruins of Angkor Wat, which are a must on a trip through Cambodia, tell of a time between the 9th and 15th centuries, when over a million people lived in the huge temple complex. Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s national symbol and can be seen in images on both the country’s national flag and Cambodian banknotes. Historical records mention that the Angkor Wat temple was built in the 12th century under the command of King Suyavarman II. Originally it was a Hindu temple, but in the 13th In the 19th century, the belief changed and Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple. The five towers in the shape of lotus blossoms form the main feature of the facility, the area of which, including the surrounding moat, measures around 2 km². The large area with the tropical vegetation of the surrounding jungle offers both enchanting and mystical impressions of a bygone world that should not be missed on a trip through Cambodia.
In the early morning the road from Siem Reap is already busy, as many tourists are on their way to Angkor Wat to admire the spectacular backdrop of the complex at sunrise. The most famous and largest temple in Cambodia is a tourist magnet like no other sight in Cambodia between 5:00 and 5:30 am. In the middle of the temple complex at a large water lily pond, countless tourists wait for a special spectacle: this is revealed against the backdrop of the lotus-shaped temple door Viewers can see a colorful spectacle within a few seconds. All of a sudden it becomes light from the deepest darkness, then the sky turns a light pink for a short time. A new day is starting!
About one kilometer north of Angkor Wat is the Angkor Thom temple complex, which was built by the important Khmer King Jayavarman VII and is also one of Cambodia’s famous temples. Angkor Thom is bounded by a moat around 100 m wide and a square wall ring with a side length of 3 km. Angkor Thom can be reached via a total of 5 gates, the south gate being the best preserved. A bridge over the moat is framed by gods and demons made of stone. From here you can get directly to the central temple of Angkor Thom – Bayon. At least half a day is necessary to explore the entire area of over 3 km² and to discover the rich cultural history in peace. A highlight of the tour are the mysterious bas-reliefs in the Bayon Temple, which tell of the former Khmer everyday life and also provide images of brutal war scenes of the time. While Angkor Wat is still shaped by Hindu influences, it is the Buddhist details that captivate the viewer.
Nature lovers also get their money’s worth in Cambodia’s impressive national parks, some of which have original jungle landscapes and mangrove forests. On the coasts of Cambodia and especially on the offshore small islands there are maritime gems with beautiful beaches, lagoons and coral reefs. A special highlight on the island of Koh Rong is plankton diving at night, during which the participants see the spectacular illumination of the sea through fluorescent or phosphorescent microorganisms.
Travel climate in Cambodia
According to mathgeneral, the climate of Cambodia is characterized by the monsoons, with consistently high temperatures of up to 30 ° C in April and at least 26 ° C in December. From May to October, the humid southwest monsoon blows, which in Cambodia causes abundant rain with annual rainfall of up to 2,000 mm, on the western mountain slopes even up to 5,000 mm. The climate in the rest of the season between November and April is determined by northeast winds, which bring dry, hot continental air from inland Asia to Cambodia.