Cambodia is on every Southeast Asia backpacker’s list of places to visit and for good reason. There are a ton of other backpackers, but you can’t miss it. At the very least, you have to visit Krong Siem Reap to see Angkor Wat. We also stopped over in Phnom Penh. I highly suggest that you don’t take any overnight buses while you are in Cambodia. They are known for crashing, and one of our friends was involved in one of the crashes. The bus driver died during the crash, and it was traumatizing (obviously) for her. Just don’t do it.
Cambodia uses American currency, but there are no coins. Instead of receiving a quarter back, you’ll get back Cambodian currency in the amount of $0.25. So you always have some American currency and some Cambodian currency, and they use both together. It can get confusing, but you’ll get used to it. You have to since most places don’t take credit cards (and if they do, it’s a 3-4% fee).
One of the most recent genocides happened in Cambodia, and it’s pretty crazy how few people talk about it in history class (for example, I didn’t know it had even happened). From 1975 to 1979, the Khmer Rouge regime killed somewhere from 1.5 million to 3 million Cambodian people (about a quarter of the population). The Khmer Rouge wanted to turn the country into a socialist agrarian republic, founded on the policies of Maoism. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge changed the name of the country to Democratic Kampuchea. To fulfill their goals, the Khmer Rouge emptied the cities and forced Cambodians to relocate to labor camps in the countryside, where mass executions, forced labor, physical abuse, malnutrition, and disease were prevalent.
The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia ended the genocide by defeating the Khmer Rouge in 1979. What’s crazy is that as a result of Chinese and Western opposition to the Vietnamese invasion of 1978-79, the Khmer Rouge continued to hold Cambodia's United Nations seat until 1982. There are also allegations that the United States directly or indirectly supported the Khmer Rouge to weaken Vietnam's influence in Southeast Asia.
You can visit the Killing Fields in Phnom Penh to see where victims of the genocide were killed and learn a lot more about it. They have a great audio tour to teach you.
There are a lot of prostitutes in Cambodia. If you walk into a KTV (karaoke) place and there are a bunch of women there, those are prostitutes and you should probably just leave.
Here is more information about Phnom Penh as well as Krong Siem Reap.
And see here for our photos from Cambodia, and check out this video of some cool dragon dancing that we happened to pass by on the streets of Phnom Penh!
Hi, I'm Sara Monica Patton. I love animals, traveling, and eating. Read more about me in my first blog post here.