CAMBODIA is KNOWN for its traditional festivals, natural landscape including pristine beaches and lush forests, as well as impressive religious landmarks like Angkor Wat.
Cambodia is a rather underrated country in South East Asia, that is bordered by Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam. That said, you will find that the country’s culture, food, and traditions draw influence from its surrounding nations.
Cambodia also sits on the Gulf of Thailand which means it is blessed with some beautiful beaches. Due to that, many luxury resorts have started to sprout out in its coastal towns. These are some of the things that make it an exciting destination.
What Is Cambodia Known For?
Cambodia is famous for its tropical beaches and natural landmarks. The most popular coastal city is often regarded to be Sihanoukville, where the coastlines feature long stretches of white sand and emerald waters. Besides that, Cambodia is known for its historical and culturally rich structures, many of which are Buddhist temples.
Culture, History, And Traditions Cambodia Is Famous For
The national religion of Cambodia is Theravada Buddhism, as the country comprises of 90% Buddhists. As a result, much of the culture is dominated by this.
Many of the monasteries in Cambodia are Buddhist, such as Angkor Wat, Preah Khan, and Bayon Temple. Often, they are decorated with lavish statues, and stupas that contain relics of the Buddha, and have intricate art.
Similarly, Cambodia celebrates Buddhist festivals such as Vesak, and Parinirvana, commemorating the death of the Buddha. Vesak is festive and includes decorating households and hosting family feasts. On the other hand, Parinirvana is more reflective and includes mourning at the temple.
The Khmer Empire refers to the time period between the 9th and 15th centuries in Cambodia. It was an almighty state ruling over South East Asia. At the time, the capital was called Angkor, otherwise known as the Angkor Empire.
Cambodia is known for its historical buildings, many of which were built during this era. For example, Angkor Wat is one of the most prevalent religious buildings to this day. Originally, it was a Hindu structure dedicated to Vishnu, which was popular with Khmer architecture.
While the Khmer Empire has a significant influence on modern day cultures, one of the fun facts about Cambodia is that there were even earlier inhabitants in the area before the empire.
Bonn Chaul Chhnam
One of the biggest festivals Cambodia is known for, is their new year called “Chaul Chnam Thmey.” It is celebrated in April when there is no heavy torrential period. The weather is warm and ideal for celebrations.
The three-day celebration signifies the solar new year. To bring prosperity for the upcoming year, fruit baskets are laid on the front porch as a sacrifice. Additionally, people buy each other thoughtful gifts and donate to the less fortunate.
Bonn Om Touk
The Water and Moon Festival is known as Bonn Om Touk to the locals.
The celebration occurs annually mid-autumn, after the monsoon. As this is a difficult period for farmers and households, the festival aims to celebrate the end of the heavy rain.
Dragon boat races in the nearby rivers run the show. . The most popular river that Cambodia is famous for is the Tonle Sap, where civilians gather in front of the Royal Palace and watch the fierce competition.
Victory Over Pol Pot
On January 7th, 1979, the military of Cambodia marched into the capital city of Phnom Penh with the aim of overthrowing Pol Pot.
This was the disastrous Cambodian genocide wherein citizens were persecuted under the orders of Pol Pot, a member of the Communist Party of Kampuchea. Nearly a quarter of the Cambodian population was slain.
Each year, citizens commemorate the soldiers who bravely ended the genocide, hence liberating Cambodia. It is a national holiday celebrated as Cambodian Victory Day!
Cities And Travel Destinations Cambodia Is Known For
The capital of Cambodia is a lively city called Phnom Penh.
The city serves some of the most important landmarks that Cambodia is famous for culturally. An example of this is the Royal Palace where the king resides. Inside are many structures worth visiting such as the Throne Hall and Silver Pagoda.
There are many museums in Phnom Penh. One of the most discerning is the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which shows the devastating effects of Pol Pot.
Siem Reap is the second largest city in Cambodia. It is also home to the last capital of the Khmer Empire, Angkor Thom.
Cambodia is known for temples, which are plentiful in Siem Reap. The Angkor Wat is located here, and is recognized for being the largest religious monument. Similarly, the Ta Prohm Temple is found here, too. It is famous for being used in the hit Hollywood movie ‘Tomb Raider.’
If you are searching for a peaceful getaway, Battambang is the ideal city. It is predominantly famous for its preserved colonial buildings, such as administration buildings and townhouses. Characteristically they have steep rooves, two stories, and a warm, yellow-tone painting.
Additionally, Battambang is known for its nature. Interesting examples include the Bat Caves and Crocodile Farms! Aside from wildlife, Battambang grows abundant lotus flowers, which are beautiful, giant, and bright pink!
Sihanoukville is a quiet seaside town on the South-West coast of Cambodia. It sits on the Gulf of Thailand where many of the famous beaches in Cambodia are found.
The main destinations, such as Serendipity Beach and Independence Beach, are white sandy beaches. They are peaceful and lazy, ideal for a romantic vacation. Alongside them are several luxury resorts and affordable hotels for every budget.
Landmarks And Architecture Cambodia Is Famous For
Angkor Wat is considered the most famous landmark in Cambodia. It is a colossal Buddhist temple complex, which is the largest religious structure in the world! It takes up 163 hectares of land.
The Angkor Wat was built in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman II. Originally, it was a Hindu temple, constructed in reverence of Vishnu. This is demonstrated by Hindu art and statues. However, they replaced Buddhist art because of King Jayavarman VII, who feltthat Vishnu had failed him.
A fun fact about Cambodia is that they are the only flag in the world with a building on it- Angkor Wat!
The Central Market is a busy art market in Phnom Peng, the lively capital of Cambodia.
It has many cultural landmarks such as Phnom Penh’s Living Art Museum, which has displays of history, music, and mythology! It’s the ideal family-friendly attraction thanks to its regular shows and interactive exhibits.
Additionally, there are several local bazaars selling clothes and jewelry to serve as a souvenir from your trip! If you want to sample traditional Cambodian cuisine, the street foods are authentic and fresh.
The Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is a huge complex of buildings and is the residence of the King of Cambodia. Nevertheless, you can visit the palace and marvel at the regal architecture and learn more about the country’s history.
The palace was built in 1866 in traditional Khmer architecture by King Norodom I. Some of the most famous structures inside include the Silver Pagoda, which houses many national treasures such as gold and statues. Another exceptional structure is the Throne Hall. It has three thrones surrounded by golden sculptures.
Prasat Preah Vihear
The Prasat Preah Vihear is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva. It translates to “religious offering of the sacred shrine”.
The temple itself was built over a long period of time, beginning in 889 by King Yasovarman I. There has been a long dispute over the religious building because it’s located on the Cambodia-Thailand border. After a long battle, the temple now belongs to Cambodia. Not only is it a pilgrimage site, but it is also significant evidence of the Khmer Empire.
Food Cambodia Is Known For
The national dish of Cambodia is widely considered to be amok trey, a fish curry. It’s a unique dish in that it is steamed in a banana leaf, where the ‘amok’ is derived from. The ‘trey’ part means white fish, which is often catfish due to easy availability.
The kroeung paste is an ingredient in almost all traditional Cambodian food. It is made of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, galangal, turmeric, and garlic, and is ground in a pestle and mortar. It’s heated with coconut milk and fish, until reaching a mousse consistency. After cooking, the curry is placed in a banana leaf.
An authentic dish like this should be tried when visiting Cambodia!
Samlor korkor is one of the simplest yet most delicious foods that Cambodia is famous for. It translates to ‘mixing soup’.
The traditional fish soup comprises of catfish and rice. Vegetables such as butternut squash and eggplant are added, as well as bananas which give a sweet, thick texture. The kroeung paste is an essential ingredient in the dish, made with lemongrass, ginger, and garlic.
Altogether, this creates a warm, hearty soup that’s ideal for a refreshing lunch or quick, easy dinner.
Char Kroeung Sach Ko
A fragrant delicacy that Cambodia is known for includes char kroeung sach ko; otherwise known as lemongrass beef stir-fry.
The main ingredient in this vibrant dish is stalks of lemongrass, which give the meal its distinct citrus flavor. This is blended with turmeric and lime leaves, creating the kroeung paste. This paste is a household staple used in a variety of famous foods.
Subsequently, the beef is fried with the paste and enjoyed!
In addition to hearty main meals, what is Cambodia known for? Sweet desserts!
Kralan is a type of sugary rice snack or dessert. It’s made from glutinous rice that’s soaked with sugar and coconut milk to give it a nutty, dense texture. Optimally, Cambodians leave this to marinate overnight.
In the morning, the mixture is loaded into a bamboo leaf, boiled, and eventually ready to enjoy.
Famous People From Cambodia
Maddox Jolie-Pitt is the son of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and is one of the most famous people from Cambodia. He was born in a small village in Cambodia, however, moved to the US with his parents at a young age. In search of higher education, he decided to study biochemistry at Yonsei University, Seoul.
Jolie-Pitt is an actor who has starred in several highly-acclaimed movies such as ‘First They Killed My Father ‘ and ‘By The Sea.’
Hun Sen is a politician who has served as Prime Minister of Cambodia since 1975. This makes him one of the longest-serving politicians worldwide. In addition, he was the youngest foreign minister at the time, aged 26. Accordingly, he has implemented some of the most renowned policies that Cambodia is famous for.
Sen is a member of the Cambodian People’s Party. He has enforced a strong military, probably because he was a past Khmer Rouge military commander. He also carries out a democracy.
Jenny Bui, known globally as the Queen of Bling, is a renowned celebrity nail technician. Bui was born in Cambodia and escaped to a string of countries before settling in Montreal. This was because of the Khmer Rouge.
Once opening a nail salon, Bui began to grow her career. Celebrities she has catered for include Cardi B, who has boasted her designs in a variety of high-press events such as the Super Bowl. They are characteristically bedazzled. Since then, she has won several awards whilst continuing her impressive work.
Discovering More Things Cambodia Is Known For
While the romantic coastal resorts are a great reason to visit, Cambodia is famous for more than just its pristine beaches. The rich culture of Cambodia is prevalent wherever you go, and will be one of the main highlights to experience on your adventure.
As you discover ancient temples, immerse yourself in the festivities, or explore a museum, you will find that history is everywhere. The influence of the Khmer Empire is evident in much of the architecture, and citizens proudly preserve traditional foods, traditions, and historical events.
Be sure to check out the country, you are sure to uncover more things that Cambodia is known for.