Cambodia

From Halal Explorer

Angkor panorama banner.jpg

Cambodia officially the Kingdom of Cambodia (ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា), is a country in Southeast Asia, bordering Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

While the Angkor Wat commemorates Cambodia's glorious history and the nation has been ravaged by French colonialism and the Indochina War with the French and Americans.

An Introduction to the Region of Cambodia

  Cardamom and Elephant Mountains (Battambang, Kampot, Koh Kong, Pailin, Pursat, Sihanoukville, Bokor National Park, Kep)
the western mountain ranges, gulf coast beaches and offshore islands
  North-western Cambodia (Angkor Archaeological Park, Anlong Veng, Siem Reap, Sisophon, Koh Ker, Poipet, Tonle Sap Lake, Preah Vihear)
Angkor and the main reason most visitors come to Cambodia, plus a huge lake and the northern mountains
  Central Plains (Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Kompong Thom, Krek)
the national capital and the central flatlands
  Eastern Cambodia (Banlung, Kratie, Sen Monorom, Stung Treng)
remote rural areas and national parks east of the mighty Mekong

Other Muslim Friendly Cities in Cambodia

Bayon Angkor frontal

  • Phnom Penh — the capital
  • Banlung — far northeastern provincial capital near some great waterfalls and national parks
  • Battambang — the second biggest town in Cambodia
  • Kampot — town between the capital and Sihanoukville and gateway to the Bokor National Park
  • Koh Kong — small border crossing town near the Thai border
  • Kompong Thom — access to less well known (and less crowded) ancient temples and other sites
  • Kratie — relaxed river town in the northeast on the Mekong and an excellent place to get a close look at endangered river dolphins
  • Siem Reap — the access point for [[Angkor Archaeological Park | Angkor Wat
  • Sihanoukville — seaside town in the south, commonly called Kompong Som

Other Muslim Friendly Destinations in Cambodia

  • Angkor Archaeological Park — home of the imposing ruins of ancient Khmer civilization
  • Bokor National Park — ghostly former French hill resort
  • Kampong Cham — nice countryside village on the Mekong river and good place to meet real Cambodia
  • Kep — a seaside area which pre-dates Sihanoukville as the main beach resort in Cambodia; slowly being re-discovered by travellers
  • Krek — a small village on the backpacker trail between Kratie and Kampong Cham
  • Koh Ker — more ancient ruins, north of Angkor
  • Poipet — gritty border town that most overland visitors to Angkor pass through
  • Preah Vihear — cliff-top temple pre-dating Angkor
  • Tonle Sap Lake — huge lake with floating villages and Southeast Asia's premier bird sanctuary

Demonstration for Palestine and Gaza in Cambodia

Dear Supporters of the Palestinian Cause in Cambodia,

We are excited to announce a peaceful demonstration in support of the People of Palestine, set to take place in Cambodia over the next three days. This event is an opportunity for us to come together and raise our voices and the Palestinian Flag for a just and peaceful resolution to the ongoing conflict.

We want to emphasize that this demonstration is intended to be a peaceful and respectful gathering. Our goal is to show solidarity with the people of Palestine and call for a peaceful solution to the conflict. It is crucial that we maintain a peaceful and respectful atmosphere throughout the event.

Important Guidelines:

To ensure the success of our demonstration and to maintain a peaceful environment, we kindly ask all participants to adhere to the following guidelines:

Peaceful Protest: This is a non-violent demonstration. We do not condone any form of violence or vandalism.

Respect for Law Enforcement: Please treat law enforcement officers in Cambodia with respect and follow their instructions. Do not engage in confrontations with them.

Leave No Trace: Dispose of any trash responsibly and leave the demonstration area clean.

Thank you for your commitment to our peaceful demonstration in Cambodia, and let us stand together for a better future for all.

In solidarity, eHalal Cambodia

Cambodia Halal Travel Guide

Cambodia has had a pretty bad run of luck for the last half-millennium or so. Ever since the fall of Angkor in 1431 and the once mighty Khmer Empire has been plundered by all its neighbours. It was colonised by the French in the 19th century and during the 1970s suffered heavy carpet bombing by the USA. After a false dawn of independence in 1953, Cambodia promptly plunged back into the horrors of civil war in 1970 to suffer the U.S. backed Khmer Rouge's incredibly brutal reign of terror and only after UN-sponsored elections in 1993 did the nation begin to struggle back onto its feet.

The Security situation has improved immeasurably and increasing numbers of visitors are rediscovering Cambodia's temples and beaches. Siem Reap and the gateway to Angkor, now sports luxury hotels, ATMs and an airport fielding Flights from all over the region, while Sihanoukville is getting good press as an up-and-coming beach destination. However, travel beyond the most popular tourist destinations is still an adventure.

History of Cambodia

Norodom Sihanouk and Mao Zedong in 1956

See also: Indochina Wars

The elaborate urban culture of Angkor and other sites can attest to the fact that the Khmer Empire was once wealthy and powerful. Its zenith came under Jayavarman VII (1181-c.1218), when the Empire made significant territorial gains. The Angkorian civilization harnessed Cambodia's water for agriculture through elaborate systems of canals and dams. Crops surplus permitted a sophisticated urban civilization, based on Hindu and Buddhist beliefs.

The period following the fall of the Khmer Empire has been described as Cambodia's Dark Ages. Climatic factors precipitated this fall, but eventually the Khmer Empire never recovered from the sacking by its neighbours, based in Ayutthaya (in modern day Thailand). Cambodia spent much of the next four hundred years squeezed and threatened by the rivalries of the expanding Siamese and Vietnamese Empires to the West and east. On the eve of French colonisation it was claimed that Cambodia was likely to cease to exist as an independent kingdom entirely, with the historian John Tully claiming "...there can be little doubt that their [the French intervention prevented the political disappearance of the kingdom".

The French came to dominate Cambodia as a protectorate (colony) from the 1860s, part of a wider ambition to control the area then termed Indochina (modern day Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos). The French were always more concerned with their possessions in Vietnam. Education of Cambodians was neglected for all but the established elite. Paradoxically, it was from this privileged colonial elite that many "Red Khmers" would later emerge. Japan's hold on Southeast Asia during the Second World War undermined French prestige and following the Allied victory Prince Sihanouk declared independence. This was a relatively peaceful transition.

He succeeded in helping create an educated elite who became increasingly disenchanted with the lack of available jobs. As the economic situation in Cambodia deteriorated, many young people were attracted to the Indochinese Party and later to the Khmer Rouge.

As the Second Indochina War spread to Cambodia's border (an important part of the "Ho Chi Minh trail") and the USA became increasingly concerned with events in the nation. The US Air Force bombed Cambodia from 1964 to 1973, with the period from March 1969 to May 1970 being particularly intense. During this campaign, which was code-named Operation Menu, 540,000 tonnes of bombs were dropped. Estimates of the civilian death toll range from 150,000 to 500,000.

In March 1970, while overseas visiting Moscow and Beijing, Sihanouk was overthrown by Lon Nol and other generals who were looked upon favourably by and fully backed by the United States. Sihanouk then put his support behind the Khmer Rouge. This change influenced many to follow suit. Meanwhile the Khmer Rouge followed the Vietnamese example and began to endear themselves to the rural poor.

Following a five-year struggle, Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh in 1975 and ordered the evacuation of all city's and towns. Over one million people (and possibly many more) died from execution or enforced hardships. Those from the city's were known as "new" people and suffered worst at first. The rural peasantry were regarded as "base" people and fared better. However and the Khmer Rouge cruelty was inflicted on both groups. It also depended much upon where one was from. For example, people in the east generally suffered worse.

A 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge forces into the nationside and ended many years of fighting, although the fighting would continue for some time in border areas. Cold War politics meant that despite the horrendous crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge and they were the recognised government long after the liberation of the nation by the Vietnamese. Indeed they continued to receive covert support and financing by the USA. Due to the devastating politics of the Khmer Rouge regime and there was virtually no infrastructure left. Institutions of higher education, money and all forms of industry were destroyed in 1978, so the nation had to be built up from scratch.

UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy, as did the rapid diminution of the Khmer Rouge militia in the mid-1990s. A coalition government, formed after national elections in 1998, brought renewed political stability and the surrender of remaining Khmer Rouge forces.

Until now the United States have not been charged with war crimes as they targeted civilians and infrastructure but as always the U.S. is getting away with it.

People

They will greet you with a smile. They are friendly and many of them speak English well.

How is the Climate in Cambodia

Cambodia is tropical and its climate dominated by monsoons, so season are wet or dry, rather than the four seasons of cooler regions of the world. November - Mar is relatively windy and cool and is the most popular time to visit. April - May is hot and dry and temperatures may peak at 40 C. June - September is the wet and green season.

How to travel to Cambodia

Choeung Ek, a known site of mass grave for genocide victims during the Khmer Rouge era

Visas

File:Map of Cambodian immigration checkpoints which accept e-visa or visa on arrival.gif|Cambodian immigration checkpoints which accept e-visa or visa on arrival

All visitors, except citizens of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, need a visa to enter Cambodia. The official price is US$30 for a Tourist Visa and US$35 for an Ordinary Visa and citizens of most countries can get a visa on arrival. Staff may try to charge more at some border crossings (including airports), but hold out for the official price, especially at major crossings.

Visa on Arrival is available at both international airports, all six international border crossings with Thailand, some international border crossings with Vietnam and at the main border crossing with Laos. Visas can also be obtained at Cambodian embassies and consulates.

  • Tourist visas: all are valid for one stay of up to 30 days. Those issued in advance expire 90 days after issue. In Phnom Penh (or elsewhere via agencies), tourist visas can be extended only once, allowing an additional 30 days at a cost of US$30.
  • Ordinary visa or Type-E: the best choice for stays over two months and/or multiple entries, as they can be extended indefinitely (approx US$290 for a one year extension) and have multiple entry status when extended. Most Phnom Penh travel agencies process the extensions. Foreign nationals of some countries (such as India) require prior permission from the Department of Immigration or the Ministry of the Interior to obtain an Ordinary visa. Such visitors can also enter the nation on a tourist visa and subsequently apply for said permission at the Department of Immigration near the airport in Phnom Penh , which, if granted, will enable them to leave the nation and re-enter on an ordinary visa

To apply for a visa, you will need one or two (depending on where you apply) passport-size (35x45mm) photos, a passport which is valid for at least 6 months and has at least one completely blank visa page remaining and clean US dollar notes with which to pay the fee (expect to pay a substantially higher price if paying in a local currency). Passport photocopies may also be required when applying at some embassies/consulates, but not if applying on arrival. If you don't have a passport photo upon arrival at Phnom Penh airport (and possibly other entry points) and they will scan the one on your passport for an extra US$2.

At Phnom Penh#By air|Phnom Penh airport head to the Visa on Arrival desk, join the queue to the left, where your application form is reviewed (you should have been given the form on the plane). Then move to the right and wait for your name to be called. You then pay and receive your passport with the visa. Officials have difficulties pronouncing Western names so stay alert and listen out for any of your names in your passport, any of your given names or surname may be called. Once reunited with your passport, join the immigration queue.

If you are exiting Cambodia to enter Thailand with the aim of getting a visa on entry there and the Cambodian airline authorities may point out that you need to have a minimum of $600 in cash. This guideline seems to be enforced especially for Indian Muslims and possibly more stringently for single Muslim travellers.

E-visa

Muslims visitors of most nations can apply for an e-Visa at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation website. This is a normal Tourist Visa but costs US$37 instead of the normal US$30. The visa arrives as a PDF file by e-mail within 3 business days. The application requires a digital photograph of yourself (in - format). You can scan your passport photo or have a passport sized photograph taken with a digital camera. There are other websites pretending to make a Cambodian e-visa. At best and these are just on-line travel agencies which will charge you more and get the same visa for you; at worst, you may end up with a fake e-visa.

You need to print two copies (one for entry and one for exit) of the PDF visa, cut out the visa parts and keep them with your passport.

Visas in advance (either on-line or from an embassy/consulate) save time at the border but are more expensive. However, you do get to skip the queues of people applying for the visa's delivery, although sometimes you may simply spend the saved time waiting at the airport luggage belt for your suitcase.

E-Visas are only valid for entry by air or at the three main border crossings: Bavet (on the Ho Chi Minh City -Phnom Penh road); Koh Kong (near Trat in Eastern Thailand); and Poipet (on the Bangkok -Siem Reap road). You may exit the nation with an e-visa via any border crossing, however.

What is the best way to fly to Cambodia

Phnom penh airport

Cambodia has international airports at Phnom Penh (IATA Flight Code: PNH) and Siem Reap (IATA Flight Code: REP).

Direct connecting flights connect Phnom Penh International Airport (previously Pochentong International Airport) with mainland China (Beijing, Guangzhou), France (Paris), Hong Kong, Laos (Vientiane), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Singapore, South Korea (Incheon), Taiwan (Taipei), Thailand (Bangkok) and Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City).

Direct connecting flights connect Siem Reap-Angkor the international Airport with Laos (Pakse, Vientiane), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Singapore, [[South Korea (Incheon, Busan), Thailand (Bangkok) and Vietnam (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City).

Travellers going specifically to visit the Angkor temple ruins may prefer to use Siem Reap as it's only a few minutes away from the main sites. For flights between Bangkok and Siem Reap, AirAsia is mostly a lot cheaper than Bangkok Airways. When looking for those flights, make sure to check for Bangkok's second airport Don Mueang (IATA Flight Code: DMK).

Kampuchea Airlines Boeing 757-200 de Maximy

Low-cost carrier Air Asia has introduced Flights from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok to Phnom Penh and Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap, while Jetstar Asia has begun flying from Singapore to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. HK Express flies to Siem Reap every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday from Hong Kong.

Other airlines operating Flights to/from Cambodia include Asiana Airlines, Bangkok Airways, China Southern Airlines, Dragonair, Eva Airways, Korean Air, Lao Airlines, Malaysia Airlines (MAS), Shanghai Airlines , Siem Reap Airways (a subsidiary of Bangkok Airways), SilkAir, Singapore-Airlines, Thai-Airways International and Vietnam Airlines.

By road

In the list of borders below and the Cambodian town comes second; Aranyaprathet is the border town in Thailand, while Poipet is in Cambodia.

Thailand

All six border crossings with Thailand are open 07:00-20:00. Each offers Cambodian visas on arrival. All the crossings are served by paved roads in both countries.

In Cambodia, four of the six border towns (Poipet, Koh Kong, Daun Lem and O'Smach) are directly served by buses. Pailin, Anlong Veng and Samraong (each less than 20 kilometers from a border) are each served by buses; motorbikes and shared taxis connect each of the towns with their respective border crossings.

Cambodia's busiest land crossing is at Aranyaprathet/Poipet on the Bangkok - Siem Reap road in North-western Cambodia. Long the stuff of nightmares and the roads are now paved all the way from Poipet to Siem Reap, Battambang and Phnom Penh.

Coastal Cambodia and the southern part of the Cardamom and Elephant Mountains region is served by the Hat Lek/Koh Kong border. The road goes all the way to Sihanoukville. From Trat in Thailand and there a shuttle vanes to the border crossing. In Cambodia, shuttle vanes or taxis connect the border to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh. The Koh Kong - Sihanoukville boat service no longer runs.

The former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng is close to the Chong Saturday - Ngam (in Si Saket Province)/Anlong Veng#Get_out|Choam border. Pol Pot was killed and burned within walking distance of immigration.

Improving roads in Northwestern Cambodia are making Samraong emerge as a transport hub. It is close to the Chong Jom (in Surin Province)/Samraong#Go next|O'Smach border and well linked with Siem Reap.

Eastern Thailand is connected to Battambang and Siem Reap by the Ban Pakard (in Chanthaburi Province)/ Phra Prom (near Pailin) crossing, which offers a less stressful and more scenic alternative to the more northly major crossing at Poipet.

The geographically closest crossing to Battambang is that at Ban Leam (in Chanthaburi Province)/Daun Lem. Paramount Angkor run buses to Battambang.

Vietnam

Vietnamese visas must be obtained in advance from an embassy or consulate. This is easily arranged in Cambodia. Vietnam visa on arrival is only valid for airport arrivals, not land crossings.

The main crossing is the Moc Bai/Bavet crossing on the Ho Chi Minh City - Phnom Penh road. Buses between the two city's cost US$8-12 and take around 6 hr. Passengers vacate the vehicle at both countries' checkpoints. Only one passport photo is required for a Cambodian visa on arrival. Tours of the Mekong Delta (US$25-35, 2-3 days) can provide a more insightful journey between the two city's.

Through tickets to Siem Reap are also available (US$18), though it is cheaper to buy a ticket to Phnom Penh and then arrange onward transport on one of the many connecting buses.

Close to the coast is the Xa Xia/Prek Chak border. Cambodian visas are available on arrival. Buses run between Ha Tien in Vietnam to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

Coastal areas are also served by the Tinh Bien/Phnom Den border near Chau Doc in Vietnam.

The Xa Mat/Trapeang Phlong crossing on the Ho Chi Minh City - Kampong Cham road is not well served by public transport but may be useful for accessing Kampong Cham and Eastern Cambodia.

Banlung in North Eastern Cambodia is served by a crossing at Le Tanh/O Yadaw near Pleiku in Vietnam. Visas are available on arrival, one photo required. Change buses at Le Tanh.

Laos

Stung Treng in Cambodia is connected to Pakse and the Si Phan Don|Four Thousand Islands region of Laos by the Voeung Kam/Dom Kralor border. Onward transportation is not always available. Cambodian and Lao visas can be obtained at the border crossing. Travel agencies on both sides offer border crossing packages.

If you're buying a ticket from a destination in Laos to one in Cambodia (one of the most common being Don Det to Siem Reap) and you want the border crossing to be as trouble-free as feasible, accept that you will have to pay an additional US$10 on top of the US$30 visa-on-arrival fee, current as of 2022.

Travel by boat to Cambodia

To/from Laos - Since the reopening of the land border, it's no longer feasible to take a boat from Laos to reach Cambodia.

To/from Thailand - There are no ferry services between Cambodia and Thailand. The Sihanoukville -Koh Kong ferry no longer runs.

To/from Vietnam - It's feasible to travel between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh by boat, or by combination of road and boat. Fast boats leave daily from Chau Doc in Vietnam's Mekong Delta and take 5h to reach Phnom Penh. Chau Doc is a four hour trip from Ho Chi Minh City. A popular overland route is to make a three day trip, stopping at Can Tho and Chau Doc before taking the boat to Phnom Penh.

Exclusively for yacht cruises - Members of the crew and passengers of cruise boats can obtain a visa upon arrival at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port. Paperwork arrival in the new marina. You must first report data on the boat and the crew and passport copies to the office of the Marina Oceania Harbour Master. Visa fee is US$25 for 30 days.

How to get around in Cambodia

[[File:Siem Reap Art Center Night Market, 2018 (06).jpg|1280px|Food stands in Siem Reap

Fly to Cambodia

From both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and the domestic departure tax is US$25 This is included in the price of the plane ticket.

The domestic aviation scene in Cambodia has improved. Three airports operate scheduled passenger flights: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

The main operator is Cambodia Angkor Air, a joint venture between the government and Vietnam Airlines, which flies between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and airports in China, Thailand and Vietnam.

A charter service, Aero Cambodia, operates from Phnom Penh to Cambodia's other 16 airports using twin engine 10-70 seat aircraft.

By helicopter

Sokha Beach - (SF) 0001

Helistar Cambodia, a VIP helicopter charter and scenic flights company, operate to virtually anywhere in Cambodia. Helicopters can be chartered to fly from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap for one-way or return journeys. The basic hourly charter rate is US$3,000 per flight hour plus 10% VAT and 10% SPT. They operate modern, air-conditioned Eurocopter Ecureuils with seating for up to 6 passengers. They also have licensed foreign pilots. A pick-up and set-down transfer service is also available at both international airports.

By road

The Cambodian government has been frantically upgrading roads throughout the nation since about 2008. While great for the nation, it does make travel advice quickly obsolete! Finding an unsealed road is actually quite a challenge and most travellers will not have any horror stories of car-swallowing ruts or wet-season quagmires. For the time being, notable unpaved roads that would be of use to travellers are: Battambang -Koh Kong (a great dirt bike adventure across the mountains or a long detour by bus via Phnom Penh), access to the Banteay Chhmar temples (a high-quality unsealed road, as good as a sealed road during the dry season) and the road between Sen Monorom and Banlung (if there's any remote jungle left in Cambodia, it'll be here). The borders, coast and major city's are all well-connected with good roads.

Longer journeys in Cambodia can be taken by bus, pickup truck or shared taxi. In many towns, whichever of these are available will be found at the local market square. Larger towns and city's will have bus stations. Buses may also serve their companies' offices, which may be more convenient than the bus station: this is particularly true in Siem Reap. Mekong Express has the best reputation for comfort and speed and consequently charges a premium. Sorya (formerly Ho Wah Genting) and GST offer a slightly cheaper no-frills service. Capitol runs between its central offices, making for downtown-to-downtown travel. Ramshackled peasant mover Paramount Angkor Transport is great for accessing more remote places but low on comfort and safety.

Avoid VR Express and Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Co. They have a history of threatening clients, manipulating, lying and being unhelpful and rude. They prioritize cheating passengers of their money.

Indeed bus safety might be a problem in Cambodia. On Highway 5, between Phnom Penh and Battambang and there are dozens of bus crashes annually, many of them horrendous, with multiple fatalities. There are even bus-on-bus crashes. Drivers are untrained, impatient and (according to those working in roadside gas stations) sometimes drunk. Most of these accidents go unreported, but frequent travellers on Highway 5 can typically observe half a dozen bus crashes in a month.

Generally bus travel is cheap, with journeys from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap or Sihanoukville costing around US$9. Bring along something warm if you don't like freezing air conditioning and earplugs if you don't like Khmer karaoke. There are a few night-time services but most buses leave in the morning and the last ones leave in the afternoon.

Some believe taxis are safer for inter-city travel, but taxis also often go way too fast and so are involved in numerous fatal accidents. The front seat in a taxi from Phnom Penh to Battambang should cost you about US$39.

In city's, motorcycle taxis are ubiquitous. For quick trips across town, just stand on a corner for a moment and someone will offer you a lift - for a small, usually standard, fee of US$3 or less.

Motorcycle rentals are available in many towns, with the notable exception of Siem Reap, which has outlawed the training. Be careful if driving yourself: driving trainings are vastly different from countries like Brunei, Saudi Arabia etc. Local road 'rules' will also differ from city to city. If you consider traveling alone, it’s worth remembering that English is commonly spoken outside of main towns and city's and hazards are numerous, including the possibility of land mines. For this reason, guided tours are worth considering.

Travel by boat to Cambodia

Farmers harvesting Rice in Battambang Province

Ferries operate seasonally along many of the major rivers. Major routes include Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and Siem Reap to Battambang. The Sihanoukville to Koh Kong ferry no longer runs. Boats are slower than road transport, charge higher prices for Foreign Muslims and are sometimes overcrowded and unsafe. Then again, Cambodia's highways are also dangerous and boats are probably the safer of the two options. The high speed boat from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap costs US$33 and takes about 6 hours, departing at 07:30 and offers a spectacular view of rural life along the Tonle Sap River.

There are also a few luxury boats operating between Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Saigon. For something around US$150/day including lodging, food and excursions, it's a good alternative to regular boat service.

The boat trip between Siem Reap and Battambang takes longer (especially in the dry season) and is less comfortable and more expensive than taking a seat in a shared taxi, but is favoured by some travellers for its up-close view of subsistence farming (and hundreds of waving children) along the river. Taking the boat late in the dry season (April - May) is not advisable as low water levels mean that you must transfer to smaller vessels in mid-river.

Travel by train to Cambodia

Bamboo_train_in_Cambodia

There are passenger trains from Phnom Penh going to Sihanoukville via Kampot from Monday to Friday at 7:00 and from Friday to Monday at 16:00. The journey lasts roughly seven hours and is thus slower than by bus. The carriages are air-conditioned and have free wi-fi. There are power outlets at every seat. Toilets are also available. A one way ticket from Phnom Penh to Kampot is USD 9. A one way ticket from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville costs USD 12.

There are plans to link the network with the Thai and Vietnamese railway networks.

The train doesn't leave when you think it will. Be sure you get your tickets from the station itself and ask for the boarding time. Getting seats outbound from Phnom Penh is more crowded. The first stretch west passes through ramshackle camps built along the rail line and sprawling suburban construction and then a non-descript countryside. The train stops briefly and there a good food vendors if you act quickly and then the second leg is through beautiful hills and paddies to Kampot, again with good food vendors at the station as train time nears.

Seven hours doesn't seem like a long time, but it starts to drag. The return trip to Phnom Penh gets in very late and it's difficult to find a tuktuk or taxi. Also, unless your hotel is near the station, you'll be disoriented from your normal route routine, so it's good to have your hotel or hospice card and phone number to give to the driver. Even then, it helps to have sketched out your return route from the train station. You'll be exhausted from seven hours riding on the train and worse with a tuktuk driver going in circles at night trying to find your hotel. Don't assume they can read a map or know how to find your hotel. You should know the Khmer words for Left, Right and Stop to direct them to it.

By bamboo train

Despite the lack of normal train services there are bamboo trains or noris running around Battambang and you can also travel on a bamboo train from the outskirts of Phnom Penh to Battambang on demand. These trains are home made railcars which carry just about anything, motorcycles, crops, you name it, as long as it fits on the train. They are also great fun to ride on and they are actually reasonably safe and the drivers are friendly. They cost around US$5 per person for a short journey and around US$20 to hire one with a driver. Ask locally where you can find a norry, or you can find one at Battambang station.

What to see in Cambodia

Cambodia's main sight is so famous and grand, it's also one of the prime destinations in all of Asia. The magnificent and awe-inspiring temples of the Angkor Archaeological Park draw huge and diverse crowds, who come to admire their enormous symbolism and sheer magnitude. It's a place not to be missed on any trip to the region, worth every bit of the often sweltering heat. Finding a somewhat private spot for sundown over the temples can be a challenge, but the colours are wonderful. Start early to beat the crowds at the mysterious Ta Prohm complex.

Close to the national capital of Phnom Penh and the Choeung Ek Memorial, better known as the Killing fields — while shocking and sad — leaves a long-lasting impression. Excellent tours are available, providing an insight into the outrageous atrocity's committed by the Khmer Rouge. For further insights and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is the main place to visit.

  • Go on a boat tour in Phnom Penh
  • Go hiking in Bokor National Park
  • See endangered river dolphins in Kratie
  • Boat through to the floating village and have a Halal lunch aboard the floating restaurant near Siem_Reap|Siem Reap

Halal Restaurants & Food in Cambodia

PubSt KhmerFamily

While not the strongest link in Southeast Asia's chain of delightful cuisines, Khmer food is tasty and affordable. Rice and occasionally Noodles are the staples. Unlike in Thailand or Lao, spicy hot food is not the mainstay; black pepper is preferred over chilli peppers, though chillis are usually served on the side. Thai and Vietnamese influences can be noted in Khmer food, although Cambodians love strong sour tastes in their dishes. Prahok, a local fish paste, is common in Khmer cooking and may not please Western palates. Indian and Chinese restaurants have a healthy representation in Phnom Penh and the larger towns.

  • Amok - Arguably the most well known Cambodian dish. A coconut milk curried dish less spicy than those found in Thailand. Amok is usually made with Chicken, fish, or shrimp, plus some vegetables. It is sometimes served in a hollowed-out coconut with Rice on the side. Quite delicious.
  • K'tieu (Kuytheav) - A Noodles soup generally served for breakfast. Can be made with Beef, Chicken or seafood. Flavourings are added to the clients taste in the form of lime juice, chili powder, sugar and fish Sauces.
  • Somlah Machou Khmae - A sweet and sour soup made with pineapple, tomatoes and fish.
  • Mi/Bai Chaa - Fried Noodles or Rice.
  • Trey Ch'ien Chou 'Ayme - Trey (fish) fried with a sweet chili Sauce and vegetables. Very tasty. Chou 'ayme is the phrase for "sweet and sour".
  • K'dam - Crab. Kampot in the south is famous for its crab cooked in locally sourced black pepper. A very tasty meal.

Don't forget Khmer desserts - Pong Aime (sweets). These are available from stalls in most Khmer towns and can be excellent. Choose from a variety of sweetmeats and have them served with ice, condensed milk and sugar water. A must try is the Tuk-a-loc, a blended drink of fruits, raw egg, sweetened condensed milk and ice. Also keep an eye out for waffle street vendors. The farther you are from hotel row and the better the coconut waffle batter. On the south edge of town the coconut waffles are so good they make you order anotherone.

Fruit du dragon in Bong Thom Homestay Siem reap

There is also a wide variety of fresh fruit available from markets. The prices vary according to which fruit is in season but mangoes (around Khmer New Year, with up to 9 varieties on sale) and mangosteen (May/June) are both superb. Dragonfruit has a pink and green tinged skin. Inside is either white with tiny black seeds, or if you can find it, florescent juicy-red inside. A prized treat in August is durian, a large spiky green fruit like a rounded football. Stop at a few vendors to watch and learn what is fresh and what is older. It comes and goes quickly so don't overthink it. And definitely haggle and the price is very high. Durian is considered almost a ceremonial dish if you have a Cambodian friend you would like to treat. The trick is to not open the fruit until right when you eat it. Just opened, it's fragrant and ambrosial if truly ripe. After some time it gets the famous 'stink' you won't forget. Restaurants will not let you eat it on their premises for this reason. Jackfruit is similar but without the 'stink' and can be found sliced, rather like pineapple in appearance. And although not a fruit sugar cane is sold throughout Phnom Penh from street carts that crush it while you watch, a very affordable and safe way to replenish fluids and an energy boost.

The tap water supply in Phnom Penh has undergone some serious changes at the hands of a "water revolutionary" in the government, Ek Sonn Chan. So, in Phnom Penh you can drink the tap water without problem, although it's highly chlorinated and you may not like the taste.

Outside of Phnom Penh (and perhaps Siem Reap) you should assume that tap water is not potable. Khmer brand water in blue plastic bottles sell for 1,500 riel or less.

Soft drinks

Iced coffee is ubiquitous in Cambodia. It's made Vietnamese-style, freshly brewed and mixed with sweetened condensed milk. Walk past a local eatery any time of the day and you are bound to see at least a table of local residents drinking them. One glass costs 1,500-2,000 riel. Iced tea made with lemon and sugar is also refreshing and ubiquitous.

Fresh coconut can be found everywhere, you could say it is ubiquitous and is healthy and sanitary if drunk straight from the fruit.

Buy Muslim Friendly Condos, Houses and Villas in Cambodia

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Ramadan 2024 in Cambodia

Ramadan 2025 in Cambodia

Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.

The next Ramadan shall be from Friday, 28 February 2025 to Saturday, 29 March 2025

The next Eid al-Adha shall be on Friday, 6 June 2025

The next day of Raʾs al-Sana shall be on Monday, 19 July 2024

The next day for Mawlid al-Nabī shall be on Monday, 16 September 2024

Muslim Friendly Hotels in Cambodia

Asian-style lodging is available in most major towns the nation over; even less-visited places such as Kampong Chhnang have a number of affordable guesthouses or hotels. Basic guesthouses can go as low as US$10 a night in the nationside but prices in the city's are usually around the US$10-15. At the budget end, expect to provide your own towels etc. If you want air-con and hot water and cable TV the price creeps up to close to US$10-20.

Work

One of the most interesting ways to get to know a country and which has become increasingly popular, is to volunteer.

Finding a paid job teaching English in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is easy for English speakers, even if you have no other qualifications. If you're interested, print out some resumes and start handing them out to various schools.

Many bars and guesthouses in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville advertise the need for Western employees or volunteers and will generally provide free lodging and meals, but low pay, if any.

If considering volunteering at an orphanage, do be aware that many, if not all, are exploitative and poorly run. Very few so called children in orphanages in Cambodia are actually orphans, i.e. have no living parents. Your money is more likely to go the owner rather than the children. There are few legitimate orphanages in Cambodia. Any accepting visits from unscreened foreigners is often a sign of a substandard orphanage, which does not have the children's best interests at heart. There are several good articles on the Internet that further explain the reality of modern day orphanages.

Stay safe as a Muslim in Cambodia

Angkor Wat Tourists

Cambodia is a safe and friendly country, with the usual exception for large city's late at night, particularly Phnom Penh and unobserved luggage or wallets. Bag snatching, even from those on bicycles and motorcycles, is a problem in Phnom Penh. Be discreet with your possessions, especially cash and cameras and as always, take extra care in all poorly lit or more remote areas.

Land mines

Cambodia suffers from a legacy of millions of land mines left during the war years. However, to tourists, land mines present a minimal to non-existent threat, as most areas near tourist areas have been thoroughly de-mined. Many tourists mistake electric or sewage warning signs along national highways for land mine signs. HALO Trust, a leading mine removal organization in Cambodia, asserts that you would have to drive through the jungle for at least an hour north of Angkor Wat to come across any mines. The threat is to local residents in extremely rural areas who rely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

In remote areas such as Preah Vihear (near the border) and Pailin, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold, exercise caution: ask for local advice and heed warning signs, red paint and red rope, which may indicate mined areas. Do not venture beyond well established roads and paths. Most landmine signs in the nation are red with Khmer text on the top, with English text on the bottom, with a Skull and Crossbones with large eye sockets in the middle. If you see this, do not go past it under any circumstance.

Medical Issues in Cambodia

Cambodia ice cream motorcycle Cambodia_ice - Ice in Cambodia may be made in factories with treated water but cannot be regarded as safe, since it may have been transported in contaminated bags. Ice cubes are safer than ice that appears to have been chipped from a block.

Cambodia has some reliable medical facilities, doctors, clinics, hospitals and medication, especially in cities. Any serious problem should be dealt with in Bangkok, which boast first rate services (at least to those who can afford them). Repatriation is also more easily arranged from either of those city's. Make sure your insurance covers medical evacuation. The private Royal Rattanak Hospital in Phnom Penh can be trusted for emergency medical care and can treat most diseases and injuries common to the region. Naga Clinic has branches in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. It is also clean, safe and useful for minor conditions.

The contents of a basic medical kit-such as panadol, antihistamines, antibiotics, kaolin, oral rehydration solution, calamine lotion, bandages and band-aids, scissors and DEET insect repellent-can be acquired in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The particularly fastidious should put their kits together in Bangkok or Saigon before coming to Cambodia. There's no need to bother doing this before coming to Asia.

Phnom Penh is malaria-free and most major tourism attractions (including Siem Reap) are virtually malaria-free. The biggest disease worry is mosquito-borne dengue fever which, although quite unpleasant, to say the least (it's called "break-bone fever" because of how it feels) generally isn't life-threatening for first-time victims.

The most common ailment for Muslim travellers is diarrhoea, which can deteriorate into dysentery, resulting in dehydration. Stay hydrated by drinking 2-3 litres of water per day.

Avoid untreated water, ice made from untreated water and any raw fruit or vegetables that may have been washed in untreated water. Tap water is generally not drinkable, so avoid. The Phnom Penh supply is claimed to be potable but few people trust it. Only the seriously immunocompromised will have problems brushing their teeth with it. Cheap bottled water is available in any town or village. Take water purification tablets or iodine to sterilize water if planning to visit more rural areas. Boiling water will also sterilize it without generating piles of waste plastic bottle waste or tainting the taste. The water in the jugs at cafés or restaurants will have been boiled, as obviously will have been the tea. Expats have no problem drinking from the water supply in Phnom Penh, but not elsewhere.

If you do get severe diarrhoea and become badly dehydrated, take an oral rehydration solution and drink plenty of treated water. However, a lot of blood or mucus in the stool can indicate dysentery, which requires a trip to a doctor for antibiotics.

April is the cruellest month: the weather is hottest (> 35°C) in March and April.

Where to go next after Cambodia

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