- Category: Cambodia
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Sihanoukville (Khmer: ក្រុងព្រះសីហនុ - Krong Preah Sihanouk), also known as Kampong Saom, is a province in southern Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand. This port city is a growing Cambodian urban center, located 185 kilometres (115 mi) southwest of the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. The province is named after King Father Norodom Sihanouk and grew up around the construction of Sihanoukville Port. Construction on the port began in June 1955 and it was the only deep water port in Cambodia.The port was built in part due to the waning power of the French leading to the Vietnamese tightening their control over the Mekong Delta and hence restricting river access to Cambodia. Sihanoukville's beaches have made it a popular tourist destination.
The province is served by Sihanoukville International Airport, 18 kilometres (11 mi) from downtown, although it has a limited commercial operation. The planned flights between Sihanoukville and Siem Reap may encourage visitors to Angkor temples in Siem Reap to extend their stay, though the crash of a charter flight in Phnom Damrey on 25 June 2007 from Siem Riep,has caused concerns.
Sihanoukville attracts tourists with its relaxed beach atmosphere when compared to Thailand's more developed ones. However, the city has attracted not only tourists, but several NGOs and foreign and national investors in the last years in order to develop not only the growing tourist industry, but its capacity as an international sea port and other sectors like textile and real estate.In Sihanoukville is also located the main factory of Angkor Beer, the Cambodian national beer.
Sihanoukville was the place of the last official battle of the United States army in the Vietnam War, although the incident took place outside Vietnam. It is known as the Mayagüez incident on May 12–15, 1975 between the US forces and the Khmer Rouge. Currently, visitors dive in Koh Tang, one of the Sihanoukville islands where the major battle to free the SS Mayagüez took place. Divers can see two shipwrecks 40 metres (130 ft) down.
On 22 December 2008, King Norodom Sihamoni signed a Royal Decree that changed the municipalities of Kep, Pailin and Sihanoukville into provinces, as well as adjusting several provincial borders.
Sihanoukville is located in the south of Cambodia. It is 230 kilometres (143 mi) southwest of Phnom Penh in a small Peninsula and Bahia. Beaches are the main feature that attracts national and foreign visitors. A small archipelago is embedded by the Sihanoukville Bahia off its south and west coast. The commercial and international port is located at the north west. The limits of its territory: North and West Koh Kong province, East Kampot province and south Gulf of Thailand.
Beaches that line the west contour of the city from north to south are Victory Beach, Lamherkay Beach, Koh Pos Beach, Independence Beach, Sokha Beach, Serendipity Beach, Ochheuteal Beach and Otres Beach. The most popular beaches are Ochheuteal, Sokha, Independence and Victory. Tourists can take water taxis to the nearby islands for diving, snorkeling, and game fishing.
The peninsula is separated from the central plains of Cambodia by the Damrei Mountains, especially the Bouk Kou. The city is also besides the Ream National Park (210 km2) and it includes the islands of Koh Thmei and Koh Sei.
Being a rather small province, Sihanoukville has two main urban centers: the port itself and the Prey Nob District, 46 kilometers from Sihanoukville downtown to the north. The city is connected to Phnom Penh by National Road No. 4; to Kompot Province by NR 3 and to Koh Kong Province.
There are also sea routes to Koh Kong, Kompot, Vietnam and Thailand from the Sihanounville port.
- The town centre is located on a hill roughly in the centre of the peninsula and is seen as a distinct area for tourism promotion. It contains the banks, bus station and market, although the post office is some distance toward the port.
- Occheuteal Beach and Serendipity Beach: Occheuteal Beach is a long and narrow strip of beach lined with Casuarina trees, grass umbrellas, rental chairs and little drink huts. Many huts were bulldozed by the government to make way for a supposed new resort. This has raised concerns with human rights organizations. The northern section has become known as Serendipity Beach and is a popular beach with western tourists, noted for small guesthouse rooms right on the beach. Aside from these guest houses on the beach there are around 30 beach huts serving good value meals and a wide selection of drinks. Most popular huts along this stretch of beach are the Shore bar which hold regular beach parties. The sustainability of the Occheuteal beach was a primary consideration of various stakeholders, which brought about the development of a tourism development and management plan in 2005.
- Otres Beach: Beyond a small headland at the south end of Ochheuteal is the similar Otres Beach.
- Sokha Beach: Sokha Beach is located just west of Serendipity Beach. This beach is privately owned by Sokha Beach Hotel, the first five-star luxury beach hotel in Cambodia. It provides many facilities with a wide white sandy beach, but hotel guards may prevent visitors who are not guests from going on to the beach.
- Independence Beach: Independence Beach is located next to Sokha Beach on its west. The beach was named after the old Independence Hotel. This beach offers a good stretch of clean sand. Situated at the northern end of the beach is Independence Hotel and Koh Pos Beach with a tiny island only 800m off the coast. Koh Pos is known for its rock strewn shoreline.
- Victory Beach: Victory beach is situated at the furthest north of the peninsula of Sihanoukville. It was the original backpacker beach and is still popular with budget travelers. At the northern end of the beach is located the deep sea port. Apart from white sand and blue sea, this beach offers a good spot to enjoy the sunset.
At the south end of Victory Beach is another small strand of sand called Lamherkey Beach. It is the place where a French/ Cambodian construction team laid groundwork for the construction of the new Port of Kampong Som during the 1950s. At this beach, you can hire a boat to nearby islands.
There are more than a dozen islands off the coast of Sihanoukville for tourists to hop around. Most of them are yet to be developed for an overnight stay with the exception of Bamboo Island or Koh Russei in Khmer. Many guesthouses, restaurants and cafes on Ochheuteal and Serendipity beaches offer trips and packages to these islands.
Soon Nail Island (also called Magic Island because it looks like a mushroom) will have a hotel run by the Russian owners of the Snake House. They already have a pier and most of the hotel and restaurant are finished.
Koh Rong: It is situated west of the Sihanoukville coast. It offers the fantastic strand of beach on its southwest, stretching about 5 kilometres (3 mi). It has fresh water resources on the island and a bustling fishing community on the southeast with basic supplies including fresh water, fish and crab.
Koh Rong Samlon: It is a bit smaller than Koh Rong and situated on its south. Beautiful beaches are on the east coast, where a large heart-shaped bay with some shellfish cultivation is located, and on the north shoreline facing Koh Rong. The marine life around Koh Rong Samloem is very diverse and offers some amazing diving.
Koh Tang: It is located quite far from the main shoreline of Sihanoukville. Going there requires trippers to stay overnight on board. It offers interesting diving spots most of which are not frequently explored. The island is home to a military outpost and travelers should expect to be boarded by military personnel when out at the island.
- NR4: Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville are connected by the National Road 4. The road has been built especially for the transport of merchandise between the capital and the port by heavy trucks and containers. It has three toll stations along. However, it is considered the most dangerous road of Cambodia due to several traffic accidents and little control by authorities.
- NR41: It connects Sihanoukville with Kompot province. The road joins the province at Prey Nob district to NR4. It is in a good condition, but poor in traffic signs. Cambodia has not control over cattle and it walks freely over the roads.
- NR48: It connects Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh with Koh Kong Province, at the southwest of Cambodia. The road joins also the Thai-Cambodian border. It has two ferries: at Dang Peaeng and at Andoung Tuek.
Streets in Sihanoukville downtown are in good condition. However, the traffic in the city does not follow rules and the enforcement of international norms is poor. Cambodia follows the right-hand traffic. There is an over abundance of motorbikes due to the lack of bus urban transportation and taxis. The city is considered unsafe for driving: drivers of motorbikes do not use helmets, use any lane of the street, most of them do not use mirrors and it is used to see motorbikes with more than two passengers or drive by children and underage persons.In 2008 the government ordered the enforcement of the use of helmets wide the country, but the norm is not yet followed.
The city has not an urban system of transportation (buses and taxis). Therefore, there is an informal urban transportation in motor-taxis (moto-dups) and tuk-tuks. That urban system of transportation has no control from authorities, and anybody can become a motor-taxi or tuk-tuk driver in Sihanoukville. As a consequence, there is no control in the prices for services. Foreign visitors are recommended to confirm prices before using any of those services and ask advice from tourist agencies and hotels.
The Kang Keng Airport is located 18 kilometres away from Sihanoukville downtown, along the NR4.
The bus station has different bus agencies giving service to Phnom Penh. There are some tourist agencies that organize trips to Ho Chi Minh City as well.
- Category: Cambodia
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DAY 1: ARRIVE – PHNOM PENH (L)
Arrive Phnom Penh by morning flight, Phnom Penh – the city retains its traditional Khmer and colonial charm. French villas along tree-lined boulevards remind the visitor that the city was once considered the gem of Southeast Asia. Recent political changes have triggered an economic boom of sorts, with new hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs springing up around the city.
- Category: Temple Of Preah Vihear
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Treasures Of Indochina - Preah Vihear Temple (Khmer: ប្រាសាទព្រះវិហារ) is a Hindu temple built during the reign of Khmer Empire, that is situated atop a 525-metre (1,722 ft) cliff in the Dangrek Mountains, in the Preah Vihear province, Cambodia.
- Category: Phnom Penh
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Phnom Penh (Khmer: ភ្នំពេញ, pronounced [pʰnum peːɲ] in Khmer and /pəˈnɒm ˈpɛn/ or /ˈnɒm ˈpɛn/ in English) is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonized Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation's center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security, politics, economics, cultural heritage, and diplomacy of Cambodia.
Once known as the “Pearl of Asia”, it was considered one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina in the 1920s. Phnom Penh, along with Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, are significant global and domestic tourist destinations for Cambodia. Founded in 1434, the city is noted for its beautiful and historical architecture and attractions. There are a number of surviving French colonial buildings scattered along the grand boulevards.
Situated on the banks of the Tonlé Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers, the Phnom Penh metropolitan area is home to more than 2 million of Cambodia’s population of over 14 million. The city is the wealthiest and most populous city in Cambodia and is home to the country’s political hub.
Phnom Penh takes its name from the present Wat Phnom (“Hill Temple”). Legend has it that in 1372, an old nun named Lady Penh went to fetch water in the Mekong and found a dead Kukui tree floating down the stream. Inside a hole of the Koki tree were four bronze and one stone Buddha statues.
Wat Phnom gave the city its name
Daun (Grandma) Penh brought the statues ashore and ordered people to pile up earth northeast of her house; she then used the Koki trunks to build a temple on the hill to house the five Buddha statues, and then named the temple after herself as Wat Phnom Daun Penh, which is now known as Wat Phnom, a small hill of 27 metres (89 ft) in height.
Phnom Penh was also previously known as Krong Chaktomuk (Khmer: ក្រុងចតុម្មុខ) meaning "City of Four Faces". This name refers to the junction where the Mekong, Bassac, and Tonle Sap rivers cross to form an “X” where the capital is situated. Krong Chaktomuk is an abbreviation of its ceremonial name which was given by King Ponhea Yat, which in full is Krong Chaktomuk Mongkol Sakal Kampuchea Thipadei Sereythor Inthabot Borei Roth Reach Seima Maha Nokor.
This ceremonial name is composed from Pali, and loosely translates as "The place of four rivers that gives the happiness and success of Kampuja Kingdom, the highest leader as well as impregnable city of the God Indra of the enormous Kingdom".
Phnom Penh first became the capital of Cambodia after Ponhea Yat, king of the Khmer Empire, moved the capital from Angkor Thom after it was captured and destroyed by Siam a few years earlier. There is a stupa behind Wat Phnom that house the remains of Ponhea Yat and the royal family as well as the remaining Buddhist statues from the Angkorean era. There are also legends that tell how Phnom Penh was created in the 17th century by Japanese immigrants who settled on the outskirts of present-day Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh remained the royal capital for 73 years-from 1432 to 1505. It was abandoned for 360 years-from 1505 to 1865-by subsequent kings due to internal fighting between the royal pretenders. Later kings moved the capital several times and established their royal capitals at various locations in Tuol Basan (Srey Santhor), Pursat, Longvek, Lavear Em and Oudong.
It was not until 1866, under the reign of King Norodom I, that Phnom Penh became the permanent seat of government and capital of Cambodia, and also where the current Royal Palace was built. Beginning in 1870, the French Colonialists turned a riverside village into a city where they built hotels, schools, prisons, barracks, banks, public works offices, telegraph offices, law courts, and health services buildings. In 1872, the first glimpse of a modern city took shape when the colonial administration contracted a French contractor, Le Faucheur, to construct the first 300 concrete houses for sales and rentals to the Chinese traders. A commonly known building built by the French is Phsah Thmei.
By the 1920s, Phnom Penh was known as the Pearl of Asia, and over the next four decades Phnom Penh continued to experience rapid growth with the building of railways to Sihanoukville and the Pochentong International Airport (now Phnom Penh International Airport). Phnom Penh's infrastructure saw major modernisation under the rule of Sihanouk.
During the Vietnam War, Cambodia was used as a base by the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong, and thousands of refugees from across the country flooded the city to escape the fighting between their own government troops, the NVA/NLF, the South Vietnamese and its allies, and the Khmer Rouge. By 1975, the population was 3 million, the bulk of whom were refugees from the fighting. The city fell to the Khmer Rouge on April 17, 1975. Most of its residents, including those who were wealthy and educated, were evacuated from the city and forced to do labour on rural farms as "new people". Tuol Svay Prey High School was taken over by Pol Pot's forces and was turned into the S-21 prison camp, where Cambodians were detained and tortured. Pol Pot sought a return to an agrarian economy and therefore killed many people perceived as educated, "lazy", or political enemies. Many others starved to death as a result of failure of the agrarian society and the sale of Cambodia's rice to China in exchange for bullets and weaponry. The former high school is now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, where Khmer Rouge torture devices and photos of their victims are displayed. Choeung Ek (The Killing Fields), 15 kilometres (9 mi) away, where the Khmer Rouge marched prisoners from Tuol Sleng to be murdered and buried in shallow pits, is also now a memorial to those who were killed by the regime.
The Khmer Rouge were driven out of Phnom Penh by the Vietnamese in 1979, and people began to return to the city. Vietnam is historically a state with which Cambodia has had many conflicts, therefore this liberation was and is viewed with mixed emotions by the Cambodians. A period of reconstruction began, spurred by the continuing stability of government, attracting new foreign investment and aid by countries including France, Australia, and Japan. Loans were made from the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to reinstate a clean water supply, roads and other infrastructure. The 1998 Census put Phnom Penh's population at 862,000; and the 2008 census was 1.3 million.
Boeng Kak Lake in the northern part of Phnom Penh
Kingfishers located at Boeng Kak Lake
Phnom Penh is located in the south-central region of Cambodia, and is fully surrounded by the Kandal Province. The municipality is situated on the banks of the Tonlé Sap, Mekong, and Bassac rivers. These rivers provide potential freshwater and other natural resources to the city. Phnom Penh and the surrounding areas consists of the typical wet plain area for Cambodia. Phnom Penh rises 11.89m or (39 ft) which causes problems for the city of potential flooding by the monsoon season which sometimes over flow the banks of the river.
The city, located at 11.55°N 104.91667°E (11°33' North, 104°55' East,), covers an area of 678.46 square kilometres (262 sq mi), with some 11,401 hectares (28,172 acres) in the municipality and 26,106 hectares (64,509 acres) of roads. The agricultural land in the municipality amounts to 34.685 square kilometres (13 sq mi) with some 1.476 square kilometres (365 acres) under irrigation.
Phnom Penh has a tropical wet and dry climate. The climate is hot year-round with only minor variations. City temperatures range from 18° to 38 °C (64° to 100 °F) and experiences tropical monsoons. Southwest monsoons blow inland bringing moisture-laden winds from the Gulf of Thailand and Indian Ocean from May to October. The northeast monsoon ushers in the dry season, which lasts from November to March. The city experiences the heaviest precipitation from September to October with the driest period occurring from January to February.
The city has two distinct seasons. The rainy season, which runs from May to October, which temperatures can rise up to 40 °C (104 °F) around April and is generally accompanied with high humidity. The dry season lasts from November to April when temperatures can drop to 22 °C (72 °F). The best months to visit the city are November to January when temperatures and humidity are lower.