It seems strange to suggest Cambodia might be blessed by its past. It is reasonable though when you consider how starting fresh has allowed its economic and tourism traits to radically blossom in all directions into the revived state it is today.
Based in southeast Asia, Cambodia is home to at around sixteen million people. The land stretches nearly seventy thousand miles across the Indochinese peninsula, bordering Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, with the Gulf of Thailand off the coast in the southwest. The Tonlé Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest freshwater lake, and the Mekong River, a vital water and fishing source for Cambodia and its neighbouring countries, highlight the prominence of the state’s water resources. Notably sat at the junction of these two water supplies is the capital, Phnom Penh. As Cambodia’s most populous city, Phnom Penh is also the heart of culture, economic success and tourist popularity, attracting a majority of the five million annual tourists to Cambodia. No surprise then that Phnom Penh is Cambodia’s ideal destination serviced apartment living.
Cambodian history cannot be described in one word, but a vague description would say it has gone from good to bad. The earliest known inhabitance of Cambodia was back in 4200BC, but the greatest volume of Cambodian research comes from the Angkorian Empire from 890AD onward. Recoveries of Angkorian remnants are testimonies to the empire’s wealth and 400-year regional dominance. All good things come to an end though. The fifteenth century was followed by four hundred years of Thai control, before the French arrival in 1863. After plentiful World War occupation, Cambodia finally secured independence in 1953. The later atrocities of the Civil War in from 1967 to 1975 resembled Cambodia’s darkest years. Thankfully since, the country is peaceful and its committed to a promising fresh start.
Despite previous setbacks, there are not many economies in the world growing faster than Cambodia’s. Over the last two decades, the country has sustained an annual average growth rate of over 7%, and this is primarily thanks to the success of garment exports and incoming tourism. Considering its troubled past, the economy has come a long way, with the Cambodian Ministry of Economy and Finance prioritising macroeconomic stability, beneficial sectorial policies and incentives for foreign investment. Recent integration into world trading frameworks has also been vital. Joining the ASEAN, World Customs Organisation and the World Trade Organisation between 1999 and 2005 shows Cambodia’s fresh willingness to participate in global trade and relations.
It is for all these reasons that the inflow of overseas investment has grown significantly in recent years. The leading investors into Cambodia are South Korea, Vietnam, Malaysia, Japan and particularly China, whose investments surpass all other sources combined. Tourism and apparel industries appear to be the most popular for investment, but new laws mean that all sectors of the economy are open to foreign speculation. Investors are also entitled to 100% of company ownership many can be eligible for tax incentives within Cambodia. All forms of business undertaking are treated equally though, and developments of transport infrastructure highlight the acceptance of Cambodia towards business travel. Expansion of available serviced apartments in Cambodia, along with all these incentives, are strengthening Cambodia’s business climate.
Only the residents of nine southeast Asian countries are eligible for visa-free entry to Cambodia. Otherwise, residents of the likes of the US, Canada, the UK and Australia can obtain a thirty-day, extendable visa upon arrival for a fairly cheap price. If this information does not apply to your nationality, or you are looking for more tourist information, visit your country’s Royal Embassies of Cambodia. Be sure to have some of the national currency, the Cambodian Riel (KHR), exchanged before you arrive as it is not always easily done in the country. It is worth visiting www.xe.com for exchange rates in advance before you travel.
It is more the consequences of unacceptable or inappropriate behaviour that should be feared most by international arrivals. Avoiding these consequences is very straightforward though. This could include dressing suitably around religious sites or refraining from photographing military sites. Making sure you also get the necessary precautions to avoid infectious diseases (e.g. Zika) is also wise. Otherwise, it should be known that Cambodia is a popular travel destination for a reason, and Cambodians have a good reputation for being predominantly very friendly and welcoming of foreigners.
Driving in Cambodia has both positives and negatives. Whilst it is liberating exploring the beautiful countryside under your own steam, there are also risks. Road conditions are not always safe, consideration for road rules are minimal and virtually anyone can take to the road. For instance, although official rules state you must have Cambodian license, this is seldom carried about. Visitors, therefore, take advantage of motorcycle rentals, which anybody can hire. Ultimately, whilst driving should not be ruled out completely in Cambodia, it is important to consider the risks. Otherwise, you could travel via shared taxis or express buses, which are pretty cheap are reasonably common throughout the major cities.
Without Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s heart would not beat. The capital is not afraid to display its turbulent past, whether it’s the National Museum parading the majestic Angkorian era, or the Tuol Sleng Museum and Choeung Ek fields displaying remnants of the brutal Khmer Rouge rule. Beyond all the history though is a widespread dynamicity. The country’s most cosmopolitan destination is home to several charming restaurants, quaint cafes, and a buzzing atmosphere. Whether you are just passing through or staying for business, the pulsating ambience is infectious. There is a reason tourism and serviced apartments are most common here compared to anywhere else in Cambodia.
Although there is an abundance of scenic destinations geared up for the more laidback travellers, such as the beaches of Sihanoukville or the islands of Koh Samui and Phuket, attention should be given to the remnants of history unlike any other worldwide. There is no better place to start than the Angkor Wat. Just outside Siem Reap, this ancient site is one of the world’s most popular. The Angkor Wat temple is the world’s largest religious building and the surrounding city was previously the largest of the medieval world. Archaeological brilliance is rife here, making this site immensely appealing. For a quieter viewing of Cambodian history, visit Battambang city. As well as the tranquil scenery, the city has a wealth of temples, such as the Phnom Sampeau, Banan and Wat Ek Phnom. The buzz is less here, but this makes for more pleasant viewings of Cambodian history.
Cambodia should be perceived in two ways, for having a tumultuous history like no other, but also as a great example of outstanding restoration. Economic progression is part of this reformation, and Cambodia now emerges as one of southeast Asia’s dominating destinations for business travel.
Both the busiest concerning passenger movement and size, this airport serves Cambodia’s capital.
Various public transport flows in and out of the airport, including the airport express bus, regular buses, the shuttle train, taxis or even ‘tuk-tuks’. Any of these modes of transport are beneficial, linking visitors to the city centre only eight miles away. Alternatively, you could arrive, depart or domestically travel through Cambodia from Siem Reap (REP) and Sihanoukville (KOS) airports with the help of five domestic airlines.
Following a period of dilapidation to the railway network in Cambodia, the service is undergoing a modern-day revival. Currently though, despite plans to international train travel, the only services run to-and-from Phnom Penh train station to the capital city airport and Sihanoukville.
Cambodia’s bus network is extensive as a result of a limited railway network. Fares are relatively cheap, and bus stations are dotted across major cities such as Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. Sorya Transportation has one of the largest route networks in the capital.
Helpful for planning routes and getting familiar with Cambodian bus is the website www.bookmebus.com.