Did you know last year a whopping 6.2 million people visited the Kingdom of Cambodia for a vacay?
Whether it’s the world heritage wonders and deserted beaches. Or spending time with the locals and eating traditional dishes. There are loads of reasons to visit the Kingdom of crumbling temples.
But like anywhere in the world, Cambodia has its quirks. It also has an intriguing history, curious traditions, and a fascinating culture to explore. To blend in and not offend anyone, you need to do your homework.
Check out these 11 Cambodia facts and you’ll be ready for anything. Because when in Cambodia, you’ve got to do as the Cambodians do!
1. The Kingdom with 5 Names
The country has endured several name changes throughout the years. With each new government trying something different. The Kingdom of Cambodia was originally chosen in 1953 and went through 5 different names.
In 1993 the name Cambodia became official again. But will they change it again? Who knows!
2. The Geckos Chirp
One of the cutest fun facts about Cambodia is the gecko’s chirp. Locals believe the number of times a gecko calls out determines your future marriage mate. The first call means you’ll marry a bachelor, but the second means you’ll marry a widow, and so on.
Besides geckos, Cambodia is full of rare animal species. For example, the Irrawaddy dolphin and the Cantor’s Giant Softshell Turtle. Some species roaming around are actually undiscovered, so get exploring!
3. Fun with Flags
Flags around the world are pretty standard, waving the same colors in different designs. But Cambodia broke the mold by putting Angkor Wat on their flag. It’s one of the only flags in the world that has a building on it.
This unique spin on a traditional flag celebrates the heart and soul of the country. But more about these ancient ruins in part 5!
4. No McDonald’s, Bugs on the Menu Instead
Wherever you go in the world, you can always rely on a Mcdonald’s when times get tough. But not in Cambodia. There is no McDonald’s and no sign of building one.
But funnily enough, the people of Cambodia love Burger King.
However, when in Rome you’ve got to eat the local cuisine, right? How about creepy crawlies for lunch? Yes, Cambodians love crunching on crickets, grasshoppers, spiders, and ants.
But don’t worry, their main diet is fish, rice, and veggies!
5. Biggest Religious Building in the World
The Vatican? Westminster Abbey? Machu Picchu?
All these fade in comparison with the ruins of Angkor Wat. It’s the biggest religious complex in the world spanning over 500 acres. In fact, it’s actually 50 times bigger than Machu Picchu!
The word “Angkor Wat” actually translates as “The City of Temples” which is a fitting description of the huge structure.
6. A Sad History
Cambodia history facts include a sad period of time. A genocide killed one-fifth of the population. And because of that, most of Cambodia’s society is under the age of 30, with sadly not a wrinkle in sight.
There are still active landmines in the rural countryside. So if you go jungle trekking, make sure to stick close to a guide.
7. Birthday Blues
As we all know, birthdays are big in the US, but in Cambodia, nobody even acknowledges their birthday. The day passes by with no mention of it. It’s so unimportant to them, that some don’t even know what a “birthday celebration” consists of.
Many older ones don’t remember their date of birth anyway!
8. Four Weddings and a Funeral
When it comes to Cambodia culture facts, you can’t miss out on weddings and funerals. Weddings are full of celebrations, lavish outfits, and non-stop partying. Some weddings can go on for three days.
Funerals are also a big deal in Cambodia with people spending large amounts of money on funerals compared to their meager wages. In fact, the cheapest price for a burial plot and casket is more than $500. These high prices cause many families to use their life savings or take out loans.
But why are funerals a big deal?
It all comes down to their culture and Buddhist religion. A respectful funeral may go on for 49 days with the body kept in the house for up to 7 days. Families are happy to do it so their loved one can move on into the next life peacefully.
9. Tuk Tuks and Road Rage
On every street corner, you’ll find a tuk-tuk. It’s super easy to get around, but it’s always a good idea to negotiate the price before hopping in.
Whether you’re in a tuk-tuk, van, or bus, your heart will be pumping fast, why? Because there are no road rules, and if there are, nobody follows them. This makes for a white-knuckle ride.
10. Happy New Year—In April?
In mid-April each year, Cambodians celebrate the end of the harvest season. This three-day celebration is the biggest party in the whole year. Watch the fireworks while you dance the night away, it’ll be a party you’ll never forget.
If you happen to be in Cambodia this time of year, the nightlife in Phnom Penh is not to miss.
11. Sacred Body Parts
In Cambodia, body parts have different meanings. For example, your head is the highest most sacred part of the body. This means nobody should touch it, even in an affectionate way.
On the other end of the scale, the underside of your foot is the dirtiest part of the body. You should not point the sole of your foot at anyone or anything. It’s super disrespectful.
Cambodia Facts at the Ready—Time to Plan the Vacay!
If you spot someone counting the chirps of a gecko or people are shouting “happy new year” in April, you’ll know exactly what’s going on.
So, now you know all the Cambodia facts you need to know, it’s time to start planning your vacay. For more travel tips and hacks for your Cambodia trip, check out the “Travel” section of this blog.