About Cambodia
Cambodia officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia and once known as the Khmer Empire, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Its total landmass is 181,035 square kilometres (69,898 sq mi), bordered by Thailand to the northwest, Laos to the northeast, Vietnam to the east and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.
With a population of over 14.8 million, Cambodia is the 70th most populous country in the world. The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by approximately 95% of the Cambodian population. The country's minority groups include Vietnamese, Chinese, Chams and 30 hill tribes. The capital and largest city is Phnom Penh, the political, economic, and cultural center of Cambodia. The kingdom is a constitutional monarchy with Norodom Sihamoni, a monarch chosen by the Royal Throne Council, as head of state. The head of government is Samdach Hun Sen, who is currently the longest serving leader in South East Asia and has ruled Cambodia for over 25 years.
Cambodia's ancient name is "Kambuja" (Sanskrit: कंबुज). In 802 AD, Jayavarman II declared himself king marking the beginning of the Khmer Empire which flourished for over 600 years allowing successive kings to dominate much of Southeast Asia and accumulate immense power and wealth. The Indianized kingdom built monumental temples such as Angkor Wat and facilitated the spread of first Hinduism, then Buddhism to much of Southeast Asia. After the fall of Angkor to Ayutthaya in the 15th century, Cambodia was ruled as a vassal between its neighbors until it was colonized by the French in the mid-19th century. Cambodia gained independence in 1953.
The Vietnam War extended into Cambodia, giving rise to the Khmer Rouge, which took Phnom Penh in 1975, carried out the Cambodian Genocide from 1975-1979 and then fought against the Vietnamese backed People's Republic of Kampuchea during the Cambodian–Vietnamese War (1979-1991). Following the 1991 Paris Peace Accords Cambodia was governed briefly by a United Nations mission (1992-1993) and after holding elections in which around 90% of the registered voters cast ballots the UN withdrew. The1997 coup placed power in the hands of President Hun Sen and the Cambodian People's Party who remain in power as of 2013.
Cambodia has since had one of the best economic records in Asia, with economic growth averaging 6 percent for the last 10 years. Strong textiles, agriculture, construction, garments, and tourism sectors led to foreign investments and international trade.  In 2005, oil and natural gas deposits were found beneath Cambodia's territorial waters.
Culture
Throughout Cambodia's long history, religion has been a major source of cultural inspiration. Over nearly two millennia, Cambodians have developed a unique Khmer belief from the syncreticism of indigenous animistic beliefs and the Indian religions of Buddhism and Hinduism. Indian culture and civilization, including its languages and arts reached mainland Southeast Asia around the 1st century AD. It is generally believed that seafaring merchants brought Indian customs and culture to ports along the Gulf of Thailand and the Pacific en route to trade with China. The Kingdom of Funan was most probably the first Khmer state to benefit from this influx of Indian ideas.
History
The golden age of Cambodia was between the 9th and 14th century, during the Angkor period, during which it was a powerful and prosperous empire that flourished and dominated almost all of inland Southeast Asia. However, Angkor would eventually collapse after much in-fighting between royalty and constant warring with its increasingly powerful neighbors, notably Siam and Dai Viet. Many temples from this period however, like Bayon and Angkor Wat still remain today, scattered throughout Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam as a reminder of the grandeur of Khmer arts and culture. Cambodia's unparalleled achievements in art, architectures, music, and dance during this period have had a great influence on many neighboring kingdoms, namely Thailand and Laos. The effect of Angkorian culture can still be seen today in those countries, as they share many close characteristics with current-day Cambodia.
Customs and Tradition
Cambodian culture and tradition have had a rich varied history dating back many centuries. Over the years, the people of Cambodia developed a set of unique tradition from the syncretism of indigenous Buddhism and Hinduism.
Cambodians have been raised to respect their culture and are very traditional in their way of life. Tourists will see the well mannered Cambodian expressing a friendly “Chumreap Suor” when they meet one.
Chumreap Suor
Cambodians traditionally greet with a Sampeah, which involves pressing the palms together before the chest with a slight bow and greeting with a polite ‘Chumreap Suor’. Customarily, the higher the hands are held and the lower the bow, the more respect is conveyed. Except when meeting elderly people or government officials, between men, this custom has been partially replaced by the handshake. Women usually greet both men and women with the same traditional greeting. Although it may be considered acceptable for foreigners to shake hands with a Cambodian, it is more appropriate to respect the custom and respond with a ‘Chumreap Suor’.
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USEFUL LINKS
Ministry of Tourism e-Visa Cambodian Association of Travel Agents ( CATA )
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