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Cruise Blog

Everything you need to know about Burma

15th October 2015

Top tips for planning your trip to Burma. Top things to do in Burma. [More]

A guide to Cambodia

28th September 2015

With so much to see and do, Southeast Asia is becoming an increasingly popular region for UK holidaymakers who wish to embrace an entirely new culture.

Countries such as Vietnam, Burma and Thailand offer a variety of amazing experiences, from their unique local cuisine to their fascinating cultures and beautiful surruounds. Southeast Asia has everything you could wish for in your annual river cruise.

Cambodia is another beautiful corner of Southeast Asia which can be experienced on a river cruise. If your desired itinerary features Cambodia, here are a few things you'll need to know before you go.

 

The History

Cambodia sits on the banks of the Gulf of Thailand and shares a border with Vietnam to the east, Laos to the north and Thailand to the north-west. Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia with a population of around 1.5 million.

Cambodia has experienced somewhat of a checkered past and has suffered significantly since the fall of Angkor in 1431. This was a vast empire unrivalled in the region and was the dominant force for over four centuries but since its abolition it has been plundered. Colonised by the French in the 19th century it came under the rule of the Khmer Rouge in 20th century.

Rising to prominence in 1968, this regime was known for its brutality and led by the notorious Cambodian revolutionary Pol Pot. Civil wars and conflicts with Vietnam took its toll on the country with the Khmer Rouge forcing the entire population of Phnom Penh to work as slaves in the countryside. Cambodia became effectively cut off from the outside world.

Not until United Nations-sponsored elections in 1993, did the country begin to recover. With the Cold War at an end, there was hope in Cambodia with Pol Pot being put on 'trial' as the reign of Khmer Rouge was almost over. By 2002, the country held its first-ever local elections and is now one of the most investor-friendly places in Asia.

Tourism has increased as people from all over the world travel to Cambodia to cruise the Mekong and see the beautiful Siem Reap.

siem reap cambodia

Customs and Traditions

Despite its hardships, the Cambodians are very proud people and over the years have developed a unique set of traditions which are from both Buddhist and Hindu influences.

Cambodians tend to greet each other with a friendly 'Chumreap Suor'. This normally involves a Sampeah which is a pressing of the palms together before the chest and then a slight bow before politely saying 'Chumreap Suor'. While this is the traditional greeting, it is acceptable for foreigners to shake hands with the locals.

On your travels, you will no doubt be treated to a traditional dance. There are many forms of dance in Cambodia but the most well known is Robam Apsara, first introduced during the 1960s but allowed to blossom over the generations.

phnom penh cambodia

Currency

Cambodia deals in the Cambodian riel with the current exchange being 6,458 riel to the pound.

Food and Drink

Like with all of its Southeast Asian neighbours, Cambodia has delicious local food. A long-running feature of Cambodian food is prahok, a local fish paste, which is used in a lot of dishes. It has a fairly strong flavour so it is something that may take a bit of time getting acclimatised to. One of the most well-known dishes in Cambodia is amok, a coconut milk curried meal made with chicken, fish or shrimp and slightly less spicy than its Thai counterpart.

Another favourite among the locals is prahok kties, a fried dish with belly pork.

Looking for something a little healthier? Than opt for machu kroung, a flavourful sweet and sour soup with fried lemongrass, saffron and a variety of meat and vegetables making up a very tasty broth.

Try the noodle soup known as k'tieu which is traditionally enjoyed at breakfast. This pork, beef or seafood soup can set you up for the day. If you have room leftover then indulge in some Cambodian sweets known as pong aime.

Mekong River

Stay Safe

Cambodia has become a much safer place for tourists over the past couple of decades. Today, it remains a friendly country to visit. With this in mind it is still advised to remain vigilant when in large cities, particularly at night. Petty theft such as bag snatching is fairly common in the capital so it is wise to take extra care and be discreet with possessions.

While the likelihood of being a victim of crime is relatively low it is always worth taking some spare money for emergencies.

With careful planning and a few essential know before you go tips, a cruise of Cambodia can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will never ever forget.

Browse our Mekong River Cruises and sign up for our new Asia brochure today.


Vietnam - Everything you need to know

25th August 2015

Southeast Asia is becoming a hugely popular destination for British holidaymakers.

Thailand and Singapore have typically become hotspots for the younger generation, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos are favourites among backpackers, but there is one nation that has crossed over all different tastes - Vietnam.

From its stunning temples and pagodas to the glorious scenery around Sa Pa to cruising on the Mekong River, Vietnam is such a wonderful country to visit. So what do you need to know about this corner of Southeast Asia? Read on for our Vietnam fact file.

Hue Vietnam

The Country

Vietnam is situated on the furthest eastern point of the Indochina Peninsula and is bordered by China, Laos, Cambodia and shares a coastline of the South China Sea. It has a population of around 90 million with the Kinh people making up the majority of its ethnic demographic.

The country was originally part of Imperial China but became independent following victory against the Chinese in the Battle of Bach Dang River in AD 938. Over the years Vietnam has been occupied by the French and Japanese before expelling the former in the First Indochina War.

Following the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 both North and South Vietnam were reunited with Hanoi being named as the capital city. Nowadays it welcomes people from all over the globe as they visit historic Citadel in Hue, the Long Son Pagoda in Nha Trang and, of course, the mighty Mekong.

Mekong River

Customs and Tradition

The Vietnamese are hospitable, proud people and over 4,000 years of civilisation has developed a number of customs and traditions. One of which is to recite a myth which says they descended from the dragon lord Lac Long Quan and the female heavenly angel Au Co.

Such is their hospitality that should you be invited into their homes at meal times they will share whatever food is available. They are also prone to providing guests with the best portions as a gesture of close friendship. If you happen to be a visitor in their home you should come prepared with a gift.

Religion plays a huge part of Vietnamese culture with the majority of people in the country practising Vietnamese folk religion. This form is not an organised religious system but more local worship traditions devoted to the than, translated as spirits and gods.

Currency

Vietnam deals in the Vietnamese Dong with the current exchange rate having 33,654 dong to the pound.

Food

Vietnamese food is one of the huge plus points about visiting the region. This is quintessential Southeast Asian cooking and is a delicious treat when rounding a full day of sightseeing or river cruising.

Make sure to try Pho, a noodle soup which is a staple of Vietnam containing vegetables and either beef or chicken, Ca Kho To, a caramelised fish dish served in a clay pot, Banh xeo, a savoury sizzling or even Banh Cam, one of the most beloved desserts the country has to offer.

Rice Fields in Vietnam

Stay Safe

While Vietnam is a relatively safe place for tourists you need to be aware of thieves and pickpockets, especially at some of the nation's most famous sights. Areas such as Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi and Nha Trang are home to thieves who snatch handbags, mobile phones, cameras etc. Be sure to do your research as the country is susceptible to scamming so be careful when shopping and eating in places which don't have the price written down. Make sure you take some extra cash with you to cover for any unforeseen eventualities.

Sign up for our new Asia brochure for more information about cruising all over this exotic continent.

Experience Vietnam


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