16 Fun Facts About Cambodia Beyond The Tourist Trails

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Visiting the famous Angkor Wat is something that the majority of avid travelers have on their bucket list, but there’s so much more to explore in Cambodia!

From the thousands of other incredible ancient structures to the brilliant traditional and modern cuisines, the Kingdom of Cambodia is definitely a place worth visiting as you’ll learn from these 14 fun facts.

1. 95% Of Cambodians Are Buddhist

Many of Cambodian traditions are directly linked to Buddhism. There are thousands of Buddhist temples known as wats that are integral places of worship and community.

2. It Is The Only Country In The World To Feature A Building On Its National Flag

The Cambodian flag features Angkor Wat, possibly the most important symbol to the Cambodian people. Angkor Wat is represented by a simple but elegant depiction of it right in the center of the flag.

The Cambodian flag with clouds and blue sky in background

The red and blue stripes seen behind the building represent national pride, freedom, and cultural heritage.

3.  The Largest Religious Monument In The World

Speaking of Angkor Wat, there are plenty of reasons why it’s on Cambodia’s flag! It was built by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century to be the primary Buddhist temple in the ancient capital city of Yasodharapura, also known as Angkor Thom. It remains to be the largest religious structure in the world today and is celebrated by Cambodians as their national symbol.

The many structures within Angkor Wat are made in the traditional style of Khmer architecture, which making one of the most unique and elegant buildings ever constructed. If you’re visiting Cambodia, Angkor Wat should be at the very top of your list.

4. There Is So Much More To Explore In Angkor

Even though Angkor Wat is the focal point when visiting Angkor Thom, it is only just a small part of what the ancient city has to offer. This ancient city has dozens of other ancient buildings and structures with unique stories and intricate details.

One of my personal favorites is Bayon Temple, located just north of Angkor Wat. The temple consists of a remarkable 50 towers, each of which is adorned with statues of smiling faces.

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5. Tuk Tuks Are The Best Way To Get Around

Getting through the bustling streets of Cambodia is nearly impossible without tuk tuks! Thes are small rickshaws that are typically drawn by motorcycles.

They are a fast, cheap, and safe way of getting through town with a 5-minute ride usually costing just $1-$2 USD!

6. Cambodia Has One Of The Youngest Populations In Asia

The current average age in Cambodia is 25, which is remarkably low when compared to other Asian countries such as Japan, which has an average age of about 48. Sadly, the reason for this has to do with Cambodia’s dark past.

Between 1975-1979, approximately 2-3 million Cambodians were killed by Kampuchea, the Khmer Rouge Government, in what is now known as the Cambodian Genocide. Today, you can visit the Killing Fields to honor and remember the Cambodians who were persecuted.

7. Tonle Sap Is The Largest Freshwater Lake In Southeast Asia

Not only is Tonle Sap Lake truly a magnificent natural wonder, but it also is essential as a water source for crops and vital for Cambodia’s fishing industry. The lake is often referred to as the “Nile of Cambodia” because of how vital it has been for Cambodian civilization and culture.

Tonle Sap’s direction of water flow changes throughout the year. In the dry season from November to May, the water flows in a Southeastern direction towards the Mekong River and eventually the South China Sea. Once the monsoons start to pour rain over Cambodia, the lake gets so inundated with water that it starts to run off to the Northwest in the Tonle Sap River.

8. The Krama Is A National Symbol Of Cambodia

One garment that you’ll see almost everyone in Cambodia wear is called a krama.

A Cambodian woman wearing Krama on head

They are checker-patterned scarves that come in either blue or red and are worn for primarily decorative purposes.

9. Try The Fried Spiders For A Snack, They’re Fresh!

One of the most notorious street foods commonly found in Cambodia is fried spiders. Tarantula spiders, known as “a-ping” in Khmer, are lightly tossed in a mixture of salt and sugar before being quickly fried with garlic in oil.

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The taste is frequently described as mild and often compared to chicken, and there’s a stark contrast in texture between the crispy exoskeleton and the soft insides. If you’re feeling adventurous, definitely give this creepy-crawly dish a try!

10. Not So Scary Snacks

For the not-so-adventurous eaters who aren’t so keen on eating spiders, Cambodia has a myriad of other fantastic dishes to try! Amok Trey is the national dish of Cambodia and is one of the most celebrated fish curries in the world. 

Usually prepared with freshly caught catfish or snakehead, the filets are marinated in kroeung curry and are combined with coconut cream in a banana leaf before being steamed. Incredibly creamy and richly spiced, this is definitely one dish you’ll want to try while in Cambodia.

11. The Cambodian New Year Is Celebrated In April

Cambodia’s New Year celebration, otherwise known as Khmer New Year, usually takes place on the 13th or 14th of April and lasts for three whole days. This date marks the end of the harvest season, so the community comes together to celebrate the recent crop with a huge festival.

Cambodians get together during the festivities to play traditional games, eat specially prepared foods, and participate in dances and songs.

12. The Mysterious Ta Prohm Dinosaur

Found in the temple of Ta Prohm in Angkor Thom, there is a wall with the carvings of several animals… and a dinosaur? The carving at the center of this wall appears to resemble a stegosaurus, a dinosaur with several spines covering its back.

Ta Prohm Dinosaur carving

Noone knows why the ancient Khmer people carved an image of a dinosaur. The carving could be a cow or deer with a plant behind it, or perhaps an imagined mythological creature.

13. The Incredible Pyramid Of Cambodia’s Ancient Capital City

Before the ancient city of Angkor was the capital of Cambodia, Koh Ker was the capital under King Jayavarman IV. As the ruler, he had over 40 temples and other structures built throughout the city. The architectural and sculptural styles of Koh Ker are remarked as some of the greatest seen in all of Cambodia’s history. 

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Part of this temple complex is a stunning seven-tiered pyramid called Prang, which was likely the state temple used by the king. The pyramid itself is an impressive 118 ft tall and is shrouded wondrously by native plants and trees.

14. Rich In Beautiful Forests, But With An Unfortunate Risk

Cambodia’s forests used to cover approximately 70% of its landmass and were home to hundreds of rare and endangered native species. Sadly, Cambodia has lost almost 65% of its tree cover in the last 10 years.

Deforestation and illegal logging continue to cut through protected wildlife areas and national parks to this day. There are many grassroots environmental organizations in Cambodia that are fighting to stop logging these environmental sanctuaries.

15. Cambodia’s Conservation And Sustainability ARE Growing

To preserve Cambodia’s natural beauty, many organizations are moving to improve conservation efforts. As travel forms a strong part of their economy, ensuring that Cambodia’s wildlife has healthy ecosystems is linked to both the population’s economic well-being.

The World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) has recognized the Eastern Plains Landscape (EPL) of Cambodia as one of the 200 most important areas of global diversity. WWF has launched a project working with Cambodia’s government to better conserve and protect wildlife in the EPL region.

Please consider contributing to these causes when you make your trip to Cambodia!

16. Traditional Cambodian Weddings Are Three Days Long

Cambodians take wedding celebrations to the next level! Traditional Cambodian weddings often go for 3 full days and 3 full nights, with more affluent families known to extend the party even longer.

people in front of monks during Cambodian wedding

The first day is usually broken up into 3 parts:

  1. The presentation of the dowry
  2. The blessing from the monk
  3. Paying tribute to the bride and groom’s parents.

Day 2 usually holds the religious ceremony of the marriage itself, and day 3 is usually where the knot is literally tied!

If you’re fortunate enough to be invited to a Cambodian marriage, be prepared to experience one of the most remarkable weddings you’ll ever witness!


Leland grew up traveling across the United States with his family, visiting the country’s many national parks. These trips helped him find a passion for camping, hiking, and traveling the globe. From Helsinki to Saint Petersburg, Leland has traveled to several cities abroad and hopes to continue exploring and experiencing the many countries of the world. He is currently planning his honeymoon trip to Scotland, where he plans to enjoy seeing the many lochs, castles, and distilleries.

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