Did you know Cambodia has never had any anti-gay laws in its history? Eight interesting facts about Cambodia
Cambodia isn’t just a staggeringly beautiful country, and the perfect destination for an unforgettable trip. It’s also a fascinating place, with a rich, interesting history and culture.
Here are just some of the surprising things you may not know about Cambodia…
- It’s one of the most LGBTQ friendly places in Asia
Unlike many countries in southeast Asia, where same-sex relationships are deemed illegal, Cambodia has never criminalised homosexuality in its history.
While there’s clearly work still to go, such as supporting LGBTQ rights in legislation, the country is clearly on the right path. There is a visible LGBTQ scene in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and the current monarch King Norodom Sihamoni is said to support the legalisation of same-sex marriage.
- New Year is in April
In Cambodia, New Year (Choul Chnam Thmey) is marked at the end of the traditional harvest season in mid-April. It’s well worth visiting at this time, as the New Year celebrations are utterly incredible. For around three days, an enormous, colourful festival takes place – featuring traditional dress, delicious food, games, and plenty of perfumed water being thrown around.
- It has the largest religious building in the world
You’d perhaps imagine that the Vatican in Rome was the largest religious building in the world, or maybe Westminster Abbey in London. But no – it’s Angkor Wat in Cambodia. The ruins of this larger-than-expected temple stretch over more than 500 acres.
- It has the largest freshwater lake in southeast Asia
The Tonlé Sap lake in the Lower Mekong Basin is a natural marvel. It regenerates during the monsoon season and provides irrigation for nearly half of Cambodia’s crops.
- The population is super young – for a tragic reason
More than half of the population in Cambodia is under 15 years old. And the numbers of people over the age of 50 is very small. The reason for this surprising statistic is a tragic one, as it stems from the genocide of up to 3 million people under the Khmer Rouge rule during 1975-1979.
- It home to a species of giant gecko with a ‘lucky’ chirp
When you’re in Cambodia, look out for the large tokay gecko. Or rather, listen out for it. It makes a very distinctive chirp, one which locals believe is lucky if you hear it 7 times in a row. Apparently, the number of times the gecko chirps could even tell you who you’ll marry.
- Insects are a regular part of the daily Cambodian diet
Head to any hawker market or street food stall in Cambodia and you’ll find creepy-crawlies on the menu. Everything from ants to tarantulas is eaten by locals as part of their regular diet.
- There has never been a McDonalds in Cambodia
Craving a Big Mac? You’ll not find one in Cambodia, as it has never had a branch of McDonalds – and likely never will.
Want to discover more of Cambodia’s secrets for yourself? Start planning the trip of a lifetime with your own personal Blank Canvas travel expert, and we’ll tailor a bespoke itinerary just for you.