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Countries Information & Lifestyle
 Cambodia Cambodia

Country Information & Lifestyle

 The Kingdom of Wonder

The Kingdom of Wonder

Welcome to the magnificent Kingdom of Cambodia, the land of ancient and rich culture of the Khmer civilization. Known also known as the Kingdom of Wonder, Cambodia is home to natural beauty, magnificent temples, pristine beaches and a wonderful rural charm. From its mystical jungle-entwined Angkor temples to its pristine white-sand beaches, Cambodia offers everything from exciting urban bustle to breathtaking natural parks.

Cambodia lies in the southwestern part of the Indochina peninsula completely within the tropics and is bordered by Thailand and Laos to the north, Vietnam to the south and east, and the Gulf of Thailand to the south and southwest. Much of Cambodia is relatively flat with vast tracts of land given over to rice production. Other areas of Cambodia are mountains and include the Dangrek, Cardamom and Elephant mountain ranges.

Cambodia is bathed in almost all year sunshine and has two distinct seasons, the dry from November to April, and the monsoon which runs from May to October. The coolest and most comfortable time to visit is from October to January.

The capital, Phnom Penh offers a lot more than meets the eye -- seductive and atmospheric colonial throwbacks mingle with this great Southeast Asian city's bustling modern-day development. Almost completely abandoned during the Khmer Rouge period, Phnom Penh is slowly reinventing itself.

The once sleepy streets are developing into a chaotic mess of motorcycles, cars, minibuses, ox carts and remorques, battling for space. Cyclos weave through the traffic with ease, broad boulevards, old colonial buildings, parks and green spaces that remind one of the country's French heritage, and above all its people who always have a smile for you.

There is plenty to see and do in and around the city. Visit the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda, the National Museum, Wat Phnom, the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and take a tuk tuk to the Cheung Ek(The Killing Fields). There are several markets selling carvings, paintings, silks, silver, gems and even antiques, and an evening cruise on the river to watch the beautiful sunset is a wonderful way to finish off a hectic day.

Not all of Cambodia's provinces are worth the traveller visiting but obviously the most important is Siem Reap where Angkor, the capital of the Khmer empire from 9th to 13th century is situated. You can visit the thousands of ancient temples, Angkor Wat being the most famous. During these periods, the Khmers built hundreds of temples and Buddhist monasteries throughout Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. These temples converge in an area 400 sq km just north of Siem Reap town and Tonle Sap Lake.

Just as one is never prepared for the enormous size and overwhelming beauty of Angkor, one is never ready to leave it. Its magic will go with you wherever fate and the gods may take you to colour your thoughts and dreams to life's very end. The temples remain with an enigmatic grandeur, as a testimony to the Empire that symbolised the country at the present day.

Takeo province is in the south east of the country, on the southern coast of the Gulf of Thailand, and is often referred to as The Cradle of Cambodian Civilisation. Takeo has prett temples, natural scenery, and a series of canals and waterways that were cut through the surrounding countryside a very long time ago, connecting towns, villages, rivers and bordering Vietnam.

The province of Mondulkiri is full of natural beauty, with thickly forested mountains, powerful waterfalls and the lush green rolling hills of the western side. This is home to one of Cambodia's last populations of tigers and elephants and other rare wildlife. The world's largest population of black-shanked doucs, unique primates, lives here. The Phnong, an ethnic minority in Cambodia, live in the province's forests.

The town of Sen Monorom is a quiet, but beautiful town, nestled in the hills and a good base for exploring the area. At present it's much undeveloped, which gives you a feeling of going somewhere off the beaten tourist trail. Within easy travelling distance are a number of waterfalls the most beautiful being Boo Sra Waterfall.

Kratie is the least populated province and the people make their living on the riverbanks of the Mekong. Beyond the riverbanks it is a remote place with almost no population and thick-forested areas. The stretch of the river around Krati town is home to a group of rare sweet-water Irrawaddy dolphins which are the main attraction of the town.

Ratanakiri is a remote province with 70% hill tribes and ethnic minorities known as "Chunchiet" living harmoniously with nature. It is possible to visit the Khmer Loeu villages and an array of natural sites such as the crystal clear Yeak Laom volcanic lake - incredible fresh waterfalls, gem mines, and dense virgin forests with exotic flora and fauna, and rolling hills.

Krong Pailin province is known to much of the world for having long been a strong point of the Khmer Rouge during the 1980s and 1990s, remaining under their control long after they were defeated in 1979.

Oddar Me anchey is covered by the Dangrek Mountains which was used as a military base by the Khmer Rouge when they fought against the Khmer Republic. Nowadays Oddar Meanchey Province is one of the most landmine areas in Cambodia.

Kampot, 80 kilometres southwest of Phnom Penh, in the coastal strip with the Gulf of Thailand, features a beautiful coastline, beaches, deserted islands, wooded mountains, caves, a national park, waterfalls, and a picturesque colonial town.

Koh Kong has a very long undeveloped coastline and a mountainous, forested and largely inaccessible interior, which embraces part of the Cardamom Mountains, the biggest rain forest of Southeast Asia.

Sihanouk Ville is a small province on the Gulf of Thailand with some beautiful beaches and nearby islands where it is possible to visit for a day trip or the more remote ones take a few days and really unwind.

Why not tour the Cambodian islands, one of the few places left in the world where you can enjoy beautiful stretches of white sand beach all to yourself. Decades of isolation have left the Cambodian islands a preserved, pristine wilderness.

Today a Cambodia islands tour offers an unrivalled experience of over 440 km of unspoiled, virgin coastline. The islands are a divers dream of picture-postcard bays, powder soft sandy beaches against a backdrop of lush rain forest canopy and not a whole lot else. Visit the Cambodia Islands now and indulge in your own desert island fantasy.

The staple food for Cambodians is rice and almost every meal includes a bowl of rice. Freshwater fish plays a large part in the diet and port and chicken are also popular. An integral part of Khmer cuisine is a pungent type of fermented fish paste known as prahoek.

Black pepper is the preferred choice when heat is required in a dish and Star Anise is a must when caramelising meat in palm sugar like pork in the dish known as pak lov. Khmer curries and stews main ingredients are spices such as turmeric, galangal, ginger, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves.

Unusual vegetables such as winter melon, bitter melon, luffa and yard long beans can be found in soups and stews, and mushrooms, cabbage, baby corn, bamboo shoots, fresh ginger, kai-lan, snow peas and bok choy are commonly used in many different stir-fry dishes. Banana blossoms are sliced and added to some noodle dishes like nom banh chok. The popular Khmer dish called amok uses a kind of catfish steamed in a savory coconut-based curry.

You simply must try some of the popular dishes such as Bok L'hong, the Khmer variation of the Laotian papaya salad, Cha knyey, Cambodian peppered chicken with ginger root, Caw is a braised pork or chicken stew with whole eggs flavoured win caramelised palm sugar or Bai cha, a Khmer variation of fried rice which includes Chinese sausages, garlic, soy sauce and herbs, usually eaten with pork.

Samlor kari is a traditional spicy coconut chicken curry, Loc Lac is stir-fried cubed beef served with fresh red onions, served on a bed of lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes and dipped in a sauce consisting of lime juice and black pepper and Yao hon is a Khmer-style hot pot for dipping beef, shrimp, spinach, dill, napa cabbage, rice noodles and mushrooms. These are just some of the delicious dishes that will make your mouth water.

Before we leave Cambodia you need to know a little about the people. The Khmer Loeu are the non-Khmer highland tribes in Cambodia and most live in scattered temporary villages that only have a few inhabitants. The Khmer Loeu are found namely in the northeastern provinces of Rattanakiri, Stung Treng, Mondulkiri and Crate. These villages usually are governed by a council of local elders or by a village headman. Houses vary from huge multi-family long houses to small single family structures, they may be built close to the ground or on stilts.

The Cambodian Chams are divided into two groups, the orthodox and the traditional- bases on their religious practices. The Chams of both groups typically live in villages inhabited only by other Chams; the villages may be along the shores of watercourses, or they may be inland. The inhabitants of the river villages engage in fishing and growing vegetables. They trade fish to local Khmer for rice. The women in these villages earn money by weaving.

Well we are sure that this "Taste of Cambodia will wet you appetite so that you make a trip, you will not be disappointed, there is so much beauty and friendliness this gorgeous country and her people will captivate you.

Purchasing a Property

Foreigners can purchase property in Cambodia with some restrictions.

Legislation passed at the beginning of April 2010 allows foreigners to own property in Cambodian buildings above the ground floor. This works well for apartments in condominiums or even older builders in cities but nor for a villa in a residential area except if you can mange to buy the upper floor.

The following options show how it is possible to buy almost anything.

Under Cambodian Land Law, foreign nationals cannot hold a 100% stake in real property within the Kingdom (except for the case of the above mentioned). However, legal mechanisms and documentation exist that allow foreigners to fully control the purchase, sale and use of real property in which they have invested, and benefit fully from any profits they make. There are basically 5 Options.

Option 1 Forming a Company with a Cambodian Citizen.

The safest method by which foreign nationals can purchase real property within Cambodia is to form a limited company in partnership with a Cambodia citizen. Any real property purchased for investment is then registered in the name of the company. The company must have a minimum 51% Cambodia shareholding.

Option 1 Forming a Company with a Cambodian Citizen. The safest method by which foreign nationals can purchase real property within Cambodia is to form a limited company in partnership with a Cambodia citizen. with a Cambodian citizen. Any real property purchased for investment is then registered in the name of the company. The company must have a minimum 51% Cambodian shareholding.

However, careful allocation of shares, and careful drafting of the rights attached to share certificates can ensure the foreigner's full control of the company and its assets. Additional mortgage, security and Power of Attorney documents can also be created to accompany ownership documentation. Following this procedure ensures security for the foreigner's investment.

Under this Option, the foreigner is expected to pay 100% of the purchase cost of real property plus any construction costs. If the real property is later sold, 100% of the sale price goes directly to the foreigner. This includes any profit accrued as a result of the property increasing in value. This issue should be detailed carefully in any company and/or sales documentation. Of course the choice of your partners is of prime importance.

Option 2: Purchase plus long-term rental

This method allows foreign nationals to purchase real property and register the Title Deed in the name of a Cambodian citizen. The foreigner and the Cambodian then enter into a long-term rental agreement by which the Cambodian citizen leases the property back to the foreigner. Lease periods can last up to 99 years.

The problem with this method, and why it has few takers, is the psychological attachment to freehold ownership. Most foreign investors expect full ownership of something they buy. The principal of renting back property that has already been purchased is an anathema to most foreigners.

However, correct drafting of the terms of the property holding and lease arrangements make this a reasonably secure method of controlling real property in Cambodia. Under this method, the foreigner may sell the property at any time and keep 100% of the revenue from the sale. The Cambodian citizen is not permitted to disagree with or obstruct the sale. The foreigner retains the original copy of the new Title Deed as a security precaution: sale of real property is impossible without the original copy of the Title Deed.

Though the foreigner can sell the property at any time, the Cambodian citizen's signature or thumbprint is generally required before any sale can take place. A good working relationship between both parties is therefore very important.

Option 3: Registering Real Property with a Cambodian Citizen

This method is very similar to Option 2 but requires 100% trust in the Cambodian citizen. Foreign nationals have rights, under the Kingdom's Statutes, to choose a Cambodian in whose name their Title Deed is registered. That is, a foreign national can purchase property and register the purchased property in the name of the Cambodian citizen.

Once the Title Deed is transferred to the Cambodian citizen, the foreigner retains possession of the new Title Deed. This is a security precaution that protects the foreigner's interests by preventing the Cambodian citizen selling the land or property: sales are impossible without the Title Deed. Transferring the Cambodian's rights to the foreigner via a Mortgage or Lease Agreement provides additional security for the foreigner's investment.

Copies of the Title Deed and any mortgage or lease agreements must be registered with the Department of Provincial Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction, as well as the appropriate District and central government departments that handle land registry. Most importantly, a copy of the Land Title and any Mortgage or Lease Agreements must be lodged with the Cadastral Land Registry Office.

The Cambodian citizen in whose name the Title is registered does not need to be resident in Cambodia. For example, the Title can be registered with a Cambodian citizen living in the USA or Australia. The Cambodian citizen must be able to prove Cambodian nationality.

Option 4: Marriage to a Cambodian National
Foreign buyers who are married to a Cambodian national can register real property using the name of their wife/husband on the Title Deed. It is also possible for a foreign national married to a Cambodian citizen and resident in the country for a long period to apply for Cambodian citizenship. In the event of citizenship being granted, Cambodian Law holds that land can be registered in the names of both parties. Neither partner can subsequently sell the land or property without mutual agreement.

In the event of divorce or separation, division of the land or property is dependent on the conditions under which divorce or separation takes place, and the decision of any court ruling or arbitration relating to the divorce. It is often source of conflict between the divorcees.

Option 5: Acquisition of Honorary Cambodian Citizenship
A foreigner may be granted honorary Cambodian citizenship if he or she donates a significant sum of money to the Royal Government of Cambodia for the purposes of benefiting the people of Cambodia. Foreigners who have made a special impact or rendered exceptional help to the Kingdom may also be granted this honour in recognition of their expertise or altruism.

One consequence of being granted honorary citizenship is that it becomes possible for a foreign national to acquire a 100% right of ownership over real property purchased within the Kingdom. This arrangement is recognised by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction for the Kingdom of Cambodia, and by the Royal Government.


Honorary citizenship is recognised by the Royal Government of Cambodia as a legitimate means of purchasing real property within the Kingdom but it does not affect the foreigner's original nationality or citizenship in any way

Fees & Taxes

Once you have chosen your ideal property, a reservation agreement is to be signed with the seller and a reservation deposit needs to be paid (will form part of the purchase price).

At this stage, buyer should involve a local legal expert to:
advise on Cambodia land law, taxation, verify the Title Certificate with the Land Office, checking for potential liens or encumbrances. Obtain information on the property from the Commune Council Official, obtain the certificate of incorporation of the seller's company and other documents shows the track record and capacity of the seller assessing the risk of the preliminary sale and purchase agreement and negotiate some terms (if the seller is flexible of amending the terms).

Once the buyer is satisfied with the result of the aforesaid due diligence check, buyer can enter into a preliminary purchase contract with the seller. At this stage, the first instalment/payment is often required.

Once the property is completed and of the satisfaction of buyer's inspection, the seller and buyer can apply for registration at the District Land Office of the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning & Construction (MLMUPC).
Paying Tax

The seller and buyer shall then pay transfer tax to the Tax Collection Office. The seller and buyer can then return to the Cadastral Office to complete the registration process.
Once all the above processes are completed, buyer can finally obtain the Title Certificate from the Municipal Land Office.

Taxation when purchasing/acquiring property.

Stamp Duty 4% payable on transfer of property or transfer of ownership of the land without any building under the image of selling, exchanging, receiving aid, putting shares capital in a company.

Legal Stamp Duty KHR 100, KHR 200, KHR 500, KHR 1,000 KHR 2,000 Levied on all administrative, legal and extra-legal acts, including posting on public notices.

Taxation when owning/holding property.

Profit Tax 20% on rental profit subject to 10% withholding tax.

Real Estate Tax NIL (unless on unused land, which is taxed at 2% of the market value of the land). Levied on unused land, including unused land with buildings existing in an abandoned state and is to be paid by the owner of the land.
VAT 105 applies to all supplies other than exports and non-taxable supplies.

Taxation when selling/disposing of property.

Profit tax 20% on the profit
Turnover Tax 2% flat rate
Inheritance Tax Nil

Cambodia has not yet concluded any Double Tax Relief and Double Tax Treaties with any foreign country. Residents can, however, obtain tax credit for income taxes paid overseas.

Visas

All nationalities entering Cambodia are required to have a valid passport, return ticket and Cambodia visa. Tourist and business visas are valid for one month beginning with the date of entry into Cambodia. Visas can be obtained in advance or obtained at the airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and at all major border crossings.

To obtain a 30-day visa on arrival in Cambodia you will need two passport-sized photographs and a passport that is valid for a minimum six months beyond the date of entry into Cambodia. It is strongly advised to check the current situation before flying.

There is a departure tax on all domestic and international flights. This tax must be paid in U.S. dollars. Cambodia regularly imposes fines for overstay of an expired visa.


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