I have been meaning to post a rough guide to Cambodia covering things to know before travelling to Cambodia. In terms of Cambodian laws for tourists, what to bring when travelling to Cambodia, travel tips and advice on what to not do in Cambodia, things to be aware of, scams to know about as well as safety when you are in Cambodia.
Hopefully, the Cambodia travel hacks and advice below will be easily digestible so that you know the basics when visiting the beautiful and affordable destination in South East Asia. I have already posted tips on where to stay in Siem Reap, things to do beyond the temples as well as the best temples to check out in Siem Reap.
This post will focus more all the things you need to know to help you prepare for your trip to Cambodia, whether starting in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap or Sihanoukville all based on what I learned before, after my visit and my Cambodia travel experience from my trip to Cambodia.
Cambodian Travel Tips – Things To Know Before Travelling To Cambodia
- Cambodia Visa Information: First things first the most important thing to know before visiting Cambodia is your visa eligibility. I travel with a Zambian passport so that means I can get the Visa on arrival. While some may need to apply in advance for the Cambodia visa, or get VOA, there are some countries that do need to get one. These include Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, China, Cuba, Ecuador, Honduras, Hungary, Mongolia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Lao, Malaysia, Russia, Seychelles, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. The tourist visa costs $30, you also need to travel with passport photo when you arrive at the airport. Valid for 30 days. Yes, Americans need a visa to travel to Cambodia and so to British and EU tourists.
- Cambodia is located in South East Asia and has a population of just over 15 million. The official language is Khmer but English is widely spoken in addition to Chinese and French.
- The main religions practiced are Theravada Buddhism, about 90% of the population, followed by Islam, Hinduism then Christianity.
- Currency: The Cambodian currency is Riel but you will mostly be using dollars as everything is also quoted in dollars. I would advise you to have smaller notes too. Most of the tuk-tuk will be quoting $2 or $ for rides. Massages will be about $5 or $6 dollars or $10 for an hour. So always better to have change with you. When it comes to what currency to take to Cambodia; take dollars with you. Overall though the cost of travel to Cambodia is reasonably cheap.
- The government is a constitutional monarchy, this is where the king serves as the head of the state and the prime minister is the head of the government. Do not make any disparaging remarks about the government or monarchy.
- Cambodia laws for tourists – When it comes to Cambodia travel tips and advice about local customs, it would be wise to know that when visiting Buddhist pagodas, you need to remove your hat. Also remove footwear when entering buildings or if invited in homes. For women, cannot touch the monks. Also ask before taking their photos or at least be respectful and discreet about it.
- PDAs: Public displays of affection are taboo so refraining from making out in public as you may offend local and religions locals in the cities and towns you are visiting.
- Transport and getting around: Renting a bike from your hotel or guest house offers the quickest and efficient way of getting around say Siem Reap.
- You can get a rickshaw or tuk-tuk for the prices of $2-5 for short journeys. Make sure you ask the price before getting on. Also make sure you have small bills.
- Phnom Penh has metered taxis, just make sure they start the meter when you get in the car.
- Phnom Penha has boat trips as well for tours as well as getting around.
- There are buses too for local and intercity buses. Some of these also run overnight bus services too.
- Angkor Wat runs elephant rides but I would strongly advise you not to ride elephants when you are in Cambodia or any of the South East Asian countries where this is still very common.
- You can find ATMs easily in the city but while you settle in as well as when you arrive, its best of have dollars to hand. You need dollars in cash for the VOA as well as transportation too unless your hotel arranges something.
- Credit cards are widely accepted in Cambodia.
- Make sure you have come vaccinated. There are plenty of stray dogs in Cambodia as well as plenty of mosquitoes. We were travelling around Asia for over a month so better safe than sorry. Make sure you check which ones you need and get them done before travelling or when you arrive if they are cheaper; especially for those coming from the USA where medical insurance is super expensive.
- Make sure you have travel insurance. Cambodia even though safe, does have issues with bag snatching.
- While some may opt for travelling by bus for intercity travel, I would recommend using the national airlines as they offer great service, are cheap and offer good luggage allowance. Flights from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh can be as little as £34.
- Tipping in Cambodia is not compulsory but is appreciated.
- The easiest way to get around towns is get walking but for longer distances, you can hire a tuk-tuk for a single journey or whole day.
- You can arrange to have a driver and tuk-tuk for a day for about $20. They can take you around the temples and wait for you at each one. You can ask your hotel to help you arrange this.
- Revealing clothes in Cambodia, if you are not on the beach are a no-no! Locals actually find this offensive. So be respectful of local customs and cover up!
- Many of the temples are in ruins, so don’t make an already bad situation worse but sit on statues or leaning on them.
- Monks are highly respected and revered in Cambodia. Please be ask when taking pictures of them and with them.
- Smoking is not allowed within Angkor Wat Park
Cambodia Travel Safety – Is Cambodia Safe?
Cambodia is relatively safe for tourists. Our visit to Cambodia was great with no major issues. While Cambodia is safe as a destination to travel to, just be aware of the scams, especially in the towns and markets.
You have people who will pretend to be hungry and use children to make you buy them milk for the child. Sometimes will even go as far as using children where you know the child is over 3 years old and no longer drinking baby’s milk.
This is all a scam and mostly which shopkeepers are in on.
Also, note to keep your bags close. If walking make sure the back is away from the roadside. When riding tuk-tuks keep bags low and not noticably visible. This is to avoid bag snatchings which have been known to happen.
Khmer – Cambodia Language Basics
Learn the basics, things like how to say thank you in Cambodian language.
Hello(informal/formal) Soos-a-day / Chim Reap Soo-ah
How are you? Tah(I) nee-ah(k) soksa-bye tay?
I am fine, thanks Knyom soksa-bye ah-koon
What is your name? Tah(I) nee-ah(k) chmoo-ah
My name is…. Knyom chmoo-ah….
Excuse me/Sorry Sum-toe
Thank You Ah-koon
Thank you very much Ah-koon chran
Goodbye Chim Reap Lee-ah
See you soon Choo-up knea chah-p chah-p
Best Currency For Cambodia
As I mentioned above, while the currency for Cambodia is Riel, the best currency for Cambodia when you visit is the dollar. When we were visiting from the UK we changed our UK currency to dollars for our visit to Cambodia.
How Much Money To Bring To Cambodia
How much money you take to Cambodia will depend on your travel style. There are luxury hotels as well as budget accommodation in Cambodia. Hostel beds cost as little $5 for a night and hotel rooams for budget and midrange can be as low as $50 a night with luxury or 5 star hotels being in the hundreds of dollars a night.
Once you factor in how much money it will cost for your accommodation style for the duration of your trip then factor in the Angkor Wat pass which is about $70 for the 3 day pass and more for the 7 day pass, there are other tours in Cambodia you might wont to do, travel between cities. Flights between cities cost between £35 and £80 with Cambodian airlines.
Food in Cambodia is also super cheap as are many other things. You can also pay for hotels and many other things by card. I would start off by bring between $300-500 cash for a 2 week trip. That will cover food, tours, massages, drinks and other outings. The rest of the larger expenses you can pay by card. You can also book your tours in Cambodia in advance.
What I Need To travel to Cambodia – Packing
I will cover what you need to bring with your and what to pack for Cambodia in a separate trip but in the meantime make sure you pack the following:
- Passport and copies of documents
- Emergency contacts
- First aid kit
- Personal hygiene items.
- Hand Sanitiser
- Sun cream
- Mosquito repellent
- Appropriate clothing particularly for visits to the temple(avoid shorts at temples)
- Maxi dresses
- Loose-fitting clothes
- Comfortable walking shoes, sandals, flip flops and walking shoes.
- Cash in dollars – make sure you have small bills
- Camera and extra batteries
Best Time To Visit Cambodia
The best time to visit Cambodia is between November and February when weather is cool and breezy. The temperature is between 25oC and 30oC.
The weather in May- September is rainy but still warm at around 25-32oC. April to October is really hot and wet as well with temperatures between 32oC and 40oC.
I definitely would avoid visiting during this hot and wet season. We visited in December which I found to be the best time to visit as the weather was dry but not too hot.
Planning Your Trip To Cambodia
- Flights: Search for the best flight deals to Cambodia on Expedia and Ebookers.
- Hotels: Book your accommodation in advance. Search for the best deals on hotels on Booking.com or Hotels.com.
- Travel Insurance – be sure to make sure you have travel insurance covering accidents, loss of property, and cancellations.
- Tours: While you need to buy a pass for the Angkor Wat temples when you get to Siem Reap, you can book other tours in Cambodia in advance.
- Visa: Check Travel scape to see if you need a visa for Cambodia
- Exploring Ta Prohm – The Tomb Raider Temple
- A Taste Of Gelato In Siem Reap
- Visiting Banyon Temple
- Why You Cannot Miss Out On Banteay Kdei Temple
- What Know Tells You About Angkor Wat
Pin For Later