A trip to Cambodia: Useful Information

Arrival and Departure

One-month tourist visas are available on arrival at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports and all land border crossings. Tourist visas on arrival cost USD 20.00 and require one passport-sized photograph.

Airport Taxes

Departure from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap International Airports:
Domestic Destination: 6 USD
International Destination: 25 USD

Electricity

220V, 50 Hz. Note that particularly in remote areas power cuts are not uncommon.

Money

The Riel is Cambodia’s official currency (USD 1 = 4,000 riel). US dollars are widely accepted throughout the country. Most hotels in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville accept international credit cards such as Visa and Mastercard. Traveller’s cheques can be easily cashed in most banks, sometimes subject to a small charge. ATMs are likewise common in the major towns, but may not be available in remote areas. It is therefore advisable to carry sufficient amounts of cash when travelling to remote places.

Health

Although medical care is improving fast in Cambodia, it is still rudimentary in remote areas. It is recommended that all travellers consult their doctor or travel centre prior to leaving for Cambodia. Health insurance is a must and should include evacuation coverage in case of a serious emergency.

What to pack

As temperatures in Cambodia are tropical throughout the year, only light clothing is needed. The sun is very intense, so bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. During the rainy season a light raincoat will be useful. When travelling in the countryside mosquito repellent is a must. Good shoes are needed for hiking or exploring the temples. During the cooler months a sweater or jacket may be useful when travelling to the mountainous provinces of Mondulkiri and Rattanakiri.

Food

Rice and fish are the staple diet for Cambodians. Specialities include fairly mild curries, sour soups and meat dishes such as Loc Lac (Cambodian stir fried beef). Cambodia’s national dish is Amok, which is fish steamed with coconut and lemongrass in a banana leaf. Chinese and Vietnamese and dishes are also common. Western food is readily available in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap.

Safety

Cambodia has become a safe country in which to travel, and violent crimes against travellers are rare. Most hotels offer safety boxes for storing valuables and money. In some areas it is imperative to stick to marked paths because of the danger of unexploded landmines. Always travel with a knowledgeable guide when visiting remote places.

Customs

It is important to respect local dress standards, especially when visiting religious sites. Covering the upper arms and legs is appropriate. Always remove your shoes before entering a religious building or someone’s home. When seated make sure that the soles of your feet do not point towards other people and never point with your feet to any object. Do not touch the head of other people, as this is considered rude. Be diplomatic when discussing political issues.

Language

The official national language of Cambodia is Khmer, also referred to as Cambodian. French is spoken by many of the older generation, while English is the first foreign language among the younger generations. Even though Khmer grammar is relatively simple, the pronunciation and script, especially for Westerners learners, can be challenging.

Tipping

Tips are not traditionally expected but highly appreciated in a country as poor as Cambodia. Even small tips can make a real difference to the recipient’s income. It is appropriate to make a small donation at the end of a visit to a pagoda or other religious site.

Time

The time difference between Cambodia and Europe is 6 hours (CET +6). During the European daylight saving time this is reduced to 5 hours.