COUNTRY GUIDE

Cambodia

In the simplest terms, Cambodia is defined by legacy, contrast and courage. Its astounding array of historical offerings proudly convey the extent of its former glory while beaches, towns and jungles remain ripe for discovery. Despite a tumultuous recent past, Khmer people’s risilence and hospitality make Cambodia a traveller’s paradise.

Cambodia 1

Airlines

International: See below under Arrival in Cambodia. 

Domestic: 4 domestic airlines are currently operating in Cambodia: Cambodia Angkor Air (K6), Cambodia Airway (KR), JC Cambodia International Airlines (QD) and Lanmei Airlines (LQ) 

All airlines are using a mixture of Boeing and Airbus planes. EXO Travel uses Cambodia Angkor Air as first choice. 

Airport Tax

Departure tax is included in the ticket price for both domestic and international flights.

Arrival in Cambodia

BY AIR

Consult your local travel agent for routings, fares and availability on flights to Cambodia. Discount websites and flight search engines may offer some good deals. Major airlines flying to Phnom Penh or Siem Reap include: Thai Airways, Bangkok airway, Vietnam Airline, Air France, Asiana Airlines, Cebu Airways, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Dragon Air, EVA Air, Jetstar Asia, Korean Air, Lao Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways, Shanghai Airlines, Silk Air, Tiger Airways and many more. Major airlines flying to Sihanoukville International Airport include Vietnam Airlines, and Air Asia.

BY LAND


Cambodia shares a border with Thailand in the west (five border crossings), Laos in the northeast (one border crossings) and Vietnam in the south-west (seven border crossings).

ARRIVAL FORMALITIES

Most visitors to Cambodia require a visa to enter the country and all travelers must have a passport valid for 6 months after their planned exit from Cambodia. Most nationalities can get a visa on arrival at the international airports (Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville) without prior registration. These Visa on Arrivals are valid for 30 days, single entry and cost USD30 and require one passport-size photo. The immigration at Siem Reap and Phnom Penh airports can arrange photo on arrival for $2 per person though we suggest to bring them with you to ensure quicker passage into the country.

Electronic Visas are now available through the Ministry’s website with a processing time of 3 days. A scanned copy of the passport and USD37 paid by credit card will issue an emailed visa which the traveler must print and bring with them.

Most border crossings accept e-visas, however it is recommended to double check with the government or EXO. Visas are available at the Thailand/Cambodia/Vietnam/Laos checkpoints, however scams are common due to the low income of border staff: it is recommended to arrange visas in advance in your home country or through the e-visa program.

ATMs

ATMs for withdrawing Khmer Riel/US Dollar are available in major airports, hotels, towns and capitals of provinces throughout Cambodia.

Most ATMs have an English language version. Ask your tour guide for help when you need to locate an ATM.

Clothing

Comfortable lightweight clothing in natural fabrics such as cotton is most suitable for traveling in Cambodia. The dress code is fairly casual as in most parts of the tropics but it is advisable to cover arms and legs in the evenings against biting insects.

Clothing that covers the shoulders and the knees are required to visit the Royal Palace, Toul Sleng Genocide Museum, Buddhist monasteries, and the temples of Angkor (long shorts that cover the knee are acceptable).

A lightweight raincoat, waterproof shoes, and a travel umbrella are a good idea in the rainy season; the umbrella can also offer useful
shade from the sun throughout the year. Shoes must be removed before entering any religious building or private home.

Credit Cards

Visa and MasterCard are now accepted in many hotels, restaurants and shops in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap but Cambodia is largely a cash society and many restaurants will not accept credit cards even in tourist areas.

If you are traveling in a local tuk tuk, make sure to have the right amount of cash with you ($1-2 or equivalent in Riel) as the drivers
are unlikely to carry lots of cash with them.
Note: While the USD is the preferred currency, there are incidences of counterfeit notes, even from ATM machines. Inspect bills carefully when receiving change or withdrawing money.

Do

Unique cultural experiences await travelers in incredible Cambodia. From the jungle-filled Angkor complex to the majestic Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, guided by local experts our extensive selection of custom private tours of Cambodia reveal the character of this beguiling country. Whether travelling alone, with a group, or with family, our Cambodia consultants will construct the ideal itinerary perfectly suited to your interests.

12 Days / 11 Nights
Cambodia

From the Mountains to the Sea in Style

  • Sunset over Mount Phousi
  • Wine and dine at fine restaurants
  • Ethnic groups of northern Laos
  • Ancient Angkor Temples
  • Beach break in south Cambodia
6 Days / 5 Nights
Cambodia

Cambodia at a Glance

  • Explore vibrant Phnom Penh
  • Discover the temples of Angkor
  • Wander through Sambor Prei Kuk
  • Take a Cambodia road trip
  • Be introduced to Khmer culture
5 Days / 4 Nights
Cambodia

A Blend of the South

  • See the South’s coastal charm
  • Cruise Kampot’s river at sunset
  • Explore historical, rugged Bokor
  • Taste Kep’s famous pepper
  • Relax on a tropical island

Electricity

Cambodia uses 220V, and a mixture of flat 2-pin, round 2-pin or 3 pin plugs. It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor. Power outages happen occasionally but most hotels have their own generators.

Entertainment

Western style entertainment is easy to find in Cambodia. Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have a wealth of good restaurants, and a large number of bars and nightclubs. In the rest of the country, entertainment is still emerging, but some foreign-oriented restaurants and bars can be found in most tourist destinations in Cambodia.

EXO can provide a list of recommended restaurants in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Food

As in many Asian countries, the staple food of the Cambodian diet is rice. This is usually served with dried, salted fish, chicken, beef or
pork. Fish is often fresh from Tonle Sap Lake and is eaten with a spicy peanut sauce called tuk trey.
Popular dishes include Orn Sam chruk, a roll of sticky rice stuffed with soya bean and chopped pork and amok, a soup of boneless fish with coconut and spices. In Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, Western food is widely available and increasingly so in the provinces.

Health

No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However, visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio.

Malaria and Dengue Fever are present in some parts of Cambodia and it is advisable to take precautions especially if traveling off the beaten track. Mosquito repellent with DEET is the most effective defense against mosquitos and is available at U-Care pharmacies in Cambodia. Please consult with your usual doctor or a doctor specialized in tropical countries before traveling.

Hours of Business

Offices are usually open from Monday to Friday from 07:30 or 08:00 until 17:00 and often close for lunch between 12:00 and 14:00.

Shops open early and close any time between 18:00 and 22:00. Most shops are open 7 days a week.

Internet

Internet access is widely available in every major city in Cambodia.

In Phnom Penh and Siem Reap there are still a few dedicated Internet cafes from which to stay in contact with your home though most hotels, cafes and restaurants offer Wi-Fi on a complimentary basis. Even in outlying regions, many hotels provide Internet access.

Insurance

Medical facilities are rather limited in Cambodia and it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before traveling. Such an insurance should cover the cost of an evacuation flight out of Cambodia (most of the time to Bangkok or Singapore) which is sometimes necessary either on a regular flight or on a special flight. For adventure tours such as cycling, proof of purchase of a travel insurance policy will be required.

In Siem Reap, the Royal Angkor International Hospital (affiliated with the Bangkok Hospital Medical Center) is the best choice, as is the Raffles Medical Clinic in Phnom Penh.

Language

Cambodia’s national language is called Khmer and unlike the other languages of the region is not a tonal language.
The written script originated in southern India. As in other former French colonies the educated older generation often speaks very good French while the younger generation prefers English.
Outside the major centers of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Battambang and the South Coast, most people speak only Khmer but it is usually no problem to find somebody who can speak some English.

Money

The currency of Cambodia is called ‘Riel’. There is, however, no need to change your currency into Riel as US dollars are the preferred currency and accepted everywhere. The un-official exchange rate generally accepted across Cambodia is 4000 Riel to 1 USD. As Cambodia has no coins, both currencies are used interchangeably, with small denomination Riel (100, 500, 1000, and 2000) used for
amounts under $1USD. Please note that ripped, torn, or old bills will not be accepted, nor will any bills with writing on them. It’s best to similarly inspect and refuse such bills that are given to you as change.

Photography

Normal print films are available in Cambodia but professional quality films (like slide films) are very difficult to find: it is better to bring your own.

In cities including Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, digital photos can easily be downloaded and loaded onto a DVD or flash drive in case you run out of memory.

Extra memory cards are readily available in the large cities but are not necessarily original versions. It is possible to have prints made in both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Ask your guide for advice if you wish to do so.

Public Holidays

1 May
Sat
Labor's day
8 March
Mon
Women's day
1 January
Fri
New Year's Day
18 November
Thu
Water Festival Days
9 November
Tue
Independance Day
5 October
Tue
Pchum Ben Days
26 April
Mon
Visakha Bochea
14 April
Wed
Khmer New Year

Reading List

  • Art & Architecture of Cambodia – Helen Ibbitson Jessup – Complemented by numerous photographs of freestanding statuary and illustrations of the temples, Jessup’s history of Cambodia from the perspective of Khmer art is a wonderful story. For those interested in Cambodian religion and culture, including the development and evolution of Khmer temple design and decoration, Jessup lays it out through an overview of Cambodia’s rich legacy of sculpture and temple carving.
  • Angkor and the Khmer Civilization – David D. Coe – For those interested in the rise of Khmer civilization from prehistory through Angkor, this is a fascinating read. Unlike other histories that focus largely on the temples, Coe’s focus is on the people, their traditions, and the development of their culture. With maps, illustrations, and colorful descriptions, Coe’s work is a fine introduction to Cambodian history and culture to complement any study of the country before, during, or after a visit.
  • A History of Cambodia – David Chandler – Chandler is an expert historian in many Southeast Asian nations, and his history of Cambodia is unparalleled. From the earliest days of the Khmer civilization, through Angkor, and including the years of the Khmer Rouge regime, Chandler lays it all out in an easy to understand yet academically researched analysis. So deep is his understanding of Cambodian history that Chandler testified in the trial of high- ranking Khmer Rouge officials in the years following the war.
  • Angkor: An Introduction to the Temples – Dawn Rooney – Rooney’s Angkor: An Introduction to the Temples has grown in girth over the years, but remains one of the most important and easy to understand guidebooks to the temples of Angkor. For those looking to gain some insight on the temples before they go, use the maps and legends to help them explore the temples’ features while in the park, or read after returning home to increase their understanding, this is the book to buy.

Religion

Buddhism is the dominant religion with 90-95% of the population. Islam is practiced by a small percentage, mainly the Cham residing near the Vietnam border and along the Mekong River; Christianity and Hinduism are practiced by less than 1% of Cambodian people.

Safety

Despite its turbulent history, Cambodia is a safe country to visit. All tourist areas have been cleared of landmines with a comparatively small amount remaining in more remote areas. As a global rule, never leave your belongings unattended and always maintain a firm grip on cameras, cell phones, and shoulder bags: be particularly vigilant while standing or walking along busy roads where thieves upon motorbikes may snatch your belongings right out of your hands!

At hotels, particularly in provincial areas, make sure your windows and doors are locked before leaving your room. Always wear a helmet and closed-toed shoes if riding on or driving a motorbike. Wear mosquito repellent and/or long pants and shirts around sunrise and sunset.

See

Our Cambodia day trips and city tours uncover the country’s hidden charms, rich culture, and fascinating local life. Discover Phnom Penh’s French colonial legacy by bicycle, cruise past sleepy fishing villages, sample Khmer cuisine or visit 8th century temples, the options are endless for engaging with this diverse country. Whatever travel style you prefer out travel consultants are ready to tailor your Cambodia experience.

Cambodia
Full Day

Vespa Countryside Life Tour

  • Zip through Siem Reap’s outskirts on the back of a Vespa
  • See what it’s like living in the shadow of the Angkor temples
  • Dine on delicious Khmer food in the middle of the countryside
Cambodia
Full Day

Phnom Penh Sightseeing

  • In-depth exploration of Cambodia’s capital
  • Delve into the past at the Royal Palace and National Museum
  • Visit sombre reminders of the country’s tragic recent history
Cambodia
Half Day

Vehicle & guide disposal Siem Reap

  • Charming gateway
  • Famed Temples of Angkor
  • Half day car and guide at disposal in Siem Reap

Shopping

Cambodian handicrafts include silks, woodcarvings, rattan weavings, handmade papers, and the krama, the traditional Cambodian scarf.
Phnom Penh and Siem Reap’s local markets are the most convenient places for shopping and there are also dozens of charity-run shops throughout the country where you can shop for a cause and pick up specialty items.
Whenever possible, try to pick up souvenirs in villages outside of the touristy areas from the artisans who made them: you’ll get a better price and those who made them will likely get more money for their work as well. Ask your guide for more information.

Stay

Our local staff handpicked only the best selection and included them here in our exclusive list of best hotels in Cambodia. We know the full range of accommodation in Cambodia intimately, visiting them regularly to ensure they meet the standards our clients have come to expect. Whether it’s floating river lodges, secluded resorts in the jungle or the grand old hotels of the cities, we have it covered.

Siem Reap & Angkor

Victoria Angkor Resort & Spa

Siem Reap & Angkor

Viroth’s Hotel

South Coast

Veranda Natural Resort

Telephone

If you have worldwide coverage, you can bring your own mobile phone and use it to make domestic or international calls. Check with your mobile phone provider for the costs before using it abroad – it may be expensive. It is quite easy to get a SIM/Micro SIM on arrival and use within Cambodia.

Cards pre-loaded with data credit cost only a few dollars and are available upon arrival at the airport. While available elsewhere, the airport is the most convenient place to pick up a local SIM card, even if you must wait a little while in a queue.

Time

Cambodia is GMT + 7 and does not operate a daylight-saving system.

Tipping

Tipping for good service is not expected but is always appreciated, especially in a country where the average annual income is incredibly low compared to Western countries. While some restaurants and bars may add 10% service, it is generally not included.

Leaving $1 or up to 10% is generally adequate. It is customary to tip tour guides and drivers at the end of the tour.

Hotel porters should also be tipped. Do not let a guide talk you into tipping more than you plan to. It is totally up to you who you tip, when and how much and should be based on service received.

Travel Checks

Traveler’s checks can be exchanged at banks and some hotels but can be difficult to change outside of the major cities.

WATER

It is not advisable to drink tap water but is generally safe to brush your teeth with it, particularly in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, where the water is technically potable. While bottled mineral water is safe and available everywhere, there are also numerous participants in the Refill not Landfill program where you can refill a water bottle, usually for free ( map of refill stations ). EXO prefers to work with restaurants, bars, and hotels that do not use single-use plastic water bottles. At such establishments, water served from pitchers or contained in reusable glass or stainless steel containers is clean and safe to drink.

Ice cubes in drinks is generally OK in most hotels and restaurants but it is best to avoid it on street stalls or in country areas (generally speaking, cube ice is safe to drink; shaved ice is also made from potable water but can become contaminated during the transportation process if it comes into contact with an unclean surface). Some minor stomach problems are always possible when travelling in exotic countries. Bring a supply of your usual anti-diarrhoea medicine or visit a U-Care pharmacy for moderate symptoms.

Weather

Cambodia is warm year-round. Dry season, running November through May, encompasses two seasons: cool (November-February) and hot (March-May). Cool season is when most travellers visit Cambodia. Wet season runs May through September and is a good time to visit Angkor.

REGION
1 Jan
2 Feb
3 Mar
4 Apr
5 May
6 Jun
7 Jul
8 Aug
9 Sep
10 Oct
11 Nov
12 Dec
SIEM REAP /
PHNOM PENH
BEACHES

Pleasant Weather, No Rain

High Heat and Humidity

Tropical Climate, Possible Intermittent Rain

Tropical Climate, High Chances of Rain

Possible Risk of Typhoons and Storms

Cool to Cold Temperature (At Night)

Where Next?

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