If Cambodia is on your next travel lists, you are about to revel in the beauty of its place. The kingdom of Cambodia is home to attractive sceneries, stunning beaches, pagodas, rich culture, tradition, religion, and lovely people. All in all, Cambodia is an ideal destination for many vacationers from all around the world.
Given below are 27 essential tips and information you should know before you travel to the kingdom of wonders. Without further ado, let’s get you on with the lists.
1. You will need a Visa
You will need to apply for a Visa to get to Cambodia. You can obtain it before your departure through the Cambodian Embassy or acquire a Tourist Visa upon your arrival which will cost you $30USD and valid for 30 days. Just ensure that you possess a valid passport, six months from the expiry date and a recent passport-sized photo to acquire the tourist permit.
2. You will need a blend of currencies
The official currency of Cambodia is Riel, but you will need to pay in American dollars for anything that charges more than 1$. And for any small transactions less than 1$, you get or pay in Riel. If you wish to withdraw or exchange your currencies, you can do it from any local ATM in Cambodia. But the American dollar is highly recommended as it is easier to trade and widely used everywhere.
3. Keep your currency notes crisp and wrinkle-free
Cambodians refuse to accept old, wrinkled or partially-torn notes. Always produce a crispy and torn-free currency note when you go buying things from these people to save yourself from the hassles.
4. A little Khmer goes a long way
People of Cambodia speak Khmer language and knowing a bit of it goes a long way. Nobody expects you to master the language but try and pick up some easy and basic phrases of Khmer before you venture there. I have provided some easy phrases and expressions of Khmer below:
Hello – Sou Sdey
How are you? – Soksaby?
Thank you – Ah Kun
Sorry – Sohm Tou
Goodbye – Li hi
5. The locals speak English too!
If you cannot speak Khmer, don’t fret! The locals can speak English far better than any native English speaker. So cast your worries aside as you will have no trouble interacting with the locals around the town.
6. Do not give food or buy anything from local children
Never buy any trinkets from children, get them any food or offer money when they come asking. By doing that, you are unknowingly encouraging their parents to make a living by letting them roam in the streets begging from the tourists instead of sending them to school. It will mean devaluing education, and therefore, denies these children of getting any primary schooling. You may be tempted to buy some goods from them as a kind gesture, but resist yourself. Make sure you don’t fall for their sad and cute looks. The Government of Cambodia and NGOs have advised the tourists against such gestures and instead to donate to local schools and charity organizations.
7. Never ride the elephants
No matter how much you wish to ride the elephants, never accept such an offer. It is entirely unacceptable to ride elephants because of the mistreatment of the animals involved. Don’t ever consider riding those poor animals as that would mean promoting animal tourism which is utterly horrific. Educating yourself and others to voice out the issue on the cruelty towards animals is necessary to bring some change in peoples’ mindsets to rethink about their choice.
8. Catch a Tuk Tuk to go around town
You will enjoy the ride on the back of a Tuk Tuk to get around the street in Cambodia. Taking a Tuk Tuk is more fun, comfortable, and affordable than getting a taxi. Make sure you bargain the fare with the person before you hop on to the Tuk Tuk. It’s an enjoyable ride, and the person will take you to the place you wish to visit in no time.
9. Always wear sunglasses and a face mask
Invest yourself in good sunglasses and face mask. When you are riding on the back of a Tuk Tuk, these items will come in handy. The face mask will help a lot in preventing the dirt from getting into your nose, and mouth and the sunglasses will keep the gravel away from your eyes.
10. You may need an Umbrella
Carry an Umbrella with you when you roam around town especially in places like Angkor Wat to shade yourself from the scorching sun. Besides, it will do you a lot good and save you from the heavy rain and storms that occur mostly in the afternoon during monsoon.
11. It gets scorching and humid
The climate in Cambodia is so hot and humid that you will feel like you would melt as an ice-cream would. So it is vital that you get up early at dawn and go sight-seeing to evade the warmest part of the day. It gets incredibly humid for real. Keep yourself hydrated at all times, wear an SPF cream, avoid going out in the midday sun and wear thin cotton garments.
12. Avoid drinking the tap water
Avoid it at all costs to avert an upset stomach. Go for bottled water instead and carry it around with you. Just don’t drink the tap water or brush your teeth with it. It is not advisable.
13. Brace yourself for some questionable toilets
Be informed that Cambodia has some very questionable public toilets. Thousands of tourists use it daily, and it is gross indeed! Just be prepared for it.
14. Bag- snatching happens for real in Phnom Penh
Beware of bag-snatchers and pick-pockets. Always keep your bag close with you in crowded markets so nobody can snatch it from you. Store your valuable things like the passport at your hotel where it is safe. There are chances wherein even on the back of a Tuk Tuk, local gangster will run after you, snatch your bag and then hopping on the back of a scooter will speed away in the blink of an eye. That’s dangerous, so stay alert and keep watch always and keep your cell phones and wallets away from prying eyes.
15. Watch out for the meal and baby milk scams
Siem Reap and Phnom Penh have got frauds walking about in the streets. A lovely young girl approaches you with a small baby in her arms and asks for a hot meal. She said she is starving and pointed towards a restaurant nearby. That’s a trap, and you must not fall into it! Most often the restaurant owner and the girls divide the money after making you pay enormous bills for the meal.
Another notorious scam involves baby milk. A woman approaches you and tells you she needs milk to feed her baby and not money. What happens next will leave you spending $20 or more for a tin of milk. As soon as you are out of sight, the woman returns the liquid to the shopkeeper, and they split the money between themselves.
These two scams pose as a real danger as crime organizations in Cambodia mostly oversee these. Such instances keep on happening on many occasions. Just be prepared to answer a flat no when you face such situations and walk away calmly from there.
16. Visit the temples at sunrise
Make sure you visit temples, especially the Grand Palace earlier in the day to avoid the big crowds. I suggest you arrive there at the opening time. The Angkor Wat remains crowded almost all the time, particularly in the morning and evening, so it depends on whenever you wish to visit.
17. Wear an appropriate outfit when you visit temples
Cover up yourself when you visit the Angkor Wat and the Grand Palace. These are religious sites, which means you need to dress appropriately like, pants or a knee-length skirt and a T-shirt. To gain access into the temples, wear dresses that cover your legs and shoulders. Always remember you are in a conservative country.
18. Be respectful around Monks
Always treat the Monks with respect as they are highly honored and upheld in Cambodian culture. The ladies especially should be mindful when they are around these Monks and take care not to sit too close to them. Be courteous and ask before you take a picture with a Monk.
19. You will need a temple permit if you are visiting Siem Reap
You will require a Temple pass, known as an Angkor Pass to get around these religious sites. You can buy the ticket at the processing center on Angkor Wat road.
- One-day visit ticket costs USD 37
- Three-day pass USD 62 for a three-day visit, and
- USD 72 for consecutive seven-day visits.
The processing center will take your photo and issue the pass on the spot. Retain the pass safely with you and make sure you don’t lose it.
20. Siem Reap is very safe
Siem Reap is a small tourist town, and safer. Tourists crowd the area, and I feel quite secure roaming around even during the late evening. The place attracts many tourists, and the locals depend on tourism for their livelihood, and I believe that explains why the area is safe. There are not many pickpockets or bag snatchers though you should watch out for some scammers.
21. Carry tissues and a hand sanitizer wherever you go
Public toilets in Cambodia scarcely have a tissue paper roll or soap for use there. So I advise you to prepare yourself in advance.
22. There are hungry mosquitoes
Keep yourself away from those blood-hungry mosquitoes by carrying some mosquitos’ repellent spray and use it liberally when you are out. Save yourself from dengue fever. Keep yourself safe at all times.
23. Bugs and spiders are a delicacy in Cambodia
The locals in Cambodia eat weird insects like crickets, snakes, spiders. It is hard to believe, but that is the truth. You will find vendors selling these insects and reptiles in Pub Street. You must also know that the vendors will charge money if you take a picture of these weird things.
24. You can get a SIM Card easily and at a cheaper rate
SIM Cards are easy to get in Cambodia. You can get one from the vendors when you arrive at the airport. It costs only $3 for 2GB of data, valid for seven days. It makes it easier for you to browse for an excellent hotel to stay in and good restaurants to eat and open GPS if in case you lost your way. Just remember not to wave your phone in the busy streets of Phnom Penh in case someone snatches it away.
25. The internet is weak
The internet speed in Cambodia is very weak and not always at its best. And for people like me who spend time or work online even while on the move, stay prepared for the poor internet speed. I had to take some time off from posting something on my blogs because of the weak internet reception.
26. The high season is from November to March
The weather is at its very best and much cooler during this time of the year. It is much more relaxed, and thousands of tourists throng the place to spend their vacations. Days are pleasant and perfect to go swimming and sweat under the gorgeous sunny sky. Just make sure to plan and reserve your accommodation in advance as many tourists swarm the place during this high season.
27. Cambodia has wonderful people
Cambodia has beautiful places to spend your holidays filled with loving and kind-hearted people. These people will greet you with their lovely smiles, and you will instantly fall in love with them. You will be awed by their friendly nature and their love and respect for you.
People of Cambodia have gone through a violent and tragic history, yet it has the liveliest and beautiful people you will ever meet. Everywhere you go, you will meet amazing people, and you will not regret spending your vacation there. However, you must also remember that Cambodia is still a developing nation and crimes still exist, and it is important that you must watch out for local thugs and pickpockets while walking through the crowded streets.