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10 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Cambodia

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Cambodia brings up vivid images of Angkor Wat temples doesn’t it? I bet you can all see tuk tuks on red dusty roads! But Cambodia can be so much more than that! It isn’t called ‘The Kingdom of Wonders’ for no reason after all!

We spent 2 weeks traveling around Cambodia (find our itinerary here). We truly believe that to fully feel and connect with the ‘heart’ of Cambodia, you will need to step away from the two most popular Cambodian cities. Head into more rural areas where the Cambodian culture is still strong. It is there that you will fall in love with this country and it will be there that you will create some strong memories to bring home with you.

1. Vaccinations

Vaccinations are recommended for Cambodia. It is best practise to check with your doctor in regard to vaccinations pre-trip. According to the CDC site, both Hepatitis A, as well as Typhoid are advised.

 

2. Visas

A passport and visa is required for most visitors to Cambodia. You will need to ensure that your passport is valid for at least six (6) months from the expiry date and that it has blank pages available. You will also need to provide 1 recent passport-sized photo.

You can either apply for a visa through a Cambodian Embassy pre-departure or you could choose to get the visa on arrival. The visa on arrival option is quick and easy and is our personal preferred method. On our last visit to Cambodia, the visa cost for a one month stay was US$30 per adult. You will need to pay the currency in US dollars and will need to have the exact cash on hand.

Tip: You can read more detail about the visa process here.

3. Best time to visit

The best time to visit Cambodia really depends on your style of travel.

If you wish to travel when the weather is at its best, then we recommend you organize your trip for November to March. Be aware though that you will be scrambling for space in the hordes of tourists as you will be travelling through Cambodia during their high season.

If you want to see Cambodia all green and lush, then we recommend you book a trip in their shoulder season, which is from July to August. You should know though, that you will also most likely have some rainy days on the trip during these months.

Lastly, if you wish to explore the temples and other attractions without the crowds squashing you, then we recommend a trip between April to June or September till October. You will need to cope with the weather though! April and May are their hottest months and it gets HOT, whilst September and October are their wettest months.

4. Buy bottled water

Do make sure that you buy bottled water to quench your thirst. Most hotels will supply you with a free bottle of water a day. We also prefer brushing our teeth with bottled water. Be careful about water, ice & fresh produce in the restaurants as well.

5. They use American currency

The local currency in Cambodia is Riel, however we suggest that you take US dollars to use as your currency. You will be able to use US dollars everywhere you go, plus it makes it easier to exchange the money once you get back home again too (if you need to).

6. Popular places to visit in Cambodia

The most popular places to visit in Cambodia include Siem Reap and the Angkor Temples, Phnom Penh, Battambang, Kampot, Kep, Kratie, Sihanoukville (although we recommend Otres Beach instead) and the Koh Rong Islands.

We do recommend that you try to explore the more rural parts of Cambodia as well. Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are both touristy cities, so for a more authentic experience, try to include a few other destinations.

7. Take your bargaining skills with you

As with most Asian countries it is important to bring your bargaining skills with you on the holiday. Bargaining is very normal in the marketplace, smaller souvenir shops as well as when you organise Tuk-Tuks and Taxi transfers.

8. Mosquitos can be a pain

Mosquitos can be a real pain, make sure to take DEET mosquito spray, especially if you will be out and about at dusk and dawn! Your local doctor might also recommend that you take malaria tablets as precaution.

9. How well English is understood

Khmer is the traditional language spoken in Cambodia.

English and Chinese is spoken in Cambodia as well. If you are planning on visiting countryside regions or smaller towns, English spoken will be limited or ‘broken’, so it will be important to learn a few key phrases to help you along!

10. Some helpful Khmer words to know

HelloJum reap sou (formal) or Sou sdey (informal)

Good byeJum reap leah (formal) or Leah hi (informal)

Yes Baht (for men), Cha (for women)

NoOht tey

Thank you Ah kun

SorrySohm tou

How much is this?Tah ni thliy pun mann?

Where is…?(Name of location), nouw ey na?

Cambodia is such a brilliant country to explore on the cheap. If you plan your trip carefully, you can truly get away with a very affordable international holiday. A holiday that is full of beautiful destinations, relaxing massages, spas and more! We love the Kingdom of Wonders! Said it before and will say it again; we LOVE Cambodia!

Inspired?
Plan:

  • Lodging – Research your sleeping options
  • Transportation Rome2Rio will tell you how to get anywhere by plane, train, bus, ferry and automobile.
  • Tours in Cambodia – The folks at Get Your Guide are the world’s largest online platform for booking tours, attractions and activities. To see a list of all their available Cambodia tours, click here.

Here are two itineraries you may like:

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khmer monk tying red thread around someone's wrist

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Jolene & Andrej Ejmont

Written by Jolene & Andrej Ejmont

Jolene and Andrzej are living their dream. The duo is behind Wanderlust Storytellers, their widely successful family travel blog. They love sharing their passion for travel with people all around the globe. The couple say that they have found their purpose in life: “the question and the never-ending search for what we are here for or what we are meant to do with our lives was answered when we created our family travel blog.”

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2 thoughts on “10 Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Cambodia

  1. Beautiful photos! Makes me want to visit Cambodia now – it’s straight-up embarrassing that I’ve never been although I live so near (Singapore!). Have always been wary of it though because I’ve heard about the tourist scams especially near the Angkor area. Did you get any children asking you to buy food for them etc.?

    1. I wouldn’t let a fear of being scammed keep you from Angkor, Michelle. To be honest, the scamming was far worse in Paris. We learned to just walk away from anyone approaching us with a petition, a random attempt to be friendly on the street, etc. As far as Angkor UNESCO Park (which is huge and encompasses a lot of temples), the authorities are vigilant and only permit authorized people to sell on site.

      In Cambodia (not at Angkor), kids tried to sell us postcards a couple of times, while at another time a kid came up to our car window to beg. Our policy is to never buy from children, because they just bring the money back to their “manager.” We just said no and kept moving.

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