I have been a NGO manager in Cambodia from 2013 to 2015 having volunteers helping the Khmer students to improve their English & French language skills in relatively short time. I fell in love with the kingdom and decided to assist travelers with better knowing the country.
If you would like to add recommendations, or edit some of the details, please feel welcome to write me.
- How much time to spend there? – Up to two weeks, No less than a week. If you come for less than a week, I suggest focusing on Siem Reap only,
Is Visa required?
Tourist visa is available either online or at the airport itself.
- On arrival by air it will cost you USD 30 for a month stay.
- On arrival by land (Most common is getting a bus from Bangkok) it will cost you USD 35 at Poi-Pet border station.
- Online will cost you additional $6 with 90 days validity for a month stay. You can apply here for e-visa online (Beware of fraud websites so click on the link I've added). Pay attention! It is valid only by entering Cambodia through Siem Reap & Phnom Penh airports only.
- Business visa is also available at the airport for USD 35 for a month stay, which can be later extended in travel agencies by presenting supporting documents.
Carry two passport photos with you, otherwise it'll cost you extra USD 5 for a "No photo" Visa.
- What Currency should I carry? You can actually use both US Dollar and Khmer Riel, the local currency. For your convenience, shop owners keep an Exc. rate of 4000 riel per 1 USD.
- Mode of Transportation – Tuk Tuk (Motorcycle carrying a passenger carriage) within the city, sleeper buses/flights between cities and boats to the islands.
- Electricity: Adapters are available in many shops.
- Communication: Best to buy a local sim card of either Cellcard (The Oranges), or Smart (The green). It will cost you around USD 5 per sim card subject to presenting your passport. Once your package is exhausted you can charge it up in any convenient store.
- Spoken Language: Khmer and (broken) English.
- Religion: Mostly Buddhist
- Dry season lasts from mid-October to the end of May. Higher rates! April and May are super hot months with the fascinating Khmer dragon lizards back in the scene (Thank you Kiri for teaching me how to catch them. No worries they were released after)
- Rainy season lasts from the end of May to mid-October. September & October are rainy, mainly at the seashore destinations.
- National dish: Amok (delicious Fish soaked in coconut) and Prahok (Khmer cheese, Good luck trying it)
- National beverage: Angkor beer
- Average salary: Around USD 200 per month.
- Drugs: Best to avoid. Don't buy it from strangers! In some of the shops you can find Happy/Space cookies which is mixed with hash.
- Condoms is a must!!! Cambodia has very high percentage of HIV carriers.
- Pedophiles are not welcomed anymore! If you are caught with a teen, or having a teen complain about you (regardless of you being aware of his/her age), no one will help you. Why am I mentioning it? It used to be a pedophile haven for the past 30 years. Psychos worldwide roamed all over the country.
- Gambling: Allowed in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Poi-Pet (Thai border) only.
- The secret: Keep on smiling, even when you say 'No'.
- If a local touches you, even slightly, keep your distance from him. Why? Traditional Khmer people are not accustomed with making physical contact, certainly not with foreigners.
- Keep distance from those who try to impress you with speaking some words in your foreign language (apart from English).
- Don't accept invitations to play card games, no matter what!
Not everybody is trying to cheat you, so no need to argue about every 1000 riel you spend. It's fine to give a nice tip to someone who served you professionally & kindly. And again… Must use condoms, Must use condoms, Must use condoms!
You can either start your trip from North to South (My advice), or South to North. There are direct flights from all around Asia to Siem Reap (REP airport code). I recommend starting your vacation in Siem Reap.