Voltage: 230V, Frequency: 50Hz
Riel (KHR) exchange rates
UTC +7 hours
What to expect
Cambodia is a country embracing the future while remembering its past, and its contrasts are widely evident. The pulsating capital, Phnom Penh, is home to reminders of the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge, yet is embracing a new, cosmopolitan side with upmarket restaurants, chic boutiques and hotels and a thriving art scene.
Similarly, Siem Reap is home to one of Asia's most compelling sights, the temples of Angkor, but also has a dynamic, youthful vibe. Travelling in the Cambodian countryside provides an insight into rural Asia, both its hardships and its beauty. Visitors with more time in Cambodia can experience abandoned hill stations, empty beaches, rugged mountains and vibrant rice paddies.
Tourist infrastructure in the country is rapidly improving, though it should be considered that not all services and facilities reflect Western standards. Travel in remote areas may involve undeveloped roads and clean yet basic accommodation.
approximately 16 hours
Banks, public offices and some tourist sites will be closed on the holidays listed here. As major holidays are set according to the lunar calendar, dates change every year. Please check with our the UK-based Asia specialists for details.
is International New Year’s Day, a public vacation. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is Victory Day, a public holiday celebrating the end of the Khmer Rouge's reign in 1979. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
February - on the full moon day of the third lunar month
is Meak Bochea Day, a public holiday commemorating the spontaneous gathering of monks to listen to Buddha's preaching. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is International Women’s Day a public vacation. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is Khmer New Year, a national public holiday, a major public vacation when banks, publics some businesses will be closed, and the Phnom Penh's Royal Palace will be periodically closed.
April/May - on the full moon day of the fifth luna month
is Visakha Buchea Day, a public vacation commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing of Buddha. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is Labour Day a public vacation. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
May - on the 4th to 6th days of the waning moon of the sixth lunar month
is the Royal Ploughing ceremony, a public vacation signifying the start of the ploughing season. A special ceremony foretells whether it will be a successful season or not. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is a public holiday to celebrate the King's birthday. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed, and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh will be periodically closed.
is a public vacation to recognise International and National Children's Day. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is a public vacation to celebrate the Queen mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk's birthday. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is a public vacation to mark Constitution Day, celebrating the signing of the Cambodian constitution by King Sihanouk.
September/October - on the 15th day of the tenth month in the Khmer calendar
is the three day Pchum Ben vacation, where Buddhists pay their respects to their ancestors. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed, and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh will be closed periodically.
is Paris Peace Agreement Day, commemorates the Paris Peace agreement of 1991. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is King Coronation Day, commemorating the coronation of the current king, Norodom Sihamoni.
is a public vacation to recognise Independence Day, or Cambodia's independence from France in 1953. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
November - on the full moon of the Buddhist month of Kadeuk
is the Water Festival, a major public vacation spanning several days commemorating the change in direction of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is closed periodically. There are very large crowds on the riverfront in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, plus road closures.
is International Human Rights Day a public vacation. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
Holidays that fall on a weekend may be observed the following Monday.
Health & Fitness
Travellers to Cambodia should take precautions as they would elsewhere in Asia. The best clinics and hospitals are located in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, however more serious medical treatments will require transferring to Bangkok.
Outside the major centres, medical care facilities are basic, though a private clinic is preferable to a government hospital. Some of the diseases known to exist in Cambodia include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tuberculosis, dengue fever, malaria, Japanese encephalitis, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rabies and HIV/AIDS.
We recommend you take adequate preventative measures to minimise your chance of exposure to these health risks. We strongly recommend you consult your preferred doctor for the most up-to-date health advice at least one month prior to travel.
Getting your Cambodian visa is a simple and efficient process. Tourist visas for most nationalities can be obtained on arrival at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap airports for 20 USD cash. A visa form will be issued to you on the airplane or on arrival. You will also need one passport photo to accompany your visa application.
By visiting www.mfaic.gov.kh and paying 25 USD by credit card, a 30-day tourist visa can be issued electronically within three business days. Note that this visa is only valid for arrival at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap international airports, Cham Yeam (Koh Kong), Poi Pet (Banteay Meanchey) and Bavet (Svay Rieng). Cambodian visas can be obtained on arrival at the following border crossings:
- Phnom Penh International Airport
- Siem Reap - Angkor International Airport
- Poipet (Banteay Meanchey Province, bordering Thailand)
- O’Smach (Oddar Meanchey Province, bordering Thailand)
- Cham Yeam (Koh Kong Province, bordering Thailand)
- Bavet (Svay Reing Province, bordering Vietnam)
- Kaam Samnor on the Mekong River (Kandal Province, bordering Vietnam).
Please note: Cambodian visa regulations and arrangements are subject to change and it is your responsibility to ensure your visa is in order before you travel. We strongly suggest that you check with the relevant embassies in your country of residence that these guidelines are applicable to you.
Safety and security
With its turbulent past becoming a distant memory, Cambodia is now a relatively safe country to travel in. Usual common sense precautions are advisable. Avoid poorly lit streets at night, particularly in Phnom Penh. We recommend you take taxis rather than cyclos when travelling at night. To assist in finding your way back to your hotel, make sure you obtain a hotel address card to show drivers where you want to go.
Throughout your stay, always keep a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers. These documents should be kept in a safe place separate from the originals. You should leave valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes wherever possible.
In Phnom Penh in particular, petty crime can be a problem so we recommend you wear as little jewellery as possible and keep your spending money close to your body in a secure place when out on the street. Read our safety guidelines for further information.
‘Angkor, an Introduction to the Temples’ (Odyssey), by Dawn Rooney
- Excellent lead-in to the wonderful temples and to ancient Khmer history. Several brief but illuminating pages on each main temple, with good colour photos.
‘Culture Shock Cambodia (A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette)’, by Peter North
- The much-awaited Cambodia version in the ‘Culture Shock’ series contains practical information on the defining characteristics of Cambodian social norms and society. Highly recommended for responsible travellers who want more than just a surface understanding of a unique and complex culture.
‘Cambodia, Report from a Stricken Land’, by Henry Kamm
- Based on the author's career experiences as a journalist in Cambodia from the 1970s and numerous interviews with Khmer Rouge leaders and Norodom Sihanouk. The book provides a concise account of the steps leading up to the rise to power of the Khmer Rouge and its four year reign.
‘Sihanouk, Prince of Light, Prince of Darkness’, by Milton Osborne
- Milton Osborne is one of the best and easiest to read writers on Indochina and Cambodia. Osborne lived in Phnom Penh from the late 1950s and used his societal contacts and other research sources to prepare this frank account of the enigmatic and ultimately self-centric Sihanouk.
‘River of Time’, by Jon Swain
- One of the best introductory reads into the trauma of the Indochina war era. Swain writes of his personal experiences as a journalist and resident in Phnom Penh and Vietnam, and recounts some soul destroying stories from Cambodia's lost decade, the 1970s.
‘A Dragon Apparent, Travels in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam’, by Norman Lewis
- This doyen of British travel writing writes lucidly and perceptively of his travels in Indochina, at the end of the colonial-era in the late 1950s. A classic.
Useful words & phrases
Hello (or hi)
How are you?
Niak Sohk sabay te
I'm fine, thank you
Kh'nyohm sohk sabay
What is your name?
Teur niak chhmooh ar vey
My name is…
How old are you?
Niak ar yuh ponn mamn
I am …years old
Kh’nyohm ar yuh ... chhnamm
How much is ...?
Teur ...thlai ponnmamn
It's too expensive!
Vear thlai naa
Excuse me /I'm sony
Lia sen hao-y
Thank you, but I don’t need a plastic bag
Or kun. Pon teh kh'nyohm min trov kar thong plastic te
Arrival and departure transfers
For groups of six or more travellers, air-conditioned Toyota Coaster or Hyundai with 25-40 seats are used for all road journeys. Smaller groups travel in either minibuses or modern and comfortable sedan cars.
Our vehicles are all spacious and well-maintained. In the cities, towns and villages, expect to walk or use a combination of tuk-tuks, boats or even bicycles to get around. Most domestic flights in Cambodia are on French built ATR 72s. The varied and often unique modes of transport are part of the fun of discovering Cambodia.
Internet access is widespread in Cambodia's major cities and towns, and is generally inexpensive. An ever increasing number of cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels provide free WiFi, particularly in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
There are also many internet cafes providing email and internet phone call services, often the cheapest way of calling overseas (or locally). International phone and fax fees on fixed lines are expensive (especially in hotels) and usually range from 4 USD to 6 USD per minute. Reverse charge (collect) calls are not possible from Cambodia.
Mobile phones do operate in Cambodia, although you should ensure you have global roaming prior to departure. Coverage is good in urban areas, but may be less reliable in rural areas. International mail generally takes seven to ten days to reach its destination. Prices are equivalent to Western postal rates.
Food & drink
Cambodian cuisine has many similarities to that of its neighbours, however offers some unique ingredients and interpretations of soups, stir-fries, salads, grilled meats and curries. It doesn't rely on chilli as much as Thai cuisine, rather uses fragrant herbs and spices such as lemongrass, galangal and ginger to make a spice paste called kreung, the basis of many dishes.
Fish from the Tonle Sap is widely consumed, and a pungent fermented fish paste called prahok is often used. A steamed fish curry called amok is a favourite amongst many travellers to Cambodia, as are the fragrant local salads using lotus root, banana flower or green mango. Rice is a main staple eaten with most meals.
The French influence is also apparent, with baguette stalls a frequent sight in local markets. Tap water should not be consumed, however bottled water is widely available and provided free in most hotel rooms.
We believe tipping is a great way to show your appreciation for receiving great service, and while it is accepted practice in Asia, it should never feel like an obligation. At the beginning of each trip, your Western tour leader or local guide will ask for a small sum (around 50 cents a day) to cover tips for hotel porters and boat crews throughout the trip.
This helps prevent over tipping and having to always carry small change. We are confident that you will be extremely happy with the service you receive from our guides, drivers and tour leaders, and in many cases will choose to show this through a tip, so we do not include compulsory tipping for any Travel Indochina representatives on any of our trips. The choice to tip is always completely up to you.
Most but not all hotels have swimming pools. There are no required safety standards such as secure fencing so it is imperative that children are supervised near and around the pool areas. Cambodia’s beaches are also safe to swim in, however beach lifeguards do not exist.
Caution should be taken and children supervised at all times. Khmer people are very modest and proper swimming attire should be worn at all times. Nudity of any description is extremely offensive.
Our journeys in Cambodia support numerous causes, both directly and indirectly. We have long worked with Friends-International and ChildSafe, and nearly all our Small Group Journeys will visit the ChildSafe traveller centre to learn more about how to engage in a way that helps disadvantaged youth.
We also give a pocket-sized 'ChildSafe Traveller Tips' card to all our travellers in Cambodia. Two vocational training restaurants operated by Friends International; Romdeng and Friends the Restaurant are popular lunch and dinner spots with our guides and tour leaders, allowing you to support these causes in a sustainable way.
Our 'Cambodia Revealed' Small Group Journey also spends a night in a homestay in Takeo, allowing for greater cultural interaction and for tourist dollars to penetrate smaller local communities who might not otherwise benefit from this lucrative industry. Learn more about our focus on responsible travel.