Cambodia flag with Angkor Wat

Cambodia: 10 Things To Know Before Visiting

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Is your next stop in Cambodia? Then, here’s a bit of information you must know before you step off for this exciting adventure. Filled with endless history and rich culture and heritage, Cambodia deserves its own share of preparation and research. Bringing together a thorough preparation of all the vital information about Cambodia in one spot can make your trip much smoother and more fun. Here are a few essential things you should know before visiting Cambodia.

Things to Know Before Visiting Cambodia

1. The Currency

While the official currency in Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel (KHR), US Dollars are widely accepted, even at ATMs. However, these ATMs typically charge a service fee of about 4 – 6 USD per transaction. You’ll often receive change in Cambodian Riel in small shops and restaurants, even if you pay in Dollars. Additionally, many places charge a 3% service fee for card payments. Remember that Cambodian Riel isn’t valuable outside the country, so it’s best to spend them all or exchange them before leaving.

2. Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Aerial view of Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument, drawing millions of visitors annually to Cambodia. It’s a symbol of pride for the country, even appearing on its national flag. Learn about entry tickets, information before your visit, and a one to three-day itinerary with map.

3. Best Time to Visit

November to April marks Cambodia’s dry or summer season, with the best months for visiting being November to February. However, March and April can become uncomfortably hot and humid, with temperatures soaring above 40℃. The rainy season spans late May to early October.

4. Download Grab

Taxi scams are common in Cambodia, like in many other places. Prices quoted can be exorbitantly high, especially for foreigners, requiring negotiation for fair rates; to avoid this, consider using the Grab app, similar to Uber, which provides transparent pricing and is accessible even without a Cambodian phone number.

5. International Driver’s License

While rental shops in Cambodia typically don’t require an international driving license, it’s necessary to have one to avoid heavy fines if caught by the police. Despite renting a bike in Siem Reap without incident, ensuring you have the proper documentation to avoid any potential legal issues is essential.

If you have a driving license from your home country, bring it to Cambodia. You can obtain a Cambodian driving license easily and affordably without taking an extra test. A Cambodian license is beneficial for longer stays or extending your time in the country.

Keep in mind that in Cambodia, driving is on the right side of the road, and helmets are required for both rider and passenger. Traffic rules are strictly followed, so familiarize yourself with the basics before driving or renting a vehicle.

6. Visa

With the exception of 11 Asian countries, all other nationals must obtain a visa to visit Cambodia. Applying for an eVisa is straightforward and can be done independently. Approval typically takes 3 to 7 working days.

Unlike Laos, Cambodian visa fees for on-arrival and eVisa are identical. You must print out your eVisa before passing through immigration, as printing services may not be readily available at some land borders for several kilometers. At Cambodian land borders, it’s common to be charged an extra fee of about 100 Baht or around 2 USD, even if you already have an eVisa.

7. Food & Accommodation

 

In Cambodia, both food and accommodation are budget-friendly. Whether you’re looking for a hostel or a resort, there are options to suit every budget and preference. We’ve found Booking.com reliable for booking accommodations in Cambodia, with no issues during our stays. We noticed that the prices for walk-in bookings at many accommodations are higher than online rates. It’s advisable to book your accommodation online in Cambodia to get the best deals.

Khmer cuisine is widely available, with street food being a popular choice in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. You’ll also find various other options, including Indian, Italian, and French cuisines. Rice dishes, meat, fried rice, and noodles are commonly served in many eateries. Tipping isn’t required in Cambodia, but leaving a tip is a nice gesture if you’re pleased with the service.

7. Dress Code

Phimeanakas, Angkor Wat

Cambodia is a conservative country in Asia. While short clothing is common in tourist areas like Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, as well as on western beaches, it’s best to cover your knees and shoulders when venturing into less touristy areas to avoid drawing unwanted attention.

Pack appropriately to respect the strict dress codes at Angkor Wat and other Buddhist temples. Traveling solo in Cambodia is safe, as many female travelers, including our friends, have experienced without facing any mishaps.

9. Languages Spoken

Khmer is Cambodia’s national language, and most people speak it. While some have limited English skills, others are fluent. Taxi drivers, restaurant owners, and accommodation staff generally speak good English, and signs at attractions and public places are often bilingual in Khmer and English.

10. Cambodia Beyond Angkor Wat

While many tourists flock to Cambodia solely for Angkor Wat, there’s much more to explore. Even at Siem Reap, there are so many activities to engage in, beyond the temples. Don’t miss the stunning white sands and clear blue waters of the Kon Rong Islands, the remote western islands, and the vibrant capital city of Phnom Penh.

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