Thursday, September 7, 2023
Cambodia travel guide - Travel S helper


travel guide

Cambodia, formally the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a nation in Southeast Asia situated in the southern part of the Indochina Peninsula. It has an area of 181,035 square kilometers (69,898 square miles), and is bounded on the northwest by Thailand, on the northeast by Laos, on the east by Vietnam, and on the southwest by the Gulf of Thailand.

Cambodia is a country with a population of more than 15 million people. The government-sanctioned religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by about 95% of the population. Vietnamese, Chinese, Chams, and 30 hill tribes comprise the country’s minority communities. Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital and biggest city, serves as the country’s political, economic, and cultural center. Norodom Sihamoni, a monarch elected by the Royal Throne Council, is the kingdom’s head of state. Hun Sen is the head of government and has governed Cambodia for almost 25 years. He is presently the longest-serving non-royal leader in South East Asia.

Jayavarman II proclaimed himself king in 802 AD, unifying the Chenla’s feuding Khmer lords under the name “Kambuja.” This was the start of the Khmer Empire, which lasted over 600 years and enabled succeeding monarchs to govern and exercise influence over a large portion of Southeast Asia, amassing great power and riches. The Indianized empire constructed magnificent temples like as Angkor Wat, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and aided in the spread of Hinduism and later Buddhism across much of Southeast Asia. Following the fall of Angkor to Ayutthaya in the 15th century, a diminished and weaker Cambodia was governed as a vassal state by its neighbors. Cambodia became a protectorate of France in 1863, effectively doubling the country’s size by regaining the country’s north and west from Thailand.

Cambodia achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1953. From 1969 through 1973, the US bombed Cambodia as part of the Vietnam War. Following the 1970 Cambodian coup, the ousted monarch backed his old adversaries, the Khmer Rouge. The Khmer Rouge rose to prominence after seizing Phnom Penh in 1975 and committing the Cambodian Genocide from 1975 to 1979, when they were defeated by Vietnam and the Vietnamese-backed People’s Republic of Kampuchea in the Cambodian–Vietnamese War (1979–91). Cambodia was temporarily controlled by a United Nations mission after the 1991 Paris Peace Accords (1992–1993). The UN resigned after elections in which about 90% of registered people cast votes. After the 1997 coup, Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People’s Party retained full control of the country in 2016.

The nation is confronted with many difficulties. Among the significant sociopolitical problems are extensive poverty, widespread corruption, a lack of political liberties, poor human development, and a high prevalence of hunger. Cambodia has been characterized as a “vaguely communist free-market state with a rather authoritarian government governing over a cosmetic democracy” by Human Rights Watch’s Southeast Asian Director, David Roberts. While Cambodia’s per capita income remains low in comparison to most of its neighbors, the country has one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, increasing at an average of 6% over the past decade. Agriculture continues to be the major economic sector, although significant development in textiles, building, clothing, and tourism has resulted in increasing foreign investment and trade. Cambodia fared poorly in a 2015 annual assessment of 102 nations’ rule of law, ranking 99th overall and lowest in the region.

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Cambodia - Info Card




Riel (៛) (KHR), United States dollar ($) (USD)

Time zone

UTC+07:00 (ICT)


181,035 km2 (69,898 sq mi)

Calling code


Official language


Cambodia | Introduction

Cambodia has had a particularly poor run of luck during the past half-millennium. The once-mighty Khmer Empire has been pillaged by all of its neighbors since the collapse of Angkor in 1431. It was colonized by the French in the nineteenth century and was heavily carpet bombed by the United States during the 1970s. Following a false dawn of independence in 1953, Cambodia descended into the horrors of civil war in 1970, suffering the Khmer Rouge’s incredibly brutal reign of terror followed by occupation by Vietnamese forces, and it was only after UN-sponsored elections in 1993 that the country began to struggle back to its feet.

Much of the population still lives on less than US$1 a day, and access to even basic services is limited. Political intrigue is as complicated and opaque as it has always been, but security has vastly improved, and an increasing number of visitors are rediscovering Cambodia’s temples and beaches. Siem Reap, the entrance to Angkor, now has luxurious hotels, trendy nightclubs, ATMs, and an airport with flights from all over the area, while Sihanoukville is gaining popularity as a new beach destination. Traveling outside of the most famous tourist sites, on the other hand, is still an experience.

Tourism In Cambodia

After the textile sector, tourism is the country’s second-largest source of hard cash. Between January and December 2007, tourist visits totaled 2.0 million, an 18.5 percent increase over the same period in 2006. The majority of tourists (51%) came in Siem Reap, with the rest (49%) arriving in Phnom Penh and other locations.

Other famous tourist sites in Cambodia include Sihanoukville in the south west, which has many popular beaches, and Battambang in the north west, which has a quiet riverbank town. Both are popular stops for backpackers, who make up a significant percentage of tourists to Cambodia. Visitors are also drawn to the region around Kampot and Kep, especially the Bokor Hill Station. Tourism has grown rapidly each year from the relatively stable time after the 1993 UNTAC elections; there were 118,183 foreign visitors in 1993, and 2,161,577 international tourists in 2009.

According to the study, the majority of the visitors were Japanese, Chinese, Filipinos, Americans, South Koreans, and French, and the sector generated about 1.4 billion US dollars in 2007, accounting for almost ten percent of the kingdom’s gross national product. According to industry experts cited in the Chinese-language publication Jianhua Daily, Cambodia would have three million international tourist visits in 2010 and five million in 2015. Tourism has long been regarded as one of Cambodia’s three pillar businesses. For international visitors, the major attractions are the Angkor Wat historical site in Siem Reap province, the beaches in Sihanoukville, and the capital city of Phnom Penh.

The tourist souvenir business in Cambodia employs a large number of people around the major tourist attractions. Obviously, the amount of souvenirs produced is insufficient to meet the growing number of visitors, and the bulk of goods offered to tourists in marketplaces are imported from China, Thailand, and Vietnam.


Cambodia has an area of 181,035 square kilometers (69,898 square miles) and is located completely inside the tropics, between latitudes 10° and 15° N and longitudes 102° and 108° E. It is bounded to the north and west by Thailand, to the northeast by Laos, and to the east and southeast by Vietnam. It has a coastline of 443 kilometers (275 miles) along the Gulf of Thailand.

Cambodia’s environment is defined by a low-lying central plain bordered by uplands and low mountains, as well as the Tonle Sap (Great Lake) and upper parts of the Mekong River delta. Transitional plains extend outward from this core area, sparsely vegetated and reaching to heights of approximately 650 feet (200 metres) above sea level.

To the north, the Cambodian plain is bounded by a sandstone escarpment that creates a southward-facing cliff that stretches more than 200 miles (320 kilometers) from west to east and rises abruptly above the plain to heights ranging from 600 to 1,800 feet (180–550 metres). The Dângrêk Mountains’ southern border is marked by this cliff.

The Mekong River flows south through the country’s eastern areas. The transitional plains eventually blend with the eastern highlands, an area of wooded mountains and high plateaus that extends into Laos and Vietnam east of the Mekong. Another highland region in southern Cambodia is formed by two separate upland blocks, the Krâvanh Mountains and the Dâmrei Mountains, which cover most of the land area between the Tonle Sap and the Gulf of Thailand.

Phnom Aural, Cambodia’s tallest mountain, rises to a height of 5,949 feet in this isolated and mostly deserted region (1,813 metres). The southern coastal area, which borders the Gulf of Thailand, is a short lowland strip that is densely forested and scarcely inhabited, and is separated from the central plain by the southwestern hills.

The Tonle Sap (Great Lake) inundations are the most notable geographical feature, measuring about 2,590 square kilometers (1,000 square miles) during the dry season and increasing to over 24,605 square kilometers (9,500 square miles) during the rainy season. Cambodia’s heartland is this heavily populated region dedicated to wet rice production. A large portion of this region has been declared as a biosphere reserve.


Cambodia’s climate, like that of the rest of Southeast Asia, is characterized by monsoons, which are referred to as tropical wet and dry due to the pronounced seasonal variations.

Cambodia features tropical monsoons with temperatures ranging from 21 to 35 °C (69.8 to 95.0 °F). From May through October, southwest monsoons sweep inland, bringing moisture-laden winds from the Gulf of Thailand and the Indian Ocean. The dry season, which lasts from November to April, is heralded by the northeast monsoon. The wettest months in the nation are September and October, with the driest months being January and February.


Cambodia boasts a diverse range of flora and animals. There are 212 mammals, 536 birds, 240 reptiles, 850 freshwater fish species (Tonle SapLake region), and 435 marine fish species. Much of this biodiversity is concentrated around Tonle Sap Lake and its environs.

Tonle Sap Biosphere Reserve is a reserve that surrounds Tonle Sap Lake. It includes the lake as well as the following provinces: Kampong Thom, Siem Reap, Battambang, Pursat, Kampong Chhnang, Banteay Meanchey, Pailin, Oddar Meanchey, and Preah Vihear. It was successfully proposed as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1997. Other important habitats include the dry forest of Mondolkiri and Ratanakiri provinces, as well as the Cardamom Mountains ecosystem, which includes Bokor National Park, Botum-Sakor National Park, and the wildlife sanctuaries of Phnom Aural and Phnom Samkos.

The Cardamom Mountains rain forests, Central Indochina dry forest, Southeast Indochina dry evergreen forest, Southern Annamite Range rain forest, Tonle Sap freshwater swamp forest, and Tonle Sap-Mekong peat swamp forest are all recognized by the World Wildlife Fund as distinct terrestrial ecoregions in Cambodia.


Cambodia’s population was projected to be 15,205,539 people in 2013. Cambodia has a birth rate of 25.4 per 1,000 people. Its population is growing at a pace of 1.7 percent each year.

50 percent of Cambodia’s population is under the age of 22. Cambodia has the highest female-biased sex ratio in the Greater Mekong Subregion, with a 1.04 female to male ratio. The female to male ratio among Cambodians over the age of 65 is 1.6:1.

In 2010, Cambodia’s total fertility rate was 3.0 children per woman. In 2000, the fertility rate was 4.0 children. Women in cities have 2.2 children on average, whereas women in rural regions have 3.3 children per woman. Fertility is greatest in the provinces of Mondol Kiri and Rattanak Kiri, where women have an average of 4.5 children, and lowest in Phnom Penh, where women have an average of 2.0 children.

Ethnic groups

Ninety percent of Cambodians are of Khmer ancestry and speak Khmer, the country’s official language. Cambodia has a largely homogenous population. Its minority groups include Vietnamese (5% of the population) and Chinese (1 percent ).

The Khmers are Cambodia’s biggest ethnic group, accounting for about 90 percent of the overall population and being indigenous to the lowland Mekong subregion in which they live. The Khmers have traditionally resided in a continuous diagonal arc along the lower Mekong River, from where modern-day Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia meet in the northwest all the way to the Mekong River’s mouth in southern Vietnam.

With an estimated 400,000 – 700,000 people residing in provinces centered in the southeast of the nation close to the Mekong Delta, the Vietnamese are Cambodia’s biggest (or second largest) ethnic minority. Despite the fact that the Vietnamese language is a Mon–Khmer language, there are minimal cultural links between the two peoples since the early Khmers were affected by the Indian cultural sphere, while the Vietnamese are influenced by the Chinese cultural sphere. Ethnic conflicts between Khmer and Vietnamese may be traced back to Cambodia’s Dark Ages (from the 16th to the 19th century), when a fledgling Vietnam and Thailand tried to vassalise a weaker post-Angkor Cambodia and essentially control all of Indochina.

Chinese Cambodians make up around 1% of the population. The majority of Chinese are derived from 19th–20th century immigrants who came to seek trade and business opportunities under the French rule. The majority are city residents who work mainly in business.

Montagnards or Khmer Loeu, a name that means “Highland Khmer,” are the indigenous ethnic tribes of the mountains. They are descended from neolithic migrations of Mon–Khmer speakers via southern China and Austronesian speakers from southeastern Asia. Because they were secluded in the highlands, the different Khmer Loeu tribes were not Indianized like their Khmer relatives, and as a result, they remain culturally distinct from contemporary Khmers and often from one other, retaining many pre-Indian-contact traditions and beliefs.

The Cham are derived from the Austronesian people of Champa, an ancient kingdom on the coast of central and southern Vietnam that was a competitor to the Khmer Empire. The Cham in Cambodia number less than a million people and typically live in distinct communities in the country’s southeast. In Cambodia, almost all Cham are Muslims.


Cambodia’s official religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is practiced by more than 95 percent of the population and has an estimated 4,392 monastery temples across the nation. Cambodian Buddhism is heavily influenced by Hinduism, Tantrism, and indigenous animism. Reincarnation is a key idea in Cambodian Buddhism, and religious activities are centered on gaining bonn (Pali punna, merit) and erasing kamm (Pali kamma, karma), which, for Khmers, refers to the negative consequences of previous deeds.

The tight connection between spirits and the society, the effectiveness of apotropaic and luck-attracting acts and charms, and the potential of influencing one’s life via contact with spiritual beings such as “baromey” spirits are all key ideas derived from animism. Beyond the mystical rituals of Tantricism and a slew of Hindu gods now absorbed into the spirit realm, Hinduism has left little trace (for example, the important neak ta spirit called Yeay Mao is the modern avatar of the Hindu goddess Kali).

The majority of Chinese and Vietnamese in Cambodia practice Mahayana Buddhism. Other religious traditions, such as the worship of folk heroes and ancestors, Confucianism, and Taoism, coexist alongside Chinese Buddhism.

Islam is practiced by approximately 2% of the population and comes in three forms, two of which are practiced by the Cham people and a third by descendants of Malays who have lived in the nation for centuries. According to reports, 80 percent of Cambodia’s Muslim population is Cham.

Internet & Communications


Cambodia utilizes the GSM mobile system, and Mobitel is the biggest operator, despite fierce competition. Pre-paid SIM cards (starting at $2) are readily available. As of April 2013, most street sellers and small private shops will offer pre-paid sim cards without requiring a passport. Major phone shops, on the other hand, will need a passport.

The majority of Cambodia has reliable 3G data service.

Landline numbers in Cambodia are formatted as +855 nk 123-4567, where “855” is the country code for Cambodia, the first digit of the area code, “n,” will be a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 digit, and the second digit of the area code, “k,” will be a digit in the range 2-6 digit. (The leading zero visible in the domestic format is removed in the international version.) The last 6 or 7 digits of the subscriber’s number (joined with a hyphen) constitute the “local” portion of the number.

Mobile phone numbers start with a 1, 8, or 9, followed by seven or eight digits. A mobile phone’s entire number, such as +855 1 1234 5678, must always be dialed.


Internet cafés are inexpensive (US$0.50-1/hour) and widely available; even tiny communities will have at least one broadband provider. Rates in Kampot, Kratie, and Sihanoukville are about US$1/hour. Wi-Fi is becoming more popular, with connections accessible in unexpected locations such as fast food restaurants, pubs, and even petrol stations. Prices for domestic broadband vary from $29.95 to $89.00 USD.

Fast wireless 3G/4G internet (3.5G or 7.2 MBpS 3G/4G modem USB stick, unlocked 3G/4G modem costs US$30) is currently accessible in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville/Kampot/Kep, with slower Edge coverage available in virtually all other locations. Tourists may add 3G/4G mobile Internet to their SIM card for as low as US$3/month (0.8GB max, LT3 package) (Metfone) or 1c/MB with Qbmore or an unlimited data plan for US$25/month (Metfone), and equip another 3G router to create a Wi-Fi hotspot to share Internet in your house/neighborhood.

Written Khmer, like Thai or Vietnamese, does not yet have a large presence in the electronic world. Phones and computers (and, as a result, Cambodian text messages, emails, social network slobbering, and web sites) are typically in English.


A trip to the post office in Cambodia, which was once a catastrophe, no longer meant saying good-by to your package. Intercontinental postcards should arrive in two weeks, whereas Asian postcards should arrive in one week. The prices are reasonable.

Language & Phrasebook

Cambodians mainly speak Khmer, which, unlike other languages in the area, lacks tonality but compensates with a diverse set of consonant and vowel clusters. Young Cambodians choose to study English as a second language, and you may find individuals in large towns and cities who speak anything from basic to excellent English. Most Cambodians will know enough English to conduct a simple transaction at a tourist market, but many sellers carry calculators into which they enter figures and show you the screen to indicate the price.

A few educated elderly people can also speak French, a holdover from the colonial era when it was used as a language of instruction in schools. Because the Khmer Rouge targeted everyone who could speak a foreign language for extermination, seeing someone proficient in French outside of Phnom Penh is extremely uncommon. German and other European languages may be found in tourist areas (though they are less common than French), and Japanese is also a popular language among tourism sector employees. Nonetheless, if you do not speak Khmer, English is by far your best option.

In Phnom Penh, Chinese dialects, Thai, and Vietnamese are spoken. Thai is more common in the northwestern provinces, whereas Vietnamese is more common in the southern regions.

Entry Requirements For Cambodia

Visa & Passport

Except for residents of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam, all travelers to Cambodia need a visa. The official fee for a Tourist Visa is US$30 and US$35 for an Ordinary Visa, and residents of most countries may get a visa on arrival. Staff at certain border crossings (including airports) may attempt to charge extra, but stick to the stated fee, particularly at large crossings.

Visa on Arrival is offered at both international airports, all six international border crossings with Thailand, several international border crossings with Vietnam, and the major Laos border crossing. Visas are also available through Cambodian embassies and consulates.

  • All tourist visas are valid for a single stay of up to 30 days. Those issued in advance have a 90-day expiration date. Tourist visas may only be renewed once in Phnom Penh (or through agencies abroad), for an extra 30 days at a fee of US$30.
  • Ordinary visas or Type-E: the best option for stays of more than two months and/or numerous entries since they may be renewed indefinitely (about US$140 per six-month extension) and have multiple entry status when extended. The majority of Phnom Penh travel agencies handle the extensions. To acquire an Ordinary visa, foreign citizens from certain countries (such as India) must first seek authorization from the Department of Immigration or the Ministry of the Interior. Such tourists may also enter the nation on a tourist visa and then apply for such authorization at the Department of Immigration near Phnom Penh’s airport, which, if granted, will allow them to depart the country and re-enter on an ordinary visa.

To apply for a visa, you will need one or two passport-size (35x45mm) photographs, a passport valid for at least 6 months and with at least one fully blank visa page left, and clean US dollar bills to pay the cost (expect to pay a substantially higher price if paying in a local currency). Passport photocopies may be needed when applying at certain embassies/consulates, but not when applying on the spot. If you arrive at Phnom Penh airport (or perhaps other entry points) without a passport picture, they will scan the one in your passport for an additional US$2.

At Phnom Penh International Airport, go to the Visa on Arrivaldesk and enter the line on the left, where your application form will be evaluated (you should have been given the form on the plane). After that, go to the right and wait for your name to be called. After that, you pay for and get your passport along with the visa. Officials have difficulty pronouncing Western names, so be on the lookout for any of your names in your passport, as any of your given names or surnames may be called. Join the immigration line after you’ve been reunited with your passport.

There are many frauds in Poipet. One favorite is when Cambodian customs officials charge visitors 1,000 baht (about US$30) for a visa on arrival instead of US$20. Maintain your composure while being pleasant and smiling; they seldom persist. The penalty for not having a picture is often just US$1-2, although this is changeable.


Citizens of most countries may apply for an e-Visa online through the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, using a service offered by a private Cambodian business (CINet). This is a standard Tourist Visa, except it costs US$37 instead of US$30. Within three business days, the visa is sent to you as a PDF file. A digital picture of yourself is required for the application (in .jpg format). You may scan your passport picture or have a digital camera produce a passport-sized image of you. Other websites claim to be able to issue a Cambodian e-visa. At best, they are simply online travel companies that will charge you extra for the same visa; at worst, you may wind up with a forged e-visa.

You must print two copies of the PDF visa (one for entrance and one for departure), cut off the visa sections, and retain them with your passport.

Visas obtained in advance (either online or through an embassy/consulate) save time at the border but cost extra. You will, however, be able to bypass the lines of people waiting for their visas to be delivered, but you may find that the time saved is just spent waiting at the airport baggage belt for your suitcase.

E-Visas are only valid for entrance by air or at the three major border crossings: Bavet (on the Ho Chi Minh City-Phnom Penh route); Koh Kong (near Trat in Eastern Thailand); and Poipet (near Trat in Eastern Thailand) (on the Bangkok-Siem Reap road). However, you may leave the nation with an e-visa at any border crossing. Given the overall decrease in visa frauds at major land crossings, spending the additional US$7 to ensure the price may or may not be worth it (more likely if coming from Thailand). It is more probable to get a tourist visa on arrival for US$30 than to be overcharged. It also preserves the option of the pleasant Phnom Penh-Chau Doc boat excursion available.


Cambodian immigration officials are now fingerprinting tourists upon arrival and departure. These fingerprints may end up in the hands of your country’s authorities or any other agency willing to pay for them. If you object, you may bribe the official (USD1-2 should be enough if you’re brave enough to attempt) or avoid the major entrance sites, such as airports, Poipet (on the Bangkok-Siem Reap route), Cham Yeam (near Koh Kong), and Bavet (on the Phnom Penh-Ho Chi Minh road). Hand scanners are not available at smaller crossings such as Ban Pakkard/Pshar Prum (for Pailin) and Chong Sa-Ngam/Choam (for Anlong Veng).

How To Travel To Cambodia

Get In - By plane

Direct flights link Phnom Penh International Airport (formerly Pochentong International Airport) with mainland China (Beijing and Guangzhou), France (Paris), Hong Kong, Laos (Vientiane), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Singapore, South Korea (Incheon), Taiwan (Taipei), Thailand (Bangkok), and Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City).

Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport has direct flights to Laos (Pakse, Vientiane), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Singapore, South Korea (Incheon, Busan), Thailand (Bangkok), and Vietnam (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City).

Visitors planning to see the Angkor temple ruins may choose to stay in Siem Reap, which is just a few minutes away from the major attractions. AirAsia is usually more cheaper than Bangkok Airways for flights between Bangkok and Siem Reap. When searching for such flights, keep Don Mueang, Bangkok’s second airport, in mind (IATA: DMK).

Air Asia has started flights from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok to Phnom Penh, as well as Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap, while Jetstar Asia has begun flights from Singapore to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

Asiana Airlines, Bangkok Airways, China Southern Airlines, Dragonair, Eva Airways, Korean Air, Lao Airlines, Malaysia Airlines (MAS), Shanghai Airlines, Siem Reap Airways (a subsidiary of Bangkok Airways), SilkAir, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways International, and Vietnam Airlines are among the other airlines that fly to and from Cambodia.

Get In - By road

When traveling to Cambodia by land, be wary of frauds. The most frequent is an increase in the visa cost from the official US$20 to 1,000 baht (+US$20) imposed by Cambodian custom officials, although this is simple to deal with. You may always exchange your Thai baht for US dollars with cigarette sellers or restaurants in Poipet, which is a visa-free zone. Make it a point to pay for your visa in US dollars. Standing strong and smiling can go you a long way when dealing with customs officials. Don’t allow them charge you more than US$2 if you don’t have an ID picture for the visa application. You may also get a visa ahead of time, either through a Cambodian embassy/consulate (via an agency if required) or on the e-Visa website. For further information, please see the Visas section.
Scams in the past have included telling travelers that they must obtain visas from a consulate at exorbitant prices before crossing the border (which is not true), fining them for failing to present a vaccination certificate (which is not required), charging 50 baht for a (false) SARS health form, and enforcing a fictitious US$100 to Cambodian riel exchange requirement (at lousy rates).


All six Thai border crossings are open from 07:00 to 20:00. Each provides on-the-spot Cambodian visas. In both nations, all crossings are serviced by paved highways.

Thai buses operate to but not over all of the crossings; even Chong Sa-Ngam, the latest to acquire Thai links, now has minibuses that transport gamblers to Choam’s new casino.

In Cambodia, buses service four of the six border towns (Poipet, Koh Kong, Daun Lem, and O’Smach). Buses service Pailin, Anlong Veng, and Samraong (all of which are fewer than 20 kilometers from a border), while motorcycles and shared taxis link the towns to their respective border crossings.

The busiest land crossing in Cambodia is at Aranyaprathet/Poipet on the Bangkok-Siem Reap route in northwestern Cambodia. Roads that were once the stuff of nightmares are now paved all the way from Poipet to Siem Reap, Battambang, and Phnom Penh.

Coastal The Hat Lek/Koh Kong border serves Cambodia and the southern Cardamom and Elephant Mountains area. The highway extends all the way to Sihanoukville. There are minibuses to the border from Trat, Thailand. Minibuses or taxis link the border with Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The boat service between Koh Kong and Sihanoukville is no longer available.

Anlong Veng, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold, is located near the Chong Sa-Ngam (in Si Saket Province)/Choam border. Pol Pot was assassinated and burnt within walking distance of the border.

Samraong is becoming a transportation center as highways in Northwestern Cambodia improve. It is near to the boundary of Chong Jom (in Surin Province) and O’Smach and is well connected to Siem Reap.

The Ban Pakard (in Chanthaburi Province)/ Phra Prom (near Pailin) crossing connects eastern Thailand to Battambang and Siem Reap, and is a less stressful and more picturesque alternative to the more northerly main crossing at Poipet.

The nearest crossing to Battambang is at Ban Leam (in Chanthaburi Province)/Daun Lem. Mount Angkor operates buses to Battambang, but the route on the Cambodian side is still unpaved as of March 2012.


Several Ho Chi Minh-Phnom Penh bus companies, such as Kumho Samco, defraud international visitors by charging an additional US$5 for the Cambodian visa on arrival. If you do not agree to the additional fee and try to get the visa on your own, you will be stuck at the border without your possessions. The most dependable and renowned firms operating on this route are Mekong Express and Mai Linh Bus. (In September 2013, Mekong Express did the same, and it’s possible that every business does it to speed up the border crossing procedure.)

Vietnamese visas must be acquired in advance from a consulate or embassy. This is simple to organize in Cambodia. The visa on arrival in Vietnam is only applicable for airport arrivals, not land crossings.

The major crossing on the Ho Chi Minh City-Phnom Penh route is the Moc Bai/Bavet crossing. Buses between the two cities cost between $8 and $12 and take around 6 hours. Passengers exit the car at checks in both countries. A Cambodian visa on arrival requires just one passport picture. Mekong Delta tours (US$25-35, 2-3 days) may offer a more informative trip between the two cities.

Through tickets to Siem Reap are also available (US$18), however it is less expensive to purchase a ticket to Phnom Penh and then organize further transportation on one of the numerous connecting buses.

The Xa Xia/Prek Chak boundary is close to the seashore. On-the-spot Cambodian visas are available. Buses connect Ha Tien, Vietnam, with Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The Tinh Bien/Phnom Den border at Chau Doc in Vietnam also serves coastal regions.

The Xa Mat/Trapeang Phlong crossing on the Ho Chi Minh City-Kamppong Cham route is not well serviced by public transportation, although it may be helpful for getting to Kampong Cham and Eastern Cambodia.

A crossing at Le Tanh/O Yadaw near Pleiku in Vietnam serves Banlung in North Eastern Cambodia. Visas are provided upon arrival and just one picture is needed. At Le Tanh, change buses.


The Voeung Kam/Dom Kralor border connects Stung Treng in Cambodia to Pakse and the Four Thousand Islands area of Laos. Onward transportation is not accessible on a regular basis. Visas for Cambodia and Laos are accessible, although there is an unofficial charge of US$1-2 on both sides of the border. Border crossing packages are available from travel agencies on both sides of the border.

Get In - By boat

To/from Laos – There is just one border crossing on the Mekong for visitors, a 90-minute speedboat trip north of Stung Treng. Border guards have limited options for “additional” income and will typically attempt to swindle visitors for a few more bucks.

To and from Thailand – There are no ferry services between Cambodia and Thailand. The boat service between Sihanoukville and Koh Kong is no longer available.

To/from Vietnam – Travel between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh by boat or a mix of road and boat is feasible. Fast boats sail daily from Chau Doc in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and arrive in Phnom Penh in 5 hours. From Ho Chi Minh City, it is a four-hour journey to Chau Doc. A typical overland route is a three-day journey that includes stops in Can Tho and Chau Doc before taking the ferry to Phnom Penh.

Members of the crew and passengers on cruise ships may acquire a visa upon arrival at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port, which is just for yacht cruises. Arrival of paperwork at the new marina. To begin, you must submit data about the boat, the crew, and passport copies to the Marina Oceania Harbour Master’s office. For a period of 30 days, the visa cost is $25 USD.

How To Travel Around Cambodia

Get Around - By Plane

Cambodia’s local aviation scene has improved. There are presently three airports serving scheduled passenger flights: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville.

Cambodia Angkor Air, a joint venture between the government and Vietnam Airlines, is the primary operator, flying between Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville, as well as airports in China, Thailand, and Vietnam. The establishment of a second airline, Cambodia Airlines, was announced in 2013. The airline, which is set to commence service in 2013, is a collaboration between Philippines Airlines and local partners. It is not yet in flight (Dec 2013).

Aero Cambodia, a charter airline, flies twin engine 10-70 passenger aircraft from Phnom Penh to Cambodia’s other 16 airports.

Get Around - By helicopter

Helistar Cambodia is a VIP helicopter charter and scenic flight business that operates across Cambodia. Helicopters may be hired to fly one-way or return trips between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The standard hourly charter cost is $1,700 per flying hour, plus 10% VAT and 10% SPT. They fly Eurocopter Ecureuils with seats for up to 6 people that are contemporary and air conditioned. They also have international pilots who are licensed. At both international airports, a pick-up and drop-off transport service is also provided.

Get Around - By road

Since about 2008, the Cambodian government has been feverishly improving roads across the nation. While this is excellent for the nation, it rapidly renders travel advice outdated! Finding an unsealed road is really very difficult, and most visitors will have no horror tales of car-swallowing ruts or wet-season quagmires. For the time being, notable unpaved roads that travellers might find useful are: Battambang-Koh Kong (currently a great dirt bike adventure across the mountains or a long detour by bus via Phnom Penh), access to the Banteay Chhmartemples (a high-quality unsealed road, as good as a sealed road during the dry season), and the road between Sen Monorom and Banlung (if there’s any remote jungle left in Cambodia). The borders, the seashore, and the main cities are all well-connected by excellent highways.

Longer trips may be made in Cambodia by bus, pickup truck, or shared cab. Whichever of these is accessible will be found in the local market square in many towns. Bus stops will be located in larger towns and cities. Buses may also service their businesses’ offices, which may be more convenient than the bus terminal in Siem Reap. Mekong Express has the finest reputation for luxury and speed and charges a premium as a result. Sorya (previously Ho Wah Genting) and GST provide a no-frills service at a somewhat lower cost. Capitol runs between its strategically placed offices, allowing for transit from city center to city center. Peasant movers in shackles Mount Angkor Transport is excellent for getting to more distant locations, but it is lacking in comfort and safety.

Bus safety is a major issue in Cambodia. Every year, hundreds of bus accidents occur on Highway 5 between Phnom Penh and Battambang, many of which are horrific and result in numerous deaths. There have even been bus-on-bus collisions. Drivers are inexperienced, irritable, and, according to some who work at roadside gas stations, occasionally drunk. The majority of these incidents go unreported, but regular travelers on Highway 5 may expect to see a half-dozen bus accidents in a month.

Bus travel is generally inexpensive, with trips from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap or Sihanoukville costing about US$5. If you don’t like the cold air conditioning, bring something warm with you, and earplugs if you don’t enjoy Khmer karaoke. There are a few late-night trips, but the majority of buses depart in the morning and the last ones go in the afternoon.

Some people think that cabs are safer for intercity travel, however taxis often drive excessively quickly and are implicated in many tragic incidents. A cab from Phnom Penh to Battambang should cost about US$25 for the front seat.

Motorcycle taxis are common in cities. Simply stand on a corner for a minute and someone will give you a ride – typically for a modest, customary charge of US$1 or less.

With the noteworthy exception of Siem Reap, motorcycle rentals are accessible in numerous places. Be cautious if you are driving or riding yourself: driving habits in developing nations vary greatly from those in affluent ones. Local traffic laws will also vary from one city to the next.

Get Around - By boat

Many of the main rivers have seasonal ferry service. The main roads are from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and from Siem Reap to Battambang. The boat from Sihanoukville to Koh Kong is no longer in service. Boats are slower than roads, demand greater fees for foreigners, and may be congested and dangerous at times. However, Cambodia’s roads are extremely hazardous, and boats are definitely the safest choice. The high-speed ferry from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap costs US$33 and takes about 6 hours, leaving at 07:30, and provides a magnificent glimpse of rural life along the Tonle Sap River.

A few luxury boats also run between Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, and Saigon. It’s an excellent alternative to conventional boat service for about US$150/day, which includes lodging, meals, and excursions.

The boat trip between Siem Reap and Battambang takes longer (especially during the dry season), is less comfortable, and costs more than taking a seat in a shared taxi, but it is preferred by some visitors for its up-close view of subsistence farming (and hundreds of waving children) along the river. Taking the boat late in the dry season (April-May) is not recommended since low water levels require you to switch to smaller boats in the middle of the river.

Get Around - By bamboo train

Despite the absence of regular rail services, there are bamboo trains or noris operating near Battambang, and you may even travel by bamboo train from Phnom Penh’s suburbs to Battambang on demand. These trains are home-built railcars that can transport just about anything, including pigs, motorbikes, and crops, as long as it fits on the train. They’re also a lot of fun to ride on, and they’re fairly safe, with pleasant drivers. They cost around $2 per passenger for a short trip and about $6 if you hire one with a driver. You may locate a norry by asking around, or you can find one at Battambang station.

Destinations in Cambodia

Regions in Cambodia

  • Cardamom and Elephant Mountains – The western mountain ranges, gulf coast beaches, and offshore islands include the Cardamom and Elephant Mountains (Battambang, Kampot, Koh Kong, Pailin, Pursat, Sihanoukville, Bokor National Park, and Kep), as well as the Cardamom and Elephant Mountains (Battambang, Kampot, Koh Kong, Pailin, Pursat, Sihanoukville, Bokor National Park, and Kep).
  • North-western Cambodia – Cambodia’s northwestern region (Angkor Archaeological Park, Anlong Veng, Siem Reap, Sisophon, Koh Ker, Poipet, Tonle Sap Lake, Preah Vihear). The primary reason most tourists come to Cambodia is to see Angkor Wat, as well as a large lake and the northern highlands.
  • Mekong Lowlands and Central Plains – Mekong Lowlands and Center Plains (Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Kompong Thom, Krek) The capital city and the central flatlands (Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Kompong Thom, Krek)
  • Eastern Cambodia – East of the great Mekong, eastern Cambodia (Banlung, Kratie, Sen Monorom, Stung Treng) has isolated rural regions and national parks.

Cities in Cambodia

  • Phnom Penh — Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia.
  • Banlung — Banlung is the far northeastern province capital, close to several spectacular waterfalls and national parks.
  • Battambang — Battambang is Cambodia’s second largest city.
  • Kampot — Kampot is a town located between the capital and Sihanoukville that serves as the entrance to the Bokor National Park.
  • Koh Kong — Koh Kong is a tiny border village near the Thai border.
  • Kompong Thom — access to lesser-known (and thus less busy) ancient temples and other places
  • Kratie — Kratie is a calm river village in the Mekong’s northeast, and it’s a great location to see endangered river dolphins up close.
  • Siem Reap — Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor Wat.
  • Sihanoukville — Sihanoukville, commonly known as Kompong Som, is a coastal town in the south of Cambodia.

Other destinations in Cambodia

  • Angkor Archaeological Park — The magnificent remains of ancient Khmer civilisation may be seen at Angkor Archaeological Park.
  • Bokor National Park — Bokor National Park is the eerie relic of a previous French highland resort.
  • Kampong Cham — Kampong Cham is a lovely rural hamlet on the Mekong River, and it’s a great location to meet genuine Cambodians.
  • Kep — a coastal region that predates Sihanoukville as Cambodia’s major beach resort; is being rediscovered by tourists.
  • Krek — Krek is a tiny hamlet on the backpacker route that connects Kratie with Kampong Cham.
  • Koh Ker — north of Angkor, additional ancient ruins
  • Poipet — Poipet is a rough border town through which most overland travelers to Angkor transit.
  • Preah Vihear — Preah Vihear is a cliff-top temple that predates Angkor Wat.
  • Tonle Sap Lake — Tonle Sap Lake is a massive lake with floating communities that serves as SE Asia’s finest bird refuge.

Things To See in Cambodia

Cambodia’s primary attraction is so well-known and magnificent that it is also one of Asia’s top tourist attractions. The Angkor Archaeological Park’s majestic and awe-inspiring temples attract large and varied audiences who come to appreciate its immense significance and sheer size. It’s a must-see on any vacation to the area, and it’s well worth braving the often-sweltering heat. Finding a relatively secluded place to watch the sun set over the temples may be difficult, but the colors are spectacular. Start early to avoid the crowds at the enigmatic Ta Prohm complex. The ruins, which were made renowned as a shooting set for Tomb Raider, are covered by massive jungle trees and are one of the most dramatic locations of Angkor.

Food & Drinks in Cambodia

Food in Cambodia

Khmer food is delicious and inexpensive, despite not being the strongest link in Southeast Asia’s chain of delectable cuisines. Rice and, on occasion, noodles are the mainstays. Unlike in Thailand or Laos, spicy hot cuisine is not a staple; black pepper is favored over chilli peppers, but chillis are often offered on the side. Thai and Vietnamese influences may be seen in Khmer cuisine, although Cambodians like strong sour flavors in their meals. Prahok, a native fish paste, is popular in Khmer cuisine but may not appeal to Western palates. In Phnom Penh and the surrounding areas, there is a strong presence of Indian and Chinese eateries. Western cuisine may be available at most restaurants in any of Cambodia’s tourist regions, and Cambodia has some of the finest affordable western meals in Southeast Asia. While still cheap, a western dinner will often cost twice as much as a Khmer meal.

Traditional Khmer cuisine include:

  • Amok – Possibly the most famous Cambodian cuisine. A coconut milk curried meal that is less hot than Thai curries. Amok is often prepared with chicken, fish, or shrimp as well as veggies. It’s occasionally served in the shell of a coconut, with rice on the side. It’s very tasty.
  • K’tieu (Kuytheav) – A noodle soup that is often offered at breakfast. It’s possible to make it using pork, beef, or shellfish. Flavorings such as lime juice, chili powder, sugar, and fish sauce are added to the consumers’ taste.
  • Somlah Machou Khmae – A pineapple, tomato, and fish sweet and sour soup.
  • Bai Sarch Ch’rouk – Another morning favorite. Rice (bai) with grilled pig meat (sarch chrouk). Delicious and served with pickled veggies.
  • Saik Ch’rouk Cha Kn’yei – Fried pork with ginger. Ginger is a vegetable that is widely utilized. This delectable meal is widely accessible.
  • Lok lak – Beef cooked fast when it was chopped up. It’s most likely a relic from the days of French colonialism. Served with a simple dipping sauce of lime juice and black pepper, lettuce, onion, and chips.
  • Mi/Bai Chaa – Rice or fried noodles Never especially inspirational, but a reliable travel companion.
  • Trey Ch’ien Chou ‘Ayme – Trey (fish) cooked with veggies and a sweet chili sauce. Delicious. The phrase “sweet and sour” is chou ‘ayme.
  • K’dam – The crab in Kampot, in the south, is renowned for being fried with locally obtained black pepper. A delicious dinner.

Don’t forget about the Khmer desserts – Pong Aime (sweets). These may be delicious and are accessible from vendors in most Khmer towns. Select from a selection of sweetmeats to be served with ice, condensed milk, and sugar water. The Tuk-a-loc, a blended drink of fruits, raw egg, sweetened condensed milk, and ice, is a must-try.

Fresh fruit is also available in marketplaces in a broad variety. Prices vary depending on the season, but mangoes (around Khmer New Year, with up to 9 kinds on sale) and mangosteen (May/June) are also excellent.

Pregnant eggs (duck eggs with the embryo still inside) and virtually any kind of creepy or crawly critter (spiders, crickets, water beetles), as well as grilled rats, frogs, snakes, bats, and tiny birds, are some typical Khmer delicacies that may be less appealing to outsiders.

Drinks in Cambodia

The tap water supply in Phnom Penh has undergone significant modifications thanks to the government’s “water revolutionary,” Ek Sonn Chan. So, in Phnom Penh, you may drink the tap water without issue, but it is heavily chlorinated and may not taste well. There is also some worry about the bottle water sellers. According to the US Embassy’s website “Cambodia’s Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy stated in 2008 that more than 100 bottled water businesses in Cambodia were under consideration for closure due to failure to satisfy basic manufacturing quality requirements. Only 24 of the 130 bottled water businesses are in compliance with the Ministry of Industrial Standards’ Department of Industrial Standards.” Take that website with a grain of salt since it seems to be down on bottled water in general.

Outside of Phnom Penh (and perhaps Siem Reap), believe that tap water is not safe to drink. The price of Khmer brand water in blue plastic bottles is 1,000 riel or less (although prices are often marked up for tourists, to 50 cents or a US dollar).

Soft drinks

In Cambodia, iced coffee is widespread. It’s prepared Vietnamese-style, with freshly brewed coffee and sweetened condensed milk. If you go by a local restaurant at any time of day, you will almost certainly notice at least one table of locals sipping them. One glass costs between 1,500 and 2,000 riel. Iced tea with lemon and sugar is very popular and pleasant.

Fresh coconut may be obtained almost everywhere, and it is both nutritious and hygienic if consumed directly from the fruit.


In general, Khmers are not what you would call casual drinkers: their primary goal is to become drunk as soon as possible. If you are asked to participate, know your limitations!

Anchor — pronounced “an-CHOR” with a ch sound! — and Angkor are the two most popular native Cambodian beers, both of which can be purchased in bottles, cans, and on draft for less than US$1 apiece. New beers include the low-cost Klang and Cambodia, while Beerlao and Tiger are popular with tourists. Aside from the usual Heineken and Carlsberg, additional beers include ABC Stout, which is dark and not so terrible. Crown and Leo are low-cost beers, while Kingdom Beer targets the premium market with a pilsener and a black lager.

Palm wine and rice wine are accessible in villages and may be reasonably priced (500-1,000 riel for a 1 L bottle). However, certain sanitary issues have been highlighted, thus the local wines may be best avoided.

Find a bottle of Golden Muscle Wine for a genuine Khmer experience. This pitch-black brew prepared from deer antlers and other herbs packs a 35% punch and tastes horrible when drank straight, but may be made fairly acceptable, though not precisely delicious, by adding tonic water or cola. It’s the cheapest legal tipple available, at $2 for a 350 ml flask of the original and $3 for the “X.O.” variant.

Money & Shopping in Cambodia

Both the Cambodian riel (KHR) and the US dollar (USD) are official currencies, with the riel being utilized mostly for minor transactions (i.e. less than US$1). US coins are not accepted. Most ATMs only accept US dollars, but some accept both currencies.

The Cambodian Central Bank keeps the riel pegged to the dollar at approximately 3,800-4,200 riel. 4,000 riel per dollar is often used in everyday trade. So one dollar and 2,000 riel, or 6,000 riel, equals US$1.50. Riel notes may go as high as 100,000 riel (US$25), although the most frequent denomination is 10,000 riel (US$2.50). Outside of Cambodia, Riel are only valuable as mementos. They will not be exchanged.

Thai Baht is widely accepted near the Thai border (for example, Battambang, Koh Kong, and Poipet), although locals use an unfavorable 40 baht to the dollar as a rule of thumb. Rather of spending baht, try to exchange them at a bank or money changer, since banks and money changers will give you a far higher rate.

Banks sometimes act as Western Union money transfer agents.

Changing Money

In every city, Baht and other major currencies (Euros, Sterling, etc.) may be readily swapped. If you want to save money, shop around; there is no hard and fast rule about which banks or money changers will give the lowest rates.

Except for US$1 bills, which change hands often, torn or outdated foreign currency notes may be difficult to exchange. Cambodian banks will refuse to accept US$2 banknotes and notes that lack the security strip. It is customary to refuse defective notes; nevertheless, merchants may attempt to take advantage of visitors’ naiveté and try to get rid of them. Simply grin and return them.

Cards & ATMs

ATMs are becoming widely available outside of major cities. They usually accept Maestro, Cirrus, Plus, and VISA cards. Credit card cash advances may also be available.

VISA and JCB credit cards are the most commonly accepted; MasterCard and American Express cards are also becoming more widely accepted.

ATMs offer US cash in amounts ranging from $10 to $100. If you get banknotes in bad condition (particularly US$50 or US$100) from an ATM that is directly connected to a bank, attempt to change them there right away since they may be difficult to convert later.

ATMs in Cambodia only take 4-digit PINs. If your PIN has more than four numbers, it’s better to change it at home before you need cash and are out of luck.

Traveller’s cheques

Traveller’s cheques, like credit cards, are accepted at significant commercial facilities such as big hotels, restaurants, travel agencies, and souvenir stores; American Express (in USD) is the most frequently accepted. However, reasonable rates are generally only available in banks in Cambodia’s major cities, while guesthouses in popular tourist locations may provide comparable services at exorbitant prices. The standard charge for cashing traveler’s checks is 2% with a US$2 minimum.


In Cambodia, you can get away with bargaining on almost everything. Restaurants, outdoor food booths, and even rates for guesthouses are available. The Khmer are famously silent until they reach a breaking point. They don’t lose face, but they do lose their cool. There are, however, a few guidelines:

  • Many goods, particularly those not targeted at visitors, have set prices, and although you can obtain a small reduction if you ask, you won’t be able to acquire anything substantially lower than this. The pricing of products are often painted on the walls of many marketplaces (in Khmer).
  • In Cambodia, since eating out is not very popular among the locals, restaurants cater nearly exclusively to tourists and are somewhat more costly than in neighboring nations. In Siem Reap, however, it is occasionally, if not usually, feasible to negotiate with street food sellers about the amount of a meal, complimentary side dish, and get a 20-30% discount.
  • The US dollar is commonly used in Cambodia, however if there is no coin circulation, you will wind up with a lot of Cambodian riels if the price you pay is not an integer. This allows for short-changing, which is especially common in Siem Reap’s food shops. For example, if you offer US$1 for a bottle of water, the staff should return the quantity of riel equal to US$0.40, however they may retain part of them. Typically, the amount of money scammed is little. Simply be fast with mental arithmetic.
  • Group bargaining is more effective. Having two additional friends will make convincing Cambodians to provide a discount much easier: one can play bad cop, the other good cop.
  • Request a meeting with the manager/owner (this applies to guesthouse and restaurants). If you attempt to bargain at a restaurant or guesthouse, the staff will usually claim that the supervisor must be present. If this is the case, just ask to talk with him or request that the staff speak with him. You’d be amazed how simple it is to negotiate down after you talk with the boss; many times, he doesn’t want to be bothered and will give you the reduction.
  • Never pay the asking price for anything near the Angkor temples. Books, mementos, art, water, and food are all examples of this. During the off-season, food vendors near the temples will offer a different menu; request it. You can even haggle on top of it. It’s important to note that bargaining is considerably more difficult at the food booths near Angkor Wat, particularly at the breakfast eateries across the street.
  • Try not to bargain too hard with the motobike drivers and tuk-tuk drivers that operate near your hotel. Most are truthful, but if you are seen as a good client, they will take more care of your safety. Some will opt to obtain the money from you in another manner, such by mugging you. If you don’t agree on a fee before your trip, you may end up in a very awkward position.
  • If bargaining isn’t your thing, the simplest method to get a decent deal at a market is to pick up an item, inquire how much it is, appear disappointed, and start walking away. Since you move away, the price typically drops, as sellers are reluctant to go below this second price.

Siem Reap is the simplest location to negotiate; Phnom Penh may be a bit more difficult, but it’s still worth a shot. Simply be kind and persistent.

Traditions & Customs in Cambodia

Cambodia is at a fork in the road. While locals in more highly touristed areas like as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are well acclimated to tourist behavior, individuals in less touristed areas such as Stung Treng and Banlung are not. Always seek permission before photographing someone, since many people in more rural locations dislike being shot, and others in metropolitan areas may demand money.

Cambodian ladies wear more restrictive clothing. While shorts are increasingly allowed in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, wearing knee-length shorts or trousers outside of these places is more polite. While Cambodian women tend to dress modestly during the day, covering most of their flesh to avoid sunburn, which they deem ugly, the dress code at night is more exposing. Do not confuse such local ladies at nightclubs with prostitutes; they are out for a night on the town just like everyone else.

There are groups of young children everywhere in Cambodia, and many visitors feel ‘pestered’ by them to buy their friendship bracelets and other goods. However, youngsters often love the opportunity to practice their English on you, and by asking them their names and ages, a discussion is likely to begin in which the ‘hard sell’ is forgotten. Photographs of your family and home nation are popular for both children and adults.

The Khmer Rouge topic is very sensitive, and Cambodians usually prefer not to discuss it. However, if you approach it politely, they will happily reply. People in general have no problems about talking about the Vietnamese; in fact, when they intervened in Cambodia in 1979 to remove the aforementioned cruel government, they were generally regarded as liberators. The pro-Vietnamese government eventually repaired all of the infrastructure that had been badly destroyed by the Khmer Rouge’s program of de-urbanization, which led to economic success in the 1980s despite occasional upheavals.

Buddhist Monks

Cambodia, like neighboring Thailand and Laos, is mainly Theravada Buddhist. This implies that monks are respected and expected to take their responsibilities seriously. Monks, as in Thailand, walk about in the morning collecting alms from people. Monks are not allowed to have personal contact with women, therefore ladies who want to give food to a monk should put it on a piece of cloth in front of him so he may pick it up. Monks are not permitted to receive or handle money, and giving money to a monk is considered insulting in local culture. Donate food if you want to help. Monks will cease collecting alms before noon since they are not permitted to consume solid food after noon. Imposters are “monks” who hang around in tourist areas and beg contributions from visitors.

Culture Of Cambodia

Cambodian culture is influenced by a variety of influences, including Theravada Buddhism, Hinduism, French colonialism, Angkorian civilization, and contemporary globalization. Cambodian culture is promoted and developed by the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts. Cambodian culture encompasses not just the culture of the lowland ethnic majority, but also the culture of approximately 20 culturally different hill tribes popularly known as the Khmer Loeu, a name created by Norodom Sihanouk to promote harmony between the highlanders and lowlanders.

Rural Cambodians use krama scarves, which are a distinctive feature of Cambodian attire. The sampeah is a customary Cambodian greeting or expression of respect towards others. The Khmer kingdom created and disseminated unique forms of dance, architecture, and art, which have been traded with neighboring Laos and Thailand throughout history. Angkor Wat (Angkor means “city,” and Wat means “temple”), along with hundreds of other temples found in and around the area, is the finest surviving example of Khmer architecture from the Angkorian period.

Tra leaves have traditionally been used by the Khmer people to record information. Tra leaf books include Khmer mythology, the Ramayana, the origins of Buddhism, and other prayer books. They are cared for by covering them in fabric to protect them from moisture and the elements.

The annual boat rowing competition, Bon Om Tuuk (Event of Boat Racing), is the most attended Cambodian national festival. At the end of the rainy season, when the Mekong River begins to sink back to normal levels, allowing the Tonle Sap River to reverse flow, approximately 10% of Cambodia’s population attends this carnival-style event to play games, give thanks to the moon, watch fireworks, dine, and watch the boat race.

Cockfighting, soccer, and kicking a sey, which is akin to a footbag, are all popular sports. The Cambodian New Year is a significant festival celebrated in April that is based on the ancient Indian solar calendar and Theravada Buddhism. Singers Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Serey Sothea (and subsequently Meng Keo Pichenda) were recent creative luminaries who brought new musical genres to the nation.


Rice is the staple grain, as it is in the rest of Southeast Asia. The cuisine also includes fish from the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. In the year 2000, the supply of fish and fish products for food and commerce was 20 kilos per person, or 2 ounces per day per person. Some of the fish may be turned into prahok and stored for a longer period of time.

Cambodian cuisine includes tropical fruits, soups, and noodles. Kaffir lime, lemon grass, garlic, fish sauce, soy sauce, curry, tamarind, ginger, oyster sauce, coconut milk, and black pepper are key components. (Num Banh Chok), (Amok), and (Num Banh Chok) are some delicacies (Ah Ping). The nation also has a number of unique native street delicacies, such as fried spiders.

The Cambodian red curry with toasted baguette bread is an example of French influence on Cambodian cuisine. Toasted baguette slices are dipped in curry and consumed. Cambodian red curry is traditionally served with rice and rice vermicelli noodles. Kuy teav, perhaps the most popular dine-out meal, is a pork broth rice noodle soup with fried garlic, scallions, and green onions that may also include beef balls, shrimp, pig liver, or lettuce. In comparison to its neighbors Thailand and Vietnam, the cuisine is largely obscure to the rest of the globe.


Khmer women are traditionally expected to be modest, soft-spoken, “light” walkers, well-mannered, industrious, to belong to the household, to act as the family’s caregivers and caretakers, to perform as the “preserver of the home,” to keep their virginity until marriage, to become faithful wives, and to act as advisors and servants to their husbands. Cambodian women’s “light” walking and refinement is further characterized as “silent in […] motions that one cannot hear the sound of their silk skirt rustling.” Women in Cambodia may be recognized as having genuine home power at the family level as financial controllers.


Football (soccer) is one of the most popular sports, but due to economic constraints, professional organized sports are not as widespread in Cambodia as they are in Western nations. Soccer was introduced to Cambodia by the French and quickly became popular among the people. Cambodia’s national football squad finished fourth in the 1972 Asian Cup, but progress has been sluggish since the civil war.

Basketball, volleyball, bodybuilding, field hockey, rugby union, golf, and baseball are among the most popular Western sports. Volleyball is the country’s most popular sport by far. Traditional boat racing, buffalo racing, Pradal Serey, Khmer traditional wrestling, and Bokator are examples of native sports. Cambodia first competed in the Olympics in 1956, sending equestrian riders to the Summer Olympics. In the 1960s, Cambodia also held the GANEFO Games, an alternative to the Olympics.


Khmer classical dance, folk dance, and social dances are the three major types of Cambodian dance. The precise beginnings of Khmer classical dance are unknown. Most local Khmer academics link contemporary dance traditions back to the time of Angkor, citing parallels in temple carvings from the time, while others believe modern Khmer dance techniques were acquired (or re-learned) from Siamese royal dancers in the 1800s.

Khmer classical dance is a stylized performance art form that originated in Cambodia’s royal courts and was shown for both amusement and ceremonial reasons. On public occasions, elaborately dressed, highly trained men and women perform the dances as a form of homage, invocation, or to recreate ancient tales and epic poetry such as Reamker, the Khmer version of the Ramayana. It is officially known as Robam Preah Reach Trop ( “theater of royal riches”) and is put to music by a pinpeat ensemble backed by a vocal chorus.

Cambodian traditional dance, typically performed to mahori music, honors Cambodia’s many cultural and ethnic groupings. Folk dances began in communities and are mostly performed by villagers for villagers. The motions are less stylized, and the dancers wear the clothes of the people they are representing, such as hill tribes, Chams, or farmers. Folk dances, which are often faster-paced than classical dance, depict themes of the “common person,” such as love, humor, or warding off bad spirits.

Guests at banquets, parties, or other casual social events conduct social dances. Traditional Khmer social dances are similar to those of other Southeast Asian countries. The circle dances Romvong and Romkbach, as well as Saravan and Lam Leav, are examples. Modern western popular dances such as the Cha-cha, Bolero, and the Madison have also had an impact on Cambodian social dance.


Traditional Cambodian music may be traced back to the Khmer Empire. Royal dances like as the Apsara Dance, as well as the Mahori ensembles that accompany them, are symbols of Cambodian culture. Chapei and A Yai are examples of more rustic music. The former is popular among the elder generation and usually consists of a guy strumming a Cambodian guitar (chapei) in between a cappella lyrics. Typically, the lyrics contain a moral or religious message.

A Yai may be done alone or by a man and a woman, and it is often humorous in tone. It is a kind of lyrical poetry that may be written or totally spontaneous and ad-libbed, and is frequently full of double entendres. When performed by a duet, the man and woman take turns “answering” one other’s lines or presenting riddles for the other to solve, with brief musical pauses in between verses. Pleng kaah (lit. “wedding music”) is a collection of traditional music and songs performed for amusement as well as accompaniment to the many ceremonial elements of a typical, multi-day Khmer wedding.

Cambodian popular music is played on western-style instruments or a combination of traditional and western instruments. Dance music is written in specific genres for social dances. From the 1960s through the 1970s, the music of crooner Sinn Sisamouth and Ros Sereysothea is regarded as Cambodia’s greatest pop music. Many famous and popular vocalists of the 1960s and 1970s were killed, starved to death, or overworked to death by the Khmer Rouge during the Khmer Rouge Revolution. Many original master tapes from the time period have been lost or destroyed.

Keo Surath (a refugee resettled in the United States) and others carried on the tradition of the classic vocalists in the 1980s, often recreating their famous songs. Kantrum, a Khmer Surin music style adapted to contemporary instruments, gained popularity in the 1980s and 1990s.

Astronomy Class, an Australian hip hop ensemble, has collaborated with Cambodian vocalist Kak Channthy, a native born Cambodian female singer.

The Dengue Fever rock and roll band consists of a Cambodian female vocalist and a California back-up band. It’s categorized as “world music,” and it mixes Cambodian music with Western-style rock.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Cambodia

Stay Safe in Cambodia

Cambodia is a secure and welcoming nation, with the typical exceptions of big cities late at night, especially Phnom Penh, and unattended baggage or wallets. Bag stealing is an issue in Phnom Penh, even from people on bicycles or motorbikes. Be cautious with your belongings, particularly cash and cameras, and take additional precautions in any poorly lit or isolated places.

Crime and corruption

Cambodia’s rule of law is inconsistently implemented. Bribes are generally required to investigate crimes, and if the offenders are rich or connected to the government, they are often untouchable by police and courts. You should also be aware that the courts are corrupt, making it difficult to enforce contracts without some political clout. Having said that, the incidence of violent crime is quite low, the police are usually pleasant and non-threatening, and people with good judgment have nothing to worry.

Land mines

Cambodia suffers from a legacy of millions of land mines left during the war years. However, to tourists, land mines present a minimal to non-existent threat, as most areas near tourist areas have been thoroughly de-mined. Many tourists mistake electric or sewage warning signs along national highways for land mine signs. HALO Trust, a leading mine removal organization in Cambodia, asserts that you would have to drive through the jungle for at least an hour north of Angkor Wat to come across any mines. The threat is to locals in extremely rural areas who rely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

In remote areas such as Preah Vihear (near the border) and Pailin, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold, exercise caution: ask for local advice and heed warning signs, red paint and red rope, which may indicate mined areas. Do not venture beyond well established roads and paths.


Cambodia has a consent age of 15 years old. Prostitution is illegal yet prevalent, but it is seldom openly targeted towards visitors (there are no go-go bars). However, many pubs and clubs, particularly in Phnom Penh, have working females roaming the grounds. While Asia has witnessed a 20% decrease in new HIV infections since 2001, with Cambodia seeing a 50% drop between 2003 and 2011, safe sex is still required in all instances.

Cambodia has acquired some reputation as a haven for paedophiles, although under Cambodian law, the punishment for sex with children may be up to 30 years in jail, and paedophiles may also face prosecution in their own countries.


In Cambodia, drugs, including cannabis, are prohibited, and the consequences may be severe. Happy Herb pizzerias can be found in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap; the effects of this illicit food are gradual, and you may wind up biting off more than you can chew, so if you want to indulge, go with care. Many of these “happy pizza” businesses do not offer drug-laced pizza. In Southeast Asia, heroin is of very high quality, and Westerners seeking cocaine are occasionally given heroin instead, which often results in death. Over-the-counter medicines that are believed to be comparable to heroin are widely accessible and legal, and have also resulted in tourist fatalities.

Stay Healthy in Cambodia

Mysterious illness Although this illness, which mostly affects children under the age of three, was extensively reported in the worldwide news in July 2012 as being caused by enterovirus 71, rumors of fatalities persist (Nov 2013). This seems to be a taboo subject in the local news, yet expatriates and locals alike discuss how children continue to die from this mysterious respiratory disease, reportedly dozens each week. Expats often refuse to consume chicken, even from well-known restaurant chains, claiming the circumstances of shipping and caging hens as the cause of the disease’s development.

Cambodia, one of the poorest nations in the world, lacks dependable medical facilities, physicians, clinics, hospitals, and medicines, particularly in rural regions. Any severe issue should be handled in Bangkok or Singapore, both of which provide first-rate assistance (at least to those who can afford them). Repatriation is also simpler from any of those cities. Check to see whether your insurance covers medical evacuation. The private and expensive Royal Rattanak Hospital in Phnom Penh may be relied on for emergency medical treatment and can treat the majority of illnesses and injuries prevalent in the area. Naga Clinic has locations in both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. It is also clean, harmless, and beneficial for mild ailments.

The quality of local hospitals and clinics ranges from average to terrifying. Expect filth, shoddy equipment, outdated medications, and flour and sugar placebos.

Don’t allow them put anything in your blood at local clinics; treat dehydration orally rather than with a drip, since there is a danger of septicaemia (i.e. bacterial blood poisoning). The same may be said with blood transfusions.

Unless traveling straight from Africa, no health certifications or immunizations are needed for admission into Cambodia. However, for the most up-to-date advise on immunizations, contact a doctor a few weeks before departure. Tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis B, and meningitis vaccinations are often recommended, as is a polio booster and, in particular, gamma globulin injections (against hepatitis A). Malaria pills should be considered for visits to Cambodia lasting fewer than 30 days, even though the most frequently visited areas provide little danger (see below). A mosquito net may also be useful. Mosquitoes swarm Siem Reap at night; imported (i.e., reliable) DEET-based insect repellent is available in Cambodia.

Panadol, antihistamines, antibiotics, kaolin, oral rehydration solution, calamine lotion, bandages and band-aids, scissors, and DEET insect repellent are all available in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Those who are extremely picky can prepare their kits in Bangkok or Saigon before traveling to Cambodia. There’s no need to do this before traveling to Asia.

Malaria does not exist in Phnom Penh, and most major tourist sites (including Siem Reap) are malaria-free. The most serious illness concern is mosquito-borne dengue fever, which, although unpleasant to say the least (it’s nicknamed “break-bone fever” because of how it feels), isn’t usually fatal to first-time sufferers.

The most frequent illness for travelers is diarrhoea, which may progress to dysentery and cause dehydration. Drink 2-3 litres of water each day to stay hydrated.

Avoid untreated water, untreated ice, and uncooked fruits and vegetables that have been washed in untreated water. Tap water is usually not drinkable, so stay away from it. The water supply in Phnom Penh is said to be drinkable, although few people believe it. Only those with severely weakened immune systems will have difficulty cleaning their teeth with it. Bottled water is inexpensive and readily accessible in every town or hamlet. If you intend to visit more remote regions, bring water purification pills or iodine to disinfect the water. Boiling water sterilizes it without creating heaps of trash plastic bottle waste or tainting the flavor. The water in the jugs at cafes and restaurants will have been boiled, as will the tea. Expats have no trouble drinking from the water supply in Phnom Penh, but not in other cities.

If you suffer from severe diarrhoea and get dehydrated, use an oral rehydration solution and drink lots of purified water. A lot of blood or mucus in the stool, on the other hand, may suggest dysentery, which necessitates a trip to the doctor for medication.

April is the cruelest month: the temperature is at its warmest (> 35°C) in March and April, therefore apply sunscreen and a hat to prevent sunstroke.

Many STDs may be transmitted by both sexes of prostitutes. The official HIV rate among prostitutes is 34%, compared to 0.6 percent for the general population.



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