TRAVEL to CAMBODIA – Tips and Information Guide (2019 Edition)

Everything you need to know to help you travel to Cambodia on your next adventure.

Paradise-like beaches and an abundance of culture are just a few of the things that inspire people to travel to Cambodia.

However, Cambodia offers plenty of life-changing experiences and sights that should be on your bucket list!

This country in southeastern Asia is not only very rich in natural beauties but in history as well.

It is most famous for being home to one of the most prominent UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Angkor Wat.

This site alone attracts thousands of annual visitors to the Kingdom of Cambodia.

But there are also many temples that are just as beautiful that should not be missed!

The capital city, Phnom Penh, is heaven for lovers of beautiful architecture.

Even though the bustling city never sleeps, it also exudes a peacefulness that is rare to encounter.

It is situated where three rivers join together and is one of the most interesting cities in Asia.

You should consider getting lost in Phnom Penh and truly getting to know its spirit and incredibly kind people!

Cambodia also offers many quiet beaches, making it a great place for the perfect holiday. 

You’ll feel as if you’re on your own private beach without going to a remote part of the country.

The weather is typically always warm and the food is delicious! What more could you ask for?

If you’re considering travel to Cambodia be sure to follow the information and advice in our Cambodia Travel Guide!

Travelling in Cambodia
Don’t miss the temples of Angor when travelling in Cambodia.

Cambodia Travel Guide

Cambodia is a great place to visit at any time of year and for any number of reasons.

Whether you’re travelling to the seaside or the cities, on a budget or willing to splurge, our Cambodia Travel Guide will prepare you for the trip of a lifetime.

General Info

Before you get too far in your planning, make sure you understand the basics about travel to Cambodia.

Here’s a list of things you might find useful!

  • Currency: Cambodian riel (however, US Dollars are usually accepted)
  • Capital: Phnom Penh
  • Language: Khmer
  • Population: 16,245,729
  • Area: 181,035 sq. km
  • Electricity Voltage: The standard voltage in Cambodia is 230 V at 50 Hz. If the voltage or the frequency is different from the one in your country, you should use an adaptor/converter.
  • Electricity Sockets: Type A, type C (also works with plug E and F) and type G

How to Get to Cambodia

There are many ways you could travel to Cambodia. Here are a few of the most convenient and cost-effective transportation methods.

Airplane

Cambodia has three major operating airports – the Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville International Airports.

There aren’t any direct intercontinental flights. So you will need at least one connection if you are not coming from an Asian country.

However, the majority of eastern Asian countries have direct flights to one of the three cities.

Often, you’ll be able to choose between the three airports, since they’re all very frequent.

Of course, the one in the capital city of Phnom Penh has the most international flight connections.

The ticket prices can vary drastically depending on the date, so make sure you book in advance!

If you’re flying in from Europe, no more than one layover is usually necessary.

Your best option might be to depart from the UK, France or Germany and to fly into China, Vietnam or Thailand. You will be able to connect directly to Cambodia from these Asian hubs.

Click here to see a list of all destinations you can fly in from.

Overland Vehicle

It is possible to cross into Cambodia from the neighbouring countries of Vietnam, Thailand and Laos via automobile, motorbike or bus.

Roads are relatively well maintained between the capital and major cities of each country.

Common routes include from Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam) to Phnom Penh and from Bangkok (Thailand) to Siem Reap.

Travel to Cambodia from Laos is a little more tricky, but possible.

If travelling to Cambodia by bus the options are plentiful and relatively inexpensive.

Giant Ibis, Kampot Express and Golden Bayon Express are three of the more popular bus companies in Cambodia that can accommodate travel into the country.

But note that travel times are often, if not always, slower than those posted in schedules. If you are crunched for time, you might want to consider flying into Cambodia instead of travelling by bus.

Ferry and Cruise Ship

Ferry

At the moment, there’s only one ferry line available from Vietnam to Cambodia.

Mandarin Cruises has up to 7 weekly departures from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh and the tickets cost around USD$65.

The price includes the company picking you up at your hotel and dropping you off at your chosen address.

You can make a reservation on their website or buy the ticket in their office.

Make sure you have the necessary visas and travel documents!

Cruise Ship

You could also take a cruise ship from Vietnam to Cambodia.

But this is considered a luxury cruise and will be more expensive and touristy than taking the ferry.

However, this will allow you significantly more comfort and luxury, if you’re willing to spend the money.

The greatest advantage of these cruises is that you will have an English-speaking guide.

He or she will introduce you to the Mekong river, as well as the countries that it’s connecting.

The cruises last for a minimum of three days and they usually include all three meals.

Even though the prices can be very high, you can usually find early-bird discounts or cheaper deals.

Click here to see some options and to get a better idea of the costs.

Visa Requirements for Cambodia

Those who choose to travel to Cambodia must obtain a visa unless they are coming from a visa-exempt country.

Those countries are Laos, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and Thailand.

Residents of these countries can stay in Cambodia for up to 30 days.

Other tourists can get a visa upon arrival or they can get an e-visa via the iVisa website.

Keep in mind that e-visas are accepted at only two of the three airports (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap).

You can find the list of all entry points, including land borders, by clicking on this link.

The tourist visa costs USD$30 and if you’re using the e-visa service, you’ll have to pay an additional USD$7 fee.

The business visa costs USD$35 and can be extended multiple times for longer periods.

On the contrary, the tourist visa can only be extended once.

Residents of certain countries must get their visa in advance, in Cambodian embassies in their homelands.

Those countries are: Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Lebanon, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Syria, Yemen.

It is important that your passport is valid for at least six months.

Also, the Cambodian visa will take up one page of your passport, so make sure you have enough space left.

Click here to see the visa application form.

If you don’t want the responsibility of handling the papers, you can always get the help of an agency!

You can also apply for visas to visit other countries, such as Vietnam, from the capital city of Phnom Penh.

Cambodia Travel Guide
Boats in Sihanoukville – Cambodia travel guide.

5 Interesting Facts About Cambodia

  • The Angkor Wat temple complex holds the Guinness World Record for the largest religious structure in the world! It measures a whopping 162,2 hectares (401 acres).
  • People in Cambodia celebrate the New Year in April! The holiday lasts for three days and it marks the end of the harvest season.
  • There is historical and architectural evidence that people have been living in Cambodia for at least 7,000 years!
  • In Cambodia it is considered disrespectful and rude to point your feet at people and your fingers at things. People in Cambodia always keep their feet tucked and they point with their entire palms.
  • The Cambodian flag is the only one in the world that features a building. Of course, that building is Angkor Wat!

Best Time to Travel to Cambodia

There truly is no bad time to travel to Cambodia, depending on your travel preferences and whether you are willing to endure rain during your visit.

Unlike many parts of the world, Cambodia doesn’t really have four seasons.

Instead Cambodia’s seasons are divided into the rainy season and the dry season.

The dry season lasts between October and April. Therefore, the most popular time for travelling to Cambodia is usually during these times.

Even though the weather is warm all year round it is best to avoid travelling to Cambodia during the rainy season.

The humidity can be smothering and the heavy rains will greatly restrict your ability to see and do things across the country.

On the other hand, some people like to travel when there aren’t many tourists around.

The advantages of that are lower prices and the fact that it’s highly unlikely any place will be too crowded.

The rain season has a couple more perks, such as seeing the country at its greenest and lushest.

However, even if you don’t mind the rain, there are certain months when the weather conditions are especially difficult.

The peak of wet season is in September and October, when heavy rains can cause transportation issues.

Also, keep in mind that May and June are usually the hottest months, when temperatures often reach 40°C.

Travel Itineraries Suggestions

Although it is a relatively small country, Cambodia has much to offer to keep you busy during your visit.

There is always something new to discover and try – whether it is a tale from its history or a tasty dish.

Travelling to Cambodia offers great choices both for lazy beach vacations or for active expeditions.

The options make it hard to choose and plan, since you’ll probably want to do everything!

Here’s a couple itinerary suggestions based upon arrival in Phnom Penh that you might find useful:

Day Trips In and Around Phnom Penh

A week in and around the capital city of Phnom Penh will give you the opportunity to experience the culture and history of Cambodia.

You won’t be able to see and do everything in this time, so consider touring the temples and beaches as part of your travel to Cambodia.

  • Fly to Phnom Penh
  • Phnom Penh – 4 days
  • Day trip to Koch Dach – 1 Day
  • Go to Kirirom National Park – 2 days
  • Go back to Phnom Penh
  • Fly back

Tour the Temples

If you have 8-10 days or more and want to tour the spiritual centre of the region, you could travel along the following itinerary.

  • Travel from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
  • Go to Koh Ker; Koh Ker – 1 day
  • Go to Beng Mealea; Beng Mealea – 1 day
  • Go to Angkor Thom; Angkor Thom – 1 day
  • Go to Ta Prohm; Ta Prohm – 1 day
  • Go to Angkor Wat; Angkor Wat – 3 days
  • Go back to Siem Reap; Siem Reap – 2 days
  • Return to Phnom Penh

The Beaches

Everyone has their own idea of how long to relax along the beach.

But with 8-10 days you could have a very refreshing time visiting the beaches of Cambodia along the following itinerary:

  • Travel from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville
  • Go to Koh Rong; Koh Rong – 4 days
  • Go to Koh Rong Samloem; Koh Rong Samloem – 3 days
  • Go back to Sihanoukville; Sihanoukville – 3 days
  • Return to Phnom Penh

Budget for Travelling to Cambodia

Cambodia is very affordable for tourists.

It’s actually even cheap compared to its other Southeastern Asian neighbours!

You can find plenty of good accommodation deals. The food is very inexpensive. And public transportation doesn’t cost a fortune.

Therefore, you can fully explore and travel in Cambodia regardless of your budget.

if you travel to Cambodia in the less popular, rainy months you will save even more money during your stay.

On the other hand, if you would like to stay in a luxurious resort you have that option as well.

There’s something for everyone’s preference and budget!

Here’s our list of three different budgets that you might find helpful. The prices below are per day:

Backpacker

Single Traveller:  USD$15-$30

The cheapest accommodation you can find will cost you around USD$7 per night.

Keep in mind that, even though it’s the cheapest, it doesn’t mean that accommodation is the worst.

There are actually some very decent rooms for that amount of money!

The next thing you’re going to have to spend money on is food.

Luckily, there’s a variety of delicious street food options, as well as a number of nice cheap restaurants.

For example, the Phsar Chas Fried Chicken will cost you less than a dollar. A restaurant option is pork ribs at Bei Chomneanh for only USD$2.

When it comes to public transportation, tuk-tuk rides usually don’t cost more than USD$3 anywhere across a city.

The tickets to some of the most popular tourist spots, such as the National Museum, will run around USD$10.

Flashpacker

Single Traveller: USD$80-$150

A room in a good hostel or a decent hotel will usually cost around USD$30-$50, depending on the time of year.

This option will allow you more comfort and quality, and you still won’t spend large amounts of money.

You probably chose to travel to Cambodia so you could try the traditional food, among other things.

Therefore, you should try to eat nice, cooked Cambodian dishes.

Their prices in restaurants are typically around USD$4 – $10 per meal.

You should visit Angkor Wat, since it’s one of the main attractions in the country. The one day pass costs USD$37.

Luxury

Single Traveller: USD$250 and more

If you’re willing to splurge and treat yourself, Cambodia will have plenty to offer in return.

Spending the night in the beautiful Veranda Natural Resort in Kep will cost you around USD$100.

On the other hand, one of the most luxurious hotels in the country is the Park Hyatt in Siem Reap.

The price of one night in a room with a king-sized bed is between USD$200 – $300.

Eating in high-end restaurants will cost around USD$30-$50 per meal, drinks included.

Don’t hold back on the tourist passes and tours. They are all worth the money!

Travel in Cambodia
Floating villages in Cambodia.

Top 5 Places to Visit in Cambodia

When you choose to travel to Cambodia, you probably already have an idea of what you’d like to visit.

Some places are worldwide famous and some you’ve probably found while doing your research.

Just so you wouldn’t miss some of the best spots, we’ve created a list for you.

Even though everyone’s preferences are different, make sure to add these to your list of places to visit in Cambodia!

  • Angkor Wat: It’s an obvious choice, but it has to be mentioned! This will not only be one of the most breathtaking places you’ll see in Cambodia, but also in your lifetime. Built in the 12th century, its features and the level of details are still unsurpassed. If possible, we suggest getting the 3-day pass, to truly take in the beauty and magnificence of Angkor Wat!
  • Phnom Kulen: Phnom Kulen is believed to be the most sacred mountain in the country. People visit the enormous reclining Buddha statue on top of it so they could say their prayers and bring offerings. Other than being interesting for allowing a peek into the locals’ praying rituals, it has incredible natural beauties. You might recognize the stunning jungle and waterfalls from the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie!
  • Phnom Penh: The largest city in Cambodia is everything but boring. The vibrant city is full of attractions and fun experiences. Take advantage of its three rivers and go on a cruise. Visit the National Museum and the Royal Palace. Or just blend in with the locals and follow them to the markets, remote restaurants and shops!
  • Sihanoukville: Commonly known as a party destination, Sihanoukville is that and much more. This sandy coastal paradise will allow you to unwind and relax as well as enjoy the great nightlife. During the day, consider surfing or kayaking, or just sit back and enjoy the scenery. The seemingly endless file of bamboo bungalows and the white sand make it one of the most gorgeous vacation spots in Cambodia!
  • Tonlé Sap: This large freshwater lake and its floating village are the Venice of Cambodia! The restaurants, stores and private homes are all floating houses. There’s a variety of tours that will introduce you to the interesting lifestyle of the inhabitants of the village. It’s a perfect destination if you’re looking for some peace and quiet and a good place to watch sunsets!

Top 5 Travel Experiences to Have in Cambodia

  • The Battambang Bamboo Train: Battambang offers one of the most interesting “train” rides in the world. The train is actually a norry – a platform made of bamboo with a small engine. Created because the national railroad was abandoned during the civil war, it is now one of the most famous tourist attractions. The 30-60 minute ride takes you through Cambodia’s wonderful landscapes and rice fields, at a maximum speed of 40 km/h!
  • Glowing Plankton (bioluminescence) on Koh Rong: This is one of those experiences that you’ll remember for the rest of your life! Just imagine witnessing the sea full of sparkling blue dots, everywhere around you. Only a small number of places in the world are inhabited by bioluminescent planktons. The area around the Koh Rong island is one of them. There’s a number of nighttime boat tours available, at a fairly cheap price (around USD$10).
  • Dolphins in Kratie: A rare kind of dolphin, the Irrawaddy dolphin, lives in the Mekong river and can be seen in Kratie province! The dolphin viewing area is in Kampi village, near Kratie town, and it’s easily accessed by bike or tuk-tuk. If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch them jumping in the air and playing! Make sure you add this day trip to your list of activities.
  • Phnom Penh Walking Tour: The capital city is full of interesting spots with great backstories that you could never know on your own. Since the traffic can be chaotic, walking tours are an amazing option. Local guides will take you through Cambodia’s history and culture and really open your eyes to everything around you!
  • Get a massage: Southeast Asia is known for having some of the world’s best masseuses! Find time to visit a Cambodian spa and relax completely. Ask for a traditional Khmer massage!

Transport in Cambodia

Transport between locations in Cambodia is fairly easy and full of different options.

You can choose between travelling on water, on land or in the air.

Here’s how you can get around the country and inside the cities:

Airplane

Since there are three airports in Cambodia, you can travel from one side of the country to another by plane.

You’ll often be able to find affordable tickets since domestic flights are usually inexpensive.

Bus

Buses are the most affordable and most popular way to travel between cities.

However, as for now, they’re only departing from a few locations.

There’s a couple of companies that have very comfortable buses, equipped with Wi-FI and air conditioning.

12Go.asia is a website that you could use for ticket reservations.

Boat

The popularity of travelling by boat is decreasing and people are choosing other means of transport.

One of the few remaining advantages of travelling in Cambodia by boat is enjoying the scenery and the sights.

Right now, eight companies offer services between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

You can also travel from Siem Reap to Battambang by boat, as well as from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc.

Tuk-tuks

Tuk-tuks and cyclos are the most popular way to get around urban areas.

The ride won’t cost you more than USD$3 to go virtually anywhere within a city or town.

There’s also a possibility of hiring the driver for the day.

You could expect to negotiate a price around USD$20-25 to have your own personal chauffeur for the day!

Accommodations in Cambodia

When it comes to places to stay, Cambodia has all categories covered.

Cheap accommodation can be found virtually anywhere. While the more luxurious options are available in the bigger cities and on the seaside.

Average tourists usually stay in hostels and guesthouses that cost around USD$15-$25 per night.

Some of the most expensive hotels are located in Siem Reap, as well as Song Saa, a private island.

Since the popularity of Cambodia is constantly growing, new accommodation options seem to be appearing overnight.

It’s unlikely that you’ll have an issue with finding a suitable option for you.

Of course, booking online in advance might help you save some cash!

Food in Cambodia

When in Cambodia, eat like a local! Cambodian food is not only cheap, but very delicious as well.

The traditional specialties are full of flavour and usually made with rice, noodles, meat or fish.

Even though it’s not the most famous Asian cuisine, Cambodian food is very underrated.

Don’t miss out on the street food, since it can often be tastier than restaurant food!

Here are some of Cambodia’s signature dishes:

  • Fish Amok (creamy curried fish wrapped in banana leaves)
  • Lap Khmer (spicy sour beef salad)
  • Prahok (fermented fish paste)
  • Nom banh chok (rice noodles with a green fish gravy)
  • Num Chak Kachan (steamed layer cake with coconut cream)

Safety in Cambodia

Presently travelling in Cambodia is fairly safe for visitors.

Violence against tourists is extremely unlikely.

You shouldn’t have any problems, as long as you stick to common-sense safety tips such as walking in well known and well-lit areas.

Avoid visiting the remote areas of Phnom Penh and try not to walk through them alone.

There have been some incidents of bag snatching in the capital, so try to take care of your possessions.

Other than that, the frequency of petty thefts is pretty much the same as in any tourist hotspot in the world.

Some levels of precaution are always advised, such as keeping your money in a safe place and not flashing expensive items in public.

A rather unique danger to tourists involves unexploded ordinance from past wars in the area.

It is advised that you don’t stray from well-marked paths.

There is a possibility of bumping into un-exploded ordnance. The most important thing to remember is to never touch any rockets, bombs or anything similar to that.

Medical System in Cambodia

Medical care in Cambodia is underdeveloped. But it is getting better gradually.

It is incredibly important to have travel insurance to protect you in the event of illness or accident.

Consult your doctor about the necessary vaccines prior to travelling to Cambodia.

If you plan on spending time in rural areas, some recommended vaccines include those against Japanese encephalitis and malaria.

When it comes to the quality of hospitals, the best ones are located in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

The International SOS Medical and Dental Clinic, the Royal Rattanak Hospital and the Calmette Hospital are the best in the capital.

Prescriptions are not a thing in Cambodia, which means you can buy everything over the counter.

Be careful when choosing a pharmacy, since many of the independent ones have been accused of selling fake medicine.

Stick to the chains, such as U-Care and Pharmacie de la Gare.

When it comes to the prices, a consultation with the doctor usually costs between USD$20 – $50, plus the cost of medicine.

Also note that the national emergency phone number is 119.

We recommend that you always have travel insurance wherever you travel, and Cambodia is no exception. Get a free quote with World Nomads below.

Packing List for Cambodia

The good news about packing for travel to Cambodia is that no matter when you decide to visit, you’ll never need clunky sweaters and coats!

Cambodia is very warm all year round. Rain is actually the only weather factor for which you should be prepared.

Here are some of our suggestions for packing:

Men/Women

  • t-shirts
  • long-sleeved top
  • shorts
  • leggings
  • raincoat
  • rain boots
  • flip-flops
  • loose pants
  • sunglasses
  • hat
  • towel
  • swimsuit
  • underwear
  • socks

Miscellaneous Items

  • sunscreen
  • insect repellent
  • travel electricity adapter
  • medication
  • camera(s)

Travel Tips for Cambodia

  • Always cover your knees and your shoulders when you’re visiting a temple. Although you may not follow Cambodian religious beliefs, this is a way of showing your respect for the culture. The locals will appreciate it!
  • Even though most places accept US Dollars, do not assume that everywhere will. Make sure that you have both currencies on you, or at least only Cambodian Riels.
  • Knowing some basic Khmer phrases will help out a lot. To say ‘yes’ the word is “baat” for men and “chaas” for women. “Dteh” means ‘no.’ “Suom mehta” means “please.” And the Khmer phrase for ‘thank you’ is “or-koon.”
  • Make a copy of your visa and your passport. You never know what could happen and this could save you a lot of time and headache later. It is always good to keep a copy or copies in separate bags/places on your person in the event one is stolen or lost.
  • Do not drink the tap water. Only consume bottled mineral water. Try to avoid ice in your drinks in bars and restaurants, since it is also made with tap water.

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