Cambodia is a country rich with history, culture and smiles galore. From the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, to the serene islands in the Gulf of Thailand, there’s something for every one.
CAPITAL CITY: Phnom Penh
Riel and US dollars. 4000KHR = $1USD
Most places accept both, if it’s labelled in USD ask to pay in Riel if you want to and vice versa. You’ll get used to paying and receiving change in a combination of two currencies as they don’t use anything smaller than $1USD, so every 25 cents is paid in 1000KHR. You’ll collect 1000 riel notes pretty quickly so it’s easiest just to bring USD. Don’t bring anything larger than $20USD if you can help it, they’re reluctant to accept $50 and $100 notes.
Air: You can either fly into Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. I’d advise flying in and out of Siem Reap if you’re on a return ticket, as it is in the north of the country as opposed to Phnom Penh being in the middle, making it a little harder to shape an itinerary around it. Siem Reap is also a nicer, less chaotic introduction to the country – especially if you’ve never travelled to Southeast Asia before!
Land: Enter by bus from any of the neighbouring countries – Vietnam, Thailand or Laos.
Visa: Visa upon arrival is available for most nationalities but be sure to check the requirements for your country before you arrive. You’ll need a spare passport photo and USD to pay for it, and you’ll have to fill out a form at the airport when you land.BASIC WORDS (phonetically)
Hello – jum-reap soo-a
Yes – baat
No – dieh
Please – suom mehta
Thank you – or-koon
Excuse me – sohm-dtoh
Buses and minivans travel all over the country and are most people’s chosen form of transport between destinations. It’s great way to see the countryside and the craziness that is Cambodian roads! If you have the choice, travel with Giant Ibis. Their buses are air conditioned, have wifi (that actually works) and electrical outlets, safety is actually considered (seatbelts on larger buses) and you get a snack and water. Generally they’re only a couple of dollars more than the other companies and it’s well worth it.
Tuk tuks are the main form of transport within towns and cities. A tuk tuk is like a three-wheeled vehicle usually powered by a motorbike or scooter. You’ll need to bargain with the drivers as they’ll start at an exorbitant price (well not really…but exorbitant for Cambodia). Taxis can be found but no-one really uses them unless it’s a long trip to the airport.
WHERE TO GO
Siem Reap: Home to the famous Angkor Wat, Siem Reap is a must-see. There’s not a huge amount to do in the city itself, although it is interesting to wander around the backstreets and check out the old market for a day. If you want to be surrounded by tourists and Western food, go to Pub Street. If you want a more authentic experience like we did, you only have to walk a few streets either side and pop down a little alleyway and you’ll get some delicious Khmer dinner.Phnom Penh: It’s a dirty, chaotic city but if you’re interested in the history of Cambodia, Phnom Penh is the place to visit. This is where you’ll learn about the Khmer Rouge and can visit the killing fields and genocide museum, as well as the Royal Palace and National Museum. Some love it, some hate it, there’s not really any middle ground.
Kampot: The most beautiful little town, Kampot has mountains, countryside, international eats, local markets and is only a short trip to Kep, a beachside town. Check out our 7 Reasons You Must Visit Kampot.
Koh Rong Sanloem: The less touristy of the two main visitor islands, Koh Rong Sanloem is quiet and relaxed. If you’re looking for some time out, beautiful beaches, crystal clear water and wandering through the jungle, then Koh Rong Sanloem is made for you. Don’t get it confused with Koh Rong – that’s its busier, more wild neighbour (although if you’re looking to party, this might be more suited to you).Chi Phat: A beautiful little village nestled within the Cardamom Mountains, Chi Phat is gives the opportunity to live like a local and really experience village life. The perfect base for trekking through the mountains, you’ll find yourself chatting to the locals, and going right back to basics.
– Beef lok lak
– Fish amok
– Morning glory
TOP PHOTO SPOTS
– Pre Rup at sunrise, Siem Reap
– Old Market, Siem Reap
– Rice fields, Kampot
– Lazy Beach, Koh Rong SanloemOTHER
WiFi: The Internet can be slow at the best of times, but it depends on where you stay. You can buy a SIM card and data for less than $10USD and the connection always seems to be quite fast so this is a good option.
Laundry: Generally $1USD per kilogram. They air dry everything so you don’t have to worry about your clothes shrinking in the dryer.
Haggling: Markets and tuk tuk drivers expect you to haggle, it’s all part of the experience. They’ll start their prices as high as three times the price they can actually sell it for, so bargain your way down but still be reasonable. The oldest trick in the book is to start walking away, there’s no doubt they’ll keep dropping their price, and if they don’t, you know they’re at the best price they can give you.
Power cuts: Frequent occurrence but never seem to last for very long.
Patience: Leaving or arriving on time when taking bus trips is a rare occurrence in Cambodia. You need to be laid back and go with the flow, otherwise you’ll go crazy.
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