So many people want to visit Cambodia and it’s no wonder why! There’s so much to see and experience in this amazing country and the people are incredibly welcoming, too! In fact, there’s no reason not to start planning a trip to Cambodia today. There are a number of things that travelers to Cambodia should know before they visit. Having this knowledge will help them have the best possible trip and make the most of the time they have in Cambodia.
All visitors to Cambodia will need to have a tourist visa. This is generally good for 30 days and costs approximately $30 (USD). Travelers can stand in line and receive one of these visas upon arrival in Cambodia, though it may be in their best interests to get their visa online before they arrive. The eVisa is easy to apply for and usually takes no more than 3 days for processing.
It is more difficult to get a visa upon arrival via some entry locations than others. Entering over land (for instance, from Bangkok, Thailand) can be harder than flying in or coming in another way. Travelers planning to enter through these locations should get a visa ahead of time.
Rules surrounding travel regarding COVID-19 change regularly and that’s true with Cambodia as well as with other countries. Travelers will be responsible for knowing what the rules are that pertain to them and ensuring that they follow them. Otherwise, they may not be allowed to travel to or enter Cambodia.
A few travelers choose to rent vehicles and drive themselves in Cambodia, but traffic is bad in the cities and very few people follow traffic laws the way that drivers do in the west. For these reasons, most travelers choose to get around the cities by tuk-tuk. These small, three-wheeled vehicles cost just a few dollars for most trips around town. Even trips to sites like Angkor Wat only cost $10-$20.
If visitors want to travel between cities or outside of cities, there are vast bus networks in Cambodia. Most of the time, travelers don’t even have to book these in advance. They can choose between day buses, from which they can see the countryside, or night buses (some of which come complete with karaoke!).
There are also flights internal to Cambodia. However, these are usually more expensive than buses. They also require planning ahead and dealing with airports, security, etc. Most travelers find that it’s not worth the hassle to fly. There are a few trains and boats in Cambodia. If these suit a traveler’s specific destination or itinerary, they can be acceptable forms of transportation. However, they are not the most commonly used forms of transport nor the most popular.
Cambodia offers everything when it comes to lodging. From basic hostel rooms to vacation rentals to luxurious hotels, they offer every option available under the sun. While it’s possible to pay as much as a traveler wants to for luxurious options, it doesn’t cost much to get a quality place to stay in Cambodia. Even $25/night can get travelers rooms with a television, pool access, and air conditioning.
Cambodia is a tropical country and, as such, can get very warm, especially in the middle of the day. Many travelers prefer to get up early, see some sites, then rest at their lodgings until it cools down in the evening. Visitors should also be prepared with plenty of sunscreens, lots of water, and loose clothing that won’t make them sweat too much.
Cambodia experiences a rainy season from May to October, and the best time to travel is between November and March. This allows for the driest weather and means that temperatures are generally at their lowest, too, though it is by no means cool in Cambodia.
Take precautions with your belongings in Cambodia. While many areas are completely safe, the cities and the borders are known for bag snatchers and pickpockets. Even when riding in a tuk-tuk, make sure bags are secure so no one can grab them from the street as the vehicle passes.
Visitors should talk to their doctors about any vaccines that they should get before they travel to Cambodia. These can protect them from a number of different illnesses and should be received at least 6-8 weeks before the trip takes place. Vaccine recommendations change based on current diseases and conditions, so travelers will need to check and see which ones they need based on their date of travel.
The Cambodian people are among the most friendly and welcoming in southeast Asia. Many travelers report feeling more at home in Cambodia than they do in other countries in the area. Even if people can’t communicate with a traveler, their smiles will speak a thousand words!
To greet a person in Cambodia, travelers should put their hands together in front of their chest, as if they were praying. Then they can bow slightly forward, especially with the head and neck. This is called the sampeah and honors Cambodian culture.
Monks are highly respected in Cambodia. It’s best for travelers, especially women, to avoid sitting too close to them, speaking to them unless spoken to first, and generally getting in their space. If visitors want a photo of a monk, they should always ask first.
When visiting temples and other cultural sites, visitors need to be prepared with the proper clothing. Shoulders and legs should be completely covered on men and women. Visitors should avoid wearing graphic shirts that could be taken as disrespectful, because they may not be permitted to enter cultural sites wearing these. Additionally, visitors should never point their feet toward a statue or other representation of a Buddha. This is considered disrespectful.
In fact, travelers may want to cover up more in Cambodia than they would at home. Shorts, tank tops, and swimsuits are generally saved for the beaches. Most people choose long, linen-type garments that cover legs and arms unless they want to be stared at by the locals.
There are a few social rules that travelers should follow in Cambodia, to honor the culture and not disrespect anyone or anything. These include:
Here are a few more tips that will help travelers have an excellent time in Cambodia.