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Cambodia - Frequently Asked Questions

Table of contents

  1. When is the best time to go?
  2. Do you need a visa?
  3. How can I get there?
  4. What is the local currency and what currency should I take?
  5. What is there to see and do?
  6. Do I need any vaccinations ahead of travel?
  7. What language is spoken locally?
  8. Is Cambodia a safe country?
  9. What is the best way to travel around the country?
  10. What should I wear when visiting ancient temples and Buddhist pagodas?
  11. What is the best way to bargain in Cambodia?

When is the best time to go?

Cambodia is a tropical country, which means it generally has two seasons - wet and dry. The rainy season is from June until October, while the dry season is separated into the cool months (November to February), when temperatures average between 17 and 27 degrees Celsius, and the hot period (March to May), when temperatures are generally between 29 to 38 degrees Celsius.


Do you need a visa?

You need a visa to enter Cambodia, but you can get one when you arrive in the country, or if you prefer to obtain it prior to your arrival, you can get one after submitting a form online. Tourist visas, which are valid for one month, cost US$20 and you need to provide two passport photos. You can only extend a tourist visa for one additional month. Your passport also needs to be valid for at least six months from the date you enter Cambodia.


How can I get there?

There are no direct flights to Cambodia from the UK, so you will need to plan a stop elsewhere in Asia or the Middle East. Many people choose to fly to Bangkok, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur and take a connecting flight from there to either Phnom Penh or Siem Riep. The average travel time is around 13 hours and 30 minutes.


What is the local currency and what currency should I take?

The local currency is the Cambodian riel, although US dollars and Thai baht are also widely accepted throughout the country. Always carry small change in riel for low-cost transactions like taxi rides and inexpensive purchases. Credit cards are accepted in some establishments in the major cities, but not necessarily elsewhere.


What is there to see and do?

There are some amazing heritage sites in Cambodia, such as the temples of Angkor Wat. Among the other historical attractions worth visiting in the country are the landmarks in Phnom Penh, such as the Royal Palace, Independence Monument and Wat Phnom, a stunning temple on a hill overlooking the city. You shouldn't overlook the dark period of Cambodia's civil war and if you are interested in finding out more about the conflict, visit the Tuol Sleng Museum. The experience is likely to be incredibly moving. Away from Cambodia's historical sites are some beautiful natural attractions, such as the beach at Sihanoukville, which boasts glorious white sands lapped by the waters of the Gulf of Thailand. The town of Kratie on the banks of the Mekong River is a must-visit for wildlife lovers as near here you can spot the incredibly rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins.


Do I need any vaccinations ahead of travel?

There are no required vaccinations for entry to Cambodia, unless you are travelling from an area where there is a risk of yellow fever, in which case you are required to be vaccinated against this illness.


What language is spoken locally?

Khmer, also called Cambodian, is the official language in Cambodia, but French and English are widely spoken throughout the country.


Is Cambodia a safe country?

Cambodia is generally a safe country to travel in, although it is wise to take precautions. Keep your personal valuables close at all times and lock anything you are not planning to carry with you in your hotel safe. It is important to be aware that there are still areas with unexploded landmines, so always stick to marked paths if you travel to rural parts of the country.


What is the best way to travel around the country?

There are domestic flights between the capital Phnom Penh and Siem Reap - the gateway to the Angkor temples - but many travellers choose to make use of the buses or ferries. The former serve much of the country and are very cheap - although journeys can be long. Another option for road travel is a shared taxi, which will often be faster than going by bus and can be very cost effective for small groups. Ferries operate on the major rivers, with some of the most popular routes being between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and Siem Reap to Battambang. Within the major cities and towns you can rent motorbikes, or hop on one of the local motorcycle taxis to get from A to B. These are only used for short trips though. You can also hire pedal bikes and cycle your way around a destination. If you don't want the hassle of arranging your own transportation, organised tours are an excellent way to go. There are many of these available, so speak to us about arranging any special tour or excursion before


What should I wear when visiting ancient temples and Buddhist pagodas?

It's best to show respect for the local religions and culture, especially when you're visiting temples and pagodas, with the general advice being to dress conservatively. This means wearing long trousers (at least three-quarter length) and a top that covers your shoulders. Because Cambodia is very hot and humid, make sure you have clothing that's lightweight and breathable to prevent you from becoming too uncomfortable.


What is the best way to bargain in Cambodia?

Firstly, it's important to note that you shouldn't try to bargain in shops that have prices, so look around and if things are labelled with prices, just pay what's on the ticket. When you are somewhere that you can bargain - in a market or at a souvenir stall - be friendly and polite. If you can learn some basic Khmer phrases, you'll often do well and may get a better discount; Cambodians love it when you speak their language, even if it's just a few words, so making the effort it's definitely worth it. If you don't enjoy haggling, simply pick up an item and ask how much it is, then walk away. Usually, this will result in the stall holder dropping their price without you having to argue for it. Don't forget that if you walk away you may also find the same or similar item later on and at a better price.


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