Cambodia’s national language is Khmer (Cambodian). In the cities and within the tourism industry most people speak some English. Some also speak French as a second language. Many tour guides, speaking a range of languages, are available in popular tourism areas. English is not as widely spoken outside of the cities.
Most visitors to Cambodia require a visa to enter Cambodia. A visa on arrival can be issued to most travellers at international airports and most overland entry points. Most tourists will only require the tourist T-visa, which is a single-entry visa valid for 30 days. If applying for a visa on arrival you will need to have US dollars to pay, preferably the correct amount, and a recent passport photo. A tourist visa is US$30, but you might have to pay extra at some of the overland crossings. Check with the Cambodian embassy to see if you need a visa or can get a visa on arrival
Cambodia’s currency is the riel. But US dollars are used extensively around the country and ATM withdrawals will give you US dollars. Please check your money carefully because dollar bills with tears are likely to be rejected by most Cambodians. You will likely end up being given riel for change if your change is less than $1 or if they do not have small dollar notes.
Where possible we advise that you change your big notes and carry smaller denominations. Many tuk tuk drivers, market stalls and smaller businesses will not be able to change bigger notes.
Credit cards are accepted at top hotels, some guesthouses and higher end restaurants. But the majority of businesses will not have credit card facilities available. A three per cent surcharge is often applied when using a credit card.
Yes, ATMs are widely available within the cities. But if you are travelling to regional or rural areas you are best to take cash with you.
Most people rely on a mix of credit and debit cards and cash – US dollars. Credit cards can be used at higher end businesses, US dollars are accepted everywhere and currency exchange outlets in most cities can change money for you. ATMS are available in cities to withdraw cash (US dollars).
If you are a budget traveller allow up to US$50 a day. Mid range travellers should allow US$50 to $200 a day and higher end visitors should allow US$200 to $500.
Costs will vary widely depending on the type of accommodation you book, where you eat, how much travel you do, what form of transport you use and how many activities you would like to do.
Cambodia is a relatively safe country. But like any place, it has its criminals and tourists are often targeted. Some foreigners have been subject to violent crime and bag snatchings. We advise all travellers, anywhere they go, to take care of their belongings and be sensible. Don’t carry all your valuables in your bag, don’t carry large amounts of money, hold your bag securely and keep bags and valuables out of reach when travelling in tuk tuks. The biggest safety issues are traffic accidents.
Cambodia is an easy country for solo travellers to explore. We recommend staying at guesthouses or lower-end accommodation, which often have many travellers coming and going and communal areas like restaurants and bars where it is easy to meet people. Take precautions to ensure your safety, especially if you are planning on being out late at night by yourself.
In the major tourist areas – Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Kep, Sihanoukville and Battambang – you will find a wide variety of western food and the range is increasing every day. In the more popular tourist areas you will find everything from pizza, hamburgers to steaks and pies and you can try cuisines as diverse as Indian, Italian, Korean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai and many more. However, we recommend you try some local Khmer dishes. The Amok is a national favourite and beef lok lak is very popular.
Depending on how severe your food allergy is you will need to be very careful because some places won’t understand the dangers. If you can find someone at your guesthouse to write down your allergy in Khmer, you should take this card with you wherever you go and show it when ordering food. In the bigger cities some restaurants are starting to include gluten free items on the menus but you cannot guarantee they will have kept all chopping boards, storage etc separate and there could be some small contamination.
Yes! But not everywhere. Fish is an important component to the stocks and sauces of many Cambodian dishes and even if you ask for no meat it is very likely the stock may contain fish or other meat. However, there are an increasing number of places catering to vegetarians in the bigger cities and you will find some tasty options. It could be more challenging in rural areas and smaller towns.
We recommend you speak to your travel doctor before visiting Cambodia to get the best advice on the vaccinations you will require. Sometimes it depends how long you are intending to stay and which parts of the country you are planning to visit. Hepatitis A and B shots should probably be up to date though.
Mosquitoes carrying malaria and dengue fever are found in parts of Cambodia. Malaria is generally restricted to rural areas but the dengue mosquito is a more urban dweller. The best advice is to cover up and bring good quality mosquito repellents. Malaria and dengue fever can be serious.
Water-borne diseases can be a problem throughout the country. Most places within the cities and tourism outlets will provide safe drinking water. Outside of the cities you should use bottled water.
Wifi is free at most guesthouses, hotels and restaurants – even some of the bus companies provide free wifi while travelling so it is easy for you to stay connected. The internet access is usually good for most general use. It might not be as fast as you are used to at home and the strength could depend on where your room is positioned in a hotel. Sim cards are cheap and readily available for most phones and at rates much cheaper than many international roaming options.
Tipping is not obligatory in Cambodia but wages are very low and tipping is widely practiced by visitors, particularly in hotels and restaurants, tour guides, tuk tuks and other services.
No. Drugs are available and many tourists – men in particular – will be offered drugs but they are not legal so buying is at your own risk. The quality and dosage can vary tremendously and overdoses are becoming more common. We do not condone the use of drugs. Please think carefully before buying drugs. We would like you to stay safe while in our country and Cambodian jails are not much fun.
Yes. But please be aware that most of Cambodia’s medical services are not at the level of most western nations. There are many medical clinics where you can receive basic treatment if needed. Phnom Penh and Siem Reap have hospitals with internationally qualified doctors but they can be very expensive. Please take care while travelling in Cambodia.
We strongly recommend that you organise travel insurance before arriving in Cambodia. Please look at the fine print of your travel insurance documents as many travel insurance companies do not cover you for some things such as driving motorbikes. We advise that you have a policy that will organise emergency airlift to a First World hospital if you need.
There are many transport options available to visitors. Buses run to most parts of the country and vary from cheap local buses to VIP buses with sleeper bunks. Mini buses are available to many destinations and a private taxi, which can be quite affordable, particularly if there are a few of you, can pick you up at your required time and drop you directly to the door of your destination. Flights are available between the bigger cities. You can also travel between some cities by boat but this can depend on water levels and the time of year.
Cambodia is seven hours (GMT+7) ahead of Greenwich Mean Time, 12 hours ahead of Boston in the United States (Pacific Time Standard) and three hours behind Sydney, Australia (Australian Eastern Standard Time).
Cambodia has a tropical climate and for much of the year it is hot and humid. Variations can occur in different parts of the country but the average temperature in Phnom Penh is 28C to 32C. It essentially has a wet and dry season, with the coolest temperatures from November to February and the hottest months from April to July.