Cambodia feels like somewhat of a concealed jewel in Southeast Asia. While it’s as yet a quite famous traveler destination, it’s not discussed close to as much as Thailand. Traveling to Cambodia with terrific temples, wonderful islands and beaches, and rich cultural heritage, Cambodia’s a spot you won’t have any desire to miss.
While the clamor of the huge urban communities may be the nation’s primary attractions, my preferred spots in Cambodia are really the littler towns and towns. From the wildernesses to the beaches, this nation is loaded with astounding sights simply holding on to be investigated.
Quick Information for traveling to Cambodia
Cambodian Riel (Although the Riel is that the official currency, Cambodia also uses US dollars for nearly everything. In most of the country prices are going to be marked in USD, though you’ll likely receive Riel as change during a purchase).
Khmer is that the official language of Cambodia, although sometimes it’s just mentioned as Cambodian. It’s spoken by over 90% of the country’s population. the precise dialect may vary slightly counting on where you’re within the country, but most Cambodian natives speak central Khmer, the foremost common dialect.
In recent years, Cambodia has seen a rise in tourism which has led to an increase within the use of English. While the locals during a small village won’t understand you, you’ll be ready to get by easily within the bigger towns and cities using English.
A 30-day traveler visa is required for all visitors coming to Cambodia. Visas are often obtained on arrival for $30 in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Preah Sihanouk. You’ll just get to bring a passport-sized photo with you. The Cambodian government website also offers e-visas, so you’ll apply beforehand to hurry up your entry into the country.
E-visas cost a further $6 and take three days to process. The 30-day tourist visa is often extended at the embassy in Phnom Penh for $45 for a further 30-days. Citizens coming from ASEAN nations, you’ll get a free visa on arrival which lasts for 30 days.
If you’ll be working in Cambodia, longer stays are permitted if you’ve got a business visa. except for most of the people, the tourist visa is ideal.
Generally, traveling to Cambodia may be a very safe country to go to. The Khmer people are friendly and increasingly welcoming to foreigners because the country becomes more and more fashionable tourists and travelers.
As with anywhere, you visit, it’s important to take care. In big cities like Cambodian capital, bag snatching can happen, especially when tourists are riding in tuk-tuks. Keep your wits about you and confirm you retain your belongings on the brink of you. Use an equivalent caution you’d in any busy city.
One additional warning about Cambodia
Never stray in rural areas like forests or rice paddies without a guide. While not common, it’s possible to encounter unexploded mines. In most of the places you’ll be visiting, this won’t be a problem, but just listen from the locals and don’t go wandering off within the jungle alone. This isn’t the place to indulge your inner Indiana Jones!
At the danger of sounding like your parents, confirm you get travel insurance before hitting the road. Trust us, it’s one among those belongings you don’t want to go away home without.
Festivals and Celebrations
Traveling to Cambodia may be a country with an upscale cultural heritage, and therefore the Khmer people like to celebrate their traditions with big parties and festivals. If you’re visiting in April or May, you’ll be ready to experience the Khmer New Year celebration. First, two days of this holiday are spent in normal activities and family meetings, while the third and final day explodes into a country-wide water fight (similar to Thailand’s Songkran, though far more toned down).
At the top of April or the beginning of May (depending on the year), the Khmer people mark the start of the rice planting season with the Royal Ploughing Ceremony. This more solemn ceremony takes place in Phnom Penh and is a powerful sight to behold.
Perhaps the foremost festive and exciting holiday celebrated in Cambodia is that the water festival held per annum in October or November. Marking the change within the flow of the Tonle Sap and Mekong. the town transforms into a festival atmosphere and maybe a perfect place to experience Khmer culture and its best–and most fun!
The transport from one place to subsequent is fairly easy in traveling to Cambodia and is sort of efficient, also as cheap.
Cambodia Trip Planning for traveling to Cambodia
The most popular time to traveling in Cambodia is during the season, from November to March. within the season, temperatures usually vary between 70 degrees Fahrenheit and therefore the high 80s, occasionally getting up to the 90s. April and should are the most well-liked and most humid months, with temperatures reaching 100 degrees.
The season goes from May to October, and while the temperature will still reach highs of 90, the rain does calm off a touch. within the wet season, afternoon downpours are routine but don’t tend to disrupt lifestyle considerably. If you don’t mind packing an umbrella, traveling during this point is often pleasant and tons less crowded than the peak season.
As with most of Southeast Asia, traveling to Cambodia is comparatively cheap. If you’re happy staying in hostel dorms and eating local dishes, you would possibly be fine getting by on $15 each day. But if you would like to enjoy some food, get a personal room, or experience a number of the country’s tourist activities, you’re getting to want to budget a touch higher.
For $25 each day you’ll be ready to live very comfortably in Cambodia and luxuriate in a number of the country’s best attractions. The more tours you would like to travel on or hotels you would like to spring for will obviously affect your budget, but generally, I’d say an honest base tip to plan for would be about $20-$25 per day for your call.
What to Pack for Traveling to Cambodia?
No matter once you traveling to Cambodia, it’s getting to be pretty hot. The tropical climate means high heat and stuffiness constant. Despite that, it can still get cool within the evenings, especially during the “winter” months, so it’s an honest idea to bring a light-weight rain jacket or sweater. Ponchos are available in most places, but it’s an honest idea to bring a rain jacket if you’ll be traveling during the wet season. There’s nothing worse than getting stuck in a day downpour without cover!
Other things we recommend bringing would be a sturdy travel bottle, sand-free beach blanket if you’re planning on visiting any of the islands, an RFID travel wallet, and an honest pair of travel sandals. Last but not least, you’ll definitely need an honest sun hat because the sun can get quite intense especially when wandering around Angkor Wat.
Major cities like Phnom Penh or Siem Reap will have any amenity you’ll need, so don’t worry if you forget to pack something; you’ll likely be ready to find it there.
Visit the ruins within the Angkor Archaeological Park
The largest religious monument within the world, Angkor Wat is actually unmatched. The temple and surrounding complex engulfs over 400 sq km and maybe a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Angkor was once the guts of the Khmer civilization, and therefore the temple is now perhaps the simplest representation of Khmer art and culture.
Whether you’re curious about history and archeology, or simply like taking within the incredible views at sunrise, Angkor Wat may be a must-see.
Recommended Angkor Wat Tours
Angkor Wat Sunrise Day Tour This small-group tour (max 10 people) will take you to experience the legendary Angkor Wat sunrise also taking you round the other famous temples like Ta Prohm, Angkor Thom City, and Bayon Temple.
Full-day Angkor Wat Private Tour If you favor exploring the place on your own, you’ll prefer to get a personal tour which provides you the liberty to sightsee and explore at your own pace. The guide is going to be there to elucidate historical temples and to require you to the simplest places round the Archeological Park. This tour starts at sunrise supplying you with the prospect to ascertain the park come to life.
Angkor Temples Siem Reap Bike Tour If you’re trying to find something a touch bit more active, you’ll prefer to explore this area on a motorcycle tour! Because you’re traveling by bike, your guide can take you thru some lesser-known temples making the whole experience super memorable.
Angkor Wat Two Day Private Tour We personally recommend spending a minimum of two days within the park. This is often so you’ll see and explore everything without ever feeling rushed. Take a glance at this private tour taking you to a number of the simplest parts of the park.
See the Ruins in Ta Prohm
If Angkor Wat is that the manicured cultural epicenter, Ta Prohm is its forgotten cousin. Covered during a vast system of roots and vines, this ancient temple looks as if it’s being swallowed by the world. Nestled within the jungle, Ta Prohm leaves visitors feeling like they’ve entered into a magical place. Now, granted, this place remains a hugely popular destination for tourists, so it’s almost so serene as you would possibly be imagining, but it definitely features a different vibe from the chaos of Angkor Wat and is additionally considered one among the simplest things to try to do traveling to Cambodia.
Have a Go at Cooking Khmer Food
Attending cooking classes has become an enormous pastime of mine once we traveling to Cambodia. Taking the time to find out a touch bit about the local cuisine is that the perfect thanks to getting to understand and really understand a culture. While in Cambodia, we highly recommend attending cooking classes in Cambodia to urge a taste of what Khmer food is like.
Relax in Sihanoukville and therefore the Islands
Thailand is usually renowned for its idyllic islands, but did you recognize Cambodia’s beaches are even as beautiful? Travel right down to Sihanoukville within the southwest of the country and depart from there to a number of the country’s island paradises. If you’re a fanatical diver, there are a couple of dive sites around Cambodia that also are worth exploring.
Pristine beaches and clear blue waters bring the right beach vacation, especially within the island paradise of Koh Rong. A warning to the digital nomads out there, though a number of the islands are a touch primitive, and while you’ll have decent accommodation, you would possibly have a tough time finding a wi-fi signal out there. But in any case, who needs wifi connection once you can swim with glowing planktons at night? Seriously, it’s one of our favorite things to try to to in Koh Rong.
Chill Out in Kampot and Kep
The sleepy riverside town of Kampot, a couple of hours from Phnom Penh, has become increasingly fashionable tourists and ex-pats in recent years. filled with western restaurants, cute shops, and riverboat cruises, Kampot has many of the conveniences of the town without all the people.
It’s an excellent place to hamper and relax during your travels. Found out a hammock on the beach overlooking the river or get to understand a number of the locals and ex-pats living there. It’s an area that will easily desire home. Kep, on the opposite hand, is another little seaside town that’s worth visiting just to eat a plate of freshly cooked pepper crabs. Yum!
Floating Villages of Tonle Sap
Tonle Sap is a great natural water lake in Southeast Asia. you’ll visit the lake in Siem Reap and explore the area’s natural offerings, from unique ecosystems and wildlife to the “floating” villages.
While you’ll definitely explore the world yourself, it’s easiest to book a tour so you’ll experience a small slice of village life on the lake without the effort of trying to navigate it yourself. The floating villages of Tonle Sap are a vibrant and colorful a part of Khmer culture and may provide a much-needed respite from the chaos of the cities.
Understand Cambodia’s History
While a visit to the historical parts of Phnom Penh just like the S21 Prison and therefore the Killing Fields could also be considered as Debbie downers, they’re absolute musts in every visit to the present country. While the whole experience is painful and depressing, it’ll offer you a replacement sense of understanding towards the truth resilience and kindness of the Cambodian people.
Recommended Historical Tours in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh’s Past Small Group Tour This tour includes an English speaking guide that will take you to all or any the highlights including Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and Choeung Ek geographical area.
S21 and Killing Fields Private Tour If you favor to travel at your own pace, getting a personal tour is worthwhile because it allows you to require some time. almost like the one above, this particular tour also has an English speaking guide.
What To Dine-in Cambodia
When traveling to Cambodia while Cambodian food won’t be also referred to as neighboring Thailand’s, it’s a singular cuisine filled with vibrant flavors and spices and maybe a must-try when you’re within the country. If you’re an individual with timid taste buds, the food here might sound scary to you, but trust me, it’s worth a try. Here are a number of the foremost popular and customary dishes available in Cambodia.
Bai Sach Chrouk (pork and rice):
This is often one among the simpler dishes and will satisfy even the pickiest eaters out there. Sweet pork is grilled, again & again steep first in coconut or garlic, and provides over warm rice with a side of preserve cucumbers and radishes and broth. this is often a standard breakfast item in Cambodia, and you’ll find it on most street stalls throughout the country.
While the thought of a “fish mousse” might sound repulsive, this curry dish offers a warm and buttery melt-in-your-mouth taste that completely balances local herbs like lemongrass and ginger with just the proper amount of spice. This is often one of the foremost popular dishes in Cambodia.
Lap Khmer (lime-marinated beef salad):
Almost like ceviche, Lap Khmer features thin slices of beef that are marinated in juice and spices. Sometimes the meat is lightly seared first. full of fresh chilies, this is often definitely not a dish for those with sensitive palates!
Nom Banh Chok (Khmer noodles):
While you would possibly consider noodle soup as an ideal lunch or dinner meal, in Cambodia it’s actually hottest for breakfast. You’ll find it at street stalls or from vendors wandering the streets within the early mornings. Rice noodles are combined with a fresh green sauce and topped with bean sprouts and other vegetables.
Khmer Red Curry:
Khmer red curry is analogous to the famed curries of Thailand but with just a touch less spice. A creamy coconut milk base blends with chunks of beef, pork, or chicken and a mix of local herbs and spices. you’ll eat it over rice, but in Cambodia, it’s most frequently served with bread.
Places to Remain In Cambodia
From luxury hotels within the big cities to quaint homestays and rustic guesthouses within the villages, Cambodia has something for each taste. Cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap will obviously have tons more options, but even in cozy towns like Kampot, you’ll find a spread of options.
If you’re traveling to Cambodia during national holidays or high season, we highly recommend that you simply book your accommodations before time. We usually check websites like Booking.com to assist you to discover the simplest deals, we’ve compiled an inventory of a number of our recommendations on where to remain in Cambodia so check them out!
Books to Read When Traveling to Cambodia
Apart from our travel guide, here are a couple of other recommended reading for your trip to Cambodia.
First They Killed My Father Written by a survivor of the Cambodian genocide under the regime of Pol Pot, this brave woman talks about what the mass murder did to the whole country and her family. it’s an incredible read and is worth finding out if you would like a deeper understanding of their culture.
In the Shadow of the Banyan, This novel follows the story of a toddler growing up during the Khmer regime. It talks about their struggle, the hardships, and what it had been truly wishing to get over such a lot of violence.
The Food & Cooking of Cambodia To relax the mood a touch bit, if you’re trying to find an excellent cookbook to find out more about Cambodian cuisine, inspect this particular one, featuring over 60 authentic Cambodia recipes.
How We Survived the Khmer Rouge Last but not least, this gripping memoir is another great read depicting what life was like during this point and the way some survivors lived to inform the story.