Follow these 10 tips for travel in Cambodia, one of Southeast Asia’s hottest destinations. The ancient ruins and temples of Angkor alone attract nearly two millions visitors each year, and the beaches and cities are becoming increasingly popular with tourists. Follow these guidelines for smoother travel.
- You’ll need a visa in addition to your passport to enter Cambodia. Tourist and business visas are valid for a one month stay in Cambodia. Visas are easily arranged beforehand online through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Kingdom of Cambodia website listed below. If you’re more of a last minute traveler, visas can be obtained when you arrive at the Phnom Penh and Siem Reap International Airports. At approximately $20, visas are relatively inexpensive.
- Contact the hotline for travel warnings and alerts at 1-888-407-4747 for the most updated travel restrictions. Travelers are currently advised to steer clear of the Cambodia-Thai border around the Preah Vihear temple, as there is an ongoing border dispute. Land mines are still an issue in Cambodia; thousands of undiscovered and unexploded landmines still exist. Consult a local guide if you are planning hikes.
- Bring along a reputable guidebook. Whether you plan to explore the beach communities of Sihanoukville, Kep and Koh Kong or indulge in the nightlife of Phnom Penh, a good guidebook will help you avoid hassles and tourist traps and point out not-to-be-missed spots. There are now excellent books written for low-budget travelers on a shoestring budget to visitors looking for luxury accommodations.
- Use common your common sense. While Cambodians are known as a friendly lot, remember that this is a very impoverished country. Use the same common sense you would while traveling in any poor neighborhood in your own country: avoid flashy, expensive accessories and keep your valuables out of sight.
- Visit your healthcare provider for recommended immunizations. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Typhoid, MMR and Tetanus-Diptheria are the standard immunizations advised for travelers to Cambodia. Some visitors feel more comfortable bringing a prescription for antibiotics and an antidiarrheal in case they become ill. If you bring a prescription, make sure it is in its clearly marked, original container.
- Don’t drink the water, and other advice on food and drink. While the tap water is purportedly safe to drink in Phnom Penh, your best bet all over Cambodia is to only drink tap water boiled for a minimum of one minute. Bottled water is unreliable. Only eat peeled or cooked vegetables and fruits, and when eating cooked food, make sure it is piping hot! Cooked food that has been sitting at room temperature can be hazardous. Fish poisoning can be a particular problem in Cambodia, so avoid undercooked or raw fish and meats. Stay away from unpasteurized milks and creams.
- Don’t purchase or attempt to import or export any illegal drugs. While you’re at it, don’t agree to carry any packages in or out of the country for anyone. We’re sure the inside of a Cambodian prison isn’t on your “must-see” list.
- Check the weather. May through July are terribly hot. December is the best time of year in Cambodia. Pack accordingly. A note for females: women tend to dress more conservatively in Cambodia, something to especially keep in mind if you are traveling there during the hot months. Lightweight, breathable fabrics are advised.
- Don’t forget your spirit of adventure when traveling around Cambodia. You may share your train, plane or boat rides within Cambodia with not only crowds, but chickens, goats or other livestock. Roads are bumpy and sometimes impassable. Traveling around Cambodia is not for the faint of heart.
- Cash is king. The Cambodian currency is the riel, however, U.S. dollars can be spent nearly everywhere.
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