Cambodia travel hints
You should bring a money-belt to safely carry your travel documents and cash. Bring photo-copies of your passport and visa, plus some extra passport-sized photos if you’re applying for on-arrival visa. When flying out or within the region, you will probably be given baggage claim tags (they will be stuck in to the back of your ticket or on the cover of your passport). Keep these, as you will need to show them when check out the airport.
CLOTHING & LAUNDRY
If your trip to Cambodia includes stops at Shihanoukville and mountainous areas, you will need clothes for various activities. A swimsuit, sunglasses, a hat, t-shirts, shorts, long trousers, some light-weight, long-sleeved tops, a light jacket and rain-resistant will get you through most trips. If trekking is on your agenda, you will need sturdy footwear, plus lots of socks. Larger cities like Siem Riep and Phnom Penh offer upscale bars and restaurants, so be sure to pack some clothes and dress shoes for a nice evening out. Laundry services are available in touristy areas, usually near the hotels and within a day service.
While supplier of beauty products are already reaching their arms in major cities, you would be wise to pack travel camaraderie’s like sunscreen, contact lens solution, tampons and mosquito repellent, as well as prescribed medication. Many kinds of medicines are available in Cambodia without prescriptions, easy to reach but they might not be as of that good quality like home. If you travel with a companion or with family, should it be a nice idea to cross-pack, i.e., pack half of your belongings in to other’s suitcase and vice versa. Just in case any luggage delayed might happen.
Travelers may apply for a tourist visa from Cambodian embassy or consulate abroad, obtain an easy visa on arrival or try the recently launched e-visa service. Most nationalities are eligible to receive an one-month visa on arrival at the Pochentong Airport in Phnom Penh or at Siem Riep airport. The cost is US$20. The e-visa is delivered within two working day by e-mail after your online request, cost US$20 plus $5 extra for the processing fee. If you obtain your visa upon arrival, remember to bring American cash for your visa payment and a passport-sized photo.
Siem Riep Airlines is pretty strict on lugguage weight, a normal 20kg (44 pounds) regulation is applied for all flights out and within Cambodia. Surcharge for over weight is approx 40 cents/kg. Carry-on bags should weight less than fifteen pounds and have a size limit of 9 X 14 X 22 inches.
When you make your flights out or within the country’s routes, locking your suitcases or duffel bags is legal and advisable.
Except for some remote jungles in the vicinity of Siem Riep, almost all other destinations in Cambodia are worry-free for malaria though the following immunizations are still recommended for travellers. Consult your doctor or local health department to discuss which shots you need:
– Diphtheria and tetanus: Combined vaccinations for these two diseases are usually given in childhood and should be boosted every ten years.
– Hepatitis A: Vaccination provides immunity for up to ten years and involves an initial injection followed by another six months to one year later.
– Typhoid: Vaccination takes the form of an injection or capsules.
– Rabies: People making longer trips to remote areas should consider rabies vaccination, which involves three injections over a period of three to four weeks.
– Japanese B Encephalitis: People on trips of a month or more to areas suffering from recent outbreaks should consider getting this vaccine, which involves three shots over one month.
Riel is Cambodian currency, exchanges at a rate of approx 4.000 to the US Dollar. U.S Dollars are welcome even in the remote areas. Credit cards and traveler’s cheques are widely accepted in Phnom Penh and Siem Riep. Credit card advances for MasterCard, JCB and Visa are available at the Cambodian Commercial Bank in Phnom Penh. ATMs are now available both in Phnom Penh and Siem Riep.
Electricity in Phnom Penh and most of Cambodia is 220V, 50Hz. Electric power sockets generally fit two round pins. Three-pin plug adaptors are sold at markets in Phnom Penh and Siem Riep.
MOBILE & INTERNET
Iphone and other up-to-date handhelds are very popular and convenient for connecting the internet as wifi is available everywhere. At the airport or phone shop, you can easily get a sim and data package for your stay in Cambodia. A good package for two weeks will be ranging just from US$10 – US$15.
SHOPPING & SHIPPING
If you go shopping in Cambodia, bargaining is necessary and actually full of funs. It is also recommended to check prices of the same items in the neighbor hood shop before coming to a deal. If you choose to ship items home, we highly recommend that you buy shipping insurance and check the policy details. As shops are not responsible for damages incurred en route, it is better to be safe than sorry. Beside local post offices’ services, DHL has their reputation in big cities. Knock off products or genuine fake i.e. Luis Vuiton, Versace… are of a variety in Cambodia, make sure if there is any problem at your country’s customs before you purchase them home.
High-end restaurants will often add a service charge of five to ten percent to the bill. While tips are not expected in more casual restaurants and bars, they appreciated with thanks since waiter staffs earn low wages. Indochina Voyages Travel suggests tipping drivers about US$5 – US$ 7 per day, tour guides about US$10 -US$15 per day.
As the second largest nation in Indochina, Cambodia’s landscape is a blend of rice paddies, sugar palm plantations and remote jungles. While most visitors come to admire the magnificence of Angkor Wat or Bayon Temple, Cambodia also offers plenty of natural beauty and exotic culture for those willing to experience, let alone the late 70s’ dark history with the Khmer Rouge to be remembered.
Bordering the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest, Cambodia offers some lovely beaches near Shihanoukville while the north and northeast are mountainous sharing with Vietnam as part of Ho Chi Minh trails. Nowadays life in Cambodia is clearly distinctive from poor fishing villages on Tonle Sap Lake to modern shop malls sprawling around Phnom Penh, or from a nice and elegant town of Siem Riep to some dusty and bustling corners of the country’s capital.
Two monsoons feature clearly Cambodia’s climate. From November to April, a north-eastern monsoon brings cool air but little rain, while a south-western monsoon, which occurs from May to October, causes heavy winds and rains. During the summer rainy season, rains are likely to take place in the late afternoon.
Cambodia is the most ethnically homogeneous nation in Southeast Asia. More than 95 percent of its 11 million citizens are ethnic Khmers. Chinese Cambodians form the largest minority group, followed by Cham Muslims. Remote mountain areas are home to a number of smaller ethnic groups.
The dominant religion in Cambodia is Hinayana Buddhism.
The Kingdom of Funan covered much of present-day Cambodia from the first to sixth centuries, to be replaced by the even more powerful Kingdom of Angkor in the eight century. The legacy of this era is what draws most visitors to Cambodia today, from the 9th to 13th centuries, Angkor’s rulers presided over the construction of one of the most astonishing architectural masterpiece of the world. While more than 100 temples remain, these magnificent structures are but a mere shadow of the fabulous religious capital that once stood here. Hundreds of wooden palaces, houses and public buildings are long gone.
In 1864 the French mapped Cambodia to their colonies in Indochina. Independence was declared in 1953 but by 1969, the war in neighbouring Vietnam spilled over into Cambodia, as American and South Vietnamese troops invaded to attack northern Vietnamese forces that were operating in Cambodia.
On April 17th, 1975 a Cambodian resistance group, the Khmer Rouge, took control of the capital, and proceeded to implement one of the most destructive campaigns of social re-engineering ever recorded. As the Khmer Rouge wished to create a peasant-led, agrarian cooperative, Cambodia’s cities were forcibly emptied and people were resettled in rural labour camps. Anyone with foreign ties or education was liable and be executed. By the time Vietnam invaded Cambodia in 1978 and overthrew the Khmer Rouge, between one in four and one in six Cambodians were dead.
In the middle of 1993 the United Nations observed elections in Cambodia and the People Republic of Cambodia was born shortly after.
In Cambodia, revealing clothing is unacceptable off the beach. Shorts are generally fine, as long as they are not too short. People tend to dress as well as they can afford to, local people and children are often astonished by the dirty and tattered clothing worn by some travelers.
When visiting pagodas, temples or social interacting with monks, shorts and tank-tops are unacceptable. Your knees and shoulders should be covered. Footwear and socks must be removed in some pagodas. Shoes are usually removed upon entering private accommodation too.
In terms of behaviour, public displays of affection between men and women are considered a bit shocking. On the other hand, it’s perfectly normal for a pair of men or a pair of women to link arms or hold hands, which does not imply any signal of lesbian or gay relations. Upon meeting someone new, people may simply nod to each other or may shake hands. Using both hands to shake someone’s hand while greeting ”Sour sdey” is a warm gesture of respect.
Beckoning someone by crooking your finger is very rude. The correct way to call someone over is to wave at them or call their name. Keep in mind not to touch on the head of an adult locals as the head is considered the most important part in their body and spirit. Never mind if the locals sometime look at you and laugh or giggle, they simply curious about your ages and why you travel if you are a senior traveler. To ask for the payment in a restaurant or shop, call and pretend to write on your palm with the other hand as if you are signing for the bill.
Taking picture for a close up one should be asked prior to your click, other than that, don’t aks if you like other photo opps. People are normally a bit shy when a foreigners turn to them and ask something with a camera in hand and they simply turn away. That is why the trick is not to ask if it’s not a personal close up picture. Be aware… never shoot your camera at a funeral.
In general, Cambodia is very safe for travelers. Violent attacks are rare, although theft is sometime a problem. When possible, secure your valuables in the hotel safe. Remember to record your traveler’s cheque numbers and credit card information, just in case.
Do not leave your wallet or cell phone in the back pocket of your pants or anywhere else that’s easily reached (like an outer zip-up part on a backpack). Be especially vigilant in markets and other crowded places like ports and train stations.
Pick-pocketing and purse-snatching are more of a problem in Phnom Penh. Some thieves approach on motorcycles, grab your belongings and race off before you’ve realized what’s happened. Wearing valuable jewellery especially necklaces that can be easily grabbed is not advisable.
Use common sense and don’t walk alone after dark, both for visionary and safety problems. There have been many reports of muggings in Phnom Penh late at night. If confronted by a mugger, do not resist. Siem Riep is much safer. You are always better not to use motorbike taxis at night; ask your hotel or restaurant to call a reputable taxi firm which is always metered taxi.
Traffic is a bit chaotic, especially in Phnom Penh where vehicles flow seems to weave all around. If you choose to ride a motorcycle or bike, make sure you understand the driving culture quite a bit. When crossing the street on foot, move at a slow and steady pace with eyes contact. Never stop and step back suddenly since the motorist watching your pace from a far and measure their own speed. Just walk slowly and you will be safe.