TRAVEL TIPS - CAMBODIA
Cambodia operates on GMT + 7 hours.
The unit of currency in Cambodia is the Riel. Notes are issued in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000. Coins, although not regularly used are found in 50, 100, 200 and 500.
The official language in Cambodia is Khmer. The language developed through many influences including Pali and Sanskrit as well as from the neighboring countries of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Some technical expressions have been derived from the French. Nowadays, English is commonly spoken in hotels, restaurants and business districts.
All major credit cards are accepted in large hotels. Traveller’s Cheques can be changed in some banks and hotels although they are not generally accepted as payment for items in shops.
The use of the US dollars is very much accepted and it is highly recommended that you carry some small denomination bills for incidentals and gratuities. Most major foreign currencies can be exchanged for Riel in banks, hotels and money exchanges booths and kiosks. Changing money in hotels will usually result in a less favourable exchange rate.
As tipping in Cambodia is not a regular practice, the most important rule is that tipping is entirely discretionary. Hotels and restaurants usually add a 10% service charge to any bill so it is not necessary to tip further.
If you rent a cyclo or motorcycle tuk-tuk you may choose to tip the driver US$ 1 – US$ 2 depending on the rental duration. While you may tip hotel and airport porters US$1 – US$ 2 per bag depending on its size.
Should you wish to extend a gratuity to your guide and driver, we would suggest the following as a guideline; US$ 15 - US$ 20 per person per day for your guide and US$ 7 - US$ 10 per person per day for your driver.
For full details on climate, please see Best Time to Go.
Cambodia is a very conservative country. Therefore, both men and women should dress appropriately. Any attire that bares the shoulders, thighs or breasts is considered improper and disrespectful, especially when visiting temples.
Pack lightweight, dry cottons that may be layered for touring, while a waterproof is also advisable for travel during the rainy season. As sightseeing in Cambodia may require extended periods of walking, comfortable footwear is also essential. Additionally, a light sweater will come in handy during the cooler months.
There is no need to bring formal wear as hotels and restaurants tend to be very casual.
Most hotels offer extremely efficient same day laundry service. However, it can be expensive and we would ask that you pay attention to the price lists and the return times.
As before all travel, we recommend that you consult your doctor and that you travel with enough medication you might need to last more than your trip duration.
When dining in hotels, the food is safe as is the ice in drinks. When dining outside of hotels, be cautious when eating salads, peeled fruits, seafood, dairy products and items such as mayonnaise.
We also do not recommend that you drink the tap water.
For up to date information on latest health and vaccination recommendations, please contact your doctor.
The electrical current in Cambodia is 220 Volts AC, 50 Cycles. Power outlets come both for dual-prong rounded plugs and flat-pin plugs.
Adapters are available for most international appliances at the service counter of the hotel.
Generally, when travelling in Asia, you’ll want to bring all the equipment you will need as supplies may be intermittent and their quality sometimes questionable. This should include the relevant charging apparatus for each piece of equipment (as well as the appropriate socket plug adaptor and voltage converter). We also suggest that you take into account the amount of memory you will require and pack enough additional memory as required.
- Etiquette requires that you ask permission before photographing local people, unless you are shooting a crowded public scene. Please be considerate of a desire not to be photographed.
- Please avoid photographing police and military personnel or government installations.
Arrival and Departure Formalities
A visa is compulsory for travel into Cambodia. This can be obtained upon arrival with the presentation of an application form attached with two passport photos and the required visa fee.
Occasionally you may be asked to complete a declaration form which will be handed over to the customs official. This procedure is more strictly enforced at Siem Reap International Airport where you are requested to declare all types of photographic equipment.
Cambodian or Khmer cuisine is closely related to that of neighbouring Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, though it is not as spicy. Curries, stir fried vegetables, rice, noodles and soups are the staples of the Khmer diet.
The local cuisine which is prepared and sold from the numerous outdoor restaurants and street side food stalls is simpler that similar steet food found in Thailand and Vietnam. Venture into a true Cambodian restaurant and you will find cuisine made from the freshest market ingredients, immaculately presented and with a less spicy flavour, allowing fuller flavours to come through.
Cambodia is well-known in the region for its Prahok, a strong, fermented fish paste used in a variety of traditional dishes. Baguettes served with pâté is still a popular snack in Cambodia - testament to the country’s French colonial past.
International visitors to Cambodia are well catered for. In the cities of Phnom Penh & Siem Reap you will find an abundant choice between chic bistros, fashionable restaurants and street stalls serving French fusion, traditional Khmer, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and Western cuisine.
Bottled water is available throughout Cambodia, as are soft drinks and a variety of international beers. A delicious local alternative is Angkor Beer, locally brewed utilising Australian techniques, it is best enjoyed while gazing out over a long Angkor Wat sunset.
Cambodian art is today making a revival after the near loss of all the Khmer artisans during the rule of the Khmer Rouge. Locally crafted products include intricately designed Khmer silverware, religious carvings, bas relief rubbings, handmade jewellery, Cambodian silks and gemstones.
Cambodia is widely renowned for its beautiful religious carvings, which feature the stories and images from the Hindu epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. There are many villages and shops that feature very high quality cravings both in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Some of these workshops are run by foundations who provide an education and training otherwise not available to the poor and victims of landmines.
Shopping in Cambodia is best done in the numerous markets that can be found in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and foundations and workshops as mentioned previously. Bargaining is welcomed and most of the time it is expected, but please do be respectful with your bidding.
PLEASE NOTE: We cannot take responsibility for misrepresented or faulty goods. Likewise, we do not take responsibility for following up on merchandise that you choose to have shipped home. We also wishes to advise that when shopping for fine art, genuine antiques and Buddha images to be aware that a license is required for the exportation of these goods.
The most common forms of public transport both in the capital and other smaller towns are cyclos and motorcycle tuk-tuk’s. Car taxis are also available and can be found at airports and hotels. All fares except for the public buses are to be negotiated prior to boarding.
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING VEHICLES:
Touring and transfer vehicles within Cambodia can vary in size, shape and amenities. Few of these vehicles are fitted with rear passenger seatbelts as it is not a government requirement.
SAFETY & SECURITY:
Cambodia is a relatively safe country but like any other country, it is always good to take the necessary normal precautions while travelling. We would therefore suggest:
- Take extra care of bags and wallets when in crowded places such as markets or temples.
- As there is a lot of poverty in the country, wearing expensive jewellery is not advisable.
- Use hotel safety deposit boxes or in-room safe for all valuables including passports and air tickets.
- When taking any form of public transportation, always agree on a price before setting off.
- Do not wander too far from the temple grounds.
- Do not stay out late at night unless you are accompanied by the local guide.