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Captivating Cambodia is a land of beautiful temples, wild jungle and unspoiled countryside. The landscape is a mix of low lying plains, surrounded by low mountains. The Mekong river flows through the heartland of Cambodia, also characterized by Tonle Sap (Great Lake) which spans 2,590km² during the dry season and expands to about 24,605km² during the rainy season. Much of this region is devoted to agriculture, specifically wet rice cultivation.

Today's tourists can expect a combination of luxurious hotels and restaurants with traditional markets and ramshackle side streets in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. A river cruise along the Tonle Sap from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is a great way to laze through Cambodia's wetlands. The Angkor Wat historical park in Siem Reap province is truly a must - see attraction in Southeast Asia. Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Stretching over some 400sqk, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the ninth to the fifteenth century. This includes the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon temple with its numerous sculptural adornments. The sandy white beaches in Sihanoukville and the bustling capital city of Phnom Penh are also very popular stops for tourists exploring the country.



The official currency is Riel. However, US dollars are also widely accepted and sometimes preferred. Riel is used for items where the price is less than US$1 and can be used in conjunction with USD. ATMs are widely available in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang and Sihanoukville; they distribute US dollars. There are not many ATMs outside these areas. It is recommended that you always carry cash in small notes with you. These notes should be clean, and free from rips and tears where possible.

Please note while there are many gem shops in Cambodia, we advise against any purchase as the majority of gems are fake.

Traffic & Transportation

Siem Reap and Phnom Penh
Taxis are generally only used to and from the airport, and are at a set price. Tuk-tuk sare used around town and cost approx $1-3per journey in Siem Reap and around $2 - $3 in Phnom Penh. In both cities, short journeys of less than 1km are about $1 and prices tend to increase at night.

Motorbike taxis
Travel by motorbike in Cambodia is not safe and under no circumstances is this sanctioned or recommended. Please note that travel by motorbike is not usually covered by insurance. Please check the fine print of your travel insurance policy to be sure of your cover.


Cambodia has a tropical climate that is relatively calm and consistent throughout the year. The average temperature is 27 degrees centigrade. There are two seasons, the humid monsoon season which spans from May to October, and the dry season which is from November to April.

Mid-November to February: cool and dry
March to May: hot and dry
June to September: hot and wet
October to early November: cool and wet

Health and Safety

Health and well-being
Please be aware that your health can be at risk in Cambodia due to poor sanitation and lack of proper medical facilities. Rural areas have few, if any, pharmacies and hospitals so make sure you travel with a full supply of any prescribed medicine you take. If you need medical assistance, we recommend Royal Angkor International Hospital in Siem Reap, (T: 063761888) and International SOS Medical & Dental Clinic in Phnom Penh (T: 023216911). Each traveller is responsible for his or her own health. First and foremost, make sure that you have travel insurance for your trip. You should also consult your doctor or local travel clinic for the latest information and advice on travelling to Cambodia before departure. If you have a medical condition or allergy which requires particular attention, carry a doctor’s letter with you that describes the nature of the condition and treatment needed. We also recommend you pack a medical kit, including paracetamol and a diarrhoea remedy.

There are many vaccinations needed when travelling to this part of the world. It is important you ensure you have adequate protection against disease. Book an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic, no less than two months before your departure.

Culture and customs

Etiquette and cultural differences

Experiencing different cultures is one of the joys of travelling and it is important that these differences are respected. Cambodia has cultural norms and taboos which we encourage visitors to understand and abide by.

 • Try not to get angry. Showing any frustrations or annoyances by shouting or becoming abusive is extremely impolite and it is unlikely to achieve a positive outcome. The Khmer’s don’t like to ‘lose face’.
 • Refrain from public displays of affection, they are considered offensive.
 • It is polite to remove your shoes before entering a house – look for shoes at the front door as a clue.
 • Always remove your shoes when entering a temple or somebody’s home.
 • Cambodians greet each other with a slight bow and a prayer-like gesture, with the younger or lower-ranked person usually initiating the gesture. For foreigners and business, handshakes are acceptable.

Temple visit etiquette

Foreigners are always welcome in temples. However, it is important that a few simple rules of etiquette are followed:

 • Dress appropriately and act with the utmost respect when visiting Wats (pagodas) and other religious sites, including the temples of Angkor.
 • Do not wear shorts or tank tops and make sure your shoulders and knees are covered.
 • Remove your shoes and hat before going into a vihara (monastery).
 • If you sit down in front of the dais (the platform on which the Buddha’s are placed), sit with your feet to the side rather than in the lotus position.
 • Never point your finger or the soles of your feet towards a person or a figure of the Buddha.
 • A woman may accept something from a monk but should never touch a monk.
 • Show respect and turn off mobile phones, remove headphones, lower your voice and avoid in appropriate conversation.

Food and drinks

It is not advisable to drink tap water in Cambodia. Bottled water is cheap and widely available.Khmer cuisine, considered one of the healthiest in the world, has much in common with the food of neighbouring Thailand, although it is generally not as spicy. It is also similar to Vietnamese food, due to its shared colonial French history. The most well-known Cambodian dish is amok. Amok is a coconut based curry traditionally cooked with fish, however it is not uncommon to have it with chicken.

Public holidays

There are many religious public holidays in Cambodia. The main one is the Khmer New Year which takes place from 14 to 16 April every year. The celebrations usually go on for about a week. The second biggest is Pchum Ben. This national holiday was established for Buddhists to pay their respects to deceased relatives. It is also known as Ancestor's Day, and usually celebrated in September or October.

Helpful tips

Tipping is a personal matter and travellers are encouraged to tip any amount they feel is appropriate. For your convenience, we have included a suggested tipping guide below:

 • Bellboy: $1
 • Chambermaid: $1 per day
 • Guides: $3-$10 per day for guides (depending on group size and performance)
 • Drivers: $1-$5 per day, per person
 • Restaurants: In smart establishments you may find that the tip is already included in the bill. In local restaurants tips are not expected but you may wish to leave loose change on the table.

Pre-departure checklist

 • Travel insurance
 • Passport with at least six months validity from date of entry
 • Photocopy of passport
 • Visa or a passport photo and US$30 for visa on arrival
 • Vaccinations
 • Foreign currency (US$) and/or ATM card
 • All relevant tickets
 • Reconfirmed flights
 • Light weight clothing
 • Long-sleeved shirts and trousers (recommended for evenings)
 • A small bag/backpack for day and overnight trips
 • Appropriate shoes for trekking, cycling and walking
 • Insect repellent
 • Sunscreen
 • Medication/first aid kit

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