Here’s a list of the ultimate travel essentials for Cambodia; everything from visas and currency to dress codes and tipping can be found below. Once you book your holiday you will get the Fleewinter guide for Cambodia, with all of our top tips and favourite finds in it.
The main currency in Cambodia is the US Dollar. Yes, the local currency is still the Cambodian Riel, but this is only really seen in relatively small amounts. ATMs tend to dispense US Dollars and prices for most purchases will be in the American currency, while shops give small change in Riels (The approximate exchange rate is £1 = 6,500 Riel).
There is no point in trying to obtain Riel in the UK, just take Dollars or withdraw money from ATM machines in Cambodia. You will find ATMs in all key towns and cities that accept international VISA and Mastercard cards – including Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville and Battambang. If you are travelling to more rural areas we recommend you take enough cash with you.
Vaccinations, Visas and Passports
Ensure you visit your GP six weeks before travel for general advice on travel risks, vaccinations and malaria. Make sure you take out comprehensive travel insurance with a good accident policy and that you know your blood group. For more information visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk & www.malariahotspots.co.uk.
Visas & Passports: Visa on Arrival service is available on international flights arriving in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, as well as most land crossings with Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. Visas cost about $25 and one passport sized photo is required.
A policy to cover theft, loss and medical issues is a must. You may also wish to check out cover for activities such as diving, white water rafting, cycling and abseiling etc.. It is a good idea to photocopy all relevant documents – passport, travel, insurance policy etc., and leave one copy at home. Carry another copy with you separate from the originals.
International or Cambodian driving licenses are mandatory for all drivers of motor vehicle. Despite this, you may still find many companies willing to rent you a car with just your British license. We do not recommend doing this in Cambodia – it is a grey area legally, the roads are very busy and the driving conditions are extremely different to back home. If you do choose to rent a scooter your passport is likely to be kept as a form of security and driving licenses are often not even asked for.
Cambodia’s national language is Khmer and unlike the other languages of the region is not a tonal language. As in other former French colonies the educated older generation often speaks very good French while the younger generation prefers English. Outside the major centers of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap most people speak only Khmer, but you will always be able to find somebody who speaks English wherever you go.
Most drivers will have basic English but some have none – we will always send an English-speaking guide on excursions but not on transfers unless requested.
Cambodia is six hours ahead of GMT in British Summer Time and seven hours ahead of the UK during the winter.
Telephone, post and wi-fi
To dial the UK from Cambodia you must dial 0044 and then drop the first 0 of the number . The Cambodian country code is 00855. Airmail to Europe can take up to a week but the wi-fi here is abundant in the cities and major towns. However, it can be hit and miss in more remote areas.
Cambodia uses 220V, and a mixture of flat 2-pin, round 2-pin or 3-pin plugs. It is recommended to bring a universal plug adaptor. Power outages are quite common but most hotels have their own generator.
Cambodia celebrates a mix of Buddhist,Chinese and international holidays as well as national events. During these times banks and embassies are often closed so it is worth planning ahead.
The main festival periods are the King’s birthday (May 13th – 15th), Khmer New Year (mid-April),Pchum Ben and the Ploughing Ceremony (mid-September) and Boun Om Touk boat racing (Water festival) (early November).Many restaurants and businesses close during these periods,however tourist attractions are still open and there is very little disruption to travel plans.
Tipping is not expected in Cambodia, but in a country where wages are incredibly low it is highly appreciated. We recommend personally handing the tip to the staff who have helped you or leaving it on the table to avoid it going to the proprietor.
Culture, Customs and Crimes
Culture, Customs and Crimes: Cambodia is a fairly liberal country, however Khmers traditionally dress quite conservatively (long sleeved tops and skirts below the knee) or trousers, especially in the rural areas. We recommend that you follow suit when visiting these areas and the temples of Angkor, out of respect.
Should feel at ease in Cambodia, but in order to avoid unwanted attention in rural areas are advised to dress modestly as possible.