Cambodia Travel Basics

 

Visa Requirements

Getting a visa to Cambodia is very easy. Most nationals qualify for a one month visa-on-arrival for $30. The visas issued at the airport are single entry, but it can be renewed for an additional 30 days for a $45 fee.

Visitors from Afghanistan, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Nigeria need to apply for a visa from a Cambodian embassy prior to traveling.

You should always double check online with the Cambodian government’s website for visa requirements for your country prior to booking or traveling to Cambodia. 

 

Best Time To Visit

I visited Cambodia at the end of November, which is when the weather is supposed to be good. But my God,  it was hot! My body withered under the relentless humidity.

What I’m trying to say is, “best weather” in Cambodia is relative. Be prepared to sweat — a lot.

High Season: November To March

  • This period offers the best weather and it’s the peak tourist season.

Shoulder Season: July To August

  • It’s hot and humid and there’s a good chance for thunderstorms, but the landscape is a lush green.

Low Season: Remaining Months 

  • High humidity and the mercury touches 40°C.
  • Honestly, I don’t want to imagine what it would be like to visit during this time.

 

Currency

I’d heard that the US dollar was widely used in Cambodia, but I was shocked to find that it could qualify as its primary currency. Everywhere I went I did my purchases in dollars, also many ATMs issued the greenback. The only time I saw the Cambodian currency was when I received change from my purchases.

The local currency is Rieis (KHR) and the exchange rate is roughly 4000 Rieis to $1.

 

Accommodations

Cambodia is one of the cheapest countries in SE Asia, which is in itself a cheap region. Finding accommodations is almost a non-issue. Major cities will have wide range of dorms/guesthouses to choose from. They’ll also have plenty of mid range and some luxury hotels. Wifi availability and speed was surprising good at the accommodations I stayed at. I was able to comfortably stream video content.

Below is a quick guide to prices you can expect to pay for your accommodations.

  • Budget Hostels/Guesthouses (Cost $5 – $15 a night)
  • Midrange Guesthouse (Cost $25 – $75 a night)
  • Upscale or Boutique Hotels (Cost $75+ a night)

 

Food

The one thing I absolutely didn’t enjoy in Cambodia was the food. I couldn’t adapt to the local cuisine and felt uncomfortable with the sanitary conditions. That said, the price of food from street vendors and local restaurants is quite cheap (from $1 – $4). Cambodia also has  western restaurants, which usually come with western prices (from $5 – $10+).

 

Transportation

Getting around Cambodia is fairly inexpensive. Within major cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap the main mode of transport I used were the bikes and Tuk Tuks. For long distance travel you can use local plane carriers and buses.

  • Airlines: Surprisingly, Cambodia has a good selection of local carriers to choose from. They include: Bassaka Air, Cambodia Angkor Air, Cambodia Bayon Airlines and Sky Angkor Airlines. Prices on these airlines are quite reasonable. When I traveled on Bassaka Air from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, the ticket cost $48 (after baggage fees and taxes).
  • Buses: This is the cheapest option for long distance travel within Cambodia.
    • Most bus services are privately run companies.
      • The biggest bus operator is Phnom Penh Sorya. Tickets are cheap: $4 from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville and $6 to Siem Reap.
      • Giant Ibis and Mekong Express operate luxury express buses on most popular routes.
    • Always make sure that if you travel by bus you keep all your valuables in your hand luggage. Theft is common occurrence.
  • Local Transport:
    • Tuk Tuks: Traveling in the Phnom Penh and Siem Reap I used Tuks Tuks exclusively. They’re quite cheap:
      • Short trips (about 5 minutes) cost about $1 -$2.
      • A Tuk Tuk from the airport to Phnom Penh costs about $5-$6.
      • When we were in Siem Reap we booked a Tuk Tuk for the day to do the temple tour for around $18.

 

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