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Cambodia Travel Tips
Cambodia has granted visa exemption for tourists of 9 countries, mainly its neighboring countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. The length of stay for travelers from these countries can be 14 days, 21 days and 30 days.
For travelers from most countries, an e-Visa can be applied online before the trip. The application fee is totally USD 37 including USD 7 as the processing charge. The validity is 3 months starting from the issue date and the length of stay is 30 days at maximum.
How to apply for Cambodia visa online:
1. Finish the application form on the official website, evisa.gov.kh;
2. Make the payment;
3. Receive E-visa via email in 3 working days;
4. Print out the E-visa and show it at the customs when entering the country
The applicant is required to hold a passport which has a validity period of over 6 months at the moment of entry and with an empty page. They shall enter through following 5 ports: Phnom Penh International Airport, Siem Reap International Airport, Cham Yeam in Koh Kong Province, Poi Pet in Banteay Meanchey Province, Bavet in Svay Rieng Province. If they plan to enter through other entries or come from countries that are not allowed to apply for an e-Visa like Afghanistan and Arab Saudi, they need to obtain the visa in the embassies or on arrival.
The official currency of Cambodia is Riel (KHR), while USD is commonly circulated in the country, except for remote areas. It is not necessary to exchange Riel. Only local people will give you changes in Riel when less than 1 dollar. Credit cards are not widely acceptable, only in some upscale shopping malls and restaurants. ATMs are mainly in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap with the cash out in USD. An ATM service fee for using a foreign bank card is about USD 4, in addition to the processing fee charged by your card issuing bank. If you use a Visa debit card, the ATM service fee may be free depending on your bank. You can also use a Visa debit card to withdraw over the counter in some banks. In this way the fee is about 1% or USD 5.
A seven-day trip costs about USD 700. Having a simple meal costs USD 6-15 and a coconut costs USD 0.5-1 on average. Be noted that local vendors tend to charge more by dollar from travelers. For example, a coconut costs KHR 2,000 (USD 0.50) but vendors may charge USD 1 from foreigners.
In some situations, you are supposed to give a tip, like to servers in the hotel and restaurant, to a Tuk-tuk car driver or a tour guide, and sometimes at the customs. In restaurants, 5%-10% of the bill as the tip is expected, and in other cases, a tip of USD 5 is fairly enough.
There are all sorts of accommodation options in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, including guesthouses and different star hotels. Most hotels and guesthouses have complete and good conditions. Most are clean, with an individual bath room, a TV, hot water, a fridge, a fan or air conditioner, and even a swimming pool.
In the slack season from May to October, the price of a fan room for two in guesthouse is about USD 7 per night and that for an air conditioner room is about USD 15 per night. That of star hotels ranges from USD 15 to 80 a room per night. In the peak season from November to next April, the price in guesthouse won't increase much but that of star hotels will increase by 30%-50% on average.
Cambodians mainly eat rice. Local dishes usually combine the taste of sweet, sour and spicy, cooked with vegetables, fish, chili and mint. Famous snacks include Pork Rice, also known as Bai Sach Chrouk, Nom Banh Chok, Khmer Red Curry and Fish Amok.
Food and Drinking Water
Running water in the country cannot be drunk directly. You can buy bottle water at the cost of USD 0.50-1. Because of the hot weather, people like to add ice in drinks. If you don't like that, tell the server ahead of time.
Souvenirs like silk, handicraft, carvings, art and curios are good choices for travelers to take. Cambodian silks are highly valued by global collectors for most of them are hand-loomed and soft. Statues and carvings of traditional subjects are also welcomed, like that of Angkor Wat. Apart from that, if you are interested in local costume, you can buy a suit of Krama, which is what local men, women and children wear, but actually it might be too hot for foreigners to wear.
To go shopping, two places are recommended in Phnom Penh: Central Market and Russian Market. Central Market is located northwest to Royal Palace with a 20-minute walk. It is a must-go destination in Phnom Penh with a yellow dome. This market offers a wide range of goods including silks, silverworks, karmas, carvings and postcards. Russian Market is a place where foreigners in the country prefer to go. It is located on the corner of Street 163 and Street 444, also offering various souvenir items and there you can find almost whatever you want.
Cambodia is a country mainly relied on agriculture. Therefore, people value water, land and agriculture much. Every year in May, people will observe Royal Ploughing Ceremony. This is a grand traditional ceremony in the country, representing the start of the planting season. The royal family or officials will hold activities to wish all the best for planting and harvest in the coming year. In October or November, people will celebrate Water Festival to start their fishing season in the year and wish for a harvest. Dragon boat races will be held to express people's gratitude to Mekong River and Tonle Sap River.
1. Do not hand things to others with your left hand because Cambodians think left hand is not clean.
Etiquette and Manners
2. Do not touch people's head, even children, because head is the holy part of the body from Cambodians' view. Touching people's head shows disrespect.
3. Do not point with your index finger which is regarded as rude.
4. Take off your shoes when entering temples, pagodas, official places and people's home. Also dress appropriately.
5. Women should never touch a monk or pass things to monks directly.
6. Follow the manners of Buddhism because the country's main belief is Theravada Buddhism.
Note: Take a plug adapter if needed.
If you just want to make international calls and won't call frequently, there is no need to buy a local SIM card. Just activate the international roaming service of your card before the trip and that will be enough. In addition, IP telephone is common in the country. You can go to Internet bars to make an international call. A phone call to China for example is about USD 0.25-0.5 per minute. If you want to use the Internet, you can buy a local card, because although generally in hotels there is free wifi, the signal is not good and the speed is slow.
Telephone and Internet
- Last updated on Mar. 30, 2023 by Brenda Lian -