Cambodia Travel and Country Information

Here is a concise list of useful Cambodia travel and country information for people visiting Cambodia on tour, for business or an extended stay. If you would like a copy of this information, a printable version (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader) is available HERE.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Capital: Phnom Penh
Total Area: 181 thousand sq km,
Population: 15 million
Official Language: Khmer
Time Zone: GMT+ 7 hours with no summer time (daylight saving time); the whole country is in a single time zone.

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Asian Horizons

VISA REQUIREMENTS

A regular TOURIST VISA does not need to be pre-arranged for entry into Cambodia. A Landing Visa can be arranged on arrival at the international airports and other checkpoints, including the river checkpoint on the Mekong. To obtain a landing visa, you will require the following:

– A completed visa application form
– A Passport with at least 4 months validity
– Two recent photograph (4×6 cm)
– Appropriate visa fee (US$35)

For more information on obtaining a landing visa, please view the Cambodia pages on the United Kingdom FCO website on the following link: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/cambodia/entry-requirements

Arrival Procedures: After passing through immigration, you will proceed directly to the baggage area. After collecting your checked luggage and clearing the customs inspection, you will go out to the arrival area. If you are on an Asian Horizons escorted tour, you will be met by your tour guide here.

Customs Procedures: As a basic rule-of-thumb, all valuable items brought into the country such as jewellery, cameras, electrical equipment, etc. should be declared upon arrival and subsequently brought out of the country upon departure. (In actual practice however, it is not necessary to declare cameras or computers or even jewellery). To further improve the cash flow for tourists, now a new regulation allows foreigners to bring in up to US$10,000 per person undeclared into Cambodia.

No International Airport Departure Tax: Departure tax for international flights has been cancelled. Therefore Travellers no longer pay a separate departure tax as it is included in the ticket price.

MONEY MATTERS

The monetary unit in Cambodia is the Cambodia Riel (KHR), also known as Riel (currency symbol = ). This is the only unit of currency. All smaller denomination of the currency are now essentially valueless and as such are no longer in use.

Cambodian Riel Bank notes come in the following denominations: 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000. All notes are common except 100,000. The following coins are also available: 50, 100, 200 and 500. All coins are in common circulation except the 50.

The Cambodian Riel is not the most useful currency for visitors to Cambodia. US Dollars and Cambodian Riels are both used. In many locations, prices are given in both currencies. Landing Visas and many hotels will require payment in USD. In other locations such as shops it is often the case that if you pay in U.S. dollars you may be given change back in both U.S. Dollars (for the part greater than $1) and Riels (for the part less than $1). E.g. If you give a $5 bill to buy an item that cost $1.5 you will be given back $3 and the remaining in Riels.

Approximate exchange rates (as at 01 January 2015):

GBP £ 1                      =          KHR  5900
USD $ 1                      =          KHR  4000
EUR € 1                      =          KHR  4200

Cash (recommended): We recommend taking an adequate amount of US Dollars with you to Cambodia. Convert small amounts into KMR as needed but keep the larger part in USD, as this is easy to take home or exchange into other currencies, should you be travelling through several countries in SE Asia.

Ensure your notes are clean and undamaged, as banks and other exchanges will not accept any notes which are torn, excessively crumpled or have writing on them.

Traveller’s Cheques (recommended): Travellers’ Cheques are still the most secure way of taking money abroad and although they have become obsolete in many places due to the advent of ATM’s, in Cambodia they are quite useful.  You can cash U.S. dollar cheques at most banks and money exchanges for a 2% charge and get your money in U.S. dollars.  This is no more expensive than using an ATM, once bank fees are factored in. At this time, it is our experience that many hotels and banks only exchange American Express’s own dollar travellers’ cheques.

ATM: There are very mixed reports on the current convenience of using ATMs in Cambodia as they are difficult to find and can be unreliable. If you use an ATM, Visa / MasterCard debit & credit card with a PIN number are generally accepted but transaction charges are often above 3%. Please be aware of your daily withdrawal limit before you depart the UK. Please also be aware of personal security at an ATM as they can be hot-spots for pick-pockets. ATMs that are inside banks or other buildings are more secure. Advisory: Also contact your bank in advance to inform of overseas transaction as some banks may not allow overseas transaction without prior notice for security reasons.

Credit Cards (recommended as a backup): are generally NOT accepted except at 4* (and above) hotels. Tours with Asian Horizons are for the most part, inclusive and large amounts of cash are not necessary although you will have to prepare enough cash when getting around the cities for person expenses. Advisory: It is generally a good idea to take along a credit card just in case of emergencies as few insurance policies provide instant cash for things like lost luggage or medical emergencies etc. Please contact your issuer to ask about service charges and to let them know you will be travelling in Cambodia so your card will not be flagged for “possible fraudulent use abroad”.

Royal_Palace_Phnom_Penh

Royal Palace, Phnom Penh, Asian Horizons

LANGUAGE AND RELIGION

The official language of Cambodia is Khumer, which is widely spoken in the majority of the country. As Cambodia is a former French colony, French remains popular but is not an official language. English is spoken in larger cities and tourist areas but is generally not common outside them.

The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, practiced by approximately 95% of the population. Islam and Christianity are also practised but represent less than 3% of the population.

WEATHER

Cambodia’s climate, like that of the rest of Southeast Asia, is dominated by monsoons, which are known as tropical wet and dry because of the distinctly marked seasonal differences.  Cambodia has two distinct seasons. The rainy season, which runs from May to October, can see temperatures drop to 22 °C (71.6 °F) and is generally accompanied with high humidity. The dry season lasts from November to April when temperatures can rise up to 40 °C (104 °F) around April.

Cambodia weather forecasts: www.bbc.co.uk/weather/

WHAT TO WEAR

As Cambodia has an average temperature range from 21 to 35 °C (69.8 to 95.0 °F) it never really gets cold, thus light clothing is adequate all year round.

Cambodia has a conservative culture influenced by Buddhism where suggestive or revealing clothing is not recommend (although swimwear is acceptable on the beach. When visiting religious shrines and temples, modest dress is required. Easily removable footwear (such as sandals) is recommended as most temple grounds must be visited barefoot (socks should also be removed).

The sun is very strong in all parts of Cambodia so a high protection factor sun screen, hats and sunglasses are recommended, as is an umbrella for the rainy season. (May – October).

HEALTH INSURANCE & IMMUNISATIONS

THE FOLLOWING IS GENERAL ADVICE ONLY. IN ALL EVENTS WE RECOMMEND YOU CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR ON FULL REQUIREMENTS:

Insurance (medical): Hospitals with the standard of care most tourists are used to are not commonplace in Cambodia. If a Traveller were to become seriously ill or injured, they may need to be medically evacuated (‘med-evac’) to the nearest major medical facility, most likely in Singapore or Bangkok. It is strongly recommended that Travellers purchase insurance which will provide medical-evacuation coverage should they require it.

While no immunisations are formally required, malaria prophylaxis is recommended. Mosquitoes are present year-round so insect repellent is essential to prevent mosquito bites and also protect from Dengue fever. Typhoid, Hepatitis A, Tetanus vaccinations are also recommended.

ADVICE: Tap water is not safe for drinking. In most 3 star (and above) hotels, bottled water available in hotel rooms and is safe to drink. Asian Horizons also provides bottles water on our group tours. Bottled water can be purchased almost everywhere, including small shops and street vendors but please always check that the seal on the bottle cap is unbroken before purchasing. Travellers should also remember that temperatures in Cambodia are generally hotter than their home country and should pace themselves according to their fitness level to avoid any medical problems from over exertion, sun stroke or dehydration.

Below are some useful websites for more information on travel health advice:

UK Website: www.traveldoctor.co.uk
US Website: www.cdc.gov
Australian Website: www.tmvc.com.au

Disease Recommendation When to see a doctor
Typhoid Vaccinationrecommended 10 days before travel
Hepatitis A Vaccination recommended 2 weeks before travel
Japanese B encephalitis Vaccination sometimes recommended 1 month before travel
Diphtheria Vaccination sometimesrecommended 3 months before travel
Tuberculosis Vaccination sometimes recommended 3 months before travel
Hepatitis B Vaccination sometimes recommended 2 months before travel
Rabies Vaccination sometimes recommended 1 month before travel
Meningococcal meningitis Not required
Yellow fever Not required
Tick-borne encephalitis Not required

BayonTempleSiemReap

Bayon Temple Siem Reap, Asian Horizons

ROAD SAFTY

Traffic may well be the biggest physical danger you face in all parts of Cambodia so be alert when crossing city streets. With more and more cars coming on to the streets, especially in the major cities, it is more important than ever to take care when crossing streets as many drivers are inexperienced and drive too fast.

In general Cambodia drivers expect pedestrians to make way for them. Pedestrian crossings do exist in urban areas but are not always observed by drivers.

VOLTAGE

The voltage throughout Cambodia is 230 Volts AC. Because the voltage may be inconsistent, especially in more remote areas, valuable or sensitive equipment like stereos and computers should have appropriate electronic protection. Electrical sockets may be two pronged, usually able to take round or blade style plugs although sometimes you need a 3 prong adaptor.Plug typesMost 3* (and above) hotels provide conversion plugs but we recommend you take a universal adaptor able to fit any of these configurations for electronic items you carry with you.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Cameras, (including video) are permitted in Cambodia. Restrictions on photography include military facilities and any structure considered strategic – this includes bridges and train stations (although it may be only loosely enforced).

COMMUNICATIONS

Mobile phones – Mobile calls on overseas SIM cars will be very expensive and may not connect at all. For cheap mobile calls we recommend purchasing a local SIM card. The most reliable operators are Metfone (largest operator), Beeline, Smart Mobile, Excell and Mobitel/Cellcard.  SIM cards are sold everywhere so it may be possible for you to arrive with an unlocked phone and just use a Cambodian SIM card for your stay. There are multiple phone booths where you can get a SIM card the moment you arrive at the airport. SIM cards are sold for US$5 which include US$10 credit. It is even possible to top up your SIM card with a minimum of US$1. Calls within Cambodia have a low rate that costs between 5-8 cents per minute, however, it depends on the network and time of day. International calls cost approximately 20 cents per minute.

Internet and land lines – In hotels, guests should always check the rates before using IDD lines as the service charges can be quite high. In Phnom Penh and Siem Reap overseas communication is fairly easy. Sometimes at the beaches and in remote locations it may be more difficult. There are some Internet Cafes in most tourist areas. Major hotels will have internet and email as well.

DOMESTIC AIRLINES IN CAMBODIA

The quickest and most comfortable mode of domestic travel is by air and an extensive domestic service is operated by Angkor Air. There is a 20kg luggage limitation on domestic flights on an economy fare. Excess baggage charges are often not enforced on tourists but this is not guaranteed so we recommend staying under this limit whenever possible. There are no domestic airport taxes to pay at the airports (they are already included in ticket price).

Cambodia Elephants

Elephants, Mekong River, Cambodia, Asian Horizons

SOCIAL CUSTOMS & CULTURE SHOCKS!

Toilets: Away from your hotel, toilet paper is not always provided, even in locations such as restaurants, trains and public toilets, even at tourist destinations. Remember to carry yours when going out! We recommend taking a supply from your hotel room on a daily basis. Hand washing facilities are also not always adequate and we recommend you carry alcohol hand wash with you.

Bargaining: Expected for tourist souvenirs and at local markets. The shop keeper will start with a high price which you are then expected to bargain down until you reach a fair price. Consult your local guide about the standard price. Bargaining can be a lot of fun and sometimes top up your shopping experience!

Opening Hours: Most banks, business, and government offices are open Monday to Friday only, usually from 9am – 5pm, some may close at lunchtime (12:00pm – 2:00pm). Tourist sites are generally open daily, from 8am – 5pm. Most restaurants open daily from 6am – 9am, 11:30am – 2pm, and from 5pm – 9:30pm. There are increasing numbers of restaurants operate non-stop from 6am to midnight, especially those around hotels and in city centre.

GRATUITIES AND TIPPING

No one should feel obligated, but it is common to tip drivers, guides, waiters at local restaurants and also usually hotel porters for good service. The following suggestions on tipping are meant as general guidelines. It is recommend that you tip in either Cambodian Rials or US dollars. Note: Tipping your guides depends entirely on your satisfaction with their services. Clients are not obliged to tip for poor service whereas for exceptional service, clients may wish to tip more.

Porterage at hotel: In general, if a porter carries the client’s bags to the room, a tip of about US$.50 – $1.00 would be appropriate, depending on size, weight, etc.

Restaurant tips: In general a tip of about 5–10 % is appreciated for meal service. Some restaurants may add a service charge to the bill, in which case tipping is not normally needed.

Driver tips (including boats): The driver’s tip may be about US$ 2 – $4 per person per day (or in equivalent in KHR) for individuals, couples or small groups (not including young children). For large groups, that is, more than 6 passengers, a tip of about US$ 1 – $ 2 (or equivalent in KHR) per person, per day would be suitable. If the driver has an assistant, a tip of roughly 1/3 the amount given to the driver is considered appropriate.

Tour Guide: A fair average for tipping your tour guide is US$15 per person (or equivalent in KHR), day for individuals or small groups (under 6 passengers and not including young children). For larger groups around US$10 per person per day (or equivalent in KHR) would be appropriate.