4 years ago

Traveling to Cambodia – What You Need to Know Before You Go

Essential travel information for Cambodia, find out what you need to know when planning your trip: health and safety advice, budgeting and visa information.

With its enchanting temples, unspoiled natural landscapes and idyllic beaches, it’s no wonder Cambodia’s popularity has been soaring in recent years. In fact, the latest Tourism Statistics Report showed a 10.7% increase in tourist arrivals between 2017 and 2018. 

A breathtaking landscape of Cambodia.

A trip to Cambodia is an enriching experience, with history and culture at every turn, as well as some of the most stunning nature to be found anywhere in the world. And that’s not to mention the friendliness and generosity of its people, you’re sure to receive a warm welcome. Even the food scene can be surprisingly good, check out this guide to vegan/vegetarian restaurants in Phnom Penh.

To get the most out of your stay, it’s a good idea to do some planning in advance. Decide where you want to visit and make sure you have everything you need for a safe and hassle-free trip.

Health and Safety in Cambodia

As when visiting any foreign destination, health and safety should be a top priority when planning your trip to Cambodia. From food and drink to vaccinations, make sure you are clued up before your trip. 

From food and drink to vaccinations, make sure you are clued up before your trip.

Follow this health and safety advice for Cambodia to enjoy your time in the country to the fullest.

  • Drink preboiled water or from sealed bottles only,
  • Peel fruit and vegetables before consumption,
  • Use insect repellent and a bed net,
  • Get the recommended vaccinations for Cambodia.

The Best Time of Year to Visit Cambodia

With a tropical climate and rainy season, it’s important to time your trip to Cambodia well. The good news for travelers in search of warmer climes is that temperatures in Cambodia are pleasant throughout the year. Even in the so-called ‘cool season’, nighttime temperatures rarely drop below a balmy 20ºC.

In fact, the cool season (from November to February) is considered the peak season in Cambodia. Avoiding both the scorching summer and the monsoons, the cool season offers optimal conditions for exploration.

If you’re planning to visit Cambodia, November – February would be perfect timing for you!

However, there is a downside. Being the most popular season for tourists also makes it the most expensive and busiest. You can expect large numbers of tourists at the country’s top attractions, such as the incredible Angkor Wat World Heritage Site.  

To avoid the crowds and get better deals, don’t be deterred from heading to Cambodia during the wet season, from June to October. As rain generally falls in the early afternoon, with a bit of careful planning a holiday during the rainy season can be every bit as enjoyable.

Top Places to Visit in Cambodia

Tourists in Cambodia are spoilt for choice when it comes to breathtaking scenery and cultural treasures. With so much to offer, it’s difficult to select the best place to visit. Here are some of the places no Cambodia travel itinerary would be complete without.

Angkor Wat UNESCO World Heritage Site

This breathtaking temple complex is one of the largest religious monuments on earth. You might recognise Angkor Wat from Cambodia’s flag and banknotes, so iconic is the monument that it has become a national emblem. 

World-famous Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

Head here to enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets to be found anywhere. 

Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s buzzing capital city

A vibrant and often chaotic capital, Phnom Penh offers the best insight into city life in Cambodia. 

Sample street food at the central market, travel by Remork-moto (Cambodia’s version of the tuk-tuk) and learn about the country’s fascinating history at the National Museum of Cambodia.

Island life and beautiful beaches

Cambodia’s breathtakingly beautiful tropical islands are hard to beat. Explore the unspoiled beaches and clear waters of Koh Ta Kiev or truly disconnect from it all on Koh Totang island. 

Less developed than the beaches of neighboring Thailand, Cambodia’s shores are perfect to relax and get away from it all.

What to Pack when Traveling to Cambodia

With a climate very different from what many tourists are used to, it can be tricky to know what to pack. 

Warm year-round temperatures mean clothing should be made of fine, light-colored material. Given the high humidity levels, materials such as linen and cotton are great options. 

Pack some comfy clothes for hiking, walking, and trekking!

Pack your comfiest footwear suitable for walking and trekking, add a pair of waterproof shoes, plus a raincoat, if going during the wet season.

Other essentials include high-factor sunscreen and additional sun protection such as a hat. Sites such as temples offer little shade from the hot sun.  

Budgeting for a trip to Cambodia

You might be surprised at how much you get for your money in Cambodia. Like other Southeast Asian countries, Cambodia is inexpensive. Accommodation, travel, and food are all a fraction of what you’d pay back home.

Although the official currency of Cambodia is the riel, the US dollar is widely accepted, especially by tourist businesses such as hotels, so you don’t need to worry about exchanging money before you go. You’ll end up with some riel coins as change and these are useful for local transport such as the remork-motos. 

Card payment is not widely accepted, and when it is it usually incurs extra costs for the customer, so take plenty of dollars with you to make life as simple as possible.

It is certainly possible to do Cambodia on a shoestring, with budget accommodation available for under $10 a night and even a mid-range hotel setting you back no more than $50.

Budgeting is crucial if you don’t want to spend too much money in Cambodia.

When it comes to food and drink, street food is especially cheap with dishes costing just a few dollars. A meal with drinks in a top restaurant is unlikely to be over $50. 

How to Get a Visa for Cambodia

You’re going to need to apply for a visa unless you are from one of the following 9 countries  permitted visa-free travel to Cambodia:

  • Brunei
  • Indonesia
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • Philippines
  • Seychelles
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam

Luckily, most foreign visitors can apply for the Cambodia electronic visa (or eVisa). As the application is completed online, there’s no need to go to an embassy or consulate for an interview. Once approved you’ll receive the eVisa by email to be printed at home, make sure you have a copy with you throughout your trip.

Check you meet all the requirements and apply at least 4 business days before departure to make sure you receive the approved visa in time. Once you have your approved eVisa you can enjoy up to 30 days discovering Cambodia. If that’s not enough info here, here’s a complete Cambodia visa guide.