At a glance, Cambodia looks like a mysterious gem in Southeast Asia. The religious atmosphere of the Buddhism country may create obstacles for your expedition. But if you want to get the real feel of the nation, it’s not that challenging either. The following information will help you be confident while visiting Cambodia and avoid any cultural disparity.
A Brief Overview About The Country
The official name of the country is the Kingdom of Cambodia, which means it is ruled by a multi-party democracy under a constitutional monarchy. The nation sets in the southern part of the Indochina peninsula together with Vietnam and Laos. Cambodia faces the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest. So, there is a wide range of stunning beaches in Cambodia. Still, not all of them are exploited properly.
Riel (KHR) is the official currency in Cambodia. Indeed, as the main currency is losing its value, U.S. dollars are widely circulated and accepted for public purchase. Many products are quoted in dollars instead of riel. When getting close to the Thai border, you may see local people exchanging Thai Baht.
Like the remaining of Southeast Asia, the climate here is dominated by the influence monsoons with remarkable seasonal variation between the tropical wet and dry season. The dry season lasts from December to April next year due to the effect of the northeast monsoon. The highest precipitation is in September and October. From May to August, the southwest monsoons usher inland, carrying moisture-laden winds, so the weather is super nice, making the best time to visit Cambodia.
Weather places a crucial role in your journey as the nice and sunny days give you powerful motivation for going outside and sufficient exposure for excellent photo shoots. Especially with countries affected by the monsoons like Cambodia, the climate varies greatly among seasons. So, it’s necessary to get the overall view of the country’s weather […]
Phnom Penh is the capital city of Cambodia. It is a wonder lying at the junction of the Bassac, Mekong, and Tonle Sap rivers. Due to many years of French colonialization, the city now is a delicate fusion between Western architect and traditional design.
A leisurely walk by the riverfronts will lead you through the glorious Royal Palace with the breathtaking Silver Pagoda and Emerald Buddha. Make a pit stop at the Victory Monument, you will get a chance to admire the rich history of the country. To dick in the dark part of Cambodia, a trip to Toul Sleng (the Genocide Museum) and Killing Fields is a must. Although the experience can be upsetting, it is eye-opening, educational, and crucial for those who want to learn more about the Khmer Rouge atrocities in the past.
Further up to the north-west of Cambodia, Siem Reap is a worldwide popular attraction and also a busy travel hub in the country. It is also the doorway to one of the new Seven Wonders, Angkor Wat, the ancient citadel of the magical kingdom of Angkor. Here lay the magical temples dating back to many centuries ago and only on the travelers’ maps since the French exploration in the 1860s. Go deep inside the Angkor temple complex, you will feel like traveling back in time with magnificent stone sculptures and the monks walking around.
Tonle Sap Lake
Not only rich in temples and history Cambodia is also a place of abundant biodiversity. Tonle Sap lake, literally meaning the Great Lake, is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. It is home to more than 300 species including fishes, birds, snakes, crocodiles, tortoises, turtles and otters. The customs and lifestyles of lakeside villages are very distinctive. Their fish catching skill using one leg is no inferior to an art performance with meticulous moves, quick actions, and great attention.
Good news for foreign tourists is that Cambodia does allow for e-visa application. The procedure is pretty simple:
- Get to the official government website.
- Create an account and fill in the application form
- Confirm and make payment
- The approval letter will be sent to you after 3 days (super quick, isn’t it?)
- Bring the e-visa certificate to the checking point and show to the government officer
- And now you can legally get in set your foot in Cambodia
The tourist e-visa will cost you $30, plus $6 for the processing charge. The visa will be valid within 3 months, the length of stay is 30 days.
E-visa is limited for entrance to the following ports only:
- Phnom Penh International Airport
- Siem Reap International Airport
- Cham Yeam (Koh Kong)
- Poi Pet (Banteay Meanchey)
- Bavet (Svay Rieng)
- Tropaeng Kreal Border Post (Stung Treng)
- Preah Sihanouk International Airport
If you arrive at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap Airport, you can get a 30-day visa on arrival. No pre-application needed. The price for a tourist visa is also $30.
Citizens with the nationality of ASEAN nations can get a free visa on arrival for less than 30-day trip.
Important Notes For Packing
Cambodia is basically a tropical nation, so it’s better off bringing loose and comfortable clothes. However, as you may enter a lot of temples and religious places, don’t dress in anything that shows off too much skin like shorts, crop tops… A pair of sneakers will also useful when you explore the destination on foot. High heels are somewhat impractical in such an old country like Cambodia.
As mentioned above, the national currency Riel and U.S. dollars are interchangeable. Dollars are even preferred in most purchases. So, you should bring both at the same time. Chances are that you will receive Riel as the change back, therefore, keep an eye on the exchange rate to avoid travel scams.
Cambodia uses 230V AC electricity with the power outlet of two-prong round sockets. It’s important to buy a universal adapter to product your precious tools and get digital devices such as laptop, cell phone, camera fully charged.
80% of the Cambodian population is Theravada Buddhist, the most ancient Buddhism’s extant school. When greeting people and show respect to the Buddha, native people use a gesture named Sampeah. It’s super simple, so you do it as an appreciation to the local culture. Here is how to make Sampeah:
- Place their both palms together at the chest level
- Make a slight bow toward to opposite person
- When you face Buddism sculptures or meet the monks, you should raise your palms higher, maybe at the nose or forehead height, close to your face and bow three times.
Utensils in a Cambodian meal are various. If you are not accustomed to chopsticks, there’s no problem as the native inhabitants do eat with spoons and forks. Chopsticks can be used in some cases, but not so common. The authentic dishes contain affluent of herbs and seasonings such as fish sauce, a bit similar to Vietnamese and Thai cuisine.