10 Top Cambodia Travel Tips You Should Know
Cambodia is a beautiful and diverse country to explore, home to some of Asia’s top attractions, cities and beaches. But navigating a new foreign country can sometimes be a little tricky, even for the most seasoned of travellers. So to help you along the way here are my 10 top Cambodia travel tips you should know before visiting.
Table of Contents
1. Cambodia Travel Tips – There are two currencies
The first Cambodia travel tip you should know is that they actually use two currencies. The US dollar and their own currency the Cambodian Riel. Sounds confusing right? Well, let me explain how it works. When it comes to paying for meals, accommodation and entry fees it’s easier to pay in dollars. This is because in most places, particularly in tourist areas the prices are only stated in dollars anyway. So where does their own currency come in then? So if for example, you were to buy something costing $6.50 and paid with a $10 note, you would receive $3 change and then the remaining 50 cents back in Riel. It’s widely accepted that 4000 Riel equals $1 so it’s easy to work out what you’re owed. Your Riel change can then be used for small purchases or when your total is not rounded to a whole dollar. ATM’s will also give you the option to get your money out in US Dollars.
2. Cambodia Travel Tips – Pass App: Cambodia’s version of Uber
Once you’ve arrived in Cambodia, the best way to get around the towns and cities is by tuk-tuk. The country has its own version of Uber called PassApp, where you can easily book a ride through their phone app. The other popular south-east Asia taxi service, Grab is also available. Although this is great for other neighbouring countries, I would recommend using PassApp for Cambodia as I found it better in terms of both cost and availability – find out more in my comparison post here.
3. Cambodia Travel Tips – Get from A to B with Giant Ibis
With limited rail networks across the country, the easiest way to get between Cambodia’s most popular travel destinations is by bus. And in terms of which bus company you should travel with, look no further than Giant Ibis. This company is by far superior when it comes to comfort, reliability and most importantly safety (you can read more on that in my article here). Their routes connect the most popular Cambodian cities and towns and they run a regular timetable of both day and night buses.
4. Cambodia Travel Tips – Maximise your time at Angkor Wat
The price of even just a 1-day ticket for Angkor Wat can seem a lot if you’re on a budget. But a visit to this famous Archaeological park is not something to be missed. Make your ticket go further by buying it the afternoon before you want to go to the park. You’ll then be able to enter the park that evening for the sunset and also skip the ticket office queues at sunrise the next morning. Read more details on how to maximise your Angkor Wat ticket here.
5. Cambodia Travel Tips – Dress appropriately
Cambodia is quite a conservative country – most Cambodian women dressing quite modestly with their shoulders and legs covered. Even when swimming, you will see a lot of ladies going into the water fully dressed. That being said, shorts and t-shirts are still acceptable for female travellers to wear and hanging out at your hotel pool or swimming in touristy areas in a bikini is okay too. The exception to this is temples of course. Knees and shoulders need to be covered by both men and women. In most places, a simple scarf or shawl will suffice. However, there are some temples in Angkor Wat that will only allow you to enter if you are wearing actual clothes that cover you up, not just a wrap around accessory.
6. Cambodia Travel Tips – Don’t ride elephants
Like most of its neighbouring countries, Cambodia is also home to the Asian elephant. There are lots of sanctuaries you can visit to spend time with them. However be aware that not all sanctuaries are equal. Even if an establishment is advertising itself as an ethical sanctuary, it may still be involved in cruel practices and be giving improper care to the elephants. Stay away from any organisation that allows you to ride elephants. This is physically painful for them and involves breaking their spirit. However, there are some good ones out there too, so make sure you do proper research before you go and read reviews of other people’s experiences on a neutral website like TripAdvisor.
7. Cambodia Travel Tips – Bring extra dollars if you’re crossing into Cambodia by land
No matter how much your government website says your visa will be. If you’re crossing into Cambodia by land make sure to have around $10 extra to hand. Once you arrive you’ll probably find the visa price here is $5 more than expected. And then you’ll have to pay extra dollars here and there for a stamp fee, a processing fee and then another stamp fee. Is it corrupt? Most likely. Is there anything you can do about it? No. Its best just to pay rather than try and argue with officials and then be on your merry way than being denied entry to the country.
8. Cambodia Travel Tips – Learn about Cambodia’s history before you go
Cambodia has a very harrowing recent history. Although you can learn about it in Phnom Penh’s Killing Fields and S21 Prison, I would recommend reading a bit about it before you arrive. This will give you a better understanding of how the country is still recovering from the Khmer Rouge rule and a true appreciation of the resilience of its people.
9. Cambodia Travel Tips – Keep your wits about you
Cambodians are very friendly people but it’s important to keep your wits about you and your belongings in check when you’re out and about. As a tourist, you’ll be more of a target to thieves, who sometimes operate on motorbikes. Also, remember that it’s okay to say a firm no to pushy hawkers and tuk-tuk drivers and never give money to children beggars.
10. Cambodia Travel Tips – Go with the flow
One of the good things we found about travelling around Cambodia was that we didn’t really need to plan anything far in advance. There is plenty of accommodation in the main cities and towns available so you’ll be able to find somewhere even on the day you arrive. Most buses can be booked the day before or the day of departure and tickets to attractions can be bought on the door. This means that you can have great flexibility with your plans and change your route at a moments notice.
Do you have any other top Cambodia travel tips you would share with travellers? Write them in the comments below!