Angkor Wat is definitely the star attraction of Cambodia and is certainly one of the most impressive structures on the planet.
We will never forget driving up to the complex and seeing Angkor Wat standing proudly over the water or the adorable little girl that sold us post cards as she recited our capital city of Canada.
But once you have your fill of temples, head over to the country’s capital Phnom Penh. Relax by the Mekong River, check out the Royal Palace and then hire a guide to the Tuol Sleng Museum and the Killing Fields; the most compelling and profoundly moving sight in Phnom Penh.
This Cambodia travel guide will help you plan your next vacation.
- Cambodian power voltage is 220/230 V 50 Hz; Power sockets A & C
- Cambodian currency is the Cambodian Riel (KHR) and is around 4,000 KHR for 1 USD. Check current rates here.
- If you want to skip getting a visa upon arrival, than citizens of most nations can apply for an e-Visa online on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation website. The price is indeed a little higher, due to a processing fee, and the e-visa only valid for entry by air or at specific border main land crossings.
- Do some good and have a drink at The Foreign Correspondents Club or a meal at Friends (215 Street 13; 00855 12 802072; friends-international.org), where street children are trained to be waiters and chefs.
- Take small note denominations in US dollars – $1 bills are ideal – for tipping and small purchases.
- Make sure to book in advance if you plan on visiting during mid-April's New Year celebrations or for the Water Festival in Phnom Penh in November.
Budget: You can stay in budget hotels in Cambodia starting at $10 US per night. They often have free Wi-Fi, continental breakfast, and are near city centers.
Mid Range: You will find outdoor pools to enjoy at mid-range hotels in Cambodia along with restaurants, lounges, and laundry service.
High End: When you stay at a high-end hotel in Cambodia, you may have access to a fitness center, massage services, and beautiful views from your balcony.
Fish amok – This popular dish consists of fish, coconut milk, ginger, turmeric, and lemongrass.
Lap khmer – This beef salad is marinated with lime juice, fish sauce, mint, basil, bell peppers, and fish sauce and comes with chiles on top.
Red tree ants – Various sized ants are mixed with chili and beef and put on top of white rice.
Getting to Cambodia: There are no direct flights to Cambodia from North America, but you can fly in by way of Bangkok, Seoul, and other cities in Asia.
Buses: There are some buses available in the larger cities, including ones that run to and from the airport, which start at $1.
Taxis: Taxis are available in Cambodia in most larger areas as well as tuk-tuks and motodups starting at $1.
Car Rental: Car rentals are available in Cambodia starting at around $40 a day.
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Cambodia is in a tropical zone, affected by two distinct seasons: wet and dry. Monsoon season is from May to October, raining usually for a short time in the afternoon.
The dry season is from November to March where temperatures hovering around 95°F (35°C). Phnom Penh is always very humid.
- Umbrella / Rain coat: Climate change means that Cambodia experiences rainstorms during the dry season and cool temperatures in the hot season – in short the weather can be unpredictable. Make sure to bring an umbrella or rain coat.
- The protection basics – Travellers should stock up on the essentials: sun block, mosquito/insect repellant containing DEET or a pyrethroid insecticide, sunglasses and a hat. If you plan on traveling in rural areas, make sure to avoid mosquito-born dengue fever by wearing clothes that cover the arms and legs and spraying yourself with DEET. Mosquito coils can also help/
- Pack for Humidity – for humid weather it is best to pack fabrics that breathe as much as possible and natural fabrics, like cotton, linen or rayon (avoiding silk, wool and polyester). Clothing should be loose and comfortable to encourage the flow of air and allow moisture to evaporate. Think “cool but conservative.”
- Footwear – to make visiting temples and homes easy, look for a pair of supportive and sturdy sandals that can be easily slipped on and off. For hiking and trekking, pack a pair of boots. Last make sure to pack a pair of flip flops for those long walks along the beach.
When to Go:
The best time to visit Cambodia is between November and February as the heat dies down but it's still dry enough for outdoor activities. Many people also enjoy visiting from March through May as the weather starts to get warmer, making it perfect for swimming and scuba diving.
Things to Do
Take a tuk-tuk ride – Riding on a tuk-tuk is a must when you're in Cambodia.
Watch plankton glow at night – Head to the island of Koh Rong to watch the water light up at night as the plankton glow from below.
- Visit Tuol Sleng – former school building, it was here that The Khmer Rouge Regime, held prisoners and tortured them until they gave names of family and friends who in turn were arrested.
- Explore Angor Wat – hire your own private guide and explore the various sites
Places to Stay
Borei Angkor Resort & Spa – This beautiful hotel in Siem Reap offers an outdoor restaurant, spa, and outdoor pool. The hotel is located within half an hour of many temples and the Siem Reap International Airport.
Thansur Sokha Hotel – This is a good hotel to stay at for families, as it has a waterpark and in-room childcare. They also have a nightclub and casino for guests who want to go out at night.
TeaHouse Asian Urban Hotel – This hotel is located in Phnom Penh and offers a restaurant, lounge, and an airport shuttle. They're also right in the city center so you'll have access to restaurants and shops within a few minute's walk.
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We have used every one of these personally and continue to do so.
Booking.com: This is our go site to when comparing prices for accommodation. It is usually the has the cheapest prices and we love their interface. Not to mention you get free cancellation and you are guaranteed the best price.
Trip Advisor: What we like about Trip Advisor is that we can look at all the reviews and then book our accommodation. TripAdvisor is where we go when we want to compare prices with multiple accommodation providers.
Air BnB: Airbnb is the main search engine we use when we are looking for a home or apartment rental. It can sometimes be cheaper than hotels and it is the best way to stay in areas that offer a more local feel.
Skyscanner: This is the first place we check for flights. It consistently comes back with the cheapest and best options. It allows us to compare a lot of airlines to get the best price.
Hostelworld: With one of the largest databases of hostels in the world, Hostelworld is the go-to site when you are looking for budget accommodation.
Rome 2 Rio: If you want to see how to get somewhere by plane, train, bus, ferry or car Rome2Rio lays it all out for you as well as related costs. I love how they show it all to you on a Google Map and it works offline.
Get Your Guide: For all your day trip and city guide needs, we use Get Your Guide. It has the world's largest collection of things to do with more than 30,000 activities in 7500 destinations.
World Nomads Insurance: When traveling to Cambodia you should always have travel insurance. We have found the best bang for your buck is by far World Nomads.