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20 things to know before traveling to Cambodia

  1. You can get to Cambodia by flying into Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, which are the main international airports in the country. There are also land border crossings with Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos, as well as boat crossings from Vietnam.
  2. The best time to visit Cambodia depends on your preferences and the activities you want to do. The dry season, from November to April, is generally considered the best time to visit, as the weather is warm and dry and the countryside is lush and green. However, the dry season can also be the busiest and most expensive time to visit. The wet season, from May to October, is characterized by hot and humid weather, with occasional heavy rainfall. This is the low season for tourism, so prices may be lower and crowds thinner.
  3. Accommodation in Cambodia ranges from luxury hotels and resorts to budget guesthouses and hostels. There are also options for homestays, which offer a more authentic and immersive experience of local life.
  4. Some top things to do and see in Cambodia include visiting the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, exploring the capital city of Phnom Penh, visiting the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and taking a boat ride on the Tonle Sap lake.
  5. The local currency in Cambodia is the Cambodian riel, but US dollars are widely accepted and are often used as a de facto currency. You can exchange money at banks, money changers, and most hotels.
  6. The official language of Cambodia is Khmer, but many people also speak English, particularly in the tourism industry. It is always appreciated when tourists make an effort to learn a few basic phrases in the local language, such as “hello,” “thank you,” and “goodbye.”
  7. The climate in Cambodia is tropical, with hot and humid weather year-round. The dry season is generally warm and sunny, while the wet season is hot and humid, with occasional heavy rainfall. It is recommended to pack lightweight and breathable clothing, as well as a rain jacket or umbrella during the wet season.
  8. There are a few cultural customs and traditions that you should be aware of before visiting Cambodia. For example, it is customary to remove your shoes before entering a home or temple, and it is important to dress modestly and cover your shoulders and knees when visiting religious sites. It is also considered rude to touch someone’s head or point your feet at someone, and it is important to use your right hand for giving or receiving items.
  9. Cambodia is generally a safe destination to visit, but it is always advisable to be aware of your surroundings and take basic precautions to protect your valuables. There are areas of the country that are more rural and less developed, and it is important to be respectful of local customs and traditions.
  10. Before visiting Cambodia, it is recommended to check with your healthcare provider or a travel health clinic about any necessary vaccinations or preventive measures. It is also a good idea to bring a supply of any prescription medications you may need, as well as a basic first aid kit.
  11. There are various ways to get around Cambodia, including by taxi, tuk-tuk, bus, and rental car. In the cities, it is also possible to use ride-sharing services like Grab.
  12. The local cuisine in Cambodia is known for its flavorful and spicy dishes, such as amok (a coconut-based curry), lok lak (stir-fried beef), and khmer red curry. Street food is also popular and can be found at local markets and food stalls.
  13. There are several local festivals and events that you may want to be aware of when visiting Cambodia. Some examples include the Water Festival, which is held in November and marks the reversal of the Tonle Sap river’s flow, and the Bon Om Touk, or the “Festival of Boats,” which is held in October and features dragon boat races and other celebrations. There are also many Buddhist holidays and festivals, such as Pchum Ben, which is a time for honoring the deceased.
  14. You can use your phone in Cambodia, but it is advisable to check with your mobile carrier about international roaming fees and coverage. Alternatively, you can also buy a local SIM card, which can be purchased at the airport or at many mobile phone shops throughout the country.
  15. There are a few natural disasters and weather events that you should be aware of when traveling to Cambodia. The country is prone to typhoons and flooding during the wet season, and earthquakes are also a possibility. It is a good idea to stay informed about the local weather and any potential hazards during your visit.
  16. The local time zone in Cambodia is GMT+7. This is 7 hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and may be different from your home time zone, so it is important to check the time difference before your trip.
  17. There are a few local laws and customs that you should be aware of when traveling to Cambodia. For example, it is illegal to take photographs of certain government buildings, military installations, and airports. It is also important to respect local traditions and customs, such as removing your shoes before entering a home or temple.
  18. There are a few local scams and dangers that you should be aware of when traveling to Cambodia. One common scam is the “golden Buddha” scam, in which tourists are offered the opportunity to purchase a supposedly valuable golden Buddha statue, only to discover later that the statue is actually made of cheap materials. It is also important to be aware of pickpockets and scams involving transportation, such as tuk-tuk drivers overcharging tourists.
  19. The local dress code in Cambodia is generally casual, but it is important to dress modestly and cover your shoulders and knees when visiting religious sites. It is also a good idea to avoid wearing clothing with offensive slogans or images.
  20. It is generally easy to find vegetarian and vegan food in Cambodia, as many local dishes are based on rice, vegetables, and tofu. There are also a number of vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in the major cities.
20 things to know before traveling to Cambodia