Weather & climate
Cambodia has a monsoon climate. Monsoons occur from May to October with the most rainfall in August, and the rest of the year is the dry season. It is generally hot all year round with its peak in March and April when average temrature can be around 36oC ( 102oF) with high humidity. The coolest time is around November to January with dry and cool weather. This is considered to be the best time to explore Angkor Wat temple complex and the rest of Cambodia. Average temprature is around 21oC ( 72oF)
Cambodia borderes to the west by Thailand, to the north by Laos and to the east by Vietnam, and the south to the Gulf of Thailand. The landscape comprises tropical rainforest and fertile cultivated land, with lush highlands rising in both the northeast and southeast. Rivers are a central feature of its make-up, with Phnom Penh situated at the confluence of the Bassac, the Tonle and the Mekong. Tonle Sap, meaning fresh water lake and is the biggest fresh water lake in Southeast Asia, is located in Siemreap in the north. With its hundreds of kilometers coastal line, there are many beaches and Shihanoukville is the most famous.
Cambodian registered and operated airlines do not meet international safety standards.
Travellers should be aware of the risk of robbery and other crime (including sexual offences), particularly after dark, and take sensible precautions. Areas where crime levels have been relatively high in recent months include the riverfront area of Phnom Penh and the beaches and tourist areas of Sihanoukville. Travellers should be on their guard against pickpockets and bag snatchers, especially when travelling around the cities.
Visa and passport requirements
A passport must be valid for 6 months is before entry into Cambodia.
Visas are required by all nationals ( except ASEAN citizens). A tourist visa is valid for three months for a 30-day stay. You can obtain a visa online for a fee of 25 usd or at international airports or border gates. The process is very fast and easy with 20usd fee.
Visas, or one, three, six or 12 months for business visas (which can be multiple-entry) may be granted by the Immigration Department Office in Phnom Penh.
Cambodia health care and vaccinations
|Vaccination identifier||Special precautions|
* A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required by travellers arriving within 10 days from infected areas.
Health insurance, including emergency evacuation, is absolutely essential. Doctors and hospitals expect cash payments for any medical treatment. The cost of medical evacuation is high. The hospital in Phnom Penh is reliable. It is suggested that any visitors bring adequate supplies of any essential personal medication, since that medication may not be available in Cambodia.
Food and drink
All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. You should drink only boiled or bottled water because it is cheap and available in every travel routes. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled.
- Cholera may be a serious risk in this country and precautions are essential. Up-to-date advice should be sought before deciding whether these precautions should include vaccination.
- Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is present; avoid swimming and paddling in fresh water. Giardiasis, dysentery, typhoid fever and dengue fever are common throughout Cambodia. Dengue fever is particularly prevalent in Phnom Penh, Kampong Cham, Kompong Thom and Siem Reap. Hepatitis B is hyperendemic. Japanese encephalitis occurs in rural areas from May to November, and is relatively common in the highlands where there are rice fields and pigs, as both are needed for the disease to occur. The vaccine is only usually given for people travelling in rural areas for four weeks or more.
- HIV/AIDS is endemic and safe sex practices are essential.
Money & duty free for Cambodia
Cambodia is a very highly dollarized country so the green back is as popular as the local currency, Cambodian Riel. US cash is king and accepted everywhere. You will get change back in USD and smaller amount than 1usd will be paid in Riel.
Major credit cards have become common in most tourist destinations. An extra charge of 3-4 % is applicable in most places. It is always wise to carry cash (US Dollars if necessary) in small denominations if you go to small towns/ rurual areas.
There are ATMs in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. This is the only country in Asia which you can obtain US cash, not local currency, from ATMs.
Traveller's cheques are generally not common so not recommended. Traveller's cheques in US Dollars can be changed only at banks and some hotels, but can be difficult to change outside major cities.
Cambodia duty free
The following goods may be imported into Cambodia without incurring customs duty:
- 400 cigarettes, 100 cigars or 400 grams of tobacco.
- 350 ml of perfume
- Two litres of wine
Note: Currency must be declared. Goods worth more than US$100 are subject to taxes. Anything in excess of US$300 must be declared.
Food and Drink in Cambodia
As elsewhere in Southeast Asia, the quality of the food is a draw in its own right. Khmer cuisine shares much with that of both Thailand and China, although it tends to steer clear of excessive use of spices. Quality restaurants are found in all areas that see mainstream tourism, while cheap but tasty food stalls are ubiquitous around the country. Most meals are rice-based.
- Prahok (fermented fish paste) is used to flavour many dishes.
- Local fruits include banana, coconut, the durian fruit (known for its distinctive odour), jackfruit, longan fruit, lychee, pineapple and rambutan fruit (which has translucent white flesh).
- Crispy fried spiders are a snack for the adventurous in Northern Cambodia.
- Amok trey (fish in a thick coconut curry sauce, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed).
- Rice noodles proliferate and can be bought covered in curry sauce from street vendors.
Tips are appreciated in hotels and restaurants where no service charge has been added, and by tour guides.
- Fresh coconut juice.
- Green tea.
- Rice wine.
- The local beer is called Angkor.
- The most popular, and refreshing, Khmer drink is soda water with a squeeze of lemon.
There are no age restrictions.
Shopping and nightlife in Cambodia
Visitors to Cambodia have a tendency to leave with bulkier luggage than on arrival: the country's markets are heavy with potential souvenirs, ranging from silks, textiles and statues to carvings, silverwork and Buddhist artworks. Unique to Cambodia is the omnipresent krama (a unisex checked scarf usually made of cotton), while silk can be bought either by the length, or in the form of scarves and other garments. Jewellery, ceramics, clothing, CDs and DVDs are widespread in city markets (try Phnom Penh Central Market as a starting point) - go prepared to haggle.
Nightlife in Cambodia
It's not difficult to find vibrant nightlife in Cambodia, particularly in heavily visited destinations such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (which neighbours the Angkor Temple Complex). Bars and restaurants are plentiful, ranging from down-and-dirty drinking holes to smart cocktail bars. Outright nightclubs are few and far between, although girlie bars are anything but rare - be sure to check a venue out before handing over a cover charge.
Most major hotels offer entertainment of their own, with properties in Siem Reap especially good at hosting traditional dance performances during high season.