What to know before travelling to Cambodia
Delicious food, holy temples, forests, untouched beaches, rivers, lakes and ancient towns are just some of the reasons to add a tour of Cambodia to your travel plans. You can also see the world's largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat, which dates back to the 12th century, and sample the unique cuisine of the area including its famous fish curry! Let's take a closer look at what to know before travelling to Cambodia and how to best enjoy this unique and mysterious part of the world.
Travel tips to know before your visit to Cambodia
Great reasons to visit Cambodia
While modern Cambodia maintains some progress in culture and daily life, much of the country remains unexplored. This makes it an ideal destination for the adventurous traveller and lovers of rural landscapes. A new road network now makes it easier to access previously unknown areas. Sisowath Quay is the main tourist hub in the area and is complete with bars, cafes and restaurants, night markets and boat tour providers. The less traditional side of Cambodia reveals a mix of art deco bars, sunset cocktails and friendly local people. The landscape is a stunning and unusual mix of plains, high-lying lands, and low mountains set against the vastness of the Mekong Delta.
What is Cambodia famous for?
Cambodia attracts attention for its beautiful temples and its world-famous Irrawaddy Dolphins that are resident in the Mekong River.
- Temples: In Battambang historic area you can find rice fields and villages which surround the Wat Peapahd Temple, the Baset Temple, Wat Ek Phnom and many other important, ancient buildings. It is well worth spending the day here.
- Irrawaddy Dolphins: Irrawaddy Dolphins are rare dolphins are only found in a relatively small area between Cambodia and Laos and are a protected, special species for the Cambodians.
- Khmer Aspara Dance: The traditional Khmer Aspara dance is a world-famous and immensely popular traditional dance performed by folk dancers and members of the Cambodian ballet. A visit to the area isn't complete without witnessing it at least once!
- Beaches: Beautiful beaches with unique marine life are another drawcard to the area, along with a chance to sample the unique and tasty cuisine of the region.
Best attractions in Cambodia
- World Heritage Sites: Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world.** The monument and archeological park together form a temple city that attracts hundreds of tourists and worshippers every year and this World Heritage Site is a must-see when in Cambodia. It is here you will find the Bayon Temple, Ta Prohm Temple, and Banteay Srei. These ancient and beautiful temples evoke a magnificent sense of being caught in an ancient and very different time.
- Beaches and Island Paradise: The Sihanoukville Beaches are in Kompong Som Province and present travellers with an attractive, sunny beach resort. Take a towel and a good book or go diving. The best luxury hotels can be found on Sokha and Independence Beach and the best sandy beaches are at Ochheuteal and Serendipity. Koh Rong Samloem is an island paradise that is still fairly quiet and undeveloped but just as idyllic as Thailand's famed islands.
What cities should I visit?
- Krong Siem Reap is not only famous for its Buddhist temples, it's also the place to find some of the contrasting aspects of Cambodia. On Pub Street you can enjoy a delicious lunch at the rather cosmopolitan-style bakeries and cafes which sell cakes, ice cream, coffee and light meals. Kuthiew, a traditional Cambodian white noodle soup dotted with tender pork or chicken, or more familiar, pasta, steak or burgers can be found at local eateries.
- Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital city, is a bold, colourful place where you can sample the best street food, Cambodian Palm Juice, iced tea and coffee and buy local crafts.
- Preah Sihanouk is a coastal city where you can visit Bamboo Island, a small isle with the most tranquil beachfront and the Victory Beach Pier.
- Krong Kracheh is popular with tourists for its kayak day tours and Koh Trong island, nestled in the Mekong opposite Kratie island offers a quiet, traditional mood.
When is the best time to visit?
The dry, sunny season when skies are clear and days are long is between November and April and is the best time to visit Cambodia. Temperatures are cool to warm, without becoming uncomfortable and there is no rain. December and January are the peak season months when temperatures are the warmest and beaches and hotels the busiest. Cambodia has a tropical monsoon climate and most rains fall from May to October/November. The plus side to this is a green, lush landscape and reasons to stay in a cosy hotel.
Things you need to know before travelling to Cambodia
To travel to Cambodia, be sure you are aware of some of these essential information:
- Visa: Depending on your current passport, you'll need a visa and it's best to sort this out prior to travelling. Travellers from countries in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) do not need a visa.
- Currency: When visiting Cambodia make sure you have a mix of currencies. Riel is the currency of Cambodia and you can you use it to pay for anything that costs less than 1 USD. For anything above this, you will be using American dollars. For change of less than a dollar, you will be given Riel. ATMs dispense USD or sometimes both. Hotels, restaurants and vendors usually won't accept money that has rips or tears and really don't like older bills.
- Language: Khmer is the native Cambodian language and it's a great idea to learn some basic phrases.
- Local Transportation (Tuk-tuk): Tuk-tuk is the standard way to get around in Cambodia so ease into the ride.
More facts about Cambodia!
- Most inhabitants of Cambodia are subsistence farmers and live in rural areas.
- Cambodians are mostly Khmer with a smaller number of Vietnamese and Chinese ethnic groups and most belong to the Buddhist religion.
- Rice is a staple food in the country and you will find it in most of the local cuisine and at all the traditional restaurants in the cities and rural areas.
- English is widely spoken alongside Khmer so you won't need a translator!
Do you want to add Cambodia to your future travel bucket list? Start first by comparing air ticket prices to Cambodia on BudgetAir.
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