Top tips for travelling to Cambodia

Home to one of the world’s most magnificent sites, the temples of Angkor, Cambodia is a must for travellers, once holidays are allowed again. Make sure to properly prepare your trip, including applying for the right visa.

Busy streets full of cars and bikes. Food stalls where you can taste the local cuisine. Crowded markets where every market vendor wants to be louder than their neighbour. The country offers many opportunities to experience the local culture, but you need to know what you’re doing to get the most out of your trip. Here are eight tips to make sure your trip goes off without a hitch.

1. Visit between November and April

Firstly, choose the best time to travel to Cambodia. Experts recommend booking your trip between November and April to avoid the rainy season. During the rainy season, not only does it rain a lot, but the air is often very humid, which many travellers find unpleasant.

2. Don’t forget your visa!

After you’ve planned your trip, you can already apply for your visa. The visa can be applied for online for British tourists. Make sure your passport is still valid for at least six months, otherwise you can’t apply for the visa online. After approval the visa will be sent by e-mail. Print the visa and keep it in your hand luggage so you can always present it when asked to by local authorities. With the visa in hand, the journey can begin!

Wat Ounalom At Sunset In Phnom Penh, Cambodia

The bustling capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh

– Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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3. Experience vibrant Phnom Penh

Most international travellers to Cambodia stay in Phnom Penh. This is the capital of Cambodia, considered by many to be the most vibrant city in the country. You’ll find busy cafes and bars, luxurious hotels, but also restaurants serving the best meals. Be warned: Phnom Penh is extremely loud and busy. But for many, this is all the more reason to stay in this city.

4. Take the bus or hire a driver

Traffic in Cambodia is notorious, and not in a good way. Traffic rules seem to be non-existent. For the locals, this is not a problem as they have long since grown used to it. For foreign tourists, however, it can quickly become overwhelming. That is why it is advised to travel by public transport. This is cheaper than renting a car and tickets can often be bought at the hotel you’re staying at. Alternatively, you can rent a car with a personal chauffeur. If you’re a daredevil, you can even consider driving yourself. Just make sure you have proper insurance!

Ancient stone faces of Bayon temple, Angkor, Cambodia

Ancient stone faces of Bayon temple, thought by many to be the most beautiful out of the Angkor temples

– Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

5. Visit the temples of Angkor and the National Museum Cambodia

The ancient city of Angkor, near Siem Reap in northern Cambodia, is home an extraordinary collection of temples, including the largest religious building in the world, Angkor Wat. Bayon Temple, however,  is often considered the most beautiful. This temple, with its carved faces, dates back to the 12th century.
Another worthwhile attraction is the National Museum in Phnom Penh. Here you will learn all about Khmer history and get the chance to see one of the world’s largest collections of Khmer art, including many sculptures. The museum fell into disrepair during the Khmer Rouge regime, but has since been restored.

Bok lahong - Khmer spicy papaya salad is popular salad in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

It’s worth sampling the street food in Cambodia, but to keep as safe as possible try to choose stalls where you can see where and how they are preparing the food

– Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

6. How to eat safely

Cambodia is known for its street food. However, many people wonder if it is safe to try this kind of food. A good tip is to make sure you can see for yourself where the food is prepared. As long as the food is freshly prepared in an environment that you can see and judge for yourself, it is probably safe. If you don’t trust it, go to a stall that is popular; that way you can be (relatively) sure it’s safe.

7. US dollars welcome

The currency is the Riel, but US dollars are also welcome Cambodia’s currency is the riel, but shops and businesses also accept US dollars. You can even get dollars from ATMs in Cambodia. Many western tourists take both Riel and US dollars with them.

8. It’s okay not to tip (but it is still welcome!)

Every country is different when it comes to tipping. In the UK, a tip of around 10% is customary. In America, tips are a major part of the livelihoods of serving staff, and not tipping is considered exceptionally rude. In Cambodia, however, tipping is not particularly widespread. Nobody will look at you differently if you don’t tip. If you, expect broad smiles and deep bows

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