I recently spent seven days in Cambodia, it was an incredible experience and I loved every minute of it but there are also about ten things I wish I knew before visiting Cambodia.
1. Visas – For U.S. and Canadian residents, it’s not necessary for you to apply for a visa in advance. You can get one when you arrive, but you will need to travel with a passport sized photo. A one-month tourist visa costs US$30 for Americans and Canadian citizens must pay US$30 plus a US$7 processing fee to obtain a Cambodia visa. Visas can be purchased on arrival at certain entry points, but you can expect long lines.
2. Cash – The currency in Cambodia is the riel. However, the U.S. dollar is used everywhere. After years of deprivation at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, the dollar helped to buoy the county’s recovery. So local restaurants and shops will accept riels, but it’s easier and cheaper for you to just use U.S. dollars. Make sure to travel with smaller bills, $1, $5 and $10.
3. Local Guides – Regardless if you’re traveling solo or as a couple hiring a local guide is one of the best things you can do. Cambodia is not the richest country so it’s good to pump money back into the local economy. For about $20 U.S. dollars for the day you can have a local pick you up in a Tuk Tuk from your hotel and take you to Angkor Wat. Your guide will help you get your tickets and take you to the entrance.
4. Children at Angkor Wat Selling – Children will be selling different items or food around Angkor Wat. Their beautiful faces will wheel you in, but avoid buying from them because it’s basically organized begging, and it devalues education. The children will not go to school because they feel like they can make money selling.
5. Baby Wipes – The public toilets are used by so many tourists each day, so they are not always the cleanest and it’s normal to not have any toilet paper. Travel with a small pack of baby wipes for those instances where you need to use the toilet.
6. The Countryside – I made my way out of the city and hopped on a 4×4. I rode through a few villages seeing the beautiful countryside and walking in the rice fields. Locals ran out of their homes and greeted us with a broad smile and waved as we rode by. It was so special for me to get out into the countryside and to see how the locals live. It was a humbling experience.
7. Rainy Season – It rained daily for about 30 mins in the afternoon, outside of that the weather was beautiful. Travel prices to Asia are usually cheaper during the rainy season, so you can save a few bucks by traveling during this time.
8. Language – You will have no problem getting around because English is spoken everywhere.
9. Monks – Monks are highly respected by the locals so tourists should be also. Always ask a Monk their permission before taking a picture of them.
10. Humid – It’s so humid in Cambodia. I sweat a lot normally, but Cambodia was on another level. My t-shirt was constantly wet from sweat due to the think humidity there. I would advise visiting the temples early in the morning before the mid-day sun hits and drink lots of H2O.
Anything else you would like to know about traveling in Cambodia?
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