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Discover with Timothy Tye: CambodiaDiscover with Timothy Tye: Cambodia (27 July, 2017)

 Timothy Tye

Cambodia is a small country in Southeast Asia. Covering 181,035 sq km (69,898 sq mi), Cambodia is bordered by Vietnam to the east, Laos to the north, and Thailand to the west. The country has a population of 14.8 million (2011 estimate). The capital and largest city is Phnom Penh.

Cambodia is seven hours ahead of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC+7). Traffic is driven on the right here, just as in the United States. The phone IDD code is +855. The official currency is called the Riel. The official language is called Khmer, written using the Khmer script.

Travel Tips of Major Cities in Cambodia

World Heritage Sites in Cambodia

Cambodia ratified the World Heritage Convention on 28 November, 1991. As of August 2010, it has two World Heritage Sites, both in the Cultural category. Cambodia has also submitted another ten properties presently on the World Heritage Tentative List. Cambodia served a term on the World Heritage Committee, in 2009-2013.

Places of Interest in Cambodia

Cities and Sights of Central Cambodia

  1. Koki Beach
  2. Kompong Cham
  3. Neak Luong
  4. Prek Kampi
  5. Ratanakiri
  6. Sambor
  7. Stung Treng

Cities and Sights of the Cambodian Coast

  1. Bokor
  2. Kampot
  3. Kep
  4. Kirirom
  5. Koh Kong
  6. Koh Tang Islands
  7. Koh Tunsay
  8. Kompong Som
  9. Kompong Som Islands
  10. Ream Islands
  11. Samit Islands
  12. Sre Amben
  13. Tunlop Rolork

Prasat at Banteay Samre, AngkorPrasat at Banteay Samre, Angkor (25 February 2006)

Today Cambodia is very much a country in a hurry. The civil war that happened in 1975-1978 not only brought untold suffering and death, it also interrupted the country's progress. While much of Southeast Asia was marching headlong towards industrialization, the war brought Indo-China to a standstill.

Now that peace has prevailed, Cambodia is in a hurry to catch up with its neighbors. In terms of economy, it still has a long way to equal its richer neighbours. In 2010, it had an estimated nominal GDP of $11.629 billion, equivalent to a per capita nominal GDP of $1,024. Its per capita GDP at purchasing power parity was $2,470.

Tonlé SapLife on the Tonlé Sap (25 February 2006)

In the aspect of tourism however, Cambodia has not only caught up, but surpassed some. Whether you arrive in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, you get the distinct feeling that the whole country is very busy. The town of Siem Reap was just a truck stop a couple of decades ago. Now it is one of the busiest construction sites in Cambodia, sprouting accommodation catering to every budget. Once upon a time, visiting the ruins of Angkor was not only uncomfortable, it was downright dangerous.

Not anymore. The land all around the Angkor Archaeological Park, where all the famous ruins are located, has been thoroughly scanned and cleared of mines. Now tourists can explore the ancient Khmer monuments comfortably (relatively comfortably) and with little risk of losing limb or life. As for accommodation, one is practically spoilt for choice. Everything from the most budget hostel to the ultra-pampering pleasure palaces have descended on little Siem Reap in the space of just a few short years. Whether you intend to explore Angkor by bicycle, tuk tuk or helicopter, it's all at your disposal.

Birds at the Tonlé SapBirds at the Tonlé Sap (25 February 2006)

I can remember how excited I was the first time I visited Cambodia, many years ago. I was only beginning to travel, and being a novice, did all my homework. Since then, I have returned to Cambodia a number of times. While it is still an exotic destination, I have become much more familiar with it today. I hope therefore, that this travel guide to Cambodia which I've put together will be helpful to you, especially if you are in the planning process of a trip there.

The mighty Mekong River flows through Cambodia, entering the country at Stoeng Treng at the Laos border, and leaving it to form the Mekong delta in southern Vietnam. The Bassac River, a tributary of the Mekong, joins the Tonlé Sap River at Phnom Penh. The Tonlé Sap River flows out from the great Tonlé Sap Lake, where the Angkor civilisation flourished in the 9th to the 13th centuries. The majority of visitors to Cambodia visit either Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Those visiting both places may opt for a boat trip from Phnom Penh up the Tonlé Sap river, to Siem Reap and back. A smaller number of visitors also go to Kompong Som (Sihanoukville) and Battambang, the second largest city in Cambodia.

Cambodia Travel Information

Time Zone: 7 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.
Currency: riel (CR)
Language: Khmer, working English generally understood by tuk tuk drivers in Siem Reap.
International Dialing Code: 855
Population: 11 million
Religion: Theravada Buddhism (90%), Islam
Electricity: 220V 50Hz
Electrical Outlet: Mostly two-prong round sockets.
Driving: On the right side of the road.

Planning your trip to Cambodia

Entering Cambodia by Air
The cheapest flights to Cambodia is provided by the low-cost carrier AirAsia, which flies to Phnom Penh from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, and to Siem Reap from Kuala Lumpur. Jetstar Asia also flies to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap from Singapore.

Phnom Penh International Airport has international flights to Bangkok, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei and Vientiane, and domestic flights to Siem Reap and Rattanakiri.

Siem Reap International Airport has international flights to Bangkok, Da Nang, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Kuala Lumpur, Kunming, Luang Prabang, Pusan, Seoul-Incheon, Singapore, Taipei and domestic flights to Battambang, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.

Rattanware stall, Siem ReapRattanware stall, Siem Reap (2 March, 2008)

Cambodia Airport Tax
International departures from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap: US$25 for adults, US$13 for children 12 and under.
Domestic departure: US$6 for flights between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Entering Cambodia By Road
From Thailand: Enter at Poipet. Road to Siem Reap has improved, however a slow bus may take 12 hours.
From Vietnam: Enter at Moc Bai and Chao Doc. Bus available from Ho Chi Minh City. May take 5-6 hours to reach Phnom Penh.

Travel Advice
We urge travellers entering Cambodia to fly. Those entering by road are often exposed to border scams. Get your visa ready or else you may face border officials who create their own border laws, charging you inflated price for visa, or charging you a fee for vaccination certs that are not mandatory.

Entering Cambodia By Boat
From Laos: Enter at Stung Treng along the Mekong River. Travel Advice Visitors entering by boat are often exposed to scams from border officials who have easy money to "earn" a few extra dollars from tourists with no options. Don't put yourself in this position.
From Vietnam: Boat between Chau Doc (four hours by road from Ho Chi Minh City) and Phnom Penh available. Boat trip takes another 5 hours.

The restroom at Angkor Archaeological ParkThe restroom at Angkor Archaeological Park (28 February, 2008)

Cambodia Entry Requirements

All visitors require visa, except for citizens of Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Laos. Tourist visa costs US$20, business visa costs US$25. You need a minimum of 4 months validity on your passport, and one completely blank page. Get it done at a Cambodia Embassy and enjoy a 90-day validity (but must be used within 3 months).

You can also apply for your visa at the airport in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, as well as at the border crossings. Bring along one or two (depends on where you apply) passport-size photos, and clean US dollar bills (paying using local currency will be at a substantially higher price). If you do not bring a passport-size photo, then it's an additional US$2 to get it taken. If you prefer to have your visa done in advance but cannot reach any Cambodia embassies, you can get an e-Visa done for US$25.

If bringing in video or professional photographic equipment, make a list of your gear and show it to the official at the customs declaration counter. Keep this list till your departure. Duty-free allowance is 1 bottle of spirit, 200 cigarettes and a reasonable amount of perfume.

Travel Advice Antiques may not be taken out of the country. Limit your purchase to replicas and handicrafts.

Miniature ruins of Banteay SreiMiniature ruins of Banteay Srei (2 March, 2008)

Cambodian Currency
The Cambodian currency is called riel. Riel banknotes are available in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000 and 100000.

When travelling in Cambodia, the most convenient form of currency is the US dollar. The second most convenient is the Thai baht. When carrying US Dollars, make sure they are pretty recent ones. Due to counterfeiting, some shopkeepers may reject US Dollar banknotes of high denominations which are old. Best to carry plenty of low-denomination US Dollar banknotes.

Travellers' Cheques
It is not convenient to carry travellers' cheques in Cambodia. Exchange rate for them is not to be in your favour, and if you must bring them, make sure they are in US Dollars.

Credit Cards
Outside of decent hotels, the use of credit cards are still at an infant stage. Cash advances on credit cards are possible from certain banks in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Cambodia Banking Hours
Banks are open from 8:00 am to 3:30pm Mondays to Fridays. Some banks are open on Saturdays.

Telecommunications in Cambodia

Vital Phone Numbers
  1. Police (called from land line): 117
  2. Fire (called from land line): 118
  3. Ambulance (called from land line): 119
  4. Passport Office for Foreigners: 012 854 874
  5. Immigration Office: 012 826 025

Ruins of Prasat KravanRuins of Prasat Kravan (24 February, 2006)

Cambodia Telephone Codes
The Country Code for Cambodia is 855. The following are some of the area codes in Cambodia:
  • Phnom Penh: 23
  • Siem Reap: 63
  • Battambang: 53
  • Kompong Som (Sihanoukville): 34
Dialling from Cambodia to another country
Dial 001 followed by the Country Code, Area Code and Phone Number. For example, if you're calling the number 04-555 6666 in Penang, Malaysia from Cambodia, you would dial 001-60-4-555-6666.

Mobile Phones
Cambodia uses GSM system common everywhere outside North America. About receiving calls while in Cambodia, please note that you may be charged a very high rate for receiving calls from callers who are unaware you are abroad.
Another option to stay connected while in Cambodia is to rent a mobile phone. This is available directly at the airport.

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