Visas: (Do I need a visa for Cambodia?)
A visa is required for all stays. It is mandatory for European citizens since 2018. You can get it thanks to an online application. The document, called electronic travel authorization for Cambodia (e-visa), is valid for 90 days. You should also provide two passport photos. Make sure you have a valid passport (at least 6 months before the expiry date) and a means of payment. If needed, you should contact the Cambodian Embassy.
Access to Cambodia: (How do I get to Cambodia?)
The easiest way to get to Cambodia is to fly. But it is possible to enter the territory by road by all neighboring countries. The Cambodia Visa are obtained in advance through the online application.
There are many airlines to travel to Cambodia. An online comparator will allow you to quickly get the benefits and prices of competitors. You won’t see some of the low-cost companies while looking at these comparators but you can directly consult their websites.
Internal Travel: There are 7 airlines in Cambodia. They make your internal trips easier, especially if you want to save time. However, you lose the charm of a trip by train, by car – or by motorcycle for the more adventurous.
Time difference: (What is the time difference?)
5 hours ahead of Paris in summer. 6 hours ahead of Paris in winter.
Currency: (What is the local currency?)
The official currency is the Riel and the unofficial currency is the US dollar (USD). That is why you would better go with US dollars. That being said, changing euros in exchange offices is also an option so you can do it as well and it is changed at the real rate.
1 $ = 0.89 € = 4060 Riels
There is also a lot of ATMs. Be sure to check your withdrawal limits abroad with your bank as well as the commission taken upon withdrawal. Local banks commissions and exchange rates will be specified upon withdrawal.
Cost of living: (Is the cost of living high?)
Transport, food, things in general and accommodation are relatively cheap. You can meet a level of comfort close to the best western standards. Of course, prices are proportional to the quality of services (yet still remain affordable).
Land transport: (how do I move?)
Tuk-Tuk: This means of transport consists of a motorcycle pulling a cart. It is ideal for groups (up to four people) with luggage, on short or medium distances. The price (to negotiate) is between 1 and 10 USD. You can also rent one for a day, for example, if you want to discover the temples of Angkor (20 USD).
Moto dop: You can ride in the back of a moto-taxi to reach nearby destinations. Ideal for people traveling alone and lightly loaded. Cost (to negotiate) between 50 cents and 5 USD.
Bus: Buses are relatively new and have air conditioning. Ideal means of transport to commute between different cities. Cost between 5 and 10 USD.
Collective taxi: They leave from markets all day long. Usually these vans will only leave when full, even if it is possible to buy more seats for more comfort or to accelerate a departure.
How can I communicate in Cambodia? (Which languages are spoken in Cambodia?)
The official language of the country is Khmer, which has its own alphabet. You can find dictionaries and learning books there. Here are some useful words:
Goodbye: / lihay
Thank you: Aurukun
Addition please: Som get loy
How much: Ponman
English: English is commonly spoken in all tourist areas
French: French is little used and is mostly spoken by the elderly, following the french colonization, or by people who belong to the medical or administrative fields.
The code for Cambodian numbers is: +855 (french dialing code +33). You can use a Cambodian sim card in your French phone if it is unlocked. It is nevertheless easy to find cheap mobile phones (around 15 USD).
Health: (What health precautions should I take for the trip?)
– Before departure: Cambodia’s hospital structures are uneven and do not always meet international standards. You should therefore take out an insurance which includes repatriation (see insurance section) before you leave. You will need an extra focus on children while traveling to Cambodia.
– Insurance: (Is it necessary to have an insurance?) Check with your bank if your credit card has an integrated repatriation assistance. Otherwise you should contract one.
– Vaccinations: No vaccination is required for European residents. In addition to all the useful vaccinations in Europe, you can be vaccinated for Hepatitis A and Japanese Encephalitis (for long stays only – especially during the monsoon)
– Tropical diseases:
If you are properly vaccinated, the main vectors for contracting these diseases are:
Poisoning due to the quality of water and food (see Precautions section) and insect bites. The main dangers are listed below:
Turista: Take anti-diarrhea medicine and prefer a rice-rich diet, especially just after your arrival.
Dengue: Precautions must be taken everywhere in the country. This viral disease is transmitted by mosquito bites and you should therefore respect the usual measures of protection: long clothing, anti-mosquito products on the skin and the clothing, electric diffusers, etc. (See Precautions section). Since dengue fever can be very serious, it is highly recommended to consult a doctor in case of fever (taking aspirin is not recommended).
Malaria (Malaria): Parasitic disease transmitted by mosquito bites, recurrent and incurable. To the usual measures of protection, it is better to add a drug treatment adapted to each individual. Ask your usual doctor or a center of advice for travelers. You should keep on with the treatment even after returning to France for some time, depending on the product used.
Classification: zone 3 except Phnom Penh.
Malaria is much less prevalent in urban and coastal areas. Take precautions especially during jungle treks (Temples of Angkor during sunrise and sunset).
Precautions: (What precautions should I take?)
– Anti mosquitoes: Remember to take a long-sleeved shirt, trousers, a pair of closed shoes and a mosquito spray (DEET 50%) for risk areas.
– Water: Never drink tap water, always drink sealed cap bottles. Be careful to boil water for coffee and tea. Pay attention to ice cubes, ice cubes for consumption (industrial) are cylindrical.
– Food: Always prefer well-cooked food (especially for meat). Overall, if you want to try the « real » traditional Cambodian cuisine (out of tourist areas) go where the local population eat, it guarantees quality.
– Hiking: Avoid as much as possible to go out of the beaten track. During the Khmer Rouge guerrillas, the country was literally riddled with anti-personnel mines. Despite the efforts of the international community, the threat still exists.
– Clothing: Do not bring too much light clothing as you can find good textile quality there and the prices are more than competitive.
– Sun: The sun beats hard so think about a headgear, sunscreen and biafine. Also be sure to hydrate yourself especially around noon.
– Swimming: Avoid swimming in the Mekong as the current is strong, and because of the local fauna and potential parasites.
– Security: Avoid ostentatious signs of wealth, especially in outlying areas. Even if Cambodia is much safer than most Western countries (stealing being considered as one of the biggest shame by the Khmer), do not make Faustian pacts.
Cooking: (How do I eat in Cambodia?)
Khmer cuisine is, like most Asian cuisines, very balanced in terms of sweet/salty and quite spicy. Seasonings often include the following ingredients: coriander, lemongrass or lime, coconut and ginger. Rice being the basic ingredient of Khmer cuisine, it is served with (or in) all dishes.
Asian proverb: Vietnamese cultivates rice, Cambodian watch it grow, Laotian listens to it and Chinese sells it.
– Soups: rice broth (or rice noodles) and vegetables, all come with tofu, beef, pork, chicken or fish.
– Amok: fish preparation (with chicken and beef) with coconut milk cooked in a banana leaf.
– Luk-lak Beef: marinated beef with lime served with green salad, cucumber, tomato and / or fries.
– Salads: the most popular is the shrimp mango salad.
– Noodles (rice) sauteed: vegetables meat and noodles sauteed wok.
– Fish with Mango
– Seafood Grill: barracuda, squid, shrimp, prawns and crab.
– Pra Hoc: fish brine used as a condiment.
– Tengkolok: Milk fruit shake.
Cambodia has a lot of tasty exotic fruits such as: mango, coconut, banana, papaya, orange, lime, durian (with its characteristic smell), dragon fruit (white fruit sprinkled with seeds black wrapped with pink skin) …
– Water: to get encapsulated.
– Tea: excellent green tea, like in most Asian countries.
– Coffee: Cambodians drink coffee, but very strong one.
– Beer: two beers brewed in Cambodia: Angkor and Anchor.
– Wine: you find palm wine, and red wine (Australian or French).
– Alcohol of rice: for example the « famous » Mekong whiskey.
If you need more readings, go to the Guide of the backpacker to get more details on the main places.