Helpful Tips For First-Time Visitors To Cambodia

By Guest Blogger on Sep 28, 2018
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The Kingdom of Cambodia is a magical place and one that has only been opened relatively recently to tourists. Here are some trips to make the most of your trip to this wonderful place.

1. Money and Visas


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If you are a resident of the United States, there is no need to obtain a visa before your trip. Instead, you can pick one up after you arrive. All you need is $20 and a suitable photo that is sized appropriately for a passport. Keep in mind, that is $20 in US money, so be sure to bring along a $20 bill. The process is simple and quick to complete as long as you have your photo and money ready to go. You can do so before you go with 

I have picked up some helpful tips regarding money during my travels through Cambodia. The official currency of the country is the riel. Because the economy isn't great, however, most people who live in the area would rather get paid in US dollars since dollars are more valuable. 

Don't make the same mistake that I did by exchanging a lot of cash for your trip. Even though you can spend riels at stores and eateries, it is easier and more cost-effective to use dollars. Just be sure to avoid big bills, opting instead for bills in the $1-$10 range. It is also worth noting that they don't use American coins. Make an effort to keep all of your transactions even or you may wind up with a lot of extra riels.

Also Read - 11 Best Beaches In Cambodia

2. Touring Temples


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One of the most visited places in Cambodia is Siem Reap, which is where the world-famous Angkor Wat is located. There are also many additional temples in the area. Once you visit, you will quickly understand why it is such a popular destination; it is truly a remarkable place. 

Before you go, however, there are a few important things that you should keep in mind. Even though it is possible to take a self-guided tour of the temple, you should think about hiring a guide. Ideally, you should also hire a driver. The guides are officially licensed and are extremely affordable. Best of all, they are full of knowledge and can help you easily get around. In terms of having a driver, nothing is better than riding in a cool, air-conditioned car since it is almost always hot in the area. As an added bonus, you get the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting the local economy when you use the services of guides and drivers.

Whether you use a guide or tour the temple on your own, you will need to obtain a pass. Paying a single $20 fee will allow you to visit the vast majority of the temples in the area for the day. This includes Angkor Wat. This is one fee that you shouldn't try to get around since passes are checked diligently by guards at every temple location. Having American dollars with you to pay for your pass will make the process go much more smoothly.

Don't forget to dress appropriately for the weather. The heat and humidity can be intense in Southeast Asia. Bring along a bag filled with sunscreen, water, a hat, and some spare clothes so that you can stay fresh, dry, and hydrated all day.

Also Read - Here's What To Do In Cambodia

3. Don't Fear The Rainy Season


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When planning my travels, I always did my best to avoid the rainy season. As it turns out, however, the rainy season isn't that bad - it is the monsoon season that you need to be aware of. During the rainy season, the area experiences intermittent rainstorms, none of which are overly intense. For the most part, they don't last that long, either. During my visit, for instance, it typically only rained for about 20 minutes each afternoon. This was definitely a lot more manageable than the never-ending downpour that I had imagined before my trip.

Also Read - Top 15 Places To Visit In Cambodia

4. Don't Go Overboard With Planning


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If you are like me, you may be a little bit neurotic when it comes to planning. As it turns out, however, this planning often isn't necessary. For instance, when I went to Siem Reap, I had scheduled all of my tours ahead of time from home. Once I arrived, however, I found that this extra step was unnecessary. This may not be true during the peak of tourist season. For me, however, I found that I could easily set up tours for the following day from the hotel. The area is filled with guides, most of whom are available on short notice.

Another thing worth noting is that it is often hard to decide what you want to do until you have a chance to see everything in person. Oftentimes, the information that you find online isn't completely reliable or doesn't give you a true sense of what an area is like. Life in Cambodia is also quite a bit more relaxed than in other areas. If you plan too many tours ahead of time, you won't have a chance to slow down and take it all in.

Also Read - 15 Fabulous Beach Resorts In Cambodia

5. Spend As Much Time As You Can In The Area


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On my last trip, I spent three days in Siem Reap, which is fairly average for the majority of tourists. Several days allows plenty of time for you to take in the temples and check out the town while still leaving a bit of downtime to relax.

Ideally, however, you should try to spend even more time than that in the area. I was fortunate enough to squeeze in an afternoon trip to Tonle Sap, a well-known UNESCO-recognized river and lake system. During that adventure, I had a chance to see some of the smaller villages in the area and to interact with some of the locals, all of whom were extremely warm and welcoming. Being able to get out into a less touristy area was a wonderful experience. It gave me a much better idea of how a typical Cambodian lives. These once-in-a-lifetime experiences make spending a little bit of extra time in the area worthwhile.