Cambodia Travel Guide A Vagabond Life
Cambodia was once home to the mighty Khmer Empire and where the incredible temple complex of Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century and is the largest religious monument site in the world. From these dizzy heights it was a downward spiral as the country was raided and sacked by its neighbours, colonised by the French in the 19th century, devastated by American carpet bombing in the 1970’s and then coming under the brutal reign of the Khmer Rouge where the country and its people suffered enormously with over a million people being executed or dying from forced labour.
Today Cambodia is slowly recovering from the dark days with infrastructure being re built and visitors being welcomed. Cambodia at times can be confronting, particularly the genocide museums and killing fields memorials. On the flip side the people are warm and inviting and the main sites of Angkor Wat are quite incredible.
Table Of Contents
Cambodia Travel Guide
Cambodia Travel Map
Capital: Phnom Penh
Language: Khmer (official), French, English
Five Quick Facts About Travelling In Cambodia
- Residents of most countries will need a Visa. For most people visa on arrival is available so pretty easy and straight forward.
- The transport system is reasonably good with buses and mini vans travelling to most places in the country. The road conditions in the country are poor so travelling in Cambodia is slow, hot and often very crowded, allow plenty of time to get to where you need to be and be prepared for an unscheduled overnight stop.
- Mini vans are the main main form of transport across the country, your guest house or hotel will be able to organise a ticket for you. Like many developing countries mini vans will wait until they are full before departing so while you will be told a departure time the time you actually leave is dependant on if the mini van is full. The driver will then drive around the town picking up goods for delivery along the way until the mini van is packed to the gills. Just go with it as its just the way it works in Cambodia.
- Do not go off the beaten track! Three decades of war has left thousands of un-exploded, un-mapped landmines across Cambodia. The Cambodian Mine Action Centre estimates that there may be as many as four to six million mines still in Cambodia. Stick to well mapped and travelled paths in Cambodia to avoid the mines.
- Avoid mosquito bites. Dengue and malaria are both prevalent in Cambodia so use a repellent with deet in it and cover up in light coloured clothing. Malaria is a particular problem in the north and north east.
November to February is the High Season with cooler weather and little to no rain. It is also the busiest time of the year.
April and October is the Shoulder Season. The days are still warm and humid with the rainy season starting late April and tapering off in October.
May to September is the Low Season and the rainy season. This means lots of rain usually in the form of thunderstorms. It also means lush green countryside and less crowds.
US dollar (USD) officially used, Khmer riel (KHR) is only for small transactions.
ATM’s available in cities and larger towns however if travelling in remote or less touristed areas it is advisable to carry cash.
Most countries require a visa to enter Cambodia unless you are from a visa exempt country (listed below). Other countries can get a visa on arrival or and e-visa. A passport with 6 months validity and a full empty page is required.
** Do not be surprised if when entering via a ‘remote’ border you are charged and extra $1 – $2 as a ‘processing fee’ – this fee is not official but is the way it is so just go with it.
Visa Exempt Countries
- Brunei (14 days)
- Seychelles (14 days)
- Thailand (14 Days)
**Information is a guide only do your own research
In Cambodia is is either hot and wet or hotter and dry.
Packing list for Cambodia
1 pair lightweight long pants.
2 x pair of shorts
2 x singlets – good for layering and sleeping in
4 x short sleeve cotton shirts, lightweight and breathable
1 x long sleeve sloppy joe.
1 x lightweight raincoat – packable version that packs down into a small bag.
5 x socks
5 x underpants
2 x bras
1 x pair walking or hiking shoes.
1 x sandals
1 x pair flip flops (great for hostel showers)
Shampoo & Conditioner
Bar of Soap
Brush / Comb
Insect Repellent with Deet
1 x Earbud headphones.Light and small,
1 x IPad
1 x 6S iPhone
Charging leads for above
2 x USB
1 x power bank
1 x Cable organiser which keeps everything tidy
1 x 14” laptop – we run a business so this is essential for us.
1 x GoPro Hero 5
2 x Spare GoPro Batteries
1 x Canon DSLR + lenses
Spare micro SD Cards
1 x padlock
1 x headlight or torch
1 x Swiss knife
1 x medical kit
Umbrella (although are as cheap as chips to buy in country)
There are airports at Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and limited services to Sihanoukville.
Travelling by bus is the most common way of getting around Cambodia. Roads between major centres are now (mostly) paved with road house type affairs along the way for food and toilet stops. Coaches travel between the major centres and mini vans ply the less travelled routes. The website Camboticket is a platform that allows you to view and book bus tickets across a multiple of sites.
The quickest and easiest way to get around town is by Tuk Tuk or Taxi motorbike. Flag on down or head to the closest tuk tuk stand.
Ferries operate seasonally on the major rivers and between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
Cambodia has been restoring its railway and you can now travel on a train between Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville and between Phnom Penh and Poipet on the Thai border. Bookings can be made on the Royal Railway website
Cambodia shares borders with Thailand, Vietnam and Laos and as such has multiple border crossings which are broken into two types of crossing – international and local which as the names suggest are for either international visitors or locals.
Border that issue visas are listed below, alternately an e-visa can be obtained on line.
Veun Kham/ Dom Kralor
This is the only border crossing between Cambodia and Laos. Both Cambodian and Lao visa on arrival is available.
There are six border crossing between Cambodia and Thailand.
Aranyaprathet / Poipet
The busiest and most chaotic, disorganised border crossing in Cambodia. Cambodian visa on arrival is available and e-visas are accepted. It can take up to 3 hours to cross so be prepared for a lengthy wait.
Hat Lek / Ko Kong
The best crossing to use if heading to Sihaniukville and the surrounding beaches from the coast of Thailand.
Chong Jom / O Smach
Great for when travelling from Surin in Thailand and Siem Reap in Cambodia. Regular buses run from Surin to the border. Once over the border get a shared taxi to Siem Reap.
Chong Sa Ngam / Anlong Veng
This crossing is very convenient to Anlong Veng but little else. There is no public transport once you cross into Thailand and you will have to hitch a ride to a sizeable town to connect with public transport.
Ban Pakard / Phsa Prum
Rarely used and a long way from anywhere on the Cambodian side. In Thailand mini buses run to Chanthaburi an hour away. Visas are available on arrival.
Ban Laem / Daun Lem
Another rarely used crossing it is 45 minutes from Palin on the Cambodian side. In Thailand mini buses run to Chanthaburi an hour away.
Bavet / Moc Bai
The first crossing between Cambodia and Vietnam to open to foreign travellers and still the most popular. Daily buses run from Saigon to Phnom Penh which are both fast and cheap. Cambodian visa on arrival is available here, but Vietnamese visas must be arranged in advance.
Kaam Samnor / Ving Xuong
This is a river border crossing and again is busy and popular. Fast and slow boast travel between the Viet town of Chau Doc and Phnom Penh. At the crossing personal usually take all passports from passengers to passport control to be processed.
Phnom Den / Tinh Bien
This border is open now to foreigners and sits halfway between Ha Tien and Chau Doc. In Cambodia the closest towns are Kampot or Takeo both of which are a couple of hours away. Cambodia visas are available at the border.
Prek Chak / Xa Xia
This is a coastal border although you need a valid Vietnamese visa to enter Vietnam. Cambodian visas are available on arrival.
Le Thanh / O Yadao
A remote crossing linking Ban Lung in northeast Cambodia to Pleiku in Vietnam with the trip taking up to 6 hours. In Vietnam buses run from Pleiku to Duc Co, then get a xe om for the last 20km to the border. From the border to Ban Lung is a trip of about 70km.
** Vietnamese visas are not available at lands crossings and must be obtained before hand.
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