Cambodia Travel Tips

Cambodia shares borders in the north with Laos and Thailand, in the east with Vietnam and with the Gulf of Thailand. The landscape comprises tropical rainforest and fertile cultivated land traversed by many rivers. Cambodia still is a bit of a tourist backwater. However, the ruins of Angkor Wat are definitely worth the effort and even Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, offers many nice attractions. For the more adventurous traveller, visiting small villages in country side full of friendly Cambodians may lead to wonderful experiences.

According to  the visa regulation of Cambodia, all nationalities except for citizens of countries having bilateral agreements on visa exemption with Cambodia, are required to have visa when entering  Laos. The tourist visa and business visa are  usually delivered by Cambodia Consulates and Embassies in <b>Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Brunei, China,  India, Japan, South Korea, North Korea, Australia, France, Belgium,  Germany, Russia, Poland,  Switzerland, United States, United Kingdom, Cuba.

To apply for Cambodia visa, the applicants are required to  present the original passport with validity of  at least  6 months at least after the date of entry  to Cambodia, and plus 2 photos. The visa is usually issued after three working days and is granted only for single entry with a maximum stay of one month in Cambodia. The tourist visa fee varies from between US$20- 30 depending on the agreement with the various governments.

The foreigner visitors can obtain a 30 day tourist visa  and  business visa on arrival at  the following international airports and international border gates.

International Airport: Phnom Penh  airport in Phnom Penh City,  Siem Reap airport in Siem Reap Town.
Vietnam – Cambodia Border Gate: Bavet in Svay Rieng Province, Kha Orm Sam Nor in Kandal Province, Koh Rohka in Prey Veng Province.
Thailand – Cambodia Border Gate:Cham Yeam in  Koh Kong Province, Poi Pet in Banteay Meanchey Province, O’Smach in Odor Meanccheay. The visa stamp fee is US$ 20 per person for tourist visa and US$ 25 per person for business visa.

The regulations are relaxed and simple formalities should be observed when entering the territory. Every traveler has to complete immigration and customs declaration forms during the arrival flight and must submit them on arrival. Any mount of foreign currency can be brought into Cambodia, but the mount of Cambodia currency must not exceed 100.000 Riels per person. The tourists and non- resident carrying over USD 10.000 in cash or its equivalent must declare it to ensure they will be allowed to take out with them the amount declared. The immigration formalities are quicker when travelers already possess their visa. Upon leaving the country, luggage will be X-rayed in Phnom Penh airport and inspected in Siem Reap. The commercial goods and items of high value being taken out of Cambodia require export permits from the customs service. The export of local currency is forbidden. The travellers can take with them unlimited amounts of souvenirs bought with receipts to show proof of purchase. The prohibited items are antiques, non-prescribed drugs, firearms, pornography.

The money can be exchanged at banks, authorized shops, or hotels. The combination of a visa card as well as US$ travellers cheques and US Dollar notes is the best suggestion for travellers into Cambodia. American dollars are generally accepted throughout the country, as well as Thai Baht. Most of the major hotels and banks accept credit cards for a 4-5% commission, but generally one is advised to carry U.S. dollars.

You can get cash advances on your credit card at several banks. The Siam Commercial Bank allows it as does the Thai Farmers Bank. In every case, the commissions are very high since they will have to phone Bangkok for confirmation. You should shop around for the cheapest rate. The travellers cheques can be exchanged in many of the banks for the local currency, the Riel. Phnom Penh offers the best rates, although you might find, it's a lot easier getting around the country just using US$. In addition, the machines of ATM don&rsquo;t really exist in Cambodia. Fortunately, most things can be paid for in US Dollars and this is the currency you are bly advised to bring with you as it tends to be used for almost everything. It is always good to carry around a lot of smaller denominations like 1's, 2's, 10's and 20's.

The currency is the Cambodian Riel (KHR). The unit is the Riel. Riel denominations come in 100, 200, 500, 1.000, 2.000, 5.000, 10.000 and 20.000 notes.

The electric current in Cambodia is 220 volts AC at 50 Cycles per second. To operate small appliances, laptop computers or other electronic gadgets, you will need a multi-adapter. You should check with an electronics store before leaving your home.

No vaccinations are required except for yellow fever if you are coming from an area where the disease is present. However visitors should be inoculated against typhoid, cholera, hepatitis A & B, tetanus and polio. The malaria is present in most of the region and it is advisable to take precautions especially if traveling off the beaten track. The medical facilities are rather limited in all countries and it is essential to take out a good medical insurance policy before traveling in case evacuation is needed.

The Cambodia food is closely related to the cuisines of neighboring Thailand and Laos and, to a lesser extent, Vietnam, but there are some distinct local dishes. The overall consensus is that Khmer cooking is like Thai without spicy. The curries, stir tried vegetable, rice, noodles and soups are staples of the Khmer diet. Cambodia is well known in the region for its Prahok, a b, fermented fish paste used in a variety of traditional dishes. The fresh serve bottled drinking water and tap water should never be drunk. Similarly, salad and fruit served at these establishments are safe.

Phnom Penh is far and away the best place to try inexpensive Khmer cuisine, though Siem Reap also has some good restaurants. One of the easiest and most affordable ways to acquaint yourself with Khmer cooking is to wander into the food stalls found in markets all over the country and simply sample each dish before deciding what to eat. In Phnom Penh you also have the choice of excellent Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, French and Mediterranean cooking. The rice is the principal staple in Cambodia and the Battambang region is the country's rice bowl. Most Cambodian dishes are cooked in a wok, known locally as a chhnang khteak.

The domestic and international telephone, fax, telegraph and telex services are available at post offices and hotels in Phnom Penh and other major cities of Cambodia.

+ Phones: The government telecommunications network of Camintel, usually runs these services, which along with the Australian firm Telstra, also runs public call boxes in Phnom Penh. To use these, you'll need a phone card, available in denominations ranging from $2 to $50; look for shops displaying the phone cards can't be used in each other's facilities, but with a Tele 2 phone card, you can make international calls from any call box by dialing the access code (T) 007 (instead of the usual (T) 001), then the country code and number as usual. With any of these options, making international calls is expensive at around $3 per minute, so it is worth looking out for deals offered by internet shops, guesthouses and travel agents, which can as much as halve the cost.

+ Hand phones: There are three mobile phone service providers in Cambodia: Samart code (T) 011, MobiTel (T) 012 and Shinawatra (T) 015&amp;016. MobiTel is the most widely used network and has transmitters in all major towns, although reception is still limited to within the town boundaries. Mobile phones can be rented in the arrivals hall at Pochentong International Airport for around $28 per week. Usage is by pre-paid phone card, available in values from $5 to $100; in most towns, you'll find outlets displaying the logos of the various providers. When you get your card, scratch off the panel on the back to reveal your PIN, then call up the top-up number-also given on the card-and enter the number to activate the card. Call rates are around $0.20 per minute within the same mobile network number or out to a local landline.

+ Internet access: The internet services is the best in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. You are never far from an Internet shop or caf&eacute; in these towns and the rates are under $1 per hour. In the provinces including Battambang and Sihanoukville, the access is limited, and expensive at around $3 per hour. One of the best ways to keep in touch while traveling is to sign up for a free email address that can be accessed from anywhere, for example Yahoo Mail or Hotmail. Once you've set up and send mail from any Internet Caf&eacute;, or from a hotel with Internet access.

The main airline companies of Cambodia are Siem Reap Airways and Angkor Airways. The internal flights operate between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The regular flight services are also provided from Phnom Penh to Koh Kong, Sihanoukville and Stung Treng. The airline companies are quite often reviewing the timetable of these regular flights according to the aircraft load , however the published timetables may not be relied on.

The international airports in Cambodia are Phnom Penh in Phnom Penh City and Siem Reap in Siem Reap Town.

+The cities with directs flight to Phnom Penh airport  are Bangkok, Hanoi, Vientiane, Singapore, Peijing, Guangzhou , ShangHai , Taipei, Hong Kong , Kula Lumpur. The airline companies currently serving Phnom Penh are Laos Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Thai Airways, Bangkok Airways, Air Asia, Evar Air, China Southern Airlines , Shanghai Airlines , Siem Reap Airways , Dragon Air , Malaysia Airlines, Silk Air.

+ The cities with directs flight to Siem Reap airport are  Bangkok, Hanoi, Vientiane, Ho Chi Minh, Singapore. The airline companies currently serving Siem Reap Town are Laos Airlines, Vietnam Airlines, Bangkok Airways, Silk Air.

The airport tax for domestic flight is currently US$ 6 per person at all airports of Cambodia. The airport tax for international flights is now US$ 25 per person. At this time, passengers on international flights can pay the airport tax in either local currency or US Dollars. The transit passengers proceeding to onward destination within the same day and not leaving the transit lounge are holders of a certificate of airport tax exemption.

The rail services are cheap in Cambodia but take much longer than the buses. There are plans to restore the international service to Bangkok, but a great deal of repair work is needed. If possible, the other modes of transport with better maintained infrastructure should be taken. In the meantime, a train leaves Phnom Penh every second day (on even-numbered days) in the early morning and travels to Pursat (travel time: six hours) and Battambang (travel time: 14 hours).

The traffic drive rule in Cambodia is on the right hand side. Most roads are in very poor condition, although the highway to Vietnam is open. This is possible to drive from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City in a half day but there are formalities involved regarding the use of the same vehicle all the way. The right-hand drive vehicles quite common in Cambodia, are not allowed entry to Vietnam. The care should be taken while driving as Cambodian drivers are prone to recklessness and accidents are relatively frequent. The safety of road travel outside urban areas varies greatly from region to region. In Siem Reap, the local police have banned rental outlets from hiring motorcycles to tourists. The reliable information about security should be obtained before considering extensive road journeys. The car rental with driver is possible in Cambodia.

The government-run ferries depart from the Psar Cha Ministry of transport ferry landing between 102 and 104 Streets and go to Kompong Cham, Kratie, Stung Treng, Kompong Chhnang and Phnom Krom. The boats are also available from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, a route popular with travelers. Due to the present rise in crime, inter-city boat travel should be restricted to the fast boats to Kompong Cham and Kratie. Some boats have been reported as poorly maintained and over-crowded; some are reported to not contain life-jackets. The care should be taken to ensure the best and most safety-conscious boat travel available is selected.

The country of Cambodia borders Laos , Thailand and Vietnam. The overland border crossing are available at the below entry points. The visa on arrival at these border gates may not be available however you need to have Cambodia visa beforehand.

+ The entry from Laos: There is border crossing at Veun Kham in Stung Treng province. The visa on arrival is not available at this border gate.
+ The entry from Vietnam: There is border crossing at Bavet in Svay Rieng 150 km from Phnom Penh, connecting Phnom Penh with Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. The new crossing into Cambodia via Kha Orm Sam, 245 km from Ho Chi Minh City, is passable either by boat or road.
+ The entry from Thailand: There is border crossing at Poipet in Banteay Meanchey province. The journey from Poipet to Siemreap is more or less a rough and adventurous trails. The entry gate into Cambodia also includes Cham Yeam in Koh Kong Province and O&rsquo;Smach in Odor Meanchey Province.