Airport departure tax for international and domestic flights is included in the airfare.
Cambodia can be visited throughout the year. However those planning to travel extensively by road should avoid the last two months of the rainy season when some countryside roads may be impassable.
The climate is tropical and distinguished by three major seasons. The most pleasant season is the dry season from November to March during which temperatures are cooler (average 20-28 c). The hot season lasts from April to May (average temperatures 30-35 c) and from June to early October is the rainy season, which we here like to call the Green Season, during which temperatures are relatively cool (average 25-30 c). At this time of year it rarely rains in the morning: most precipitation comes in the afternoon and even then sporadically. Rainfall varies considerably from area to area. Whereas the seaward slopes of the south-west highlands (Kompong Som and Kampot provinces) receive more than 5,000 mm of rain per annum, the central lowlands average only about 1,400 mm.
CURRENCY AND EXCHANGE
The local currency is the Riel, however, in Phnom Penh and most major tourist destinations, almost all goods and services are calculated and paid for in the US currency. The rate of exchange (at time of printing) is approximately 4,000.- Riels to one U.S. Dollar. Credit cards, traveler’s checks and currencies other than U.S. Dollars are accepted only at a few places such as major hotels, at some foreigner-owned restaurants and at some souvenir shops. It is best to carry U.S. Dollars in small denominations. Automatic Teller Machine Service (ATM) is offered by ANZ Royal Bank, Cambodian Public Bank, SBC Bank and Canadia Bank. ATMs accept all major credit cards and can be found at various places in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang and Sihanoukville.
CUSTOMS AND FORMALITIES
Regulations are relaxed and simple formalities should be observed when entering the country. Every traveler has to complete a customs declaration form during the arrival flight and must submit it on arrival.
Any amount of foreign currency can be brought into Cambodia, but the amount of Cambodian currency must not exceed 100.000 Riels per person. Tourist and non-resident carrying over USD 10.000 in cash or its equivalent must declare so in order to ensure they will be allowed to exit the country with that amount.
A Merry Travel representative will meet travelers at the exit of the airport building, after airport immigration and customs control points have been passed. For easy recognition, our representative will display a Cambodia Services Travel Group sign with the names of the guests or group. It also will be this representative who will be in possession of tickets for ongoing flights of the clients. Should clients have bought international tickets with us they will receive them on their departure day.
Bangkok Airways International operates flights between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap with ATR7 and accepts 20 kg luggage.
Drink lots of water. Purified, bottled water is available everywhere. Never drink tap water.
Use an insect repellent against mosquitoes. It is the only way to be sure of protection against mosquito-borne diseases.
Since Cambodia has a hot and humid tropical climate, casual and lightweight clothing is best. Clothing made from natural fibers is the best option. A jacket might be needed on cool winter evenings or in hotels and restaurants using excessive air-conditioning.
A hat and high-factor sun block is advisable as protection against the hot sun when sightseeing outdoors.
When visiting temples or pagodas, including those of the Angkor complex, shorts and T-shirts are acceptable. Shoes (as well as hats) are generally removed at the entrance to pagodas. For visits to the Silver Pagoda, which is within the Royal Palace grounds, visitors are asked to dress more formally. Gentlemen are required to wear long trousers and ladies should wear long trousers or long skirts.
Color standard film (such as Kodak, Konika or Fuji), slide film, video film and camera batteries are widely available. Photos are inexpensive to process in the country. Any specialized photo or video equipment should be brought with you. Photography and video in airports, railway stations and near any military installations is forbidden and discretion should be used when photographing people, particularly monks and those in hill tribes.
Although no vaccinations are officially required for entry to Cambodia, they are highly encouraged. Visitors are advised to check with their doctor or a travel immunization clinic regarding protection against malaria, Japanese Encephalitis, typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and B. Any essential medications should be brought with you as there is no guarantee that they will be available in Cambodia.
Direct flights to Phnom Penh are available from Bangkok, Guangzhou, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Nanning, Pakse, Seoul-Incheon, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei and Vientiane. Airlines currently serving Phnom Penh are Air Asia, Asiana Airlines, Bangkok Airways, China Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Dragonair, Eva Air, Jetstar Asia, Korean Air, Lao Aviation, Malaysia Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Siem Reap Airways, Silk Air, Thai Airways International and Vietnam Airlines.
Direct flights to Siem Reap are available from Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Danang, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Kaohsiung, Kuala Lumpur, Kunming, Luang Prabang, Pakse, Pusan, Seoul-Incheon, Singapore, Taipei and Vientiane. Airlines currently serving Siem Reap are Air Asia, Asiana Airlines, Bangkok Airways, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Jetstar Asia, Korean Air, Lao Aviation, Malaysia Airlines, PMT Air, Silkair and Vietnam Airlines.
Internet access is available in most hotels in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. There are also plenty of internet cafes with reliable connections at very reasonable prices.
Khmer is the official language. It is inherited from the Mon-Khmer family and enriched by the Indian Pali and the Sanskrit languages. There are various dialects spoken in areas outside Phnom Penh.
English is the second language, followed by French, even though they are not widely spoken except in the capital.
Cambodia runs at GMT +7 hours, the same time zone as its neighbors Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.
OPENING HOURS OF MUSEUMS IN PHNOM PENH
• Toul Sleng Genocide Museum: Open every day from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm. Visitors are not admitted after 4.45 pm.
• National Museum: Open every day from 8.00 am to 5.00 pm. Visitors are not admitted after 4.45 pm.
• Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda: Open every day from 8.00 am to 11.00 am (closed to new visitors at 10.45 am) and from 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm (closed to new visitors at 4.45 pm), except when His Royal Highness King Preah Borom Moneath Norodom Sihamoni conducts religious ceremonies at the Silver Pagoda or Royal rituals at the Royal Palace, then one of the two or both compounds will be closed. During the Water Festival, open only in the mornings on the first two days and closed for a full day on the third day.
PASSPORT AND VISAS
Immigration formalities are quicker when travelers already possess their visa. However, Cambodia has very liberal visa regulations. For USD 20.- all travelers can obtain a tourist visa valid for 30 days upon arrival at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports, in Poipet border crossing (Aranyaprathet), at the Bavet / Moc Bai border crossing coming from Ho Chi Minh City, at Kaom Samnor Mekong River, at Phnom Den (Takeo) / Tinh Bien (Chau Doc), at Trapeang Plong (Kampong Cham) / Xa Mat (Tay Ninh) crossing points between Vietnam and Cambodia(another International border at Prek Chaak in Kampot province of Cambodia and Xa Xia of Ha Tien province in Vietnam, visa up on arrival is available on Khmer side). At Cham Yeam (Koh Kong) / Hat Lek (Trat) coming from Thailand, at the border crossing of Chrok Prom (Pailin), at Poipet (Battambang province), also in the Battambang province at the border crossing opposite Ban Laem and at O’Smach in the Anlong Veng district in Odor Mean Chey province as well as coming overland from Laos (Dông Kralor land border crossing) visa on arrival can be obtained.
Visitors can also apply for a tourist visa on the internet. Valid ports of entry and exit for e-Visa holders are:
Phnom Penh International Airport
Siem Reap International Airport
Bavet-Moc Bai (Cambodia-Vietnam border)
Koh Kong-Trat (Cambodia-Thailand border)
Poipet-Aranyaprathet (Cambodia-Thailand border)
All ports are equipped with the latest version of terminal system and there will be a special e-Visa lane in each port. For more information and to apply for e-Visa, please log on to www.mfaic.gov.kh
POST & COMMUNICATION
Post is routed by air through Bangkok and is reliable. Most hotels have IDD lines, but calls and faxes are very expensive with the average cost of a call to Australia, Europe and USA approximately USD 4.- per minute. Public phones that use pre-paid phone cards are common in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Phone cards can be purchased at the post office, most hotels and supermarkets.
After years of political and social upheaval, Cambodia now enjoys relative stability. Continuing efforts are made to reconstruct the country from decades of war, to upgrade the infrastructure (roads, bridges, airports etc) and to ensure security. Cambodia is now once again safe for travel.
There is a wide variety of items available for purchase in Cambodia. The country was once well known for its superior silk weaving, metal work and woodcarving. After decades of neglect, many of these arts are being revived. Visitors can find silver items, jewelry, gems, colorful cloth for sarong and hols (variegated silks), wood carving, paper maché masks, stone copies of ancient Khmer art, brass and bronze figurines and oil paintings in the different markets and shops on main avenues. The traditional clothing for both men and women is the krama, a long, narrow checked silk or cotton cloth available in most markets and shops. Jewelry is generally not up to international standards for design and workmanship and buyers should use caution when purchasing gold and gems, many gems are fake and we recommend not to follow anybody’s recommendations. The export of antiques is subject to approval of the Ministry of Culture. Bargaining is essential for all souvenirs shopping, if travelers are to obtain reasonable prices.
Tipping is not obligatory in Cambodia, but is nonetheless widely practiced in hotels and restaurants in addition to the service charges shown on bills. (Porters, 1,000 Riels per bag.)