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UTC +7 hours
What to expect
Visiting Cambodia's provinces rewards the visitor with a glimpse of ASia that very few westerners see; deserted beaches, shimmering rice paddies, abandoned hill stations, beautiful French-colonial architecture and rugged mountains all await the visitor with more time to spend in the Kingdom of Wonder.
Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are rapidly developing, and here you will have access to a range of international cuisines, wireless internet, and other modern conveniences. However when travelling in more remote areas, you can expect clean yet basic accommodation, bumpy roads, and less choice when it comes to eating. Cambodia is hot all year round; if you feel the heat it is advisable to avoid touring and covered markets in the middle of the day.
Sydney, Melbourne or Perth
approximately 12 hours
Adelaide or Brisbane
approximately 15 hours
In Cambodia, holidays are celebrated for a range of reasons: to celebrate royal birthdays, to mark significant anniversaries, to signal the change of season, and to mark milestones in Buddha’s life. The Khmers love a public holiday! Banks, public offices and some tourist sites will be closed on the holidays listed below. As major holidays such as Bonn Um Tuk (Water Festival) are set according to the lunar calendar, dates change every year. Please check with our Australia-based Asia specialists for details.
is International New Year’s Day, a public vacation. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is Victory Day, a public holiday celebrating the end of the Khmer Rouge's reign in 1979. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
February - on the full moon day of the third lunar month
is Meak Bochea Day, a public holiday commemorating the spontaneous gathering of monks to listen to Buddha's preaching. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is International Women’s Day a public vacation. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is Khmer New Year, a national public holiday, a major public vacation when banks, publics some businesses will be closed, and the Phnom Penh's Royal Palace will be periodically closed.
April/May - on the full moon day of the fifth luna month
is Visakha Buchea Day, a public vacation commemorating the birth, enlightenment and passing of Buddha. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is Labour Day a public vacation. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
May - on the 4th to 6th days of the waning moon of the sixth lunar month
is the Royal Ploughing ceremony, a public vacation signifying the start of the ploughing season. A special ceremony foretells whether it will be a successful season or not. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is a public holiday to celebrate the King's birthday. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed, and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh will be periodically closed.
is a public vacation to recognise International and National Children's Day. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is a public vacation to celebrate the Queen mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk's birthday. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is a public vacation to mark Constitution Day, celebrating the signing of the Cambodian constitution by King Sihanouk.
September/October - on the 15th day of the tenth month in the Khmer calendar
is the three day Pchum Ben vacation, where Buddhists pay their respects to their ancestors. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed, and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh will be closed periodically.
is Paris Peace Agreement Day, commemorates the Paris Peace agreement of 1991. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
is King Coronation Day, commemorating the coronation of the current king, Norodom Sihamoni.
is a public vacation to recognise Independence Day, or Cambodia's independence from France in 1953. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
November - on the full moon of the Buddhist month of Kadeuk
is the Water Festival, a major public vacation spanning several days commemorating the change in direction of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed and the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh is closed periodically. There are very large crowds on the riverfront in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, plus road closures.
is International Human Rights Day a public vacation. Banks, public offices and some businesses will be closed.
Holidays that fall on a weekend may be observed the following Monday.
Health & Fitness
As with travelling to other parts of Asia, you need to take precautions when visiting Cambodia. Some of the diseases known to exist in Cambodia include hepatitis A and B, typhoid, tuberculosis, Japanese encephalitis, malaria, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, rabies and HIV/AIDS. You should talk to your doctor at least one month before you travel, to obtain up-to-date health advice and arrange any necessary vaccinations.
There are international clinics and hospitals in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Outside these centres, medical care facilities are basic. For more serious medical requirements, transfer to a hospital in Bangkok will likely be needed.
A Cambodian Tourist visa-on-arrival can be obtained for most nationalities at all major land border crossings and International Airports, including Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports for 30 USD cash. A visa form will be issued to you on the airplane or on arrival. Alternatively you can obtain an “e-Visa” online here.
If you prefer to arrange your visa before you travel, you can apply for a 30-day tourist visa atwww.mfaic.gov.kh. This visa costs 35-40 AUD, payable by credit card. Please allow at least three full business days for delivery. Note: this visa is only valid for arrival at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap international airports, Cham Yeam (Koh Kong), Poi Pet (Banteay Meanchey) and Bavet (Svay Rieng).
Note: Cambodian visa regulations and arrangements are subject to change. We strongly advise that you check with the Cambodian embassy in Australia or consulate closest to you outside Australia prior to travel. It is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa.
Safety and security
Tourist areas in Cambodia are safe by world standards, but the usual common-sense safety precautions should be adhered to.
In Phnom Penh in particular, it is advisable to steer clear of badly lit streets at night, and to take taxis rather than cyclos. We recommend that throughout your travels in Cambodia you keep a hotel address card with you so you can show drivers where to go. Petty crime can also be a problem in Phnom Penh. It is a good idea to wear as little jewellery as possible when on the street, and to keep your money close to your body in a secure place.
Throughout your stay, always keep a photocopy of your passport, airline tickets and credit card numbers. These documents should be kept in a safe place separate from the originals. You should leave valuables in hotel safety deposit boxes wherever possible.
Read our safety guidelines for further information.
‘Angkor, an Introduction to the Temples’ (Odyssey), by Dawn Rooney
- will introduce you to the history of the Khmer Empire and each of the temples of Angkor.
‘Culture Shock Cambodia (A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette)’, by Peter North
- The much-awaited Cambodia version in the ‘Culture Shock’ series contains practical information on the defining characteristics of Cambodian social norms and society. Highly recommended for responsible travellers who want more than just a surface understanding of a unique and complex culture.
‘Cambodia, Report from a Stricken Land’, by Henry Kamm
- Based on the author's career experiences as a journalist in Cambodia from the 1970s and numerous interviews with Khmer Rouge leaders and Norodom Sihanouk. The book provides a concise account of the steps leading up to the rise to power of the Khmer Rouge and its four year reign.
‘Sihanouk, Prince of Light, Prince of Darkness’, by Milton Osborne
- Milton Osborne is one of the best and easiest to read writers on Indochina and Cambodia. Osborne lived in Phnom Penh from the late 1950s and used his societal contacts and other research sources to prepare this frank account of the enigmatic and ultimately self-centric Sihanouk.
‘River of Time’, by Jon Swain
- provides a broad overview of the Indochina conflict. Writing from personal experience, Swain captures Cambodia’s lost decade, the 1970s, in all its horror and complexity.
‘A Dragon Apparent, Travels in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam’, by Norman Lewis
- captures Cambodia at end of the colonial-era in the late 1950s. A classic.
Useful words & phrases
Hello (or hi)
How are you?
Niak Sohk sabay te
I'm fine, thank you
Kh'nyohm sohk sabay
What is your name?
Teur niak chhmooh ar vey
My name is…
How old are you?
Niak ar yuh ponn mamn
I am …years old
Kh’nyohm ar yuh ... chhnamm
How much is ...?
Teur ...thlai ponnmamn
It's too expensive!
Vear thlai naa
Excuse me /I'm sony
Lia sen hao-y
Thank you, but I don’t need a plastic bag
Or kun. Pon teh kh'nyohm min trov kar thong plastic te
Arrival and departure transfers
Your transfer driver will be wearing an Insider Journeys t-shirt and carrying an Insider Journeys signboard with your name on it.
Road: For six travellers or more, air-conditioned Hyundai with 25-40 seats are used. If you are travelling in a smaller group, travel will be by air-conditioned minibus or modern sedan car. Metered taxis are cheap and plentiful in Phnom Penh, and tuk tuks provide a novel way to get around Siem Reap.
Air: Most flights within Cambodia are on ATR 72 planes. Flight schedules frequently change, which may impact travel plans.
Other: Tuk tuks, boats of varying sizes, bicycles and your feet.
Internet: Internet services are widely available in Cambodia's urban centres, and rates are usually minimal. Many of the larger cities and towns' restaurants, cafes, hotels and bars feature complimentary Wi-Fi.
Phone: Fixed line phone calls and faxes, most often found in hotels, can be the most expensive, usually from 4 USD to 6 USD per minute. It is not possible to make reverse charge calls from Cambodia.It is possible to use your mobile or cellular phone in Cambodia, although you may need to organize roaming with your service provider prior to travel and charges can be high.
Mail: International mail from Cambodia generally takes seven to ten days to reach its destination. Prices are equivalent to Western postal rates.
Food & drink
The staple food for most Cambodians is rice, which is eaten with most meals and cooked in a variety of styles. Cambodian cuisine is closely related to the cuisines of neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam. Until the 16th century Cambodian and central Thai food was quite similar, however the Portuguese introduction of chilli (from Brazil) to Ayuthaya (then Thailand’s capital) led to a divergence in national staples; the Thais developed a preference for spicier, chilli-based foods, while the Cambodians continued to use a spice paste (called ‘kroeung’), comprising of milder flavourings such as lemongrass, galangal, ginger and cardamom.
In Cambodia, like other parts of the developing world, eating cold, uncooked dishes such as salad is more likely to lead to stomach upsets than cooked dishes. It is unadvisable to drink water from the tap, even in hotels; however bottled water can be purchased cheaply and is also provided complimentary in most hotel rooms.
If you are happy with the services provided by your local guides, drivers and your tour leader, a tip is appropriate and appreciated. While it may not be customary to you, tipping inspires great service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across Asia. You are free to tip as much or as little as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip.
Should you be dissatisfied with the services provided by your Local guide, driver or Tour leader, please let us know.
Most of the hotels you will stay in during your holiday in Cambodia will have a swimming pool. Most hotel pools do not have secure fencing so you will need to ensure that you supervise your children when they are in the pool area.
There are a number of lovely beaches along Cambodia’s southern coast. The water is warm year-round and it is generally safe to swim, however bear in mind that lifeguards do not patrol beaches in Cambodia. Proper swimming attire should be worn at all times - Khmer people are generally modest and will find nudity offensive.
Insider Journeys practices a thorough, realistic responsible travel policy. We believe that travel should entail an exchange of knowledge and perspectives, a sharing of wealth, and a genuine appreciation of Asia’s beautiful natural environments. This philosophy underpins the heart and soul of our style of travel. It drives all that we strive to deliver to our travellers, and shapes the contact we have with our supplier colleagues in Asia. We recognise that poorly planned itineraries or poorly informed tourists contribute less to cross-cultural understanding and less to the livelihoods of local people. We also recognise that we largely work in a developing part of the world.
Read more about Insider Journeys's approach to responsible travel here.