Voltage: 230V, Frequency: 50Hz
Riel (KHR) exchange rates
UTC +7 hours
What to expect
Service standards in Cambodia are rapidly improving, and in top restaurants and hotels you can expect service levels to be of a similar standard as Australia. However in many cases, hotel and restaurant staff are still learning about the hospitality and tourism trade and misunderstandings can occur. As is always the case when travelling in Asia, patience and flexibility will serve you well in Cambodia.
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.
Australian travellers to Cambodia require a visa to enter the country. Visas on arrival can be obtained at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap airport for around 30 AUD cash. Visas are valid for 30 days and you will need a passport photo for your application, which can be filled out on the plane or on arrival at the airport. Australian passport holders can also obtain a visa on arrival at the following border crossings:
- Phnom Penh International Airport
- Siem Reap - Angkor International Airport
- Poipet (Meanchey Province, bordering Thailand)
- O’Smach (Oddar Meanchey Province, bordering Thailand)
- Cham Yeam (Koh Kong Province, bordering Thailand)
- Bavet (Svay Reing Province, bordering Vietnam)
- Kaam Samnor on the Mekong River (Kandal Province, bordering Vietnam).
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
Despite being one of the poorest nations on Earth, Cambodia is a relatively safe destination. The usual precautions apply to maintaining personal safety.
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 a Travel Indochina t-shirt and carrying a Travel Indochina 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 is generally inexpensive in Cambodia and readily available, either in your hotel or at an internet cafe. Many cafes, bars, restaurants and hotels in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap provide free WiFi.
Phone: Mobile phone coverage in Cambodia is good in urban areas, but could be intermittent outside the major centres. You will need to contact your service provider to enable roaming before you leave. Purchasing a local SIM card on arrival is another option. The cheapest way of calling overseas (or locally) is via a VOIP service such as Skype. International phone and fax fees in hotels are expensive, ranging from 4-6 AUD per minute. It is not possible to make reverse charge calls in Cambodia.
Mail: International mail from Cambodia generally takes seven to ten days to reach its destination. Prices are equivalent to Western postal rates.
Food & drink
Cambodian cuisine is usually fragrant rather than spicy, with greater emphasis on fresh herbs and spices such as lemongrass, galangal and ginger rather than spicy hot chillies. Kroeung spice paste, which is similar in texture to the Thai curry pastes, forms the basis of many dishes and prahok, a fermented fish paste, is also commonly used. Rice is a staple, and noodles are also common. Soups are served with most meals.
Freshwater fish from Lake Tonle Sap is used to make Fish Amok, a mild curry in a coconut base, which is very popular with travellers and worth trying at least once. Along the southern coastline, delicious fresh seafood is readily available. As with the other countries of the former French Indochina, baguettes and pastries are widespread, cheap, and delicious.
A wide range of international food is available in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The range of food is limited outside the major centres. Vegetarian dishes are not a common feature of Khmer cuisine, however there are a number of vegetarian restaurants in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Elsewhere, even vegetable dishes may use fish or meat stock as a base.
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.
Tipping is a personal matter, and you should never feel obligated to provide a tip. However we believe that showing your appreciation with a tip is an appropriate way to reward great service.
Your local guide or Western tour leader will ask for a small sum in the local currency (the equivalent of around 50 cents a day) at the beginning of your stay in Cambodia. This will be used to tip hotel porters and boat crews during your trip. This means that you do not have to worry about having small change on hand, and helps to prevent over-tipping.
It is not compulsory to tip Travel Indochina guides, drivers and tour leaders. We are sure that you will be extremely happy with the service you receive from our representatives, and may choose to show your appreciation with a tip; however whether or not you choose to is entirely up to you.
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.
Travel Indochina is committed to responsible travel in all our destinations, including Cambodia. When you travel to Cambodia with Travel Indochina, especially on a Small Group Tour, you may have the chance to support sustainable projects, or provide funding for worthwhile causes.
ChildSafe: If you travel on one of our Small Group Tours to Cambodia, you will most likely visit the ChildSafe Centre in Phnom Penh, a chance for you to learn more about Cambodian street children and you can engage with them in a way that is helpful and respectful. We also give a pocket-sized 'ChildSafe Traveller Tips' card to all our travellers in Cambodia.
Friends International: Friends International is the organisation behind a number of charitable training institutions for former street children in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Our guides and tour leaders love taking groups to restaurants such as Romdeng and Marung - the food is delicious and it gives our travellers a chance to create secure futures for Cambodian young people.
Homestays: When you join our Cambodia Revealed Small Group Tour you will stay overnight in a family home in the small town of Takeo. In this way, you will not only experience a little of what life it like for people who live in rural Cambodia, but also make a vital financial contribution to the local community.
Read more about Travel Indochina's approach to responsible travel.