For more than five hundred years, Angkor was the center of one of the world’s great civilizations. ‘Devaraja’ or God-kings ruled a vast area of Southeast Asia from their seat of power on the northern plains of Cambodia. They built immense and dazzling cities and temples to honor both their gods and themselves and decorated them with intricate stone carvings. At its height it is thought that up to one million people lived in and around the temples. But, as with all empires before and since the Khmer’s mighty civilization slowly crumbled. In 1351 the Thais sacked the city and again in 1431 when the entire population including the royal court moved to Phnom Penh.
Once abandoned the jungle quickly reclaimed the temples and they remained lost to the outside world until their rediscovery in 1860 by the French explorer Henri Mahout.
It has been said that the temples of Angkor represent the finest artistic achievement in human history. To get an idea of the grandeur and magnificence of the art there, imagine the Great Pyramids in Egypt and then imagine that every stone is carved with fantastic stories of myth and legend. To get an idea of the scale both St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London would fit inside the perimeter walls of Angkor Wat.
Cambodia remained hidden from the outside world for much of the last century. Now emerging from years of isolation, the country offers a true taste of Southeast Asia before the arrival of mass tourism and rampant modernization.
Cambodia has suffered beyond imagination in the last 50 years. War and genocide have left deep scars on the country and its people, but visitors are surprised and charmed by the optimism, warmth and generosity of the Cambodian people.
Before You Go:
Passport and Visa
A passport and visa are required for entering Cambodia. Passport & Visa can be obtained at Royal Embassies and Consulates of Cambodia.
Visa on arrival
Valid for 30 days, is possibly issued for major checkpoints including those at Phnom Penh International Airport, Siem Reap International Airport, Poi Pet, O’Smach and Cham Yeam at the Cambodia-Thailand international border checkpoint, Bavet, Kaam Samnor at the Cambodia-Vietnam international border checkpoint, and some other international checkpoints.
Note: Two passport-size photos are needed for visa processing.
Meanwhile, there are nine countries being under strictly controlled before issuing Visa to enter Cambodia including Afghanistan, Algeria, Arab Saudi, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Sudan. (If you are one of the citizens from the mentioned countries, please check carefully with your embassy and you must have your guarantor to certify your purpose of visiting Cambodia. Unless proper information is given, you would not be allowed to enter Cambodia.)
Visa fee: Business visa: US$25, Tourist visa: US$20.
Cambodia has two international airports
Phnom Penh International Airport
Siem Reap International Airport
Bavet (Svay Rieng) International Checkpoint
Kha Orm Sam Nor (Kandal-Mekong) International Checkpoint
Prek Chak/Lok (Kampot) International Checkpoint
Phnom Den (Takeo) International Checkpoint
Trapaing Sre (Kratie) International Checkpoint
Smach (Kampong Cham) International Checkpoint
Oyadav (Rattanakiri) International Checkpoint
Cham Yeam (Koh Kong) International Checkpoint
Chorm (Oddar Meanchey) International Checkpoint
Poi Pet (Banteay Meanchey) International Checkpoint
Prom (Pailin) International Checkpoint
O’ Smach (Oddar Meanchey) International Checkpoint
Chorm Sangam (Onlong Veang) International Checkpoint
Dong Kralo (Stung Treng) International Checkpoint
The official language of Cambodia is Khmer, which is also referred to as Cambodian.. French and English are widely spoken in hotels and business circles. English is the first language among young students, while French is spoken by older people
The local currency is 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 most of places such as major hotels, at some foreigner-owned restaurants and some souvenir shops, etc
Internet cafes are abundant in Phnom Penh & Siem Reap with cheap hourly rates. Some hotels will have access too
220 volts, 50Hz. Cambodian sockets take round two-pin and flat-pronged plugs
Cambodia lies in the tropical zone. There are two seasons: monsoon and dry. The humid, rainy season lasts from April to October, when temperatures reach 32 degrees Celsius/90 Fahrenheit. The hottest month is April, when the temperature can reach 38 C/100 F or more degrees.The cool, dry season lasts from November to March, with temperatures reaching 27 C/80 F.
Cambodia offers a wide range of handicrafts, such as beautiful silverware, pottery and jewelry.
Religious themes and scenes of daily life feature strongly in oil paintings and intricate carvings made from sandstone, marble and some of Cambodia’s tropical hardwoods. Perhaps most attractive to visitors
are the wide range of traditional silk and cotton cloths which can be
made into fine clothing by local tailors at a low cost. In true Asian
tradition, open marketplaces are an integral part of Cambodian life.
These markets sell everything from mainstream and exotic foods, clothes
and electrical appliances, to hundreds of krama, the multi-purpose
scarf worn by many Cambodians. Even for non-shoppers, the markets offer
a fascinating glimpse of Cambodian daily life and culture.
For good service, guides are usually tipped $10-15 USD/day, and drivers about $5-10. Tips are not expected in restaurants, but for good service you may leave $1-2 USD in the local currency
Health insurance, including emergency evacuation, is absolutely essential. Doctors and hospitals expect cash payments for any medical treatment. The cost of medical evacuation is high. The hospital in Phnom Penh is reliable. It is suggested that any visitors bring adequate supplies of any essential personal medication, since that medication may not be available in Cambodia
Checklist before you leave on your trip:
Airtickets : check your departure times and date. Where possible buy e-tickets it saves you time when you inadverdently lose the document you can always pull out a copy from the computer or provide the ticket number. Paper tickets are more likely to get lost and end up having to wait for months to claim the lost ticket. Make sure you save a copy of your e-ticket in your traveling email.
Call your credit card company to inform them you will be traveling overseas and name of countries that the card will charged and the period that you will be using the card overseas to avoid identity theft and inconvenience that your card gets blocked when you travel.
Check your visa documents and passport size photos if you need them to get visa on arrival.
Make copies of your passport and visas scan it and send it to your traveling email in case your passport is lost or visas lost you can contact the proper authorities to provide those copies.
Make sure you have your health/accidental /emergency evacuation insurance. Most important is health /accident coverage. Make sure that the coverage will pay for you while you are in the hospital or need assistance in the country you are traveling. Costs are covered and not require you to pay first and claim later. From our experience insurance underwritten by AIG in the US and Lloyds of London in Europe has come through for our clients in times of emergencies with little inconvenience.
Check with your mobile phone carrier if they have roaming coverage in the countries you are traveling. Make sure your phone is compatible to receive or make calls in the country you will be traveling. Sometimes it’s cheaper to buy a local sim card in the country of arrival and put it in your phone to use locally. But it’s always good to have a back up to have your phone roaming coverage.
Make sure you have enough passport pages in your passport. Usually try to have at least 2 pages in your passport for each country you will be visiting (not transiting at the airports). This is if you will get your visa on arrival at the country you are visiting.
Make sure you have your travel agent’s mobile phone number in your phone or where you can access information in case of an emergency