1. What is the best time to travel?
The areas which we shall visit have their rainy periods between May and October, with November to April generally characterising the dry period. However, downpours can occur at any time during the year, so consider this when packing suitable clothing. Warm temperatures and often very strong sun are prevalent the whole year round. The best time to visit Cambodia is between the end of October and March, as these months see the least rainfall and the temperature is less stifling.
2. What are the best festivals and when do they take place?
As in many Asian countries, Cambodia holds sacrificial festivals. The three-day festival of Bonn Chaul Chnam (the New Year) is celebrated in April and also marks the end of the harvest period. People bring sacrifices to thank the gods for the harvest and to secure their favours for next year. This takes place on altars in the home and in the temples. The traditional games that are played after the sacrifices are an interesting and enjoyable spectacle.
A second sacrificial ceremony is held in September, this time in honour of the dead. The fifteen day festival of Bonn Dak Ben culminates in the night of Bonn Phchum Ben. It is believed that if there have been no sacrifices by midnight on this night, the dead relatives will unleash a curse on the family out of anger, which will plague them for a year.
Independence Day, the most important Cambodian festival, is celebrated on the 9th of November and marks the day in 1953 when Cambodia gained official independence from France. Every year this event is celebrated with a large-scale gala parade featuring marching bands and military forces for the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. All of this takes place in front of the King.
3. Can I pre-book transfers and extra nights?
Yes, you have the option to pre-book airport transfers (on arrival only) and secondly the option to pre-book pre and post tour nights.These extra services should be added to your booking.
4. What about my passport?
You need a passport that is valid at least 6 months at the date of departure. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel.
5. Do I need a visa?
UK/EU citizens need a visa for Cambodia, but these things can change. So please click here and check out the current situation. You can also check on that website if a visa is required for any other nationalities. Make sure you find out if you need a visa at least a month before departure so you do not run out of time.
If you need a visa, please click here to find details of the embassy you need to contact unless you use a visa service. Shoestring does not organize your visa. You are responsible for having a valid passport and visa when you travel. You can also obtain the visa through a specialized visa agency like www.travcour.com. It is a good idea to visit this website in any case, as it provides much more detail.
6. Do I need vaccinations or malaria tablets?
Please click here
for questions regarding vaccinations or malaria tablets for this country and contact after your local practitioner or a specialized health centre and make an appointment to get your shots and pills. Please make sure that you allow at least six weeks for a full program. People who already have had a few shots might do with two weeks. You are responsible for having the right protection when going on tour.
7. What is the recommended currency for Cambodia?
Riel (KHR) is the official currency and is divided into 100 sen. Foreign currency is difficult to exchange with the exception of US Dollars. Most transactions require cash. US dollars and Thai Baht are accepted, although smaller transactions are usually done in riel. A torn US dollar note renders it useless. Credit cards are only accepted in a limited number of tourist-orientated hotels and restaurants in Phnom Penh and larger towns. There are a few ATMs in Phnom Penh, but they shouldn't be relied upon as a source of money; travellers cheques in US dollars or sterling can be cashed at a limited number of banks and larger hotels, though travellers cheques are not recommended due to limited acceptance.
8. What kind of clothing and other stuff is practical to take?
Thin cotton clothes are recommended. For the evenings, high collared and long sleeved T-shirts or thin cotton turtle necks are the order of the day, to provide protection from mosquitoes. Taking too little is preferable to taking too much, as any clothing you feel you lack can be bought very cheaply whilst on holiday. An umbrella is useful, as protection against the rain as well as for use as a sun parasol. A woolly jumper is necessary during the winter or in the mountainous regions. Rainwear is a must during monsoon season, and a pair of good, worn-in hiking boots and a pair of sandals or flip-flops is all the footwear you need.
Remember that to visit any Buddhist sites you must be barefoot, so sandals will then come in useful. Other important items are sunglasses, a bag for bedding, a hand towel, sun creams, toiletries, a first-aid kit, a headscarf, a (video) camera with sufficient film, spare batteries, a torch, a pen-knife (make sure you do not carry it in your hand luggage d
9. What kind of luggage should I take?
Pack all your luggage into a weekend bag or backpack. Do not bring a suitcase, as this will become a burden when travelling. When travelling by van or tour bus, luggage must be placed on the roof. If many large suitcases are being transported, this can make the bus top-heavy and dangerous to drive. A small backpack or shoulder bag is also recommended for everyday hand luggage. For the storage of important documents, we advise a thin cotton money belt which you can wear under your clothes. Make sure you have a change of clothes in your hand luggage during the flight and that you can go without your main luggage for 48 hours, in case of any delays. Take with you in your hand luggage, any prescribed medicines, malaria medicine and your toothbrush. Also make sure that your luggage is not too heavy, as it will have to be hoisted up and down from the roof of the tour bus many times a day.
10. What is the electricity situation?
What voltage and plugs are in use in Cambodia? Please click here to check what voltage and plugs are in use in this country. You could consider taking a universal electric plug.
11. Which travel guides and maps?
If you want to take a travel guide or map, we suggest you click on Lonely Planet.
12. In what kind of accommodation do we sleep?
We will stay in comfortable hotels in twin bedded rooms with en-suite facilities.
13. How is accommodation arranged if I book alone?
If you book alone you will share your room with a fellow traveler (same sex when possible) unless you have booked a single room.
14. Do I need a sleeping mat or sleeping bag?
This will not be necessary.
15. Do I need to take a mosquito net?
A mosquito net is not compulsory but you could benefit from bringing one along with some string to hang it.
16. Do they cater for vegetarians in Cambodia?
The main ingredient in Cambodian food is rice. Side dishes consist of vegetables, fish and meat and especially the fish sauce prahoc, which is an essential ingredient in Cambodian cuisine. Vegetarians will be catered for but the majority of the dishes will be spicy and rice based.
17. What kind of transportation is used?
Transportation will be provided in private (mini)buses and public buses (for small groups)
18. Is Cambodia dangerous?
There is some risk from terrorism due to continuing terrorist activity in South East Asia, and travellers are advised to be vigilant in public places and areas frequented by foreigners. Cambodia remains one of the most heavily land-mined countries in the world. Visitors should travel with a local guide and never stray off the main paths. It is not advisable to travel anywhere at night. Caution should be taken in the capital, Phnom Penh, especially at night, as street crime is a problem, and there have been several incidents involving foreigners around popular tourist nightspots in Phnom Penh. After dark there is also a risk of violent crime in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Visitors should be aware that bag snatching is becoming an increasing problem on tuk-tuks, motorcycle taxis and while walking in the main towns. Due to the large numbers of tourists involved in road accidents on motorcycles, police in Siem Reap have banned rental outlets from hiring motorcycles to tourists.
19. What local customs do I need to keep in mind?
Touching the head of someone else is extremely impolite in Cambodia, even a friendly pat of a child’s head. The head is seen to house the soul and must be treated as sacred.
You must be bareheaded and bare-footed in all holy sites in Cambodia. If you walk round a pagoda, you must walk in a clockwise direction. If you carry your shoes in your hand, use your left hand, as shoes are regarded in the same way as the feet and may not point towards the sacred site. If you sit with your feet pointing to a Buddha statue or a monk, you are guilty of one of the most deeply offensive gestures. Taking photos of Buddha statues are also not appreciated by the locals.
Monks must not be touched under any circumstances
20. Are there opportunities to swim?
There is no opportunity on our trips to Cambodia
21. What are other activities and sports I could do?
There are many activities that you can do in Cambodia, you should try a massage from the blind masseurs of ‘Seeing Hands’. Take an optional trip to the beautifully crafted Banteay Srei complex and visit the abundance of wonderful temples.
22. How are communications in Cambodia?
The international access code for Cambodia is +855. The outgoing code is 001 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 00144 for the United Kingdom). Phnom Penh's area code is (0)23; the code for Siem Reap is (0)63. Domestic and international calls can be made at post offices or telecom offices in most towns. Mobile phone operators cover Phnom Penh and other major cities. The country uses GSM networks, so US phones are not compatible. Mobile phones can be rented at Pochentong International Airport on arrival. Internet phones are available in some Internet cafes and provide a cheaper alternative for international calls. Internet cafes provide a fast and inexpensive service in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and other main towns.
23. What is the time difference?
Please check the world clock in order to find out the exact time difference with home.