- TRAVEL TIPS
All visitors, except citizens of Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Laos, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam need a visa to enter Cambodia. The official price for a tourist visa is US$20, and US$25 for a business visa - but expect much higher prices (US$30 or more for the tourist visa) to be demanded at land border crossings.
Unlike other countries, Cambodia visa can be applied for and issued upon arrival at airports for entering by air, whether in the capital city Phnom Penh, or at Siem Reap.
Travelers must bring along one passport-size photograph and their passport. Application form is distributed for by the Government Immigration upon arrival. The fee is US$20 for a one-month visa payable in USD cash upon issuance on arrival.
You could also get the Visa on arrival to Cambodia when cross the border gate "Chau Doc" from Vietnam or border gate "PoiPet" when you come from Thailand. From these border, beside the Visa fee 20$/person, you might have to pay the extra unofficial fee 5$ to 10$/person.
Airport tax has been included in the ticket price and you don't you airport tax here any more.
Currency & Monetary System
Cambodian currency is Riels, which is circulated in mere form of cash note with tradable denomination commencing from 100; 200; 500; 1000; 2000; 5000; 10000; 20000; 50000; 100000.
Due to high rate of inflation, which is 4000 riels/USD at this time of writing, Cambodian households and business prefer to apply USD cash in the course of daily business. For this reason, it is common to see USD cash is widely accepted for trading all over Cambodia.
Cambodia has its national bank called The National Bank of Cambodia, and several privately-owned banks operating in major cities. Due to a lack of faith, most Cambodian households and business have not applied banking system for check accounts or whatsoever. They have accounts open with the National Bank of Cambodia and with private banks, but this is just in favor of easing necessary Overseas Transfers.
Credit cards and traveler cheques have to be encashed, which can be done with banks in Phnom Penh only, for trading in Cambodia. However, some major hotels or business in Phnom Penh accept credit cards and traveler cheques on condition that compensation charge with rates from 2% up.
Tourists are advised to make use of USD cash for personal petty cash.
The renowned Central Market ( New Market) is one of the largest and busiest markets in Phnom Penh, which is most popular for locals and foreigners. Located in the heart of the capital, the renowned large building is designed by French architect. There are a varieties of items on sales such as souvenir gifts, artifacts dated back to French Indochina era, jewelry, household appliances and nearly every thing you can think of.
The Toul Tom Pong Market ( The Russian Market) is the city's best source of object dárt. Items for sales including miniature Buddha, various ritual objects and old Indochinese coins. There are also quite a few gold smiths and silversmiths inside the market.
The Olympic market, owned by one of Cambodia's most powerful tycoon. A great deal of wholesaling is done at the Olympic Market, near the Olympic Stadium. The market was upgraded and reopened in 1994 as the first three-floor covered market in the Kingdom.
Rice and fish are the basic food items among the Khmer people. Famous classical Khmer specialty widely enjoyed up to now are: Nhaom (a popular cuisine comprises of vinegar, dried fish and herb and vegetable); Kor Kor ( normally cooked with fish and a mix of vegetables ); Amok (fish cooked in coconut); Samlor Machu (vinegar soup cooked with fish and mixed with a variety of vegetables). Other dishes cooked with pork, chicken, beef arealso the main diets.
Chinese and Western menus are commonly available in the capita of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.
While not as spicy or as varied as food from neighbouring Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Singapore or Vietnam, Khmer food is tasty and cheap and is invariably accompanied by rice (or occasionally noodles). Thai and Vietnamese characteristics can be found in Khmer food, although Cambodians love a stronger sour taste in their dishes, especially through the addition of prahok, the famous Khmer fish paste (although for most foreigners this is most definitely an acquired taste!). In addition to Khmer food, there are large number of Indian and Chinese restaurants, especially in Phnom Penh and large provincial centers.
Typical Khmer dishes which are palatable to westerners include:
* Amok - The most popular Cambodian dish with travellers. A coconut milk curry dish less spicy than those found in Thailand. Amok is usually made with chicken, fish, or shrimp, plus some vegetables. It is sometimes served in a hollowed-out coconut with rice on the side. Quite delicious.
* K'tieu (Kuytheav) - A noodle soup generally served for breakfast. Can be made with pork, beef or seafood. Flavorings are added to the customers taste in the form of lime juice, chili powder, sugar and fish sauce.
* Somlah Machou Khmae - A sweet and sour soup made with pineapple, tomatoes and fish.
* Bai Saik Ch'rouk - Another breakfast staple. Rice (bai) with pork meat (sec trouk) often barbequed. Very tasty and served with some pickled vegetables.
* Saik Ch'rouk Cha Kn'yei - Pork fried with ginger. Ginger is relatively commonly used as a vegetable. This tasty dish is available just about everywhere.
* Lok lak - Chopped up beefsteak cooked quickly. Probably a holdover from the days of French colonization. Served with lettuce and onion, and often with chips.
* Mi / Bai Chaa - Fried noodles or rice. Never particularly inspiring, but a good traveller's staple.
* Trey Ch'ien Chou 'Ayme - Trey (fish) fried with a sweet chili sauce and vegetables. Very tasty. Chou 'ayme is the phrase for "sweet and sour".
* K'dam - Crab. Kampot in the south is famous for its crab cooked in pepper. A very tasty meal.
Don't forget Khmer desserts - Pong Aime (sweets). These are available from stalls in most Khmer towns and can be excellent. Choose from a variety of sweetmeats and have them served with ice, condensed milk and sugar water. A must try is the Tuk-a-loc, a blended drink of fruits, raw egg, sweetened condensed milk and ice.
There is also a wide variety of fresh fruit available from markets. The prices vary according to which fruit is in season but mangoes (around Khmer New Year, with up to 9 varieties on sale) and mangosteen (May/June) are both superb.
Other popular Khmer foods which are less palatable to westerners include pregnant eggs (duck eggs with the embryo still inside), Prahok (a fermented fish paste) and almost every variety of creepy or crawly animal (spiders, crickets, water beetles) as well as barbecued rats, frogs, snakes, bats and small birds.
RESTAURANTS & DINING
In Phnom Penh:
FCCC (Foreign Correspondents' Club of Cambodia) - right facing the Mekong river serving French cuisine and is a meeting spots from all sorts of people including reporters, journalist and NGOs living in Phnom Penh. It provides a good opportunity for all kind of nationalities from around the world sharing information.
Miramar Restaurant - a convenient location recommended for lunch and start making tours. Most tour operators are taking their customers to this restaurants as hygiene and sanitation are ensured. Moreover, the restaurant provides good Chinese and European menus.
Restaurant Village - Further down the Japanese-Cambodian Friendship bridge, nearly 300 restaurants are closely linked on both side of the main road over looking the river or inside the large lake, making a memorable Cambodia's farewell meals. It serves Cambodian foods and is also a chance for those who want to enjoy a free traditional classical dance, Rocks and Roll music during their dinner, as most restaurants provides performance thereof. For more enjoyable, we are pleased to recommend its clients to take a boat trip from Sofitel Cambodiana and back by cars. It is recommended for dinner.
Located near the river in the capital, Apsara, Cambodiana Hotel and FCCC (The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Cambodia) offer Khmer, French and Chinese menus. The FCCC is a good meeting spot whereby up-to-date information about Cambodia, particularly politics and business, can be obtained fast.
Down the bridge cross the river locates the restaurants village offering a wide range of local specialties and performance of traditional and modern dances and music. A few minutes from the capital, customers can enjoy fresh evening air in nice restaurants decorated with gentle lights, which look so romantic.
Lobby Lounge at Hotel Inter.Continental-Phnom Penh located inside the Capital also offer international and local flair for a varieties of Khmer and foreign menus accompanied by gentle local and international music.
Bayon - located in the centre of Siemreap, a romantic place during the night capturing the sound of silence that bring back the memory of Angkor sites during the day. It is an unescaped once serving Western - Asian and Chinese foods. However, Siemreap town still provides a limited places for meals, therefore having meal inside the hotel is also encouraged.
Arun (English speaking staff), Banteay Srei and Bayon Restaurant are good at offering Khmer and Western food. However, Bayon Restaurant with garden terrace at the back is a favorite place in town for foreigners working with NGOs and travelers alike serving breakfast, lunch, dinner.
The Koh Pos serving a varieties of seafood is favorite for both locals and foreigners, set on a small beach good for photo shoots. Outstanding dishes are steamed fish, crabs or shrimps braised in pepper. Bienvenue and Les Feuilles are also nice place on beach, run by Khmer-Franco families, serving good food and fresh coffee and good drinks. Mealy Chenda is favorite for most foreigners serving Khmer, Thai and international food, having good view as it overlooks islands, sea and international port.
National Centre of Disabled Persons and Wat Than Showroom in the capital city feature a wide range of locally hand crafted products by the Cambodian people with disabilities. Woven, stamped and carved products decorated and designed in unique style are made of silk and cotton fabrics, rattan, bamboo , wood and clays. Customers can choose from their most favorite items on sales such as silk scuffs, purses and handbags, clothing, furnishings, paintings and the other light and heavy items. The lively and beautiful hand crafted items made from best silk fabric by Cambodian disabled persons help confirm an ideal---- the disabled are truly able.
* Phnom Penh — the capital
* Banlung — far northeastern provincial capital located near some great waterfalls and national parks known as Rattanakiri
* Battambang — the second biggest town of Cambodia
* Kampot — town between the capital and Sihanoukville and gateway to the Bokor National Park
* Koh Kong — small border crossing town near the Thai border
* Kompong Thom — access to less well known (and less crowded) ancient temples and other sites
* Kratie — relaxed river town in the north-east on the Mekong, and an excellent place to get a close look at endangered river dolphins
* Siem Reap — the access point for Angkor Wat
* Sihanoukville — seaside town in the south, also known as Kompong Som
* Angkor Archaeological Park — home of the imposing ruins of ancient Khmer civilization
* Bokor National Park — ghostly former French hill resort
* Kampong Cham — nice countryside village on the Mekong river and good place to meet real Cambodia
* Kep — a seaside area which predates Sihanoukville as the main beach resort in Cambodia; slowly being re-discovered by travellers
* Krek — a small village on the backpacker trail between Kratie and Kampong Cham
* Koh Ker — more ancient ruins, north of Angkor
* Poipet — horrible border town, but you must get through it if you want to visit Angkor over land from Thailand
* Preah Vihear — cliff-top temple pre-dating Angkor
* Tonle Sap Lake — huge lake with floating villages and Southeast Asia's premier bird sanctuary
- CULTURAL TIPS
Cambodia is a country at a crossroads. While the more heavily touristed places like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are well adjusted to tourist behaviour, people in places such as Stung Treng or Banlung are less so. Always ask permission before you take somebody's picture, as many in the more remote areas do not like to be photographed, and some in the urban areas will ask for payment.
Dress for women is more conservative in Cambodia. While shorts are now acceptable in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, it is more respectful to wear knee length shorts or trousers when outside of these areas.
Groups of young children can be found everywhere in Cambodia and many travellers feel 'pestered' by them to purchase their friendship bracelets and other wares. However, it's often the case that children enjoy the chance to practice their English on you- and by asking them their names and ages a conversation is likely to develop where the 'hard sell' is forgotten. Children and adults alike enjoy looking at photographs of your family and home country.
The Khmer Rouge issue is a very delicate one, and one which Cambodians generally prefer not to talk about. However, if you approach it with politeness, they'll gladly respond. People, in general, hold no qualms when talking about the Vietnamese; in fact, they have been widely perceived as liberators when they intervened in Cambodia in 1979 to overthrow the aforementioned brutal regime. The pro-Vietnamese regime gradually rebuilt all the infrastructure that was severely damaged by the Khmer Rouge's policy of de-urbanising the country leading to economic prosperity in the 1980s, with sporadic uprisings.