One thing the pandemic taught us is never to take travel for granted again! Instead of putting off your travel dreams for “someday,” it’s time to get your luggage out of the attic and buy that plane ticket now. Start planning your dream travel today, and don’t put it off for when you retire, when the kids go away to college, when you save more money, etc.
If you are ready to book your trip, then here are our top nine things to know when planning a trip to Cambodia.
What Language Is Spoken in Cambodia?
The primary language of Cambodia is Khmer, although, in the bigger cities like Siem Reap and Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, English is widely spoken. In fact, when we were there in 2022, every person we encountered in the hotels, local markets, restaurants and tuk-tuks spoke fluent English.
Because of Cambodia’s location in Southeast Asia, you will also find people who speak Thai, Laos, and Chinese.
What Currency is Used in Cambodia?
The official currency of Cambodia is the Khmer Riel, but US Dollars are widely accepted. Most often, prices will be quoted in US Dollars. However, when you pay in US dollars, you will receive your change in riels.
What Types of Electric Socket Are Used in Cambodia?
You will encounter one of three electrical sockets in Cambodia: Type A, B or C.
Socket Type A: Similar to the type found in North America and Japan, this is the two-flat prong style.
Socket Type C: This is the two-round prong style found in Europe, South America & Asia.
Socket Type G: This is the plug with three rectangular pins, typically found in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta, Malaysia and Singapore.
Pro Tip: Make traveling easier by purchasing a set of plus for multiple countries, similar to this one:
We carry our entire kit in a small bag with us whenever we travel to make sure we will always have the right adaptor.
Are Credit Cards Accepted in Cambodia?
Credit cards are widely accepted in Cambodia, but you’ll also want some US currency or Cambodian riels for smaller purchases and to use in the local markets.
Hotels and restaurants typically accept credit cards because that is their business. Also, the bigger stores will accept credit cards. You might run into a cash-only area with street vendors, tuk-tuk drivers, local outdoor markets, and tips. This is when your ATM card comes in handy. Use your card to withdraw money at an ATM and you will receive cash in the local currency.
On our recent trip to Cambodia, we were even able to use a credit card with a small vendor at the Old Market in Siem Reap.
Is Travel in Cambodia Safe?
Absolutely! Travel in Cambodia is similar to most countries in Southeast Asia. Here are a few things to remember any time you travel abroad:
- Never travel alone after dark. If you must travel after dark, go with a group or travel with a companion.
- Ask someone at the front desk of your hotel what areas to avoid. Remember, when you are at home, you know where to go and where to avoid. But when you are traveling in a foreign country, you don’t know your way around yet. Ask someone who works at your hotel since this is their hometown.
- Be cautious when you are traveling, even in broad daylight. In other words, use common sense. Zip up your backpack to make it harder for thieves to stick their hands inside. Don’t leave your wallet exposed in your back pocket. Use a purse with a cross-body strap strapped across your chest, so a grab-and-run thief can’t snatch it.
- Some quick-grab thieves like to ride their scooters close to the sidewalk, so they can grab a bag from an unsuspecting tourist and make a quick getaway.
- Don’t walk around town with more cash or goods than you can afford to lose. Don’t have all your credit cards, debit cards, cash, passport and favorite Maui Jim sunglasses all in your fanny pack when you are out sightseeing. If a thief were to cut the strap and run off with the fanny pack, it would ruin your trip. Leave most of that stuff back in your hotel room’s safe, and only travel with enough for that day.
Don’t be paranoid and hide in your hotel room all day! Go out and enjoy yourself! Just be aware of your surroundings.
What Is the Transportation System Like in Cambodia?
Within big cities like Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, the tuk-tuk is the most common means of transport. You will see them everywhere. They are basically a covered passenger attached to a motorcycle. From 1 to 4 passengers can easily fit on the benches of most tuk-tuks.
Taking a tuk-tuk is part of the local experience! They are a cheap way of getting around, and most short trips will cost $1 to $2 US dollars. Be aware that your tuk-tuk driver may offer to stop someplace “special,” which is typically a souvenir shop or jewelry store where the driver gets a commission for bringing tourists. A simple “no thank you” will usually suffice.
Most hotels will arrange to have a driver meet you at the airport when you arrive, sometimes complimentary if they know what flight information. The transfer could be an air-conditioned car, or it might be a tuk-tuk.
Grab is the ride-hire program used in Cambodia, similar to Uber. You can get the app here. https://www.grab.com/kh/en/ When you request a Grab pickup, most of the time, you will be riding in a tuk-tuk, and still very inexpensive.
Traveling longer distances between towns, the cheapest way to travel is by bus. You could take a tuk-tuk, but they are slow, and it would take much longer.
The most comfortable way to get from one town to another is by hiring a car and driver. At $50-$100, this is your most expensive option, but it would be the fastest and most comfortable way to get around. That price is still a lot cheaper than you would pay for a private driver in most countries!
Can You Drink the Tap Water in Cambodia?
No. Most of the tap water in Cambodia is not safe to drink for Westerners, and it’s best to stick with bottled water. Make sure any bottled water you drink comes in a sealed bottle.
Some hotels have water purification systems installed that aim to make tap water safer to drink. However, you can’t be sure how safe it is. To avoid getting traveler’s diarrhea (Buddha’s revenge?), it’s best to stick to bottled water or bring a small water purifier to drink and brush your teeth
What Vaccinations Are Needed for Travel to Cambodia?
For the most up-to-date information and professional recommendations, consult the CDC travel site. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/travel-vaccines
Find a travelers’ vaccine clinic where you can get any recommended vaccines based on any health conditions you may have and whether you plan to go trekking in the jungle.
In a hot, humid, tropical country like Cambodia, bugs are an issue. Bring a bug repellent with you, like Off or Cutter. We like to pack wipes instead of bug spray so we don’t end up with any spills in our suitcases.
Do I Need a Visa to Travel to Cambodia?
The best resource for up-to-date information on travel visas is Sherpa
Sherpa includes current Covid travel requirements like Covid vaccine and testing for every country..
In order to get accurate information, make sure you complete every field on the Sherpa site, including:
- Your Covid vaccine status
- What country is your passport from
- What country are you flying from
- Are you changing planes in a different country? If so, be sure to include that under the connection. Some countries will require a transit visa even if you aren’t leaving the airport.
That said, most travelers from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States will need to get a travel visa for Cambodia. If you have any questions about travel requirements for Cambodia, you can go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for the Kingdom of Cambodia.
Cambodia electronic visas can be purchased online before you travel, or you can get them at the airport on arrival.
Cambodia eVisas are $36 and could take up to 10 days, so allow plenty of time. Once your visa is approved, you will receive authorization, which you print and bring with you along with your passport.
To apply for the eVisa for Cambodia make sure you use the official website here: Cambodia eVisa site
Cambodia visa on arrival is a simple process. When you arrive at the airport, find the line for visitors who don’t have their visas yet. The cost for a visa on arrival is only $30 (the eVisa charges a $6.00 convenience charge). You must pay in cash and in US dollars. It’s a quick process.
I’ve read some sources that say you need to bring two passport-size photos with you to get your visa on arrival at certain airports or land border crossings. When we arrived at Siem Reap airport in November of 2022, we did not need a passport photo. However, it is always a good idea to travel with two passport photos, just in case. If your passport gets lost or stolen, having those two passport photos tucked away in your luggage will come in handy.