Everything you need to know before taking a trip to Cambodia
Cambodia is famous for its ancient temples which are both religious and historical. Cambodian is friendly, and hospital. However, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do”, you should learn in advance some cultures and common Cambodian language as well as the local etiquette when taking a Cambodia Tour Package.
Direct flights to Cambodia?
In Cambodia, there are 3 international airports: Phnom Penh International Airport, Siem Reap International Airport, Sihanouk International Airport.
For tourists in Europe, North America, Australasia, or South Africa, there is no direct flight. If you plan to fly there you’ll need to get a connecting flight from elsewhere in Southeast or East Asia.
For tourists in Cambodia’s neighboring countries like Vietnam, Thailand, Laos,..., visas at all are issued on arrival.
Best places must see in Cambodia
Cambodia is an ideal destination for people who love ancient pagoda, beautiful wild landscapes, crystal water beach,... It has now become a major tourist destination in Asia with numerous attractions dotted throughout the country:
- Angkor Wat: This man-made wonder may be the main reason that captivates tourists’ attention to Cambodia. Angkor Wat is the most stunning of all the temples in the world with incredible details. It would be a big miss if you skip this site from your Vietnam Cambodia tour.
- Siem Reap: This is a modern city, yet has its own unique charm. The city is not only home to the world-famous temples of Angkor Wat, but also it’s the commercial hub of northern Cambodia and the surrounding areas of the Mekong Delta. Siem Reap offers you everything from a wide range of local and international cuisine to the relaxing and spiritual spas.
- Phnom Penh: Packed with well-organized streets, charming old houses alongside new modern buildings, hectic river ports, stimulating night markets and restaurants of various cuisines, Phnom Penh poses as a typical growing Asian capital.
- Sihanoukville, Kep, Koh Kong, Koh Rong: These places are home to the most beautiful beaches in Cambodia. They can customize all types of travelers from backpackers to those who prefer a high-end vacation.
- And more: an ancient and friendly Battambang, a historical Preah Vihear, a tranquil Kratie.
Best time to travel
Cambodia has a tropical climate. Cambodia is generally warm all year, with two distinct seasons: dry and monsoon (some say cool and hot period). The average temperature is about 26.7 degrees Celsius.
Therefore, the best time to take a trip to Cambodia is from November to February next year. At this time, the weather is mild, not too hot, and less rainy, this temperature is perfect to bask in the brilliant sunshine on the beach, or to hike through the jungles of Cambodia, or take a Mekong River cruise and enjoy the stunning view of Cambodia.
For those who love to discover the culture of this apple-shaped country then you should visit during the festive season. If you come to Cambodia in April, you have the opportunity to take part in The Khmer New Year's day with the very interesting Bom Chaul Chnam Water Festival, held on April 13 to 15 of each calendar year.
Also in mid - November every year, you can immerse yourself in the festive ambiance with the locals in many big festivals such as Bom Chaul Chnam Festival and the boat racing festival (Bon Om Touk).
Greeting etiquette in Cambodia
Westerners may shake hands or waving. However, in Cambodia greeting with 'sampeah' is appreciated and shows respect for Cambodian customs. Sampeah is a traditional Khmer greeting by clasping hands together like a lotus bud placed in front of the chest, then gently bowing with a friendly smile on lips.
There are different ways of bowing when performing the Sampeah. For equals, the level is kept at chest height. For elders or higher-ranking people, the hands are placed at mouth level. For parents, grandparents, or teachers, it is at nose level. For Kings and Monks, it is at eyebrow level, and when praying, it reaches the forehead.
Besides the form of greeting, sampeah is also a way for you to say thanks or apologize.
Tuk Tuk is the cheapest and best way to get around Cambodia. It seems hard to find a taxi here. Tuk Tuk can carry a maximum of 6 people. On a Tuk Tuk, visitors can easily see the sight of the town. However, when you are in Tuk Tuk, it is not sure to avoid dust, hot weather in Cambodia.
- Be careful with luggage and personal belongings: Tuk Tuk cars often have no windscreens, visitors should keep luggage tightly. Besides visitors also absolutely should not use the camera or smartphone to take pictures or play games while sitting within the car because it is easy to lose. Make sure to carry your bag near to you, or keep it under your feet.
- Tell the drivers the names of places, not street names.
- Please stay away from the Tuk Tuk that stands in front of the attraction because its prices are expensive.
Besides Tuk Tuk, visitors can opt for other means of transportation to go sightseeing such as bus, three-wheeled taxi, taxi, Motodup (motorbike taxi), cyclo,...
For the best Cambodia Tour Package, you should prepare enough cash because credit cards are only accepted in a few places.
Riel is the official currency of Cambodia, 1USD = 4,000Riel. In addition, there are coins in Cambodia but they are less popular in the market. However, Cambodians also use US dollars. Tourists can convert from Riel to US Dollars for payment. Ensure your money is still new, not much damaged because there are strict regulations on not accepting cash, especially a torn, dirty $100 bill.
Shopping in Cambodia
You should go to traditional markets, in which the famous markets here are Russian market and Phsar Tuol Tom Pong. You should pay attention to some handicrafts such as carved wood, Khmer-cut stone, carved silver or valuable jewelry, or garments, silk, ...
Phsar Tuol Tom Pong Market
Cambodia is also well-known for the gemstones. To buy the gemstones, you should go to prestigious stores recommended by acquaintances to avoid buying fake goods. On the other hand, Cambodians are quite open-hearted, please show a friendly attitude when buying and paying the price, you will definitely buy the item at the best price.
Taboos: 6 things you mustn’t do in the Kingdom of Cambodia
1. Interact With Monks.
Under the circumstances, remember to keep your distance from Monks. If Monks are seated, you should sit also before starting a conversation. Try to sit lower than them if you can.
2. Do not touch other people's heads.
Cambodians take the head seriously and are very disagreeable if someone touches their head. Even if a child is in front of you, avoid rubbing the child's head.
3. Do not eat before the host.
If you are invited to a Cambodian family meal, especially dinner, you should not eat before the head of the family because it is considered rude, impolite, disrespectful to the owner. When invited, bring along a fruit basket to show courtesy.
4. Do not show affection in public.
Like many other Asian countries, despite not being too strict, the expression of excessive affection in public such as hugging and kissing is not supported in Cambodia.
If you kiss on the street, you can easily get back the unamiable eyes of the people around you.
5. When you sit, pay attention to avoid the feet pointing straight in the direction of
others, or sitting cross-legged, so sit with both legs to one side
6. When visit the Angkor Wat, visitors should dress appropriately during their visit to the park, it means they are showing respect to Cambodian sacred temples, culture, and Cambodian women’s values. Remember this Angkor Wat dress code updates (apply to both men and women):
• Cover up your shoulders and upper arms: this means no tank tops, no straps, and not even t-shirts with sleeves too short. Even though you have a scarf or a shawl over your shoulder to cover yourself up, still be refused.
• Cover your knees: no above-knee shorts or skirt. Long skirts cover knees are allowed.
• The safest attire is ankle-length pants or skirt with a long-sleeve top.
• You do not have to remove your footwear in the Angkor temples
A trip to Cambodia is beyond incredible and surprising. As with all South East Asia countries, Cambodia has its own set of unique cultural traditions and idiosyncrasies. Let's plan a wonderful Cambodia Tour Package with Gotta Go Indochina local guides to learn more stories about this country.