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    Everything You Need to Know About Tourism in Cambodia

    Image Credits : thefinancialexpress.com

    Cambodia might be a small country in Southeast Asia, but it has a lot to offer. From its rich history to its breathtaking natural scenery, Cambodia is definitely worth visiting. Let’s take a look at why tourism in Cambodia should be on your bucket list, what you need to do before getting there, and the important places you shouldn’t miss.

    Reasons for visiting Cambodia

    • Rich cultural heritage. The Khmer Empire once led this country. The remnants of the said empire can still be viewed until now. Of course, the Angkor Wat is the primary reason why people visit Cambodia. Dubbed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992, this place is the largest religious monument in the entire world. It’s also the best representation of the country, and is even in their flag. Apart from the Angkor Wat, Cambodia also has other temples and stunning architectural structures worth seeing. Just walking through various parts of the country will allow you to see the its rich history.
    • Recent history. Although the Angkor Wat displays the country’s distant past, you may also visit some places that provide a glimpse of the more recent history. In Phnom Penh, you can find the Killing Fields S21 or the Toul Sleng Genocide Museum. The place witnessed the death of over 17,000 people from 1974-1979. They were imprisoned and tortured during the Civil War of Cambodia. It might be a part of history no one wants to relive, but it’s something everyone can learn from. Visiting the place will also allow you to pay respect to those who died during that time. There are other places dubbed as killing fields all over the country, but not all of them are open to visitors.
    • Natural beauty. When you think about stunning natural sites, you don’t necessarily have Cambodia in mind. The truth is that this country is so underrated. Their islands offer a perfect getaway for those who want to relax and go on a retreat. Other islands are suitable for people who want to enjoy a night life. There are even exclusive islands available to those who can afford the price. Cambodia’s National Parks also offers a wide range of flora and fauna. Jungles, mountains, beaches, and waterfalls are abundant in Cambodia, and all of them are worth seeing.
    • Hospitable people. Cambodians are also among the reasons why you should go to the country. They’re known for being hospitable and warm. English might not be widely spoken, but many people would still try their best to talk to you. Going around the country becomes easier with the help of the locals. They would be more than willing to make you feel at home as you go around the country.
    • A different side of Southeast Asia. When you think about Southeast Asia, Thailand immediately comes to mind. Of course, it rivals France on top as the most visited country in the world. However, Southeast Asia is such a vast region with a lot of exciting countries to visit, and one of them is Cambodia. If you want to get out of Bangkok’s busy streets, flying to Cambodia might be the best thing to do.

    Preparing for the trip to Cambodia

    Before you go to Cambodia, you need to remember a few things to ensure that your trip is smooth and stress-free.

    • You can use US dollars in Cambodia. If you already have US dollars, there’s no need to trade your currency. Exchange rates are generally terrible among money exchangers, so you don’t need to switch to Cambodian currency. You should also avoid withdrawing cash in ATMs. The exchange rate is also poor, and you will be charged a $5 standard fee on top. You should prepare cash upon arrival. If you have to withdraw, you need to do so in large amounts. Budget your money so it will be enough to get you through your trip.
    • The cost of living in Cambodia is affordable. A complete meal would cost you less than $10. You can even choose street stalls and local restaurants to get an even lower amount. You can visit all the places you wanted without having to spend a lot.
    • Tuk tuk is the best way to visit places. Right at the airport, you will already be picked up by a tuk tuk. Even if you request for an airport pickup service from your hotel, this is the mode of transportation that will welcome you. Most trips would only cost around $2 if they’re within the area. If you have to travel outside town, you might have to add a dollar or two. Taxis are also available if you want a more comfortable ride, but don’t expect the cars to be new.
    • Grab a SIM card at the airport. At the arrival areas, you will find stalls offering a local SIM card. You should buy one and get an internet data. You need it since most locals don’t speak English well. You might have to show a translation of what you want to say, or show a picture from Google. A basic plan for tourists would only cost around $5, and it’s enough to get you through the entire trip.
    • Avoid land crossing if possible. Cambodia shares a land border with Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. You can enter the country by bus. The problem is that there are some officials who might trick you into buying a visa on arrival even if you already have one. To get rid of this issue, you need to fly to the country. It’s easier and more convenient. Affordable flights are available too. Also, some labor workers in neighboring countries have to cross the Cambodian border for a visa run. Sometimes, the lines can be too long, and waiting for your turn to get stamped might take a lot of time.
    • Choose the best hotels. Even some of the best hotels in Cambodia are very affordable. When traveling to countries with a high cost of living, you end up staying in a low-quality hotel. You have no choice since the more convenient options are too costly. In Cambodia, it’s not the case. You will find a lot of high-quality hotels that you can afford. The only issue is that the country isn’t used to family travelers. Some hotels don’t have facilities such as playgrounds for children.
    • Be kind to the locals. Cambodians are nice and loving people. They welcome foreigners and will try their best to make you feel welcomed. Unfortunately, many Cambodians don’t get paid well. Even those who work in the tourism industry barely scrape by with their income. Try your best to be nice to them. Give tips to waiters and hotel staff. Even tuk tuk drivers whom you think are trying to rip you off, are only asking for about a dollar more. It shouldn’t be difficult for you to be generous if you’re getting the service you need.
    • Be early when visiting temples. If you intend to visit temples, you have to be early. If Angkor Wat is on your list, most local tour guides will pick you up at 4.30am. These places tend to get crowded especially in the middle of the day. You can barely take nice photos with a lot of people passing by. Cambodia is also a tropical country, and it’s scorching hot if you get there at lunchtime. When you’re traveling with children, it’s even worse. Watching the sunrise from Angkor Wat and other temples is also a wonderful experience, and it is enough reason to be there early.
    • Respect religious practices. Cambodia is still a conservative country, and it places emphasis on religion. Monks are highly respected in the country, and you should do the same. Don’t get too close to monks, and be polite when talking to them. When visiting temples, you have to wear appropriate clothing. Avoid wearing sleeveless shirts and short skirts. Some places might not even let you in if you wear inappropriate clothing.

    Best places to visit in Cambodia

    The Angkor Wat and the Killing Fields S21 were already mentioned as the top priorities when heading to Cambodia. You can’t say that you’ve been to the country unless you visited these places. They’re part of the country’s rich history. However, apart from these tourist destinations, there are other places that you should include in your list.

    • Kep. This is a small seaside resort offering all sorts of beach activities. From snorkeling to scuba diving, you can do whatever you want when you’re there. You can go to Rabbit Island since it’s the most popular destination at Kep. A day trip would be enough since electricity is limited at night. You should also go to Kep National Park and see the butterfly reserve. You can also witness how farmers grow organic peppers.
    • Banlung. If you head North, you will find Banlung, a perfect destination for those who want to see the outdoors. It’s your chance to be up close with nature. From seeing the wide variety of monkeys to the stunning view of the deep lakes, Banlung has a lot to offer. Add to that the villages showing women doing traditional weaving.
    • Battambang. Black peppercorns are famous in this town. They’re a popular ingredient among gourmet chefs. Battambang is located close to the Gulf of Thailand. It is also home to the Bokor National Park. This park features a lush rainforest. You can also find the abandoned French hill station. If you’re into hiking and boating, you would love Battambang. You can even find caves and ancient ruins.
    • Sihanoukville. This is the best place to visit if you’re into beaches. The Otres Beach is the most popular destination in this area. you can also take a ferry to the islands of Koh Rong. With its 7km shoreline, you will definitely have a wonderful time in this place. You can also find places to help you relax. Quality restaurants and relaxing spas are available in various areas. Don’t forget to have seafood barbeque while you’re there. The flavors are one of a kind.
    • Kratie. If you’ve heard about the Irrawaddy dolphins before, you will find them in Kratie. It’s located in Northeast Cambodia. The dolphins are found in the Mekong River, and there only less than a hundred left around the world. You can look for local boatmen who will take you to areas where you can find the dolphins. However, the use of motors is limited to avoid disturbing the dolphins. A kayak trip is also an excellent alternative. While you’re there, you can take a bike around Koh Trong island.
    • Kampot. If you’re into a more laidback feel, you have to visit Kampot. There are lots of old shop houses that have been around for generations. Some of them were restored so you can still come and visit them. Although laidback, the town has a small central district that’s vibrant. If you’ve been traveling the country for several days, it would feel great to be in a small town that feels like a community.

    Cambodia definitely has a lot to offer, and you can say that your trip is worth it. You can even take your friends along with you on your next trip and visit more underrated towns and cities. There are also a lot of expats living in Cambodia, and some of them have been around for years. If they fell in love with the country, there’s no reason for you not to feel that way on your trip.

    Prepare for a $3,000 deposit

    If you intend to visit the country right now, you have to be aware of the travel advisory related to COVID-19. Cambodia has somewhat managed to contain the virus, and is already opening up its borders to foreigners. However, you have to prepare a health certificate indicating that you’ve tested negative for the virus. You should also prepare $3,000 cash to serve as a bond before you enter the country. If you test positive and would require hospitalization, the overall cost will be deducted from your deposit. If negative, only the amount for testing fees will be deducted, and you will get the remaining amount before leaving Cambodia. If you can’t show this amount upon arrival, you will be denied entry in the country.

    Some of the places in Cambodia haven’t seen tourists for months, and your presence will definitely give local tourism a boost. Also, given all the reasons for visiting Cambodia, you wouldn’t mind the required deposit.


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