1. Climate & Clothing
Summerwear would be appropriate, and bring an umbrella for rainy months from June to October. November to Feb would be the most comfortable to travel where the weather is cooler and drier.
Keep in mind that shorts are frowned on in temples (such as at Angkor Wat). In fact, few men in Cambodia wear shorts unless they have manual jobs. Foreigners may be able to get away with odd dressing to an extent. Good walking/hiking shoes are a plus for a visit to the temples. Sandals (not leather) are good for rainy season in the city--the mud just rinses right off.
| Hot Season: March – May
|24 - 37oC
||The northeast monsoon brings high temperatures and low rainfall to Cambodia . These months, especially April, can be very hot with high humidity.
| Rainy Season: June - October
|24 - 32oC
||The southwest monsoon brings heavy rains - usually during the afternoon.
| Dry Season: November - February
|22 - 31oC
||Daytime temperatures can remain high, nights become much more refreshing with an average temperature of 22C.
Customary Cambodian teachings include: that if a person does not wake up before sunrise he is lazy; you have to tell your parents or elders where you are going and what time you are coming back home; close doors gently, otherwise you have a bad temper; sit with your legs straight down and not crossed (crossing your legs shows that you are an impolite person); and always let other people talk more than you.
Khmer culture is very hierarchical. The greater a person's age, the greater the level of respect that must be granted to them.
In Khmer culture a persons head is believed to contain the persons soul therefore making it taboo to touch or point your feet at it. It is also considered to be extremely disrespectful to point or sleep with your feet pointing at a person, as the feet are the lowest part of the body and are considered to be impure.
When greeting people or to show respect in Cambodia people do the "sampeah" gesture, identical to the Thai wai and similar to the Indian namaste.
If you don’t remember any of these, just remember to smile: Always act respectful, don't raise your voice or your eyebrows. It works.
European plug with two circular metal pins or Japanese-style plug with two parallel flat blades is in used.
4. Health & Safety
If you go to the countryside, keep to well-travelled paths or roads because Cambodia still has landmines.
Travellers are advised to take precaution to prevent mosquito bites. You could wear light-coloured clothing; wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts; use mosquito repellents, avoid perfumes and aftershave. Use a mosquito net impregnated with mosquito repellent (permethrin) - it may be worth taking your own.
If you are travelling in endemic areas, it is advisable to bring malaria pills.
It will be good to get vaccinated against Hepatitis A (spread by the oral-faecal route) and Hepatitis B, which is spread through saliva, blood and genital fluids.
Typhoid is transmitted via food and water.
The symptoms typically start with a fever and headache, which initially feels very similar to flu, with aches and pains, loss of appetite and general malaise. Other symptoms you may have are constipation or diarrhoea and stomach pains. Symptoms may get worse in the second week, with a constant fever and sometimes a red skin rash. Other symptoms you may have are severe headache, sore throat and jaundice.
Seek medical help. Re-hydration therapy is important if you have diarrhoea, and antibiotics are used for treatment.
The vast majority of Cambodians speak Khmer. An increasing number of urban Cambodians speak English, especially young people, and some (mostly older) Cambodians can speak French.
Cash is best. US dollars are accepted almost everywhere in Cambodia. It's useful to have USD in small notes.
There are a few places that will change travelers checks. Credit cards are useful only at a few ritzy places in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, although you can get a cash advance from a Visa or JCB card at the Cambodian Commercial Bank, among others, in Phnom Penh and a few banks in other main towns.
As of late 2005 there are a few cash machines in Cambodia at branches of the ANZ bank and at the Canadia Bank in Phnom Penh. These ATMs may or may not be compatible with your card.
Buddhist, Animist, Cham Muslim, Christian
The bus service in Cambodia is cheap with a number of companies operating along a few routes (the roads are gradually improving but they can still be bad at times). There are many buses each day to and from Phnom Penh to places like Sihanoukville ($4 for the single four hour journey on a very good road), Battambang (six hour $4 journey on reasonable road) and Siem Reap ($4 six hour journey on a good road). There are also daily buses to and from Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang to the Thai border crossing of Poipet, and the Vietnam border at Moc Bai. From Phnom Penh buses also run to Kampot, Kompong Cham and Kratie.
There are only two train lines in the country -- one from Battambang to Phnom Penh, and the second to and from the capital to Sihanoukville. Due to the roads being improved trains run very intermittently now and don’t have a passenger car so you will be on the roof all the way. Enquire at the train station as to when the next train will be running.
The boat is a popular means of transport on the Mekong and do go as far as Stung Treng, although the most popular ones operate on the Tonlé Sap between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap between USD20-23 and this takes between 4 – 6 hours. It’s also possible to take a boat between Siem Reap to Battambang but the road is a much better choice. There is also a fast boat to and from Koh Kong and Sihanoukville, and is your best bet as due to the wet season the road is in bad condition.
Pick-ups, Taxis & Minibuses
Pick-ups are used for traveling the truly awful roads in Cambodia to and from places like Koh Kong. They are often overcrowded. There are many share taxis in Cambodia to various destinations, most of which leave from central market. You can often hire them individually or pay for a seat and wait for other passengers to turn up. Minibuses cover similar routes.
Car & Motorcycle Hire
Self-drive car hire is presently not available in Cambodia. It is possible to hire a car and driver for around US$20 to US$30 per day. Motorcycles are a good means of transport to visit places outside of Phnom Penh on a day trip $5-8 a day for dirtbikes and $3-4 for motos. Remember to slow down through villages, look out for animals and children, wear a helmet and bear in mind that medical assistance doesn’t really exist in the countryside.
As of 2003, Visas are available on arrival at the Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports, so if you are entering Cambodia at the airport, there's no need to get one beforehand. If you enter by land, you must get a your visa before you get there in most cases, and it must be marked for entry at that entry point. If it isn't, you are nearly certain to be sent back (Download visa application.)
Bring two small photos and $25 US. You will get two forms to fill out on the airplane. On the form you must identify your visit as a tourist visit or a business visit. It's $20 for a one-month tourist visa, or $25 for a one-month working visa. The only difference is that the working visa can be renewed without leaving the country, so if you might stay more than a month, choose that one.
There are walk-in cybercafes everywhere in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and in the main tourist towns.
10. Attractions in Cambodia
The Angkor temples in Siem Reap
The ruins of Angkor temples were included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. The temples were built during the 9th to 15th century by Hindu Khmer Kings. The temples show the best of the Khmer Architecture.
The Angkor area was the capital city of the Khmer Kings, until Thai invaders caused the kings to move the capital city southwards to Phnom Penh. The Angkor area and the waterways was a mega-city supporting with up to 1 million people in days where there were only 50,000 people in London city.
The most famous of the Angkor Temples is Angkor Wat.
Tickets to the Angkor temple complex cost USD20 for one day, USD40 for three days and USD80 for a week. Some stay for half a day, some stay up to a week to slowly appreciate this relic. In general, a day's visit should suffice. It's worthwhile getting a local guide at USD20 to better appreciate the rich historical heritage of this area. The area is also huge at 15,200 square miles, so you may want to hire a tu-tu, a motor-cart at US$10-15 a day. The more adverturous ones can move around in a bicycle, which the hotel may be able to arrange for you.
The Royal Palace in Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh
The Royal Palace is built in Khmer architecture and is wellworth a few pictures. The palace is only used on special occasions.
Tuol Sleng Museum in Phnom Penh
Thousands of Cambodians were tortured here in 1975 to 1979 during Khmer Rouge. The fact that the tortures took place here in normal looking school compounds sends chills down the spine. Tuol Sleng Museum is within Phnom Penh city.
Choeung Ek Killing Fields in Phnom Penh
Here in the midst of idyllic rice fields and lakes, was the killing field and mass grave of up to 40,000 Cambodians. They were killed by Khmer Rouge from 1975 to 1979. A glass tower now stands holding the skulls and remains of the victims. Choeung Ek Killing Fields in about 15km to the south of Phnom Penh City.
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