7 Things to Know Before Visiting Cambodia
Cambodia is one of the Southeast Asian destinations that have yet to find themselves crammed with tourists. But this stunning country – home to a sprawling beautiful countryside and myriad cultural treasures – won’t stay a secret forever. If you’re planning a holiday to this wonderful place, here are seven amazing things you might not know about Cambodia.
1. It is Ridiculously Young
Unlike in much of the western world where we have an increasingly ageing population, in Cambodia you will surprised at just how many young people there are. In fact, more than 50 per cent of the country’s population is aged under 25, and around under 10 per cent of the population is over the age of 55. This is partly due to the genocide by the Khmer Rouge government from 1975 to 1979, and partly due to the huge baby boom after the regime was removed.
2. Healthcare is Not Cambodia’s Strong Point
Unfortunately Cambodia’s standard of healthcare is low, with poor medical facilities and undertrained doctors. That means that you need to take all the necessary precautions before you arrive to ensure that you are at as little risk as possible. Firstly, talk to your doctor about vaccinations for Cambodia – officially there are no health certificates that are required to enter the country, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t protect yourself.
The biggest risk tends to come from mosquitos, which carry dengue fever and, in some parts of the country, malaria. The only real defence is to avoid being bitten, so bring along repellent with DEET and wear long sleeved shirts and trousers whenever possible.
3. Your Feet are Rude
In Cambodia it is considered to be very rude to point your feet at someone or show the soles of your feet. Follow what the local people do and tuck your feet in when you sit. At the other end of your body, the head is considered to be extremely important and you should never touch someone else’s head without their permission – even very gently or in a friendly manner.
4. The Beaches are Beautiful
When many people picture Cambodia they first think of the infamous Killing Fields or perhaps the cultural icon of Angkor Wat. But you might not realise that destinations like Sihanoukville and Kep have stunning stretches of sand that are as good as almost anywhere in Southeast Asia. That means that a holiday in Cambodia can easily feature a week of sightseeing before travelling to the coast for a week of relaxation in the sunshine.
5. You Cannot Drive Here
This isn’t strictly true, but unless you are a driver who is very familiar with Southeast Asian driving and a good sense of direction in Cambodia, it is a very bad (and dangerous) idea to attempt to drive here. Road rules are virtually no existent, traffic is horrendous and other road users are aggressively and almost suicidal in their efforts to reach a gap. There are many better ways to get around including tuk-tuks, taxis and buses, so there really is no need to put yourself in that position.
6. It’s Increasingly Popular in Retirement
You might not think of it as a fantastic place to retire, but Cambodia placed 17th on 2017’s Annual Global Retirement Index thanks to its very low cost of living, range of entertainment and amenities, and simplicity of buying property. So if you’ve ever wanted to retire to somewhere warm with friendly people and amazing local cuisine, Cambodia could be an amazing choice.
The advantage of Cambodia’s beaches over those in Thailand are that they haven’t become as commercialised, so you can enjoy a quiet stay in a stunning location.
7. There are Two Currencies
Making purchases in Cambodia might sound a little complicated, as two currencies are readily accepted – the Khmer riel and the US dollar. It’s generally accepted that riel is used for smaller purchase, while US dollars are used for larger amounts. It’s best to get a mixture of both – you will inevitably end up with some of each currency anyway.
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