5 Useful Tips for Visiting Cambodia for the First Time
Cambodia is a beautiful country where millions of tourists go every year. The iconic Angkor Wat and the beauty of Siem Reap are what draws people in, and I am pretty sure that is why you go there as well. However, before you go, it is recommended that you do some research on Cambodian habits and important things to know which will make travelling here easier and help you to avoid any unpleasant surprises.
View our useful tips to make your trip to Cambodia as stress free as possible below.
1. Hit the ATM Before You Go
ATMs are not on every street corner like in other worldwide destinations and sometimes using ATM's in Cambodia can lead you to want to pull out your hair because every time you make a withdrawal the fees are pretty high. For example, recently an Australian tourist took out $200, from an ATM only to find out that he paid an $80 fee for the exchange.
That is too much, even for foreign banks, which is why we advise you to take out cash before you go. Of course, that raises other issues, like keeping your money safe, but you can control it better than ATM commissions. You should also take with you US dollars which are widely accepted throughout the country.
2. Getting Around
If group tours of Cambodia don't appeal to you travelling through Cambodia on public/private transport can be fairly easy. In most places you visit you will find car rides are more expensive than a tuk-tuk, and tuk-tuks are also quick and pretty safe. Your hotel may be sending one when you arrive, and most tourists use them to get around. It is a great solution.
However, more than two people with their luggage require two such vehicles. At the same time, a fare is usually around $2, $3 if you go longer distances, so if the driver bargains and wants more, just say that you will get another tuk-tuk. The price will come down on the spot.
3. Visit Temples in the Morning
Waking up early in the morning is not everyone’s favorite, but if you want to avoid the tourist crowds and possible heat stroke, you kind of have to. The temples are made of rock, and when they lay under the sun for a few hours, they become almost unbearable. That, together with the sun, will make you uncomfortable, which is why the best time to visit the temples is in the morning.
Most people do that, and so should you. Not to mention that the sun coming up over an ancient temple makes for magnificent scenery. You might want to check out our top advice for visiting Angkor Wat - one of the most famous and incredible temples in the world.
4. Don’t Fall for Scams
Cambodia may be a fascinating country, but there is a lot of poverty. Many tourists fall for beggars, and that is not a good thing. Thinking that you are doing a good deed is not helping anyone. Some beggars will throw the Baby milk scam at you instead of asking for money, they will hold up a baby bottle and ask for milk.
Many tourists fall for that and go with them at a grocery shop. The beggars will buy the most expensive formula, and they will bully you into buying multiple boxes. After you leave, they return the milk for cash. Just avoid beggars and never give them anything. It doesn’t do anyone any good.
5. Get Your Visa in Advance
Cambodia requires a visa to enter, except for a few visa-exempt nationalities. You can get an electronic visa if you are eligible. Many travelers do that to save time and money. All you need is a passport and a digital photo. Just apply online and you can have your visa in as little as 24 hours.
Cambodia is a beautiful country, but to enjoy the experience, you have some research to do. That way you ensure a lovely experience with no unpleasant surprises along the way.