Cambodia Travel, Backpacking & Gap Year Guide
Cambodia is one of the most incredible countries to visit in Asia with world famous temples, beautiful beaches and stunning islands. Get information, advice and inspiration for the best things to do if you would like to travel, go backpacking or take a gap year in Cambodia.
Cambodia Travel Ideas, Backpacking Trips & Gap Year Programs
Travel to Cambodia
Cambodia is a nation that's very much looking to the future, this destination is perhaps best known for stunning temples of Angkor. These ruins are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and somewhere you must visit once in your life.
Our Cambodia destination guide aims to give you all the information you need to have an amazing experience in this amazing country. Find affordable travel and backpacking ideas with advice for amazing things to do and how you can be more than just your average traveller. You can also get advice on places to stay and how visit Cambodia on a budget.
Get inspired to visit Cambodia today!
- Capital: Phnom Penh (population 2,900,000 approx)
- Currency: Khmer Reil (KHR) + US Dollar
- International Calling Code: +855
- Area: 182,000 km2
- Population: 15,000,000 (approx)
- Language: Khmer + French + English
- Religion: Majority Buddhism + Christian + Muslim
Top Reasons to Visit Cambodia
- Incredible sights like Angkor Wat
- Some of the tastiest cuisine in Asia
- Beautiful beaches and islands on the south coast
- One of the cheapest destinations in Asia especially compared to Thailand and Vietnam
- Expect fine dining, sidewalk noodle shops, local pubs, discos and much more so it might not be the culture shock you might expect
- Make new friends with people from all over the world, this is one of the most popular volunteer abroad destinations in the world
- See world famous sights in your spare time
- Meet and help some of the friendliest people in the world
Visa & Entry Requirements
You can gain a tourist visa on arrival by land and air into Cambodia. This costs $20 and will allow you to stay and travel in Cambodia for up to 30 days. With some border crossing it can be easier to get your visa before arriving, sometimes overcharging and some problems occur. You can extend both a tourist or business visa, you will need to pay a fee to do this though. For just your average trip or holiday the initial 30 day visa should be enough time to see this country.
Weather & Best Time to Visit Cambodia
Cambodia is an all year round destination, even in wet season. A popular choice and one we would recommend is to visit during November, December and January when it is warm but there is usually a cooling breeze. Most probably you will visit Cambodia and it will either be hot, or rainy.
Cambodia has a dry and warm season from November to May, expect intense heat and sunny days during March and April so it is best to head to places like Kep and Sihanoukville for the beaches. During May - September you can expect a lot of rain, this is when over 75% of Cambodia's year rain falls. This can make travelling difficult due to the terrible conditions of the roads but you can expect to complete most journeys, just leave extra time in your schedule.
How to Get to Cambodia
Travellers heading to Cambodia usually arrive at the bustling, sprawling capital, Phnom Penh by air or by crossing a border from Thailand or Vietnam. Most international visitors arrive via international flight into Bangkok (the capital of Thailand) and then catch a public/private bus over the border to Siem Reap which takes around 5 hours.
There are three main airports in Cambodia in Phnom Penh, Siem Riep and Silhanoukville. You can't currently get direct flights from the UK to Cambodia, you will need to transfer sometimes even twice.
Airlines which do fly into Cambodia from international destinations include: Cambodia Angkor Air, All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, China Eastern, China Southern, EVA Air, Korean Air, Emirates, Vietnam Airlines, Qatar Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways and Qantas.
Travelling& Backpacking in Cambodia
If you are thinking about going travelling in Asia then Cambodia needs to be at the top of your list of places to visit. With world famous temples, beaches, islands and great value for money this is one of the best places to visit. Find affordable trips and amazing programs on our directory.
Gap Year in Cambodia
Top things to do when on a gap year in Cambodia include exploring Siem Reap and visiting Angkor Wat, sampling a Khmer curry, relaxing in Sihanoukville and discovering Phnom Penh.
Siem Riep is a very pleasant place to visit, you can visit local markets or you might want to take a boat trip on the Tonlé Sap river, seeing a local fishermen village and learn more about the Khmer empire former capital. The temples of Angkor are some of the best ruins to visit in the world and you will be left amazed by the amount of temples and the condition of them.
Our Cambodia travel experiences and gap year programs allow you to explore the country like a local and do more than your average traveller.
There are cheap hotels, hostels and guest houses located throughout the country. Cambodia is definately one of the cheaper destinations for places to stay in Asia especially compared to nearby destinations like Thailand, Malaysia and China. Book in advance to get the best rates. View our guide to the best hostels in Cambodia.
Religion & Buddhism in Cambodia
The national religion of Cambodia has changed from the 13th century from Mahayna Buddhism to a form of Theravada Buddhism. There was a small period, during Khmer Rouge era, where the national religion was Hinduism, but it quickly reverted back when this period ended.
In modern day Cambodia, Buddhist monks are not central to village life as they once were, although the annual festivals celebrated throughout the country are still in keeping with Buddhist observances. The younger monks are today faced with influences from the Western world and as a result they are either leaving the faith or not joining at all.
Despite this, at least 90% of the Cambodian population follow the Buddhist teachings and from an outsider’s perspective they appear to be active believers. Outside almost every house is a shrine with offerings of food and incense burning; these shrines are not only to Buddha, but to the elephant god Ganesha.
Budget & General Costs
You will get value for money, this is one of the cheapest countries to visit in Asia and there are lots of ways to live on a budget and save as much money as possible. You can use US dollars and also the local currency - Reil. You can get around 7,500 Reil to £1 (4,000 Reil is around $1). In Siem Riep and Phnom Penh you can withdraw US dollars which is quite handy. If you are wondering how much money you will need for Cambodia this will depend on what type of experience you are looking for - the more you spend the better level of luxury you will enjoy. You should be able to easily get by on around £10 per day ($15) which includes food and accommodation.
Food & Drink
Optional extras might cost more for example eating out at an expensive restaurant or joining an excursion. Local transport in Cambodia is quite easy to use and very cheap. Food, like most things in Cambodia is very cheap. If you eat street food we don't think you will spend more than £1 - £2. You can get a good meal in a restaurant for around £2 - £6. Drinking alcohol is likely to be your biggest expenditure, drinks are cheap but it all adds up, sometimes you can end up spending more on drinks than on accommodation. Try to buy fruit and vegetables in local markets, this is where you will get the best deals.
Health & Safety
Despite a brutal history Cambodia is one of the safest countries to visit in Asia. Pack sensibly and remember you will have to carry what you take, its always best to pack light and leave space to buy things whilst abroad. Try to think is it worth carrying heavy hair straighteners or lots of pairs of jeans.
Sometimes taking a suitcase to Cambodia can be better than a backpack but this comes down to personal preference. You might want to buy a money belt or have shorts or trousers with zip pocket where you can safely keep belongings, carrying everything in a handbag can cause problems like if you lose it or it gets stolen.
Some essential items we think you shouldn't depart without include tissues, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, female sanitary products and a phone so you can keep in contact with home. Malaria is a problem is rural areas of the country. Also try to get the phone number and address of your embassy in the destination you are going to be travelling to, keep a copy on you and on your e-mail so if anything happens like losing your passport you can seek help.