Cambodia – Travel Tips

What a terrible time the wonderful Khmer people have had in the last 50 or more years. Now these lovely people are looking at tourism to help them put things right again, and with Angkor Wat they have a good start.

head of a granite statue at Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia
statue of an apsaras at Angkor Wat in Cambodia
statue with the lidded eyes of wisdom at Angkor Wat in Cambodia

GEOGRAPHY and POPULATION:

Cambodia covers just over 181,000 sq Km. most of which is covered by green jungle. It has a population of approximately 12 million of which the vast majority are Khmer.

POLITICS:

After all the horror years Cambodia is now a constitutional monarchy with regular elections.

RELIGION:

The vast majority of Khmer people are Buddhist.

CAPITAL:

The capital of Cambodia is Phnom Penh with a population around one million. Although things are improving all the time many parts of the city still have unpaved roads meaning it can get dusty or muddy at times, but with its old French architecture and wonderful riverside restaurants it has real charm too. With many great attractions boredom certainly won’t be a problem in Phnom Penh.

CLIMATE:

Hot and hotter is the way to think.

HOT: All year round.

HOTTER: April/ May/ June.

WETTEST: July/ Aug/ Sep/ Oct.

DRIEST: Dec/ Jan/ Feb.

FOOD:

Khmer food is similar to Thai but usually not as spicy and with nowhere near the same variety.

Grilled fresh water fish is a local favourite.

MONEY:

The currency is called RIEL.

Like Laos the Thai Baht and U.S. dollar are accepted in daily use but with the change usually given in Riel.

SHOPPING:

Similar to Laos with not as much choice as some of its neighbours. The fascinating markets, especially in the capital, will have something you want for certain.

MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS:

(our opinion out of 10).

Friendly culture. 10.

Food: 7.

Siem Reap, Angkor Wat. 11 at least.

Phnom Penh. 10.

Killing fields. 0.

Tuol Sleng prison. 0.

Beaches. 9.

Shopping: 7.

Scenery.9.

TRAVEL TIPS:

Always pack light. The only complaint we have, and even that’s changing fast, are the poor road conditions in some places.

Our first trip from Bangkok to Siem Reap in 2000 took 16 hours and in the back of a four-wheel drive pickup, on roads that looked like a moonscape, from the border to Siem Reap. We recently did it all in eight hours in a modern Toyota taxi from the border to Siem Reap. So if the roads are your only complaint after everything you see you wont really have any complaints at all.

Fabulous people in a fabulous new destination.