There are a few interesting facts about Cambodia you should consider before traveling to this beautiful country.
You’re planning a trip to Cambodia? What do you already know about the country? What’s the Cambodian currency? What’s the food like and how does the internet connection work over in Cambodia? How safe is Cambodia for tourists and travelers? Let’s explore those areas, check out interesting facts about Cambodia you should know before you start your adventure.
About the weather…
It’s important to know what kind of weather is expecting you. The temperature itself doesn’t change as much in between the two seasons, the wet and dry season. You’ll be sweating buckets regardless of the time and date.
The temperature in Cambodia in on average between 24°C-26°C, which is considered as cool for Cambodia (but far from chilly). The humidity is at its highest during March and April whilst the coolest months of the year tend to be between October and December.
The real deal is the difference between the dry and the wet season.
The wet season in Cambodia roughly runs from May to October. If you’re visiting Cambodia in that period you’ll get drenched no matter what. The amazing thing is, it won’t be cold. The temperature will never go below 20 degree, no matter which month you are taking a trip to Cambodia. Is there anything more amazing than taking a walk in a hot summer rain?
Other than getting soaking wet, you might experience some flooding. Since most of the roads are dirt, floods will make transportation a little bit of a struggle. You’ll still get where you want to be, but it’ll just take longer and the ride won’t be as comfortable.
The dry season runs from October to April and speaks for itself. The highest temperature which you can experience in Cambodia reaches it’s peak in April and it can be up to 35 degree. That might still sound all right, but let me tell you, the air will be super dry and the humidity is very, very low. It’s more enjoyable if you explore the ruins of ancient civilizations on a Tuk-Tuk, rather than on a push bike.
Some people think it’s better to go on a Cambodia trip during wet season. All of the dust has washed away, there are no unbearable temperatures and it’s way less crowded.
WiFi in Cambodia
WiFi in Cambodia is pretty common. But, unless you’re in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, don’t expect a new public hotspot every 50 meters.
As for mobile internet, you’re better off buying a new SIM card at the airport. Metfone is the largest telecom company in Cambodia, expect them to be a bit more expensive than others. Be on the lookout for promotional packages.
What’s the Cambodian currency?
The Cambodian currency is called Riel. You can pay with American dollars, the ATMs dispense it and everyone accepts it.
The Riel – the official Cambodian currency is a non convertable currency and so best not to get stuck with any when you leave. You really won’t need any more Riel than you will get in small change when using $ in transactions.
When paying in $, make sure that the bill is in an impeccable state. Even the smallest tear is reason enough for them to declare it as ‘worthless’. Also when you get your change from a shopkeeper, check the bill first because they might just give you a worthless (in Cambodia at least) 5 dollar bill.
Visa to enter Cambodia
You don’t need to apply for a visa from outside the country, you can just get the visa on arrival once you get into Cambodia. All you need is a passport sized photograph (4.8 cm X 3.8 cm) of yourself and a US$20 bill. Please make sure your passport validity has at least 6 months.
You can obtain the visa on arrival for Cambodia at the two airports in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh as well as at the immigration office right in Poipet, should you be crossing the border from Thailand. (Note: Poipet is a casino town right at the boarder and well know for its scams. AVOID if you can! Read up more on the scams here.)
Culture and Etiquette!
Cambodians love their clean houses, so make sure you remove your shoes before entering anyones home.
It’s also considered disrespectful and rude to point your feet or soles at people or or sacred things (such as a picture of Buddha). So, the feet must be tucked in when sitting.
Should you meet elderly people and/or monks, make sure you take off your hat and bow your head politely. Never touch a Cambodian’s head, it’s seen as the most sacred part of the body.
Discovering Cambodian food
As you might have expected, the Cambodian cuisine is ridiculously rice-heavy. They eat it in the morning, in the evening, as their main course or even as a snack on the side. Just about everything is prepared with rice.
Cambodian food shares a lot of similarities with the neighbouring Thai and Vietnamese kitchen. Which means it’s fresh, uses a lot of spices and fish. So prepare for a lot of rice, and I do mean A LOT. There are several workshops in the cities which helps you discovering the food and teaches you how to cook in true Khmer fashion, which are really worth checking out.
Check out the weirdest 8 Cambodian dishes here.
Cambodia’s biggest income source has been the textile industry since many years, followed by the tourism industry. That’s why it became so important over the last years for the locals to learn English in order to be able to communicate with tourists and travelers.
Some local kids go and take English classes at local schools around the area which are sponsored by a few charities, as their parents can’t afford to send them to public school. If you would like to teach English in Cambodia, please read more about the opportunity here.
While Cambodia doesn’t necessarily have the reputation of being crime-ridden, some precaution might not be a bad idea. You won’t get stabbed in the middle of the day (or night for that matter), but you should keep a close eye on your belongings.
There have been an increasing number of reports on theft crimes and people trying to make a few extra dollars by conning travelers. Be aware of your surroundings, don’t walk in back alleys by yourself in the middle of the night and don’t just accept free drinks from strangers. This isn’t rocket science. This is pretty basic stuff. Stuff that you should actually do in your own neighbourhoods.
Do you know more interesting facts about Cambodia? Please let us know in the comment section below.
Find out more about our Cambodia tours here.