Cambodia Travel Guide: When to Visit
1. Dry Season (November to April): The dry season, particularly from November to February, is often considered the best time to visit Cambodia. During these months, the weather is cooler and less humid, making it ideal for exploring outdoor attractions like the temples of Angkor Wat or taking leisurely strolls through the local markets. Daytime temperatures usually range from 68°F to 86°F (20°C to 30°C). This period also coincides with peak tourist season, so expect some crowded areas and slightly higher prices.
2. Rainy Season (May to October): The rainy season, also known as the monsoon season, brings daily downpours, often in the afternoon. While this may deter some travelers, visiting Cambodia during this time has its own unique charm. The rain breathes life into the landscapes, making them lush and vibrant, and the iconic temples take on a mystical quality amidst the mist and showers. Furthermore, this is when Cambodia is less crowded, and you might find more affordable accommodation and tour options.
Festivals and Events: Also, consider planning your trip around some of Cambodia’s famous festivals, such as the Khmer New Year in April or the Water Festival in November. These cultural events offer a unique insight into the nation’s traditions and are a spectacle in themselves.
Cambodia Travel Guide: How to Get There
Flying to Cambodia:
Flying is the most efficient and popular way to reach Cambodia from international destinations. The country’s major airports provide an excellent gateway for travelers. Here are some of the primary airports serving international visitors:
- Phnom Penh International Airport (PNH) – Phnom Penh: Located in the capital city, Phnom Penh, this airport offers extensive flight connections worldwide. It serves as the primary entry point to Cambodia. (Website: Phnom Penh International Airport)
- Siem Reap International Airport (REP) – Siem Reap: Situated near the iconic Angkor Wat, Siem Reap International Airport provides convenient access to this world-famous historical site. It offers both domestic and international flights. (Website: Siem Reap International Airport)
- Sihanoukville International Airport (KOS) – Sihanoukville: Serving the coastal regions, Sihanoukville International Airport connects travelers to Cambodia’s beautiful beaches. (Website: Sihanoukville International Airport)
Cambodia shares borders with Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos, and overland entry is possible via various border crossings. Here are the options for traveling by land:
- Bus Services:
- From Thailand:
- From Vietnam:
- From Laos:
- Private Vehicle: Travelers with their vehicles can enter Cambodia from neighboring countries, ensuring compliance with local regulations and obtaining the required permits.
While international train services are limited, Cambodia’s domestic train system offers a way to travel within the country. The Royal Railway operates the primary train services:
Please note that train services may be subject to changes and limited scheduling, so it is advisable to check the official website or contact a local travel agent for the most up-to-date information.
Though not as common, some cruise itineraries may include stops at Cambodian ports, particularly in Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh. Here are some operators that offer cruises involving Cambodia:
- Heritage Line: Offering luxury river cruises along the Mekong River, connecting Cambodia with Vietnam. Website
- Pandaw: Specializing in river cruise expeditions that explore Cambodia’s waterways. Website
- Avalon Waterways: Provides Mekong River cruises with stops in Cambodia. Website
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Cambodia Travel Guide: Getting Around
For those who prefer guided exploration and hassle-free travel, taking a tour can be an ideal way to see Cambodia’s highlights. Tours often include transportation, local guides, and carefully planned itineraries that allow you to experience the best of the country without worrying about logistics. Cambodia can be chaotic getting around so we opted for this for a few things.
I used GetYourGuide to book my tours. They offer a broad selection of tours and activities, ranging from day trips to multi-day adventures, all curated to provide authentic, safe and memorable experiences:
For those looking to travel quickly between major cities, domestic flights are available. Airlines offering domestic services include:
Buses and Minibuses:
Buses and minibuses are a popular way to travel between cities and provinces. Here are some reliable bus companies:
Taxis and Ride-Sharing Apps:
Taxis are available in major cities, and ride-sharing apps like PassApp are becoming increasingly popular:
Tuk-Tuks and Motorbike Taxis:
These are common and inexpensive ways to get around cities and towns. You can grab one off the street or use the app below. If you hail one from the street be sure to negotiate the price first and don’t fall for any tourist traps like visiting stores to buy stuff, etc.
While limited, trains provide a unique travel experience within Cambodia:
- Royal Railway is the rail provider in Cambodia. Check their website for schedules and prices.
Ferries and Boats:
Boats and ferries are used to reach some islands and to travel along the Mekong River:
Bicycles and Motorbikes Rentals:
Renting a bicycle or motorbike can be a flexible way to explore. Many hotels and local shops offer rentals.
For those who prefer to drive themselves, car rental services are available, though it is often recommended to hire a car with a local driver.
- Check the safety and quality of vehicles, especially for motorbike rentals.
- Driving on back roads especially at night can be dangerous so travel during the day.
- Consider local traffic laws, road conditions, and safety, particularly if self-driving.
Cambodia Travel Tips
- Visa Requirements: Most travelers will need a visa, which can be obtained on arrival or online via the Cambodia e-Visa website.
- Local Currency: The Cambodian Riel (KHR) is the local currency, but the US Dollar (USD) is widely accepted. Carry small denominations of both.
- Weather Considerations: Plan for the climate, as Cambodia has a tropical monsoon season (May to October) and a dry season (November to April).
- Health Precautions: Consider vaccinations, malaria prevention, and carry essential medicines. Consult with a travel health professional before departure.
- Stay Hydrated: Drink bottled or treated water, as tap water may not be safe.
- Local Etiquette: Dress modestly, especially at religious sites, and remove shoes when entering temples or homes.
- Language: Khmer is the official language. Learn basic phrases or carry a language guide, although English is commonly understood in tourist areas.
- Negotiate Taxis and Tuk-Tuks: Agree on a price before starting a journey with taxis and tuk-tuks.
- Street Food: Try local food but use caution. Eat at busy stalls with freshly cooked food to minimize the risk of foodborne illnesses.
- Beware of Scams: Be alert for common tourist scams, such as fake monks requesting donations.
- Respect Cultural Heritage: Don’t touch or climb on ancient monuments, especially at Angkor Wat.
- Travel Insurance: Purchase comprehensive travel insurance to cover unexpected medical expenses and other emergencies.
- Phone and Internet: Local SIM cards are readily available and affordable for mobile data.
- Electricity: Cambodia uses a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz. Carry a universal plug adapter if your devices have different plug types.
Cambodia Travel Guide: Typical Costs
- Budget: Budget accommodations in Cambodia, such as hostels and guesthouses, generally range from $5 to $20 per night. You can find these options in major cities like Phnom Penh and popular tourist destinations like Siem Reap.
- Mid-Range: Mid-range hotels and lodges typically cost between $20 and $70 per night. This range includes comfortable rooms with private bathrooms, Wi-Fi, and sometimes breakfast.
- Luxury: Luxury hotels and upscale resorts in Cambodia can range from $80 to $300+ per night. High-end accommodations offer exquisite rooms, top-notch facilities, and unique experiences like boutique hotels in scenic locations.
- Budget: Cambodian street food and local eateries offer meals ranging from $1 to $3 per dish. Enjoy traditional foods like Amok, Lok Lak, or Kuy Teav at budget-friendly prices.
- Mid-Range: A meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost between $5 and $15 per person. This range includes restaurants serving a mix of Cambodian and international cuisine.
- Luxury: Fine dining experiences in upscale restaurants may cost $20-$50+ per person. This allows you to savor gourmet dishes and international cuisine with premium service.
- Public Transportation: Tuk-tuks and motodops (motorbike taxis) are popular in Cambodia, with fares starting around $1 for short rides within cities.
- Domestic Flights: One-way flights between cities like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap range from $30 to $100, depending on how far in advance you book.
- Taxis and Ride-Sharing: Taxis and ride-hailing apps are available, with short rides within cities costing around $2-8. Always negotiate or agree on the fare in advance.
- Temples and Historical Sites: Entrance fees for Cambodian temples like Angkor Wat range from $20 to $40 for non-residents. A multi-day pass to explore the Angkor complex may also be available.
- Cultural Experiences: Visiting local markets, museums, and participating in cultural experiences can range from $5 to $20 per person.
- Beach Resorts: Access to beach areas like Sihanoukville and Kep may vary, with some public beaches being free and private beach resorts having day-pass fees ranging from $5 to $15.