Cambodia is a nation that engages travelers on a number of levels. You can learn the art of tranquility from a saffron-robed monk, and then practice it on a sandy beach. You can see the temples that have been ruins for centuries, or those like Angkor Wat that stand tall today. You can see fields that speak to a haunting history, or visit a village without ever leaving your boat. Cambodia tours offer the rare opportunity to see a country that is steeped in tradition but still firmly modern.
Watch the Angkor Wat sunrise
Angor, located in the province of Siem Reap, is one of the most important archeological sites in all of Asia. It is the site of a number of Cambodian temples, the most stunning and important of which is the Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat is notable not only for its historical significance, but also for its aesthetic beauty. Initial design for the temple began in the first half of the 12th century, under the reign of Suryavarman II. Built as a place of worship for the king, it still bears many of those regal elements. It is particularly noted for the harmony of its design, which incorporates sandstone and laterite into beautiful towers shaped like lotus buds.
Watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat, and the dawn spread its rosy fingers between the axial galleries, is one of the quintessential Cambodian experiences.
Sail to the floating village of Kompong Khleang
If you take a tour to Cambodia during the dry season, the houses in the floating village of Kompong Khleang, which rise up to 10 meters in the air on giant stilts, may seem quaint or even surprising. During the wet season, their brilliance is revealed, as the water level rises within one or two meters of the buildings, which are kept dry only through the creativity of their architecture.
Roughly 35 miles east of the city of Siem Reap, Kompong Khleang is a permanent community dotted onto the flood plain of the Tonle Sap Lake, the largest of its kind. The lake isn’t simply an architectural hurdle for its residents, it informs their way of life - the economy is largely based around fishing, and many social activities are centered around the water. Reaching the city requires a boat trip for visitors, and many of the main villages can not be accessed at all during the dry season.
Explore Phnom Penh on a tuk-tuk
Traveling through Phnom Penh is an enlightening experience, equal parts enthralling and sobering. The capital and most populous city in the country, it is also the cultural hub, and was once known as the “Pearl of Asia.” However, it was also the home to one of the worst tragedies the world has ever seen. The Phnom Penh killing fields are a testament to the brutality of the Khmer Rouge, the horrors of the country’s civil war and the ultimate price of armed conflict.
Navigating Phnom Penh is best done via tuk-tuk, the affectionate name locals give to auto rickshaws. The people of Phnom Penh are friendly and accommodating, and place a strong value on gathering and commemoration, especially for one’s ancestors. Travel to see the stunning local architecture, take part in the annual Water Festival, and reminisce about those that were lost at the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.
Soak up the Sihanoukville sun
White sand, luxury beach resorts and low-key charm are the big draws of Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s premier destination for those interested in some sun and relaxation. Part of its allure is that it was constructed very deliberately - it was carved out of dense jungle to create the nation’s first and only deep water port, a move that meant that trade no longer had to go through Vietnam.
Head out to the relaxed Otres Beach, which provides a chance to just lie back on the sand, enjoy the sun and gaze out over the water.
Explore the south gate of Angkor Thom
As the last capital of the Khmer empire, Angkor Thom has a fascinating and rich history. Established in the late 12th century, it lasted for hundreds of years and was one of the most dazzling cities of its time. Perhaps the most impressive thing about it is the scale - despite being constructed nearly a millennium ago, those who built it displayed a facility with architecture that far exceeded the period. It is designed to be a microcosm of the universe itself, divided into four sections along the main axes, with the stunning temple of Bayon at the center. The entire city is enclosed in a wall, representing the edges of the universe, and then surrounded by a moat, now dry, which was meant to symbolize the cosmic ocean.
Visitors can walk around the city, seeing artifacts as they were seen by the people who built them hundreds of years ago. The various temples around the Angkor Thom provide clues into the way people worshipped in the past, and are noteworthy objects of great beauty in their own right.
American and Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months beyond the intended return date in order to enter and depart the country. Please ensure that the name on your passport matches all travel documents we have issued. If this is not the case, please contact us immediately.
Please make a photocopy of your passport’s identification page and keep it separate from your original. It’s also a good idea to leave a digital copy with someone at home. This may speed up the replacement process should you lose your passport.
Both Canadian and American citizens need a visa to enter Cambodia.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched a new official website for Cambodian e-Visa, www.evisa.gov.kh, in lieu of the current website, https://evisa.mfaic.gov.kh. However, tourists can still apply for the Cambodia e-Visa through the URL of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, www.mfaic.gov.kh.
You may also secure your visa on arrival and for this you will need to bring along 2 passport size photos. The cost locally is $30 USD.
You may also apply for a visa at the Cambodian embassy within your country.
For more visa information please visit:
Cancelation and Medical Insurance is highly recommended as it can safeguard against the expenses associated with in-country medical emergencies, lost or delayed baggage and emergency cancelation or interruption of your trip. Please ensure your policy will provide you with upfront medical coverage so that you are not responsible for a hefty doctor’s bill while away. Insurance can be purchased through us.
No vaccinations are required to enter Cambodia.
It is advised to consult a travel doctor 4-6 weeks before departure in regards to the recommended vaccinations below:
For all vaccinations and health requirements, you can also refer to the recommendations from:
World Health Organization (WHO): http://www.who.int and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) http://wwwnc.cdc.gov.
If there are any medical items essential to your health, such as prescription drugs or corrective eye wear, bring duplicates and divide them between your checked bags and hand luggage . It is also advised to take iodine tablets to purify water if bottled water is not available. It is also strongly advised to take over-the-counter diarrhea medication. While non-prescription drugs such as aspirin are generally available, it is difficult to replace prescription items.
Other recommended Items:
Being located in the tropical zone north of the equator, Cambodia has a monsoon climate. Monsoon season runs May - November, meaning that the most pleasant season for visitors is generally the dry season, stretching from November/December - April. Immediately after the monsoon, the blanketing green of the countryside can be stunningly beautiful.
In the north, winters are generally colder, while throughout most of the country temperatures remain fairly constant. The average year-round temperature in Cambodia is 27.7C (the highest monthly average being 35C, the lowest monthly average being 21C). There is often seasonal flooding in Phnom Penh and the rest of Cambodia in late July and early August, and, because the majority of roads are dirt, travel may be disrupted at these times. At the peak of the wet season it can rain as often as two in every three days.
For up-to-date forecasts, check www.weather.com.
Loose, natural fabrics all year are recommended, it is essential to bring waterproofs if traveling in the monsoon season. As a rule shoulders and knees should be covered when entering religious sites.
FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS: Video camera, camera with zoom lens in a dust-resistant case, sufficient memory cards, a spare camera battery and charger. Photography is not allowed in certain religious buildings, especially temples. So be sure to ask permission before you take a photo.
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Two-pin plugs are in use. Power cuts are frequent throughout the air, but more so in summer time. Most North American bought electronics will work with 110-230V, but be sure to check before departing in case you need a converter. Do not use 110V outlets marked ‘FOR SHAVERS ONLY’ for anything else as they will not work and may even get damaged.
Phone: Roaming charges vary between carriers, but tend to be quite costly. Consult your phone provider prior to departure to discuss overseas rates and international package options.
Internet Internet access is available in all but the most remote towns. Internet cafes are available in most tourist spots and rates are fairly cheap, ranging from 2,000-10,000 dong per hour. Connection speeds are high, especially in the big cities. Many hotels and restaurants provide free Wi-Fi or terminals for their guests. If you bring your own phone and/or laptop, several providers offer mobile internet services (EDGE/3G) services as well.
The Cambodian riel and US dollar are both official currencies, with riel only used for small transactions (i.e. below $5). US coins are not used in Cambodia. ATMs will generally only dispense US dollars though some are loaded with both currencies. For current exchange rates please visit www.xe.com
Capital: Phnom Penh
Language: Khmer (French and English are also spoken)
Currency: US Dollar & Cambodian Riel
Time Zone: GMT/UTC +7
Electricity: 230V AC
Calling North America: 001
Emergency numbers in Cambodia: Police 117, Fire 119, Ambulance 119