Travel Tips

Health and Safety

Please be aware that your health can be at risk in Cambodia due to poor sanitation and lack of proper medical facilities. Rural areas have few, if any, pharmacies and hospitals so make sure you travel with a full supply of any prescribed medicine you take.  If you need medical assistance, we recommend Royal Angkor International Hospital in Siem Reap, (t: 063761888) and International SOS Medical & Dental Clinic in Phnom Penh (t: 023216911). Each traveller is responsible for his or her own health. First and foremost, make sure that you have travel insurance for your trip. You should also consult your doctor or local travel clinic for the latest information and advice on travelling to Cambodia before departure.

Please note:If you have a medical condition or allergy which requires particular attention, carry a doctor’s letter with you that describes the nature of the condition and treatment needed. We also recommend you pack a medical kit, including paracetamol and a diarrhoea remedy.

Vaccinations

There are many vaccinations needed when travelling to this part of the world. It is important you ensure you have adequate protection against disease.  Book an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic, no less than two months before your departure. 

Travel insurance (compulsory)

Passage To Cambodia does everything possible to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. However, travel inevitably involves some risk and this should be recognised by holiday-makers. Travel insurance is a cost effective way of protecting yourself and your equipment should any problems occur such as cancelled trips, delays, medical emergencies, baggage loss or damage. It also gives you peace of mind. Please also ensure your travel insurance covers all activities planned on your trip.

Culture & Customs

Etiquette and cultural differences

Experiencing different cultures is one of the joys of travelling and it is important that these differences are respected. Cambodia has cultural norms and taboos which we encourage visitors to understand and abide by.

  • Try not to get angry.  Showing any frustrations or annoyances by shouting or becoming abusive is extremely impolite and it is unlikely to achieve a positive outcome. The Khmer’s don’t like to ‘lose face’.
  • Refrain from public displays of affection, they are considered offensive. It is extremely rare to see couples holding hands. However, it is quite common for friends of the same sex.
  • It is polite to remove your shoes before entering a house – look for shoes at the front door as a clue.
  • Cambodians greet each other with a slight bow and a prayer-like gesture, with the younger or lower-ranked person usually initiating the gesture. For foreigners and business, handshakes are acceptable.

Temple visit etiquette

Foreigners are always welcome in temples. However, it is important that a few simple rules of etiquette are followed:

  • Dress appropriately and act with the utmost respect when visiting Wats (pagodas) and other religious sites, including the temples of Angkor.
  • Do not wear shorts or tank tops and make sure your shoulders and knees are covered.
  • Remove your shoes and hat before going into a vihara (monastery).
  • If you sit down in front of the dais (the platform on which the Buddha’s are placed), sit with your feet to the side rather than in the lotus position.
  • Never point your finger or the soles of your feet towards a person or a figure of the Buddha.
  • A woman may accept something from a monk but should never touch a monk.
  • Show respect and turn off mobile phones, remove headphones, lower your voice and avoid in appropriate conversation.

Please note: The central tower of Angkor Wat is closed to visitors on Buddhist holidays.

Food and drink

It is not advisable to drink tap water in Cambodia. Bottled water is cheap and widely available.

Khmer cuisine, considered one of the healthiest in the world, has much in common with the food of neighbouring Thailand, although it is generally not as spicy. It is also similar to Vietnamese food, due to its shared colonial French history. The most well-known Cambodian dish is amok. Amok is a coconut based curry traditionally cooked with fish, however it is not uncommon to have it with chicken.

Public holidays

There are many religious public holidays in Cambodia. The main one is the Khmer New Year which takes place from 14 to 16 Aprilevery year.  The celebrations usually go on for about a week. The second biggest is Pchum Ben. This national holiday was established for Buddhists to pay their respects to deceased relatives. It is also known as Ancestor's Day, and usually celebrated in September or October.

Helpful tips

Donations and gift giving

Cambodia is a very poor country with little in the way of social services and you are likely to see poverty.  Please read the following advice about donations and gift giving.

  • Do not give money to people begging, especially children. This reinforces the belief that begging is an acceptable way to make a living.   If children make money from begging, their parents are less likely to send them to school.  Children working on the streets are also vulnerable to abuse.
  • Giving money and goodsto beggars can accentuate an unequal relationship between locals and visitors, with tourists being seen as purely money givers.
  • Do not give sweets to children in villages that we visit.
  • Do not feel that you necessarily have to give material things. Sometimes, giving your friendship, time and interest to locals can be the best gift of all.
  • For more information go to www.thinkchildsafe.org

Tipping

Tipping is a personal matter and travellers are encouraged to tip any amount they feel is appropriate. For your convenience, we have included a suggested tipping guide below:

Bellboy: $1
Chambermaid: $1 per day
Guides: $5-$10 per day for guides (depending on group size and performance)
Drivers: $2-$5 per day, per person
Restaurants: In smart establishments you may find that the tip is already included in the bill. In local restaurants tips are not expected but you may wish to leave loose change on the table. 

Price guide

Restaurants

Khmer food: from $5
Western food: from $7

Drinks

Soft drinks: $2.50
Local beer: $3.50
Bottled water: Small $1.50, large $2.50
Juice: $2.50
Other Items

SIM card: $3
Books: $10-$15
DVDs: $2.50- $3
Useful websites:

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice on travelling to Cambodia:
http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travel-and-living-abroad/travel-advice-by-country/asia-oceania/cambodia

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advice on travelling to Cambodia:  http://www.dfat.gov.au/geo/cambodia/index.html

The official tourism website for Cambodia:
http://www.tourismcambodia.org/

Pre-departure checklist

Travel insurance
Passport with at least six months validity from date of entry
Photocopy of passport
Visa or a passport photo and US$30 for visa on arrival
Vaccinations
Foreign currency (US$) and/or ATM card
All relevant tickets
Reconfirmed flights
Lightweight clothing
Long-sleeved shirts and trousers (recommended for evenings)
Electrical adaptor: 220V, 50Hz; 2 pin plugs
A small bag/backpack for day and overnight trips
Appropriate shoes for trekking, cycling and walking
Insect repellent
Sunscreen
Medication/first aid kit
Please note: Domestic airlines impose baggage weight restrictions of around 20kg maximum, so travel lightly where possible.