Cambodia sets itself apart from the rest of Southeast Asia with an altogether less refined, but no less spectacular experience. If you want growing cities, stunning lost temples, and a unique and welcoming culture…you’ve come to the right place! Check out our Cambodia Travel Guide and start planning your trip today!
When is the best time to visit Cambodia?
Cambodia can get very hot and humid, so the ideal time to visit is generally November to March when it’s a bit cooler. April and May are uncomfortably hot, while September and October can be very wet. Finally, July and August are decent times to visit, though you should be prepared for humid weather.
Where is Cambodia?
Cambodia is one of six countries that are found on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. Located in the south of the peninsula, it borders Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and the Gulf of Thailand.
How do I get around Cambodia?
Buses are the main form of public transportation and will get you between most cities and towns. The roads have also been improved over the years, and renting your own car is an option – though many parts of the country remain quite dangerous to drive in. Finally, there are still some boat paths between major cities that provide a unique way of seeing the country.
Language in Cambodia
The official language in Cambodia is Khmer, though it is not the only language spoken. French remains prevalent (especially among older Cambodians), however English has recently surpassed it as the primary foreign language in the last couple decades. Though some Khmer phrases wouldn’t hurt, you should be fine with English especially in major cities.
Cambodia Travel Destinations
It might be the images of forgotten temples that draw you to Cambodia, but the chaotic capital, Phnom Penh, may just be the one you come back to next time! A century of French rule turned Cambodia’s largest city into a beautiful collection of classic Southeast Asian architecture and European architecture. Though the conflicts of the last several decades have left a scar on Phnom Penh, reminders of the past still poke through. Today it’s the atmosphere that draws visitors from all over. If you can live with the fast paced, almost chaotic nature of the hustle and bustle of people and cars you’ll find a stunning collection of cafés, restaurants, and cultural sights aplenty. There’s no better place to get a taste for the Cambodia of the last 10 years than in Phnom Penh.
Odds are that it was the spires of Angkor Wat that convinced you to come to Cambodia – and it’s pretty easy to see why! Once the capital of the vast Khmer Empire, Angkor was one of the old world’s most impressive cities (possibly even the world’s largest in the 12th century). While the days of the Khmer Empire and their god-king are long gone, Angkor remains. The complex is undoubtedly one of the world’s most renowned ancient cities on par with, if not surpassing, Machu Picchu. There is truly no place like it on earth, and it’s a must-see for both history buffs and casual travellers alike.
Even though Angkor is worth a trip all by itself, you can add in one of Cambodia’s most exciting and best cities as well. The resort town of Siem Reap has exploded into one of Cambodia’s marquee tourist destinations, thanks in part to nearby Angkor. However there is more than enough to hold your interest inside the city limits as well. With the increasingly lucrative tourism industry only growing, Siem Reap has turned itself into a cutting edge collection of hotels, backpacker hostels, amazing food, and so much more.
So we’ve covered temples and cities, but what else does Cambodia offer? Well if you make it down to the south coast, you might discover that the answer is fantastic tropical beaches. The best place to get all the sand, sun, and salt water you crave is the resort of Sihanoukville – the most popular of its kind on the Cambodian coast.
Sihanoukville may not be the most picturesque city in the world, but let’s face it, that’s not what you’re here for. You’ll find a wide array of amenities ranging from rustic huts to 5-star hotels (the former of which is especially popular with backpackers the world over). All in all, Sihanoukville is a great change of pace after the inland cities.
The massive Mekong River is one of Southeast Asia’s most important and impressive natural sights, so the town of Kratie was always going to be a strong contender for this list. This sleepy town on the banks of the river may not look like much, but it does have one very specific claim to fame…dolphins. If that’s what you were expecting us to say, congratulations (because it sure surprised us). The rare Irrawaddy dolphins make their home around Kratie, far from their sea swimming brethren. It doesn’t hurt that the town itself features some great French colonial architecture in the marketplace.
Translated as ‘meeting of the hills’ the Eastern province of Mondulkiri shows off yet another side of Cambodia. It may not equal the massive mountains found elsewhere in Asia, but this beautiful and remote land of rolling hills captures the imagination all the same. It’s a world apart from the exploding Phnom Penh, with the people holding onto their way of life in traditional villages. Oh, did we mention that you will also find elephants aplenty?
Flights to Cambodia
Your most likely destination for a flight will be the capital, Phnom Penh. Round trip flights from Pearson start at about the $1500 Canadian mark, though there is variation. Overall, this isn’t bad considering the length of the trip and comparable prices in the region. You should also be aware that Canadian and American visitors will need to buy a US$30 tourist Visa upon arrival at the airport (good for 1 month).
How much does it cost to visit Cambodia? ($)
First off, the de facto currency of Cambodia is the US dollar so it shouldn’t be hard to get the required cash. As far as prices in Cambodia go, it’s pretty darn cheap. Expect to spend about $42 Canadian a day with a budget of $14 for accommodation and $15 for food. Thrifty travellers could drive the costs down to a minuscule $16 a day while trying to recapture the lost legacy of Angkor’s god-king is likely to set you back $115 a day.
Is Cambodia safe?
While there is no nationwide advisory for Cambodia according to the Canadian government, a high degree of caution is recommended due to thefts and other petty crime. Street crime that targets foreigners does happen in major cities and tourist areas, so you should always be aware of your surroundings. You should also avoid any demonstrations or protests, as they can turn violent. Be very careful around the Thai-Cambodian border due to security concerns and unexploded landmines (which are a prevailing concern throughout certain parts of the country).
Though roads have improved over the years, many remain in poor condition and driving practices can be extremely dangerous. Make sure you only travel during daylight if you do plan on driving.
For more on travel safety, check out the Canadian Travel Advisory for Cambodia.
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