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Cambodia

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Borei Angkor Resort & Spa
Borei Angkor Resort & Spa - dream vacation

#0369 National Highway 6, Siem Reap

Royal Crown Hotel And Spa
Royal Crown Hotel And Spa - dream vacation

St7 Makara Old Market Area, Siem Reap

Somadevi Angkor Hotel & Spa Siem Reap
Somadevi Angkor Hotel & Spa Siem Reap - dream vacation

Sivatha Blvd, Mondol II Village Svaydangkum Commune, Siem Reap

Tara Angkor Hotel
Tara Angkor Hotel - dream vacation

Vithei Charles De Gaulle (Road to Angkor Wat), Siem Reap

Cambodia (???????), sometimes transliterated as Kampuchea to more closely represent the Khmer pronunciation, officially the Kingdom of Cambodia (?????????????????????), is a Southeast Asian nation bordered by Vietnam to the east, Laos to the north, Thailand to the northwest, and the Gulf of Thailand to the southwest.

Regions

Cities

  • Phnom Penh — the capital
  • Banlung — far northeastern provincial capital located near some great waterfalls and national parks
  • Battambang — the second biggest town in Cambodia
  • Kampot — town between the capital and Sihanoukville and gateway to the Bokor National Park
  • Koh Kong — small border crossing town near the Thai border
  • Kompong Thom — access to less well known (and less crowded) ancient temples and other sites
  • Kratie — relaxed river town in the northeast on the Mekong, and an excellent place to get a close look at endangered river dolphins
  • Siem Reap — the access point for Angkor Wat
  • Sihanoukville — seaside town in the south, also known as Kompong Som

Other destinations

  • Angkor Archaeological Park — home of the imposing ruins of ancient Khmer civilization
  • Bokor National Park — ghostly former French hill resort
  • Kampong Cham — nice countryside village on the Mekong river and good place to meet real Cambodia
  • Kep — a seaside area which pre-dates Sihanoukville as the main beach resort in Cambodia; slowly being re-discovered by travellers
  • Krek — a small village on the backpacker trail between Kratie and Kampong Cham
  • Koh Ker — more ancient ruins, north of Angkor
  • Poipet — gritty border town that most overland visitors to Angkor pass through
  • Preah Vihear — cliff-top temple pre-dating Angkor
  • Tonle Sap Lake — huge lake with floating villages and SE Asia's premier bird sanctuary

Understand

Cambodia has had a pretty bad run of luck for the last half-millennium or so. Ever since the fall of Angkor in 1431, the once mighty Khmer Empire has been plundered by all its neighbours. It was colonised by the French in the 19th century, and during the 1970s suffered heavy carpet bombing by the USA. After a false dawn of independence in 1953, Cambodia promptly plunged back into the horrors of civil war in 1970 to suffer the Khmer Rouge's incredibly brutal reign of terror followed by occupation by Vietnamese forces, and only after UN-sponsored elections in 1993 did the country begin to struggle back onto its feet.

Much of the population still subsists on less than the equivalent of US$1 a day, the provision of even basic services remains spotty. Political intrigue remains as complex and opaque as ever; but the security situation has improved immeasurably, and increasing numbers of visitors are rediscovering Cambodia's temples and beaches. Siem Reap, the gateway to Angkor, now sports luxury hotels, chic nightspots, ATMs, and an airport fielding flights from all over the region, while Sihanoukville is getting good press as an up-and-coming beach destination. However, travel beyond the most popular tourist destinations is still an adventure.

History

See also: Indochina Wars

The elaborate urban culture of Angkor and other sites can attest to the fact that the Khmer Empire was once wealthy and powerful. Its zenith came under Jayavarman VII (1181-c.1218), when the Empire made significant territorial gains. The Angkorian civilization harnessed Cambodia's water for agriculture through elaborate systems of canals and dams. Crops surplus permitted a sophisticated urban civilization, based on Hindu and Buddhist beliefs.

The period following the fall of the Khmer Empire has been described as Cambodia's Dark Ages. Climatic factors precipitated this fall, but eventually the Khmer Empire never recovered from the sacking by its neighbours, based in Ayutthaya (in modern day Thailand). Cambodia spent much of the next four hundred years squeezed and threatened by the rivalries of the expanding Siamese and Vietnamese Empires to the west and east. On the eve of French colonisation it was claimed that Cambodia was likely to cease to exist as an independent kingdom entirely, with the historian John Tully claiming "...there can be little doubt that their [the French] intervention prevented the political disappearance of the kingdom".

The French came to dominate Cambodia as a protectorate from the 1860s, part of a wider ambition to control the area then termed Indochina (modern day Cambodia, Vietnam, and Laos). The French were always more concerned with their possessions in Vietnam. Education of Cambodians was neglected for all but the established elite. Paradoxically, it was from this privileged colonial elite that many "Red Khmers" would later emerge. Japan's hold on Southeast Asia during the Second World War undermined French prestige, and following the Allied victory Prince Sihanouk declared independence. This was a relatively peaceful transition.

Prince Sihanouk was noted for making very strange movies which he wrote, starred in, and directed. His rule was characterized at this point by a Buddhist revival and an emphasis on education. He succeeded in helping create an educated elite who became increasingly disenchanted with the lack of available jobs. As the economic situation in Cambodia deteriorated, many young people were attracted to the Indochinese Communist Party, and later the Khmer Rouge.

As the Second Indochina War spread to Cambodia's border (an important part of the "Ho Chi Minh trail"), the USA became increasingly concerned with events in the country. The US Air Force bombed Cambodia from 1964 to 1973, with the period from March 1969 to May 1970 being particularly intense. During this campaign, which was code-named Operation Menu, 540,000 tonnes of bombs were dropped. Estimates of the civilian death toll range from 150,000 to 500,000. In total, from 1964 to 1973 the US dropped 2.7 million tonnes of bombs on Cambodia, more than the combined amount dropped by all the Allies in all theatres during World War II.

In March 1970, while overseas visiting Moscow and Beijing, Sihanouk was overthrown by Lon Nol and other generals who were looked upon favourably by the United States. Sihanouk then put his support behind the Khmer Rouge. This change influenced many to follow suit. Meanwhile the Khmer Rouge followed the Vietnamese example and began to endear themselves to the rural poor.

Following a five-year struggle, Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh in 1975 and ordered the evacuation of all cities and towns. Over ome million people (and possibly many more) died from execution or enforced hardships. Those from the cities were known as "new" people and suffered worst at first. The rural peasantry were regarded as "base" people and fared better. However, the Khmer Rouge cruelty was inflicted on both groups. It also depended much upon where one was from. For example, people in the east generally suffered worse. It is debated whether or not the Khmer Rouge began "crimes against humanity" or a protracted "genocide". There are claims there was a disproportionate number of ethnic Chams killed, and the ethnic Vietnamese also suffered persecution. Nonetheless, the Khmer also suffered often indiscriminate mass killings.

A 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge forces into the countryside and ended many years of fighting, although the fighting would continue for some time in border areas. Cold War politics meant that despite the horrendous crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge, they were the recognised government long after the liberation of the country by the Vietnamese. Indeed they continued to receive covert support and financing by the USA. Due to the devastating politics of the Khmer Rouge regime, there was virtually no infrastructure left. Institutions of higher education, money, and all forms of industry were destroyed in 1978, so the country had to be built up from scratch.

UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy, as did the rapid diminution of the Khmer Rouge militia in the mid-1990s. A coalition government, formed after national elections in 1998, brought renewed political stability and the surrender of remaining Khmer Rouge forces.

Economy

The two pillars of Cambodia's newly-stable economy are textiles and tourism. The tourism industry has grown rapidly with over 1.7 million visitors arriving in 2006 and 2 million in 2007. The long-term development of the economy after decades of war remains a daunting challenge, as the population lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the poverty-ridden countryside, which suffers from an almost total lack of basic infrastructure. More than 60% of the population still gets by on subsistence farming. The government is addressing these issues with assistance from bilateral and multilateral donors. Construction of new roads, irrigation, and agriculture are underway to rejuvenate rural areas.

Climate

Cambodia is tropical and its climate dominated by monsoons, so season are wet or dry, rather than the four seasons of cooler regions of the world. Nov-Mar is relatively windy and cool and is the most popular time to visit. Apr-May is hot and dry, and temperatures may peak at 40 C. Jun-Sep is the wet and green season.

Get in

Visas

All visitors, except citizens of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, need a visa to enter Cambodia. The official price is US$30 for a Tourist Visa and US$35 for an Ordinary Visa and citizens of most countries can get a visa on arrival. Staff may try to charge more at some border crossings (including airports), but hold out for the official price, especially at major crossings.

Visa on Arrival is available at both international airports, all six international border crossings with Thailand, some international border crossings with Vietnam, and at the main border crossing with Laos. Visas can also be obtained at Cambodian embassies and consulates.

  • Tourist visas: all are valid for one stay of up to 30 days. Those issued in advance expire 90 days after issue. In Phnom Penh (or elsewhere via agencies), tourist visas can be extended only once, allowing an additional 30 days at a cost of US$30.
  • Ordinary visa or Type-E: the best choice for stays over two months and/or multiple entries, as they can be extended indefinitely (approx US$140 per 6 month extension) and have multiple entry status when extended. Most Phnom Penh travel agencies process the extensions. Foreign nationals of some countries (such as India) require prior permission from the Department of Immigration or the Ministry of the Interior to obtain an Ordinary visa. Such visitors can also enter the country on a tourist visa and subsequently apply for said permission at the Department of Immigration near the airport in Phnom Penh , which, if granted, will enable them to leave the country and re-enter on an ordinary visa

To apply for a visa, you will need one or two (depending on where you apply) passport-size (35x45mm) photos, a passport which is valid for at least 6 months and has at least one completely blank visa page remaining, and clean US dollar notes with which to pay the fee (expect to pay a substantially higher price if paying in a local currency). Passport photocopies may also be required when applying at some embassies/consulates, but not if applying on arrival. If you don't have a passport photo upon arrival at Phnom Penh airport (and possibly other entry points), they will scan the one on your passport for an extra US$2.

At Phnom Penh airport head to the Visa on Arrival desk, join the queue to the left, where your application form is reviewed (you should have been given the form on the plane). Then move to the right and wait for your name to be called. You then pay and receive your passport with the visa. Officials have difficulties pronouncing Western names so stay alert and listen out for any of your names in your passport, any of your given names or surname may be called. Once reunited with your passport, join the immigration queue.

In Poipet, several scams abound. A favourite is the Cambodian custom officers ask tourists to pay 1,000 baht (about US$30) for a visa on arrival, instead of US$20. Stand firm but stay friendly and keep smiling, they rarely insist. The penalty for having no photo is usually only US$1-2, but the price is also negotiable.

E-visa

Citizens of most nations can apply for an e-Visa online at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation website, through a service provided by a private Cambodian company (CINet). This is a normal Tourist Visa but costs US$37 instead of the normal US$30. The visa arrives as a PDF file by e-mail within 3 business days. The application requires a digital photograph of yourself (in .jpg format). You can scan your passport photo or have a passport sized photograph taken with a digital camera. There are other websites pretending to make a Cambodian e-visa. At best, these are just on-line travel agencies which will charge you more and get the same visa for you; at worst, you may end up with a fake e-visa.

You need to print two copies (one for entry and one for exit) of the PDF visa, cut out the visa parts and keep them with your passport.

Visas in advance (either on-line or from an embassy/consulate) save time at the border but are more expensive. However, you do get to skip the queues of people applying for the visa's delivery, although sometimes you may simply spend the saved time waiting at the airport luggage belt for your suitcase.

E-Visas are only valid for entry by air or at the three main border crossings: Bavet (on the Ho Chi Minh City-Phnom Penh road); Koh Kong (near Trat in Eastern Thailand); and Poipet (on the Bangkok-Siem Reap road). You may exit the country with an e-visa via any border crossing , however. Given the general reduction in visa scams at the major land borders, paying the extra US$7 to guarantee the price may (more likely if entering from Thailand) or may not worth it. Getting a tourist visa on arrival for US$30 is more likely than being overcharged. Plus it keeps the option open of the enjoyable Phnom Penh-Chau Doc boat trip (and the use of other minor border crossings)!

By plane

Cambodia has international airports at Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Direct flights connect Phnom Penh International Airport (previously Pochentong International Airport) with mainland China (Beijing, Guangzhou), France (Paris), Hong Kong, Laos (Vientiane), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Singapore, South Korea (Incheon), Taiwan (Taipei), Thailand (Bangkok) and Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City).

Direct flights connect Siem Reap-Angkor International Airport with Laos (Pakse, Vientiane), Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur), Singapore, South Korea (Incheon, Busan), Thailand (Bangkok) and Vietnam (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City).

Travellers going specifically to visit the Angkor temple ruins may prefer to use Siem Reap as it's only a few minutes away from the main sites. For flights between Bangkok and Siem Reap, AirAsia is mostly a lot cheaper than Bangkok Airways. When looking for those flights, make sure to check for Bangkok's second airport Don Mueang (IATA: DMK).

Low-cost carrier Air Asia has introduced flights from Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok to Phnom Penh and Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap, while Jetstar Asia has begun flying from Singapore to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

Other airlines operating flights to/from Cambodia include Asiana Airlines, Bangkok Airways, China Southern Airlines, Dragonair, Eva Airways, Korean Air, Lao Airlines, Malaysia Airlines (MAS), Shanghai Airlines, Siem Reap Airways (a subsidiary of Bangkok Airways), SilkAir, Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways International, and Vietnam Airlines.

By road

In the list of borders below, the Cambodian town comes second; eg: Aranyaprathet is the border town in Thailand, while Poipet is in Cambodia.

Thailand

All six border crossings with Thailand are open 07:00-20:00. Each offers Cambodian visas on arrival. All the crossings are served by paved roads in both countries.

Thai buses run to but not across each of the crossings: even Chong Sa-Ngam, the last to achieve Thai connections has now gained minibuses that bring gamblers to the new casino in Choam.

In Cambodia, four of the six border towns (Poipet, Koh Kong, Daun Lem and O'Smach) are directly served by buses. Pailin, Anlong Veng and Samraong (each less than 20 km from a border) are each served by buses; motorbikes and shared taxis connect each of the towns with their respective border crossings.

Cambodia's busiest land crossing is at Aranyaprathet/Poipet on the Bangkok - Siem Reap road in North-western Cambodia. Long the stuff of nightmares, the roads are now paved all the way from Poipet to Siem ReapBattambang and Phnom Penh.

Coastal Cambodia and the southern part of the Cardamom and Elephant Mountains region is served by the Hat Lek/Koh Kong border. The road goes all the way to Sihanoukville. From Trat in Thailand, there a minibuses to the border. In Cambodia, minibuses or taxis connect the border to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh. The Koh Kong - Sihanoukville boat service no longer runs.

The former Khmer Rouge stronghold of Anlong Veng is close to the Chong Sa-Ngam (in Si Saket Province)/Choam border. Pol Pot was killed and burned within walking distance of immigration.

Improving roads in Northwestern Cambodia are making Samraong emerge as a transport hub. It is close to the Chong Jom (in Surin Province)/O'Smach border and well linked with Siem Reap.

Eastern Thailand is connected to Battambang and Siem Reap by the Ban Pakard (in Chanthaburi Province)/ Phra Prom (near Pailin) crossing, which offers a less stressful and more scenic alternative to the more northly major crossing at Poipet.

The geographically closest crossing to Battambang is that at Ban Leam (in Chanthaburi Province)/Daun Lem. Paramount Angkor run buses to Battambang though as of March 2012 the road on the Cambodian side is not yet fully paved.

Vietnam

Vietnamese visas must be obtained in advance from an embassy or consulate. This is easily arranged in Cambodia. Vietnam visa on arrival is only valid for airport arrivals, not land crossings.

The main crossing is the Moc Bai/Bavet crossing on the Ho Chi Minh City - Phnom Penh road. Buses between the two cities cost US$8-12 and take around 6 hr. Passengers vacate the vehicle at both countries' checkpoints. Only one passport photo is required for a Cambodian visa on arrival. Tours of the Mekong Delta (US$25-35, 2-3 days) can provide a more insightful journey between the two cities.

Through tickets to Siem Reap are also available (US$18), though it is cheaper to by a ticket to Phnom Penh and then arrange onward transport on one of the many connecting buses.

Close to the coast is the Xa Xia/Prek Chak border. Cambodian visas are available on arrival. Buses run between Ha Tien in Vietnam to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh in Cambodia.

Coastal areas are also served by the Tinh Bien/Phnom Den border near Chau Doc in Vietnam.

The Xa Mat/Trapeang Phlong crossing on the Ho Chi Minh City - Kampong Cham road is not well served by public transport but may be useful for accessing Kampong Cham and Eastern Cambodia.

Banlung in North Eastern Cambodia is served by a crossing at Le Tanh/O Yadaw near Pleiku in Vietnam. Visas are available on arrival, one photo required. Change buses at Le Tanh.

Laos

Stung Treng in Cambodia is connected to Pakse and the Four Thousand Islands region of Laos by the Voeung Kam/Dom Kralor border. Onward transportation is not regularly available. Cambodian and Lao visas available, but require a US$1-2 unofficial fee on both sides of the border. Travel agencies on both sides offer border crossing packages.

By boat

To/from Laos - There is one border crossing for tourists on the Mekong, a 90 minute speedboat ride north of Stung Treng. The border guards have few opportunities for "alternative" income, and will usually try to make a few extra dollars from scamming tourists.

To/from Thailand - There are no ferry services between Cambodia and Thailand. The Sihanoukville-Koh Kong ferry no longer runs.

To/from Vietnam - It's possible to travel between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh by boat, or by combination of road and boat. Fast boats leave daily from Chau Doc in Vietnam's Mekong Delta and take 5h to reach Phnom Penh. Chau Doc is a four hour drive from Ho Chi Minh City. A popular overland route is to make a three day trip, stopping at Can Tho and Chau Doc before taking the boat to Phnom Penh.

Exclusively for yacht cruises - Members of the crew and passengers of cruise boats can obtain a visa upon arrival at the Sihanoukville Autonomous Port. Paperwork arrival in the new marina. You must first report data on the boat, the crew and passport copies to the office of the Marina Oceania Harbour Master. Visa fee is US$25 for 30 days.

Get around

By plane

The domestic aviation scene in Cambodia has improved. Three airports currently operating scheduled passenger flights: Phnom PenhSiem Reap, and Sihanoukville.

The main operator is Cambodia Angkor Air, a joint venture between the government and Vietnam Airlines, which flies between Phnom PenhSiem ReapSihanoukville, and airports in China, Thailand, and Vietnam. In 2013, the creation of a second airline, Cambodia Airlines, was announced. Scheduled to begin travel some time in 2013, the airline is a joint venture between Philippines Airlines and local stakeholders. It is not yet flying (Dec 2013).

A charter service, Aero Cambodia, operates from Phnom Penh to Cambodia's other 16 airports using twin engine 10-70 seat aircraft.

By helicopter

Helistar Cambodia, a VIP helicopter charter and scenic flights company, operate to virtually anywhere in Cambodia. Helicopters can be chartered to fly from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap for one-way or return journeys. The basic hourly charter rate is US$1,700 per flight hour plus 10% VAT and 10% SPT. They operate modern, air conditioned Eurocopter Ecureuils with seating for up to 6 passengers. They also have licensed foreign pilots. A pick-up and set-down transfer service is also available at both international airports.

By road

The Cambodian government has been frantically upgrading roads throughout the country since about 2008. While great for the country, it does make travel advice quickly obsolete! Finding an unsealed road is actually quite a challenge and most travellers will not have any horror stories of car-swallowing ruts or wet-season quagmires. For the time being, notable unpaved roads that would be of use to travellers are: Battambang-Koh Kong (currently a great dirt bike adventure across the mountains or a long detour by bus via Phnom Penh), access to the Banteay Chhmar temples (a high-quality unsealed road, as good as a sealed road during the dry season) and the road between Sen Monorom and Banlung (if there's any remote jungle left in Cambodia, it'll be here). The borders, coast and major cities are all well-connected with good roads.

Longer journeys in Cambodia can be taken by bus, pickup truck or shared taxi. In many towns, whichever of these are available will be found at the local market square. Larger towns and cities will have bus stations. Buses may also serve their companies' offices, which may be more convenient than the bus station: this is particularly true in Siem Reap. Mekong Express has the best reputation for comfort and speed and consequently charges a premium. Sorya (formerly Ho Wah Genting) and GST offer a slightly cheaper no-frills service. Capitol runs between its centrally located offices, making for city centre-to-city centre travel. Ramshackled peasant mover Paramount Angkor Transport is great for accessing more remote places but low on comfort and safety.

Avoid VR Express and Phnom Penh Sorya Transport Co. They have a history of threatening customers, manipulating, lying, and being unhelpful and rude. They prioritize cheating passengers of their money.

Indeed bus safety is a big problem in Cambodia. On Hwy 5, between Phnom Penh and Battambang, there are dozens of bus crashes annually, many of them horrendous, with multiple fatalities. There are even bus-on-bus crashes. Drivers are untrained, impatient, and (according to those working in roadside gas stations) sometimes drunk. Most of these accidents go unreported, but frequent travellers on Highway 5 can typically observe half a dozen bus crashes in a month.

Generally bus travel is cheap, with journeys from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap or Sihanoukville costing around US$5. Bring along something warm if you don't like freezing air conditioning and earplugs if you don't like Khmer karaoke. There are a few night-time services but most buses leave in the morning and the last ones leave in the afternoon.

Some believe taxis are safer for inter-city travel, but taxis also often go way too fast, and so are involved in numerous fatal accidents. The front seat in a taxi from Phnom Penh to Battambang should cost you about US$25.

In cities, motorcycle taxis are ubiquitous. For quick trips across town, just stand on a corner for a moment and someone will offer you a lift - for a small, usually standard, fee of US$1 or less.

Motorcycle rentals are available in many towns, with the notable exception of Siem Reap. Be careful if driving or riding yourself: driving practices are vastly different from developed countries. Local road rules will also differ from city to city.

By boat

Ferries operate seasonally along many of the major rivers. Major routes include Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and Siem Reap to Battambang. The Sihanoukville to Koh Kong ferry no longer runs. Boats are slower than road transport, charge higher prices for foreigners, and are sometimes overcrowded and unsafe. Then again, Cambodia's highways are also dangerous, and boats are probably the safer of the two options. The high speed boat from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap costs US$33 and takes about 6 hours, departing at 07:30, and offers a spectacular view of rural life along the Tonle Sap River.

There are also a few luxury boats operating between Siem ReapPhnom Penh and Saigon. For something around US$150/day including accommodation, food and excursions, it's a good alternative to regular boat service.

The boat trip between Siem Reap and Battambang takes longer (especially in the dry season), and is less comfortable and more expensive than taking a seat in a share taxi, but is favoured by some travellers for its up-close view of subsistence farming (and hundreds of waving children) along the river. Taking the boat late in the dry season (Apr-May) is not advisable as low water levels mean that you must transfer to smaller vessels in mid-river.

By train

Passenger trains ceased in 2009 as the state of the rail infrastructure was dire. The entire network is undergoing an agonizingly slow restoration and it may be possible to hitch a ride on the daily cargo train that may still run for 111 km between Phnom Penh and Touk Meas (near Kampot), if you enjoy that kind of thing. The service was reinstated in Oct 2010 but was reported to have possibly stopped when Toll, an Australian company, pulled out of the Cambodian rail venture in Apr 2012. There are plans to link the network with the Thai and Vietnamese railway networks. However, don't hold your breath.

By bamboo train

Despite the lack of normal train services there are bamboo trains or noris running around Battambang, and you can also travel on a bamboo train from the outskirts of Phnom Penh to Battambang on demand. These trains are home made railcars which carry just about anything, pigs, motorcycles, crops, you name it, as long as it fits on the train. They are also great fun to ride on and they are actually reasonably safe, and the drivers are friendly. They cost around US$2 per person for a short journey and around US$6 to hire one with a driver. Ask locally where you can find a norry, or you can find one at Battambang station.

Talk

See also: Khmer phrasebook

Cambodians primarily speak Khmer, which unlike most languages in the region is not tonal, but makes up for it with a large assortment of consonant and vowel clusters. Young Cambodians prefer to learn English as a second language and you will find people who speak anything from basic to fluent English in major towns and cities. In tourist market situations, most Cambodians will know enough English to complete a basic transaction, though many vendors carry calculators into which they punch numbers and show you the screen to indicate the price.

A few educated senior citizens can also speak French, a relic of the colonial period when it was a medium of instruction in schools. Because the Khmer Rouge targeted for extermination anyone capable of speaking a foreign language, actually encountering anyone fluent in French is very rare outside Phnom Penh. German and other European tongues can be found in the tourist centres (but are even rarer than French) and Japanese is also a popular language for tourist industry workers. Nevertheless, if you cannot speak Khmer, English remains by far your best bet.

Chinese dialects, Thai and Vietnamese are spoken in Phnom Penh. Thai is more prevalent in northwestern provinces, whereas Vietnamese dominates southeastern provinces.

See

Cambodia's main sight is so famous and grand, it's also one of the prime destinations in all of Asia. The magnificent and awe-inspiring temples of the Angkor Archaeological Park draw huge and diverse crowds, who come to admire their enormous symbolism and sheer magnitude. It's a place not to be missed on any trip to the region, worth every bit of the often sweltering heat. Finding a somewhat private spot for sundown over the temples can be a challenge, but the colours are wonderful. Start early to beat the crowds at the mysterious Ta Prohm complex. Made extra famous as a filming location for Tomb Raider, the ruins overgrown by huge jungle trees make for one of the most atmospheric sites at Angkor.

Close to the capital city of Phnom Penh, the Choeung Ek Memorial, better known as the Killing fields — while shocking and sad — leaves a long-lasting impression. Excellent tours are available, providing an insight into the outrageous atrocities committed by the Khmer Rouge. For further insights, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum is the main place to visit.

  • Go on a boat party in Phnom Penh
  • Go hiking in Bokor National Park
  • See endangered river dolphins in Kratie
  • Boat through to the floating village and have lunch aboard the floating restaurant near Siem Reap

Buy

Money

The Cambodian riel, denoted by the symbol "?" (ISO code: KHR), and the US dollar (USD) are both official currencies. The riel generally used only for small transactions (i.e. below US$1). US coins are not used. Most ATMs only dispense US dollars, although some are loaded with both currencies.

The Cambodian Central Bank maintains the riel at around 3,800-4,200 riel to the dollar. In day-to-day commerce, 4,000 riel per dollar is ubiquitous. So US$1.50 is one dollar and 2,000 riel, or 6,000 riel. Riel notes go as high as 100,000 riel (US$25) but 10,000 riel (US$2.50) is the highest denomination that is commonly encountered. Riel only have value outside Cambodia as souvenirs. No one will exchange them.

Near the Thai border (for example BattambangKoh Kong, and Poipet) Thai baht is commonly accepted but the locals use an unfavourable 40 baht to the dollar as a rule of thumb. Try to change any baht rather than spend them as banks and money changers will give you a much better rate.

Banks sometimes operate as Western Union money transfer agents.

Changing money

Baht and other major currencies (euros, pounds sterling) an easily be exchanged in any city. Shop around if you are keen on saving money; there is no hard-and-fast rule as to whether banks or money changers will offer the best rates.

Torn or old foreign currency notes may be difficult to exchange, except US$1 bills which change hands often. Cambodian banks will refuse US$2 bills and notes without the security strip. Refusing imperfect notes is normal, traders may try to take advantage of tourists' naïveté and try to get rid of them. Just smile and hand them back.

Cards and ATMs

ATMs are spreading far beyond the main cities. They are generally compatible with Maestro, Cirrus, Plus, and VISA cards. Cash advances on credit cards may also be possible.

VISA and JCB are the most widely accepted credit cards; MasterCard and American Express cards are slowly becoming more widely accepted.

ATMs dispense US dollars in varying denominations from 10-100. If you receive bills in poor condition (especially US$50 or US$100) from an ATM attached directly to a bank try to change them there immediately as they may be difficult to change later.

Cambodian ATMs only accept 4-digit PINs. If your PIN is more than 4 digits, best to take care of that at home before you need cash and find yourself out of luck.

Traveller's cheques

Traveller's cheques, like credit cards, are accepted in major business establishments, such as large hotels, some restaurants, travel agencies and some souvenir shops; American Express (in USD) are the most widely accepted. However, competitive rates are only usually found in banks in Cambodia's larger cities, and guesthouses in heavily visited areas may offer similar services but at horrendous rates. The usual fee for cashing traveller's cheques is 2% with a US$2 minimum.

Haggling

You can get away with pretty much haggling for anything in Cambodia. Restaurants, outdoor food stalls, even rates for guesthouses. The Khmer are notoriously quiet up to a point of no return. They do not lose face, they lose their temper. However, there are a few guidelines:

  • Many products, especially those not aimed at tourists, are fixed price, and while it is possible to get a minor discount if you ask, you cannot get things significantly cheaper than this. Many markets have the prices of goods painted on the walls (in Khmer).
  • In Cambodia where dining out isn't really common among local people, restaurants cater almost entirely for foreigners and tend to be a little bit more expensive than neighbouring countries. However in Siem Reap, it is, sometimes if not always, possible to haggle with street food vendors over the portion of a dish, free side dish, and get 20-30% discount.
  • The US dollar is widely used in Cambodia but no circulation of coins will end up giving you a lot of Cambodian riels when the price you pay is not an integer. This gives a chance for short-changing, which is particularly popular in several grocery stores in Siem Reap. For example, you give US$1 for buying a bottle of water which is US$0.60, the staff should return the amount of riel equivalent to US$0.40, but they may keep some of them. The money cheated is usually minimal. Just be quick at mental arithmetic.
  • Haggle in groups. Having two other friends will make it much easier to convince Cambodians to give a discount: one person can play bad cop, the other good cop.
  • Ask to speak with the manager/owner (this applies to guesthouse and restaurants). Usually if you try to haggle at a restaurant or guesthouse the employee will say that the boss needs to be there. If so, then just ask to speak with him or ask the employee to speak with him. You would be surprised at how easy it is to haggle down once you speak to the boss, many times he doesn't even want to be bothered and will give the discount to you.
  • Never pay the asking price for anything near the temples of Angkor. This includes books, souvenirs, paintings, water and food. During the off-season, the food stalls near the temples will have a separate menu, ask for it. You can even bargain on top of that too. Note that it's much harder to bargain at the food stalls at Angkor Wat and especially at the breakfast restaurants across the street from Angkor Wat.
  • Try not to haggle too harshly with the motobike drivers and tuk-tuks that work near where you stay. Most are honest, but they will look after your safety more if you are seen as a good customer. Some will decide they will get the money from you another way, and could take you to be mugged. Agree upon the fare before your ride or you may get into a very uncomfortable situation.
  • If haggling isn't your strong point the easiest way to get a good price at a market is to pick up an item, ask how much it is, look disappointed and start to walk away. The price will usually drop as you walk away with vendors unlikely to go below this second price.

Siem Reap is the easiest place to bargain, Phnom Penh may be a little harder, but still worth trying. Just be polite and persistent.

Eat

While not the strongest link in Southeast Asia's chain of delightful cuisines, Khmer food is tasty and cheap. Rice and occasionally noodles are the staples. Unlike in Thailand or Lao, spicy hot food is not the mainstay; black pepper is preferred over chilli peppers, though chillis are usually served on the side. Thai and Vietnamese influences can be noted in Khmer food, although Cambodians love strong sour tastes in their dishes. Prahok, a local fish paste, is common in Khmer cooking and may not please Western palates. Indian and Chinese restaurants have a healthy representation in Phnom Penh and the larger towns. Western food can be readily found in most restaurants in any of the tourist areas of Cambodia and Cambodia offers some of the best budget western meals in SE Asia. However, while still inexpensive, a western meal will often be double the price of a Khmer meal.

Typical Khmer dishes include:

  • Amok - Arguably the most well known Cambodian dish. A coconut milk curried dish less spicy than those found in Thailand. Amok is usually made with chicken, fish, or shrimp, plus some vegetables. It is sometimes served in a hollowed-out coconut with rice on the side. Quite delicious.
  • K'tieu (Kuytheav) - A noodle soup generally served for breakfast. Can be made with pork, beef or seafood. Flavourings are added to the customers taste in the form of lime juice, chili powder, sugar and fish sauce.
  • Somlah Machou Khmae - A sweet and sour soup made with pineapple, tomatoes and fish.
  • Bai Sarch Ch'rouk - Another breakfast staple. Rice (bai) with pork meat (sarch chrouk) often barbequed. Very tasty and served with some pickled vegetables.
  • Saik Ch'rouk Cha Kn'yei - Pork fried with ginger. Ginger is commonly used as a vegetable. This tasty dish is available just about everywhere.
  • Lok lak - Chopped up beef cooked quickly. Probably a holdover from the days of French colonization. Served with a simple dipping sauce made from lime juice and black pepper, lettuce, onion, and often with chips.
  • Mi/Bai Chaa - Fried noodles or rice. Never particularly inspiring, but a good traveller's staple.
  • Trey Ch'ien Chou 'Ayme - Trey (fish) fried with a sweet chili sauce and vegetables. Very tasty. Chou 'ayme is the phrase for "sweet and sour".
  • K'dam - Crab. Kampot in the south is famous for its crab cooked in locally sourced black pepper. A very tasty meal.

Don't forget Khmer desserts - Pong Aime (sweets). These are available from stalls in most Khmer towns and can be excellent. Choose from a variety of sweetmeats and have them served with ice, condensed milk and sugar water. A must try is the Tuk-a-loc, a blended drink of fruits, raw egg, sweetened condensed milk and ice.

There is also a wide variety of fresh fruit available from markets. The prices vary according to which fruit is in season but mangoes (around Khmer New Year, with up to 9 varieties on sale) and mangosteen (May/June) are both superb.

Other popular Khmer foods which may be less palatable to foreigners include pregnant eggs (duck eggs with the embryo still inside), and almost every variety of creepy or crawly animal (spiders, crickets, water beetles) as well as barbecued rats, frogs, snakes, bats and small birds.

Drink

The tap water supply in Phnom Penh has undergone some serious changes at the hands of a "water revolutionary" in the government, Ek Sonn Chan. So, in Phnom Penh you can drink the tap water without problem, although it's highly chlorinated and you may not like the taste. Also, there is some concern about the bottle water vendors. The US Embassy website says that "In 2008, Cambodia's Ministry of Industry, Mines and Energy reported that more than 100 bottled water companies in Cambodia were being considered for closure for failing to meet minimum production quality standards. Only 24 of the 130 bottled water companies are compliant with the ministry's Department of Industrial Standards." That page seems to be down on bottled water generally, so take it with a grain of salt.

Outside of Phnom Penh (and perhaps Siem Reap) you should assume that tap water is not potable. Khmer brand water in blue plastic bottles sell for 1,000 riel or less (although prices are often marked up for tourists, to 50 cents or a US dollar).

Soft drinks

Iced coffee is ubiquitous in Cambodia. It's made Vietnamese-style, freshly brewed and mixed with sweetened condensed milk. Walk past a local eatery any time of the day and you are bound to see at least a table of locals drinking them. One glass costs 1,500-2,000 riel. Iced tea made with lemon and sugar is also refreshing and ubiquitous.

Fresh coconut can be found everywhere, you could say it is ubiquitous, and is healthy and sanitary if drunk straight from the fruit.

Alcohol

In general, Khmers are not what could be described as casual drinkers: their main objective is to get hammered as quickly as possible. Know your limits if invited to join in!

The two most popular domestic Cambodian beers are Anchor — pronounced "an-CHOR" with a ch sound! — and Angkor, both of which can be found in bottles, cans, and on draft, and generally for no more than US$1 each. New beers include the cheap Klang and Cambodia , while Beerlao and Tiger are popular beers with foreigners. A plethora of other beers include ABC Stout, which is dark and not so bad, in addition to the standard Heineken and Carlsberg. Cheaper beers include Crown and Leo, whilst Kingdom Beer aims for the premium market with a pilsener and a dark lager.

Palm wine and rice wine are available in villages and can be OK at 500-1,000 riel for a 1 L bottle. However, some safety concerns have been raised with regard to sanitation, so the local wines may be best avoided.

For a truly Khmer experience, hunt down a bottle of Golden Muscle Wine. Advertised on tuk-tuks everywhere, this pitch-black concoction made from deer antlers and assorted herbs packs a 35% punch and tastes vile when drunk straight, but can be made reasonably palatable, if not exactly tasty, by the addition of tonic water or cola. At US$2 for a 350 ml flask of the original and US$3 for the "X.O." version, it's the cheapest legitimate tipple around.

Sleep

Western-style accommodation is available in most major towns the country over; even less-visited places such as Kampong Chhnang have a number of affordable guesthouses or hotels. Basic guesthouses can go as low as US$2/night in the countryside but prices in the cities are usually around the US$5-10. At the budget end, expect to provide your own towels etc. If you want air-con and hot water, the price creeps up to close to US$10-20, and you can easily pay over US$100 for a night in a branded hotel.

Learn

Cambodia has fewer opportunities for language and cultural studies for the short-term traveller, though there are many language schools and private teachers advertising for those who are hanging around a bit longer. There are also meditation groups which meet at some of the Buddhist Pagodas in Phnom Penh. There are Khmer cooking classes available in BattambangSihanoukvillePhnom Penh and Siam Reap.

Work

One of the most interesting ways to get to know a country, and which has become increasingly popular, is to volunteer.

Finding a paid job teaching English in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap is easy for English speakers, even if you have no other qualifications. If you're interested, print out some resumes and start handing them out to various schools.

Many bars and guesthouses in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville advertise the need for Western employees or volunteers and will generally provide free lodging and meals, but low pay, if any.

If considering volunteering at an orphanage, do be aware that many, if not all, are exploitative and poorly run. Very few so called orphans currently in orphanages in Cambodia are actually orphans, i.e. have no living parents. Your money is more likely to go the owner rather than the children. There are few legitimate orphanages in Cambodia. Any accepting visits from unscreened foreigners is often a sign of a substandard orphanage, which does not have the children's best interests at heart. There are several good articles [1] on the Internet that further explain the reality of modern day orphanages.

Stay safe

Cambodia is a safe and friendly country, with the usual exception for large cities late at night, particularly Phnom Penh, and unobserved luggage or wallets. Bag snatching, even from those on bicycles and motorcycles, is a problem in Phnom Penh. Be discreet with your possessions, especially cash and cameras, and as always, take extra care in all poorly lit or more remote areas.

Crime and corruption

The rule of law in Cambodia is inconsistently applied. Crimes usually require bribes to be investigated, and if perpetrators are wealthy or connected to the government they will often be untouchable by police and courts. You should also be aware that the courts are corrupt, so contracts are hard to enforce without some political leverage. All this being said, the violent crime rate is fairly low, the police are generally friendly and non-threatening, and those with common sense have little to fear.

Land mines

Cambodia suffers from a legacy of millions of land mines left during the war years. However, to tourists, land mines present a minimal to non-existent threat, as most areas near tourist areas have been thoroughly de-mined. Many tourists mistake electric or sewage warning signs along national highways for land mine signs. HALO Trust, a leading mine removal organization in Cambodia, asserts that you would have to drive through the jungle for at least an hour north of Angkor Wat to come across any mines. The threat is to locals in extremely rural areas who rely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

In remote areas such as Preah Vihear (near the border) and Pailin, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold, exercise caution: ask for local advice and heed warning signs, red paint and red rope, which may indicate mined areas. Do not venture beyond well established roads and paths.

Prostitution

The age of consent in Cambodia is 15. Prostitution is illegal but widespread, although generally not overtly aimed at tourists (there are no go-go bars). Many bars and clubs, however, do have working girls wandering the premises, especially in Phnom Penh. While Asia has seen a 20% drop in new HIV infections since 2001—and Cambodia saw a 50% decline between 2003 and 2011—safe sex remains a must in all cases.

Cambodia has gained some notoriety as a destination for paedophiles, but under Cambodian law the penalty for sex with minors can be up to 30 years in prison, and paedophiles may be prosecuted by their home countries as well.

Drugs

Drugs, including cannabis, are illegal in Cambodia, and penalties can be very severe. Both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are full of Happy Herb pizzerias; the effects of this illegal snack comes on only slowly and you may end up biting off more than you can chew, so if you choose to indulge, exercise caution. Many such restaurants advertising "happy pizza" do not actually serve drug-laced pizza. Heroin is very high grade in SE Asia and foreigners requesting cocaine are sometimes provided with it instead, regularly leading to deaths. Over-the-counter pharmaceuticals said to be similar to heroin are readily and legally available, and have also led to tourist deaths.

Stay healthy

Mystery disease. Although this disease, mostly striking children under the age of three, was widely reported in the international press as having been identified as enterovirus 71 in Jul 2012, rumours of deaths continue (Nov 2013). This appears to be a taboo topic in the local press, but expats and locals alike talk about how children continue to die from this mystery respiratory illness, apparently several per week. Expats frequently refuse to eat chicken, even from well-known food chains, citing the conditions of transporting and caging chickens, blaming chicken for the spread of the malady.

Cambodia, one of the world's poorest countries, lacks reliable medical facilities, doctors, clinics, hospitals and medication, especially in rural areas. Any serious problem should be dealt with in Bangkok or Singapore, which boast first rate services (at least to those who can afford them). Repatriation is also more easily arranged from either of those cities. Make sure your insurance covers medical evacuation. The private and pricey Royal Rattanak Hospital in Phnom Penh can be trusted for emergency medical care and can treat most diseases and injuries common to the region. Naga Clinic has branches in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. It is also clean, safe and useful for minor conditions.

Local hospitals and clinics vary from mediocre to frightening. Expect dirt, poor equipment, expired medicines and placebos of flour and sugar.

In local clinics don't let them put anything in your blood: treat dehydration orally and not with a drip, as there is a risk of septicaemia (i.e. bacterial blood poisoning). The same goes for blood transfusions.

No health certificates or vaccinations are officially required for entry to Cambodia, unless arriving directly from Africa. However, consult a doctor a few weeks before leaving home for up-to-date advice on inoculations. Generally advised are shots against tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis B and meningitis, a polio booster and especially gamma globulin shots (against hepatitis A). Consider malaria tablets for trips to Cambodia of less than 30 days, though the most commonly visited places have minimal risk (see below). A mosquito net may also help. Mosquitoes swarm Siem Reap at dusk, imported (i.e., trusted) DEET based insect repellent is available in Cambodia.

The contents of a basic medical kit-such as panadol, antihistamines, antibiotics, kaolin, oral rehydration solution, calamine lotion, bandages and band-aids, scissors and DEET insect repellent-can be acquired in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The particularly fastidious should put their kits together in Bangkok or Saigon before coming to Cambodia. There's no need to bother doing this before coming to Asia.

Phnom Penh is malaria-free, and most major tourist attractions (including Siem Reap) are virtually malaria-free. The biggest disease worry is mosquito-borne dengue fever which, although quite unpleasant, to say the least (it's called "break-bone fever" because of how it feels) generally isn't life-threatening for first-time victims.

The most common ailment for travellers is diarrhoea, which can deteriorate into dysentery, resulting in dehydration. Stay hydrated by drinking 2-3 litres of water per day.

Avoid untreated water, ice made from untreated water and any raw fruit or vegetables that may have been washed in untreated water. Tap water is generally not drinkable, so avoid. The Phnom Penh supply is claimed to be potable but few people trust it. Only the seriously immunocompromised will have problems brushing their teeth with it. Cheap bottled water is available in any town or village. Take water purification tablets or iodine to sterilize water if planning to visit more rural areas. Boiling water will also sterilize it without generating piles of waste plastic bottle waste or tainting the taste. The water in the jugs at cafés or restaurants will have been boiled, as obviously will have been the tea. Expats have no problem drinking from the water supply in Phnom Penh, but not elsewhere.

If you do get severe diarrhoea and become badly dehydrated, take an oral rehydration solution and drink plenty of treated water. However, a lot of blood or mucus in the stool can indicate dysentery, which requires a trip to a doctor for antibiotics.

April is the cruellest month: the weather is hottest (> 35°C) in March and April, use sunscreen and wear a hat to avoid sunstroke.

HIV

Prostitutes of both sexes can carry many STDs. The official HIV rate among prostitutes is 34%, compared to a 0.6% rate for the whole population.

Respect

Cambodia is a country at a crossroads. While the more heavily touristed places like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap are well adjusted to tourist behaviour, people in places such as Stung Treng or Banlung are less so. Always ask permission before you take somebody's picture, as many in the more remote areas do not like to be photographed, and some in the urban areas will ask for payment.

Dress for women is more conservative in Cambodia. While shorts are now acceptable in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, it is more respectful to wear knee length shorts or trousers when outside of these areas. While Cambodian women may prefer to dress conservatively in the daytime, covering much skin to prevent tanning which they find unattractive, at night the dress code is more revealing. Do not mistake such local women in nightclubs for prostitutes; they are out for a night on the town like anyone else.

Groups of young children can be found everywhere in Cambodia and many travellers feel 'pestered' by them to purchase their friendship bracelets and other wares. However, it's often the case that children enjoy the chance to practice their English on you- and by asking them their names and ages a conversation is likely to develop where the 'hard sell' is forgotten. Children and adults alike enjoy looking at photographs of your family and home country.

The Khmer Rouge issue is a very delicate one, and one which Cambodians generally prefer not to talk about. However, if you approach it with politeness, they'll gladly respond. People, in general, hold no qualms when talking about the Vietnamese; in fact, they have been widely perceived as liberators when they intervened in Cambodia in 1979 to overthrow the aforementioned brutal regime. The pro-Vietnamese regime gradually rebuilt all the infrastructure that was severely damaged by the Khmer Rouge's policy of de-urbanising the country leading to economic prosperity in the 1980s, with sporadic uprisings.

Buddhist Monks

As in neighbouring Thailand and Laos, Cambodia is predominantly Theravada Buddhist. This means that monks are revered and are expected to take their duties seriously. As in Thailand, monks go around in the morning collecting alms from people. Monks must avoid physical contact with females, so women who wish to offer food to a monk should place it on a piece of cloth in front of him so he can pick it up. Monks are not allowed to accept or touch money, and offering money to a monk is considered to be disrespectful in the local culture. Should you wish to donate, donate food. As monks are not allowed to eat solid food after noon, they will stop collecting alms before then. "Monks" who hang out at tourist spots and solicit donations from tourists are imposters.

Connect

Telephone

Cambodia uses the GSM mobile system and Mobitel is the largest operator, although competition is stiff. Pre-paid SIM cards are widely available (from US$2). As of Apr 2013, most phone vendors on the street or small private stores will sell pre-paid sims without without the need to show a passport. However major phone stores will require a passport.

Reliable 3G data service is available in most of Cambodia.

Landline numbers in Cambodia are listed as +855 nk 123-4567 where "855" is the country code for Cambodia, the first digit of the area code, "n", will be a 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7; the second digit of the area code, "k" will be a digit in the range 2-6. (The leading zero seen domestically is stripped off in the international format.) The remaining 6 or 7 digits (conjoined with a hyphen) are the "local" part of the subscriber's number.

Mobile phone numbers begin with a 1, 8 or 9 which is then followed by seven or eight digits. The full number of a mobile phone must always be dialed, for example +855 1 1234 5678.

Internet

Internet cafes are cheap (US$0.50-1/hour) and common, even small towns will have at least one broadband offering. In KampotKratie and Sihanoukville rates are around US$1/hour. Wi-Fi is increasingly popular, with signals available in some unlikely places, not just in coffee shops, but also fast food restaurants, bars, and even gas stations. Domestic broadband prices range from US$29.95-89.00.

Fast wireless 3G/4G internet (3.5G or 7.2 MBpS 3G/4G modem USB stick, unlocked 3G/4G modem costs US$30) is now available in Phnom PenhSiem Reap, and Sihanoukville/Kampot/Kep with slower Edge coverage in almost all other areas. Tourists can add 3G/4G mobile Internet to their SIM for as little as US$3/month (0.8GB max, LT3 package)(Metfone) or 1c/MB with Qbmore or unlimited data package for US$25/month (Metfone), equipping another 3G router can form a Wi-Fi hotspot to share Internet in your house/neighbourhood.

Written Khmer does not yet have a big presence in the electronic world, as do Thai or Vietnamese. Phones and computers (and hence Cambodian text messages, emails, social network slobbering, and web pages) tend to be in English.

Post

Once a disaster, a trip to the post office in Cambodia no longer means a final good bye to your consignment. Intercontinental postcards should arrive in 2 weeks; within Asia, 1 week. Rates are cheap.

Go next

  • Laos
  • The beaches and islands of Eastern Thailand, like Ko Chang, Ko Samet and Pattaya, can easily be reached from Cambodia.
  • Vietnam

The Amateur Traveler talks to Noah Lederman of SomewhereOrBust.com about his recent trip to Cambodia. Noah visited Anchor Wat, Rabbit Island near KepBattambang and the bamboo trains and Phnom Penh and the sobering Tuol Sleng - S21 memorial.

Kate in Senggigi

What does budget travel mean to you?

For some of my friends, it means downgrading to a three-star hotel instead of a luxury property. For others, it’s giving up their private rooms for hostel dorms.

Budget travel is unique to everyone. The broadest definition of budget travel is being financially conscious during your travels.

I asked my Facebook fans a question: how low-budget would you go? Hostel dorms? Couchsurfing? Never eating in a restaurant, ever? They had a lot of great answers and I’ve included them throughout this post.

Leon Nicaragua

Extreme Budget Travel

I define extreme budget travel — or what I like to call traveling “on the hobo” — as traveling while spending the least amount of money possible.

“I had some Couchsurfers come stay with me that are doing a long term trip with a $0 budget for accommodation. If they can’t find CS hosts they camp. One was sleeping in temples in Myanmar. He said his average is $5/day but oftentimes only spends $3. They also only hitchhike everywhere.” –Nathan

Accommodation? Free only. Couchsurfing or camping in their own tent or van. Possibly sleeping in churches, temples or mosques. Free lodging via working gigs. Hostel dorms if there’s no other option.

Transportation? Free or very cheap only. Hitchhiking or traveling in their own vehicle. If anything, an occasional bus ride or public transit.

Food? Cheap only. Supermarket fare or cheap street food. No restaurants, ever. Maybe an occasional takeaway kebab.

Attractions? Free only. In cities, walking around and taking photos, enjoying free museums and attractions. In the countryside, hiking and exploring. Forget about paying for a ticket.

How to get by? Working from time to time. WWOOFing, Workaway gigs, working in hostels or bars, busking, random gigs along the way.

And while there are occasional exceptions, the above is largely how extreme budget travelers spend their time on the road.

Here are some examples:

We Visited Over 50 Countries In Our Van Spending Just $8 Per Day

This is How a Guy Traveled Through Southeast Asia On Just $10 Per Day

I just came back from a 5-months travel. I’ve done hitch-hiked over 15 000km, and have been living as a homeless for pretty much 4 months.

Amman Skyline

The Pros of Extreme Budget Travel

Travel longer. See more. The less you spend, the more time you have to see everything the world has to offer. The price you would pay for a midrange two-week trip could grow into a multi-month extravaganza when traveling on the hobo.

Enjoying the same sights at a fraction of the price. Nobody charges you to walk through the piazzas of Florence, nor do you pay anything to enjoy the white sand beaches of Boracay. It feels awesome to look around and know that you paid far less than everyone else!

Expensive destinations aren’t off-limits. One thing I noticed was that extreme budget travelers don’t shy away from expensive countries. You find just as many extreme budget travelers in Norway and Australia as you do in Laos and India.

“Curiously enough it’s easier to spend less in expensive countries. It’s easier to say no to a $25 hotel room and camp, than to say no to a $5 hotel room and camp. In Europe I’d go camping and couchsurfing all the time out of necessity, but here in Asia I’d happily pay for accommodation, because it’s cheaper. But of course that adds up and in the end I pay more. I remember spending 6 months in the US and Canada and I spend $0 on accommodation. :D” –Meph248 on Reddit

Having more local experience. You’ll get to know locals more intimately, whether it means couchsurfing in locals’ homes, working with locals, hitchhiking with locals, or shopping at the local markets. Plenty of travelers will pass through the same town without having a conversation with someone who wasn’t a waiter or hostel employee.

The time of your life — on very little cash. You’ll have great stories to tell your kids someday!

“I did $5 a day while touring the Balkans for a month. I managed! -Free lodging and food by volunteering at a hostel (even had my own room at the top floor) -Free private beach access through a guy I was seeing -Free drinks every night at the bar across the street because the owner swore I was Serena Williams

That about covers all bases! Lol” –Gloria, The Blog Abroad

The possibility of extending your trip indefinitely. If you pick up enough paid gigs in between, you can keep on traveling forever. This especially works well if you pick up gigs, either officially or under the table, in high-paying countries like Australia.

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

The Pitfalls of Extreme Budget Travel

Reduced safety. If you don’t have funds allocated for accommodation or private transportation, what happens when none of the Couchsurfing hosts in town appeal to you? What happens if your bus is delayed, you show up in Tegucigalpa late at night, and you can’t afford a cab to your accommodation?

Not having money for instances like these sacrifices your safety.

“I would never want to absolutely rely on couchsurfing for the whole of my trip. I couchsurf where I can but when I can’t find a decent host I book a hostel. I think when you get too desperate to couchsurf you end up pushing the safety limit a bit and staying with dubious people.” –Britt, Adventure Lies in Front

Just how bad can the result be? Read this heartbreaking post by Trish on Free Candie.

Missing cool activities and social events. You meet a cool group of fellow travelers and they’re all going whitewater rafting. They want you to join — but you can’t do that. And sure, you can walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge if the $300 Bridgeclimb is out of your price range, but would you go to Leon, Nicaragua, and skip $30 volcano boarding? What about a $5 wine tasting in a Tuscan town? And even if it’s just a $4 hostel shuttle to the beach, which all your friends from the hostel are taking, you’re stuck on the much longer 25-cent local bus.

Less exposure to local cuisine. Yes, there’s fresh produce and markets and supermarkets can be their own adventure, but if you’re making pasta in the hostel every night, you’re missing out on one of the best parts of traveling — the food.

“As a student in EU having a long-term schengen visa on a third-world passport, I think I have hit the bottom after sleeping at airports, night buses, railway stations, common areas of hostels. taking pictures of food in local markets and then coming back to cook pasta in hostel kitchen :-(” –Anshul

No backup savings. In the event of an emergency — say, you need to fly home for the funeral of a dear friend — you don’t have the cash to do so. Most of the time, travel insurance will only reimburse you if it’s a member of your immediate family.

Isolation and discomfort. If you’re not comfortable in your accommodation, you have fewer options and may be far from the city center or tourist zone. If you’re limited with money, you can’t just pick up and leave — you might need to stick it out for at least a night.

“Ive couchsurfed once and they tried to convert me to their religion so i just left.” –Christipede

No alone time. If you’re a natural extrovert, this probably won’t be an issue, but traveling on the hobo requires you to socialize with lots of people on a daily basis, especially if you’re couchsurfing. If you’re an introvert, you’ll have difficulties carving out alone time to relax your mind. (Camping solo is one way around this, however.)

Mooching off others. Conversely, depending on others day after day can wear away at you. Sure, you can help cook and clean, or play music, and you know you’ll pay it back to other travelers someday, but you might get uncomfortable having strangers host and feed you for free on a regular basis.

“It’s funny. I’m open to going extremely low budget. As long as I can be self-reliant about it. Meaning I’d rather sleep (legally or semi-legally) on an abandoned beach or in a corner of a park than ask for someone’s couch. This is strange, I know, since the spirit of travel is tied so intrinsically into the good will of others. I guess I’d rather rely on others for their company (and their rum!) and then slip off to my tent for the night.” –Bring Limes

Resentment. Is this the trip you had in mind? Is this even the kind of trip you’d want? Wouldn’t you rather be in a nice hotel room, eating in restaurants, doing cool activities, and not having to work every now and then? After weeks of depriving yourself, over and over, you could end up feeling resentful. It might not be worth the savings.

“I feel like [extreme budget travel] would detract from the travel experience itself. If I was wrapped up in my head worrying about money and a budget the whole time it would take away from experiences. I certainly don’t travel luxuriously, but I choose to travel within my means without missing out on things.” –Megan, Forks and Footprints

Blue Night Shadows

A Lot of People Think They Can Do This

I’m an avid Redditor but don’t comment often. What makes me comments are posts like these:

“Me and my cousin are going on a trip in 2015 for 16 months around SE Asia. we plan on visiting 19 countries in that time: Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri lanka, Tawain, Thailand, Vietnam, Bhutan

We dont really know what months to go to the different countries and theres not much info online about it, so im asking you we kind of want summer all the time around. Also what places should we see in different countries? Im thinking that 12k USD will be enough for this trip? no including air fare, is that close to accurate?”

Oh God.

First of all, no, $12K will not be nearly enough. I really hope he meant $12K each, because even $24k for two would not be enough for a trip like that, especially with countries like Bhutan and Japan on the list. The only way it would be possible would be through extreme budget travel, and just the idea of traveling that way for 16 months makes me want to curl into a ball and hide.

I get emails all the time from travelers who want to travel as long and as much as possible, so they squish their budget down to the bare minimum. They tell me that yeah, they really want to see as much as possible, so they’re going to couchsurf and camp and they’ll be able to stretch their trip to as long as possible. I give them advice, wish them luck, tell them to buy travel insurance.

Some of them end up traveling this way — and have a fabulous, life-changing trip. Others end up miserable and return home much sooner than planned.

My worry about these travelers is that they won’t end up enjoying themselves on what should be the trip of a lifetime. I believe that far more people think they can handle long-term extreme budget travel than can actually handle this style of travel on a long-term basis.

It doesn’t help that traveling on the hobo is romanticized in popular culture, complete with scenes of waking up on a farm in Provence, harvesting olives all day, then having huge dinners with wine every night before hopping on a train to the next idyllic destination.

In short, it’s fun to travel on the hobo if you’re doing it for fun. It’s not so fun if you’re doing it because you can’t afford anything else.

Bike Lady in Ferrara

Special Concerns for Women Travelers

I feel like there needs to be an asterisk when talking about extreme budget travel as a woman. Just like there needs to be an asterisk with almost every kind of travel.

If you haven’t read Why Travel Safety Is Different For Women, please read it now.

In that piece, I talk about how women are attuned to the risk of sexual assault every minute of every day. It never leaves our minds, and each day we make dozens of micro-decisions for the sake of self-protection. For that reason, we need to be extra careful when it comes to extreme budget travel.

“extreme budget travel is a luxury that men can have I think. as a woman, I always need to have a little extra to get myself out of a bad guesthouse or take taxis rather than walk. I’m sure some women have managed it, but i wouldn’t feel safe on a low low budget. I usually budget $50/day with an extra $500/month of travel, although I rarely use it all. it gives me enough cushion to get a single room rather than share a dorm with just one man, etc.” –Lily

Camping alone or sleeping outside leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Staying in a sketchy guesthouse with a badly locking door leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Hitchhiking with strangers leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Taking public transportation in a rough city at night leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Accepting food and drinks prepared by Couchsurfing hosts leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

That doesn’t mean that women can’t do extreme budget travel — I know women who do it and love it. I know that some take extra precautions, like carrying pepper spray and a knife. And even then, many of them have done so safely; most of them have only had a few scary but ultimately non-dangerous incidents, like I have.

But it doesn’t mean that the risk isn’t there. You need to evaluate that risk closely.

Kyoto Apartment

It’s Not For Everyone

If you want to try out extreme budget travel and you think you would enjoy it, go for it! I’m happy for people to travel in any way they’d like, as long as it’s not harmful to others.

There are plenty of people for whom extreme budget travel is a great choice. And they’re a surprisingly diverse group of people.

My issue with it is that I think a lot of people underestimate how difficult it is to live this way on a long-term basis. In short, it’s not for as many people who think it’s for them. So many people attempt it, burn out, and leave their trip with regrets.

Costa Brava Mountains

Short-Term Extreme Budget Travel

What if you only did the extreme budget travel thing for a shorter time? Say, for a two-week trip or just for a month or two out of a yearlong RTW trip? What if you just did it when you traveled in Australia and went back to spending more money in Southeast Asia?

I think that’s actually a very smart idea. This way, you get to try it out, reduce costs in the most expensive destinations, and see if you are interested in doing it long-term.

“I don’t mind dorms for cheap travel, although a few weeks is the max I could do that without at least a few nights in a private. I’m planning to couch surf and WWOOFing a lot in Japan, since I want to go for a while without spending thousands and thousands. I can’t live on that low though- it’s boring to only have enough to eat and stay in the hostel!” –Alexandria

Marigolds in Pienza

How to Maintain Your Sanity While Traveling on the Hobo

Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Walking a mile out of the way for loaves of bread that cost 20 cents less is the definition of insanity. Instead, reduce your big expenses like accommodation and transportation, or stick to cheap countries.

Travel slower. Spending more time in fewer destinations will majorly cut down your costs. When you spend longer in a destination, you’ll get to know the cheaper places, you’ll spend less time sightseeing, and your transportation costs will be lower.

Stick to cheaper regions — not just cheaper countries. Most people consider Thailand a cheap country but don’t take into account that the beach resorts in the south are MUCH more expensive than the rest of the country. Stick to rural, less-visited areas for lower costs. In Thailand, you’ll find the cheapest prices in the north.

Set up a separate bank account for splurges. Use it for special activities like seeing Angkor Wat, getting scuba certified, or having a restaurant meal in a fabulous food region.

Plan on getting private accommodation every few weeks or so. Just a few days in a room to yourself will make you feel so much better, especially if you’re an introvert.

Have a re-entry fund saved up and don’t touch it. This is money to cushion your return home. How much do you need? Depends on your situation. Some people like to have enough to secure a new apartment and pay for a few months of frugal expenses; others just need a thousand dollars or so. The choice is yours.

Don’t scrimp on travel insurance. Even if you’re committed to spending as little as possible, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you weigh your health against saving money. Not to mention that it will save your ass financially in the event that you get severely injured and need an air ambulance to another country. I use and recommend World Nomads.

Leaving the Generalife

One Last Tip: Check Your Privilege

When you’ve been traveling on the hobo for awhile, there will be dark days. You’ll be down to your last few dollars and unable to eat anything but rice and pasta. You’ll be tired. You’ll be lonely. You’ll be treading water and you won’t know when you’ll earn enough to leave town.

This happens to all travelers. We all go through tough times, but extreme budget travelers are additionally vulnerable because of their lack of money.

Even when you’re at your lowest, it’s important to remember that you hold enormous privilege. You’re living this lifestyle by choice, and you’ve experienced far more than the vast majority of the world will ever be able to.

Don’t refer to yourself as poor. Don’t take food donations meant for the needy. And for the love of God, don’t compare yourself to the homeless.

Instead, practice gratitude each day. Be kind. Use what you’ve learned to create a better life for everyone you meet, both on the road and at home.

And if you choose to settle down for some time — whether it’s just for a few weeks or something more permanent — open up your home to vagabonds like yourself. Feed them, give them a place to sleep, show them your favorite spots in town. It’s time to repay the kindness that you’ve been gifted on your journey.

Have you ever tried extreme budget travel? Did you enjoy it?The truth about extreme budget travel

This episode of the Amateur Traveler talks about the recent Amateur Traveler trip to Cambodia. 7 of the 9 people who joined me on this trip also join me for the podcast to share the highlights, surprises and challenges of the trip.

Kate in Bushwick

It’s time for everyone’s favorite post of the year — my worst travel moments! And I love writing this post every year. I think it’s important to reflect the not-so-pleasant times along with the happier moments, and I think that reflects in my coverage here.

In 2012, I drove my car into a ditch in the Faroe Islands.

In 2013, I was extorted for my phone in Cambodia.

In 2014, I got head lice at the age of 29 in New Orleans.

In 2015, I locked myself in a vestibule with a cockroach in Sicily.

Now, what’s up for 2016? Let’s take a look!

Newbury Street, Boston

Starving on the Greyhound Bus to Boston

My sister and I were traveling home to Boston for the Fourth of July. She had already booked a Greyhound bus; I vastly prefer the Megabus, but decided to book the same Greyhound so we could go together.

I don’t like Greyhound because 1) they overbook buses all the time 2) Port Authority, from where the buses leave, is one of my least favorite places on the planet. It’s like a bizarre 90s time warp where technology doesn’t exist, down to the lack of both wifi and phone service. I avoid it whenever possible.

It was the morning and we stopped at a cafe in our neighborhood for some coffee and scones. We sipped the coffee but saved the scones, even though I was ravenous. I have this thing where I can’t eat until I’m perfectly settled and comfortable. I knew I wouldn’t touch it until the bus left the station.

Sarah had booked her bus long before I had, so she had an earlier boarding number. She got on the bus with all the food and held a seat for me.

You can see where this is going.

Sarah’s bus was overbooked, because it was Greyhound. They filled it and it took off. And because Port Authority has neither wifi nor phone service, she couldn’t alert me. She left with all the food.

I felt like crying as I got on my own bus, nothing to eat but gum for the next five hours. The good thing was that after an hour or so, my hunger went into the next level and disappeared entirely.

Passau Christmas in Bavaria

My First Concussion in Germany

This is one of the more serious injuries I’ve experienced while traveling. One night my friend Cailin and I were snapping each other back and forth, playing with the new feature that allows you to create a sticker out of anything.

I snapped myself falling backward onto the bed, but I miscalculated — I hit my head hard on the corner of the bed frame.

(Yes, it was caught on video. Yes, I deliberated sharing it publicly, but sent it to Cailin and Cailin alone. Her comment: “That was a loud thud!”)

I felt fine over the next 20 hours or so. But after that, on the train back to Munich, I started feeling nauseous and a bit dizzy, and a strong headache came on. I couldn’t help but think of Natasha Richardson, who died after hitting her head while skiing (and who felt fine immediately afterwards but took a turn for the worse later). After weighing the pros and cons, I decided to go to the hospital.

The hospital experience was surprisingly decent. I was seen fairly promptly, was given a CT scan (which had zero abnormalities), and though it costs 300 EUR ($311) for people without EU health insurance to visit the ER, I’ll be refunded it from World Nomads, my travel insurance provider. This is one of the millions of reasons why you need travel insurance!

Recovery has taken longer than I expected, but I’ve started to have full days without any headaches, dizziness, or nausea. That’s a big step!

Inverness

Lost Luggage in Scotland

It was a simple nonstop flight from JFK to London Gatwick, but my bag (and lots of other passengers’ bags) didn’t make it. I’ve had lost luggage before, but it was always delivered within 24 hours. Not this time.

This time, Norwegian had no clue where it was.

That’s what made it awful. I hated being at a conference in no makeup and subpar clothing (I supplemented my meager wardrobe with a few M&S finds) but the worst thing was the uncertainty. Would they even find it in time for my trip to Wales? What about Slovakia after that?! It was a simple nonstop flight!

Finally, after two and a half days, I got word that not only had they found it, but it was already in Inverness! I hightailed it to the airport and picked it up with glee.

Between being on the phone constantly with Norwegian, having to buy clothes and toiletries before the shops closed (5:30 PM in Inverness) and having to pick it up at the airport, 30 minutes away, I missed a ton of the conference. But at least everything arrived before I had to go to Wales. And I was dressed to the nines for the final evening.

Kruger National Park

Dropping My Phone in the Toilet in South Africa

All this time, I’ve gotten through life without dropping my phone in the toilet. Until South Africa this summer.

I totally forgot I had put my phone in my back pocket…until I heard the telltale plop.

BUT IT SURVIVED. And you know why? Because I use a LifeProof case. Even though the bottom tabs were open, my phone survived the dip in the toilet without incident. That’s incredible.

AND THE TOILET WAS CLEAN. I feel like I need to add that.

French Laundry Gardens

The Worst Press Trip Companion Ever

I’ve met a lot of people in the travel blogging industry. I’ve gone on press trips with well over 100 people. Most people are decent. Perhaps the top 20% are awesome. And you get a few unpleasant people every now and then. But one woman I met this year was the absolute worst.

It started with, “Well, I hope he at least bought you a drink after,” when I talked about a really nice date I had gone on that happened to not cost anything. It escalated to wanting to pose for selfies with an immigrant worker as a prop in the background. And then came, “We don’t like black guys.”

Looking back, it’s not surprising that this happened in 2016. If anything, the 2016 presidential election emphasized that many reasonable-appearing people will secretly engage in racist behavior. This woman was yet another example.

Mangrove Hotel Broome WA Sunset Roebuck Bay

Getting My Bank Account Depleted for Fraud Reasons

I won’t say where this took place or who it involved, but it started when a company paid me a good-sized check for a campaign. I don’t like getting paid by check, but sometimes it’s necessary.

The check arrived the day before I was to leave on a big trip. I deposited it with my phone. A few hours later, I got the notification that my bank had accepted it. Lovely. I then did my usual routine: shifted funds to different accounts and left enough money in my account to cover the trip. I then got on my plane and flew to another continent.

Several days into that trip, my debit card wasn’t working. I opened my email and realized that the client had voided all of their outgoing checks for fraud reasons — several days after it had been deposited in my account with no issues. “Just go back to the bank with the same check and they should be able to do it again,” I was told.

I immediately got on the phone with the client and got them to issue a transfer through their bank, which I was grateful for.

But I learned my lesson. And this is one that I hope you learn too. Even several days after a check is deposited and accepted by your bank, it can still be removed from your account if the sending bank issues a fraud alert. I’m going to be much more cautious with my checks in the future.

Coral Bay Sunset

Spilling My Diva Cup in Australia

Yeah, this definitely falls into TMI territory. While in Coral Bay, I dropped a full Diva Cup for the first time ever in my six years of using one — and it spilled all over my clothes. Blood was everywhere.

Savannah Bonaventure Cemetery

Getting Haunted by Little Gracie in Savannah

It was my second visit to the very haunted city of Savannah, but my first trip to Bonaventure Cemetery. While there, I came across the grave of Little Gracie.

Little Gracie died of pneumonia at the age of six. Her father owned a hotel and she was a local celebrity, charming every guest who came in.

After she died, her parents buried her at Bonaventure and left town. People say that Little Gracie’s ghost can be seen wandering through town, looking for her parents.

I stood at the gate and made eye contact with the statue. And then something hit me in the chest and went all the way to my back. It was almost like a massive gust of wind whooshing into me. I felt so much fear in that moment and was desperate to find my friend so I wouldn’t be alone.

Something happened that day. I think Little Gracie’s ghost made an attempt to communicate with me. And I didn’t like it.

Bo-Kaap Cape Town

The Worst Uber Ride in Cape Town

I love Cape Town, and South Africa in general, but you need to be on your guard there constantly. One issue is driving at night. Carjacking is still a risk in parts of South African cities. Locals know which areas to avoid; when you’re a visitor, you have no idea. I had no idea.

After doing trivia at Oblivion, Beth and I summoned an Uber to take us home. And as soon as we got in, it was clear that the driver had no idea what he was doing. He didn’t know how to navigate with the Uber system. He almost went into the wrong lane and had to back up. He suddenly hit the breaks, his manual car jerking wildly, then he stayed in place. One minute passed. Then another.

I was scared to death. Not only that, I was trying to hide my fear so Beth wouldn’t be scared.

“You need to get us out of here now,” I told him.

“Yes! Yes! Just one minute, please!”

“No. You need to go NOW. Take us back to the bar.”

He couldn’t even figure out how to get back to the bar. I had to navigate him.

After that, we switched to only summoning from UberX, which sources from professional drivers. It cost twice as much as regular Uber but was still very economical in South Africa.

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Accidentally Drinking Undiluted Rum in Puerto Rico

And there was the time I went to the Don Q distillery in Puerto Rico, tasted lots of rums, and I made the grievous mistake of reaching for the wrong glass and drinking undiluted rum.

Undiluted rum.

I’m surprised I still have my teeth enamel.

What was your worst travel moment of the year? Share away!

All photos by the author

There’s a lot of scary stuff going on in the world these days — terrorism attacks in major cities; a refugee crisis that’s become polarizing in Europe; out-of-control gun violence and racial profiling in the Unites States; and Donald Trump actually becoming president.

It seems like every time I turn on the news or check Facebook, something else disturbing has happened. Bombings. Shootings. Ignorant attacks. Intolerance. Fear.

Some people argue that the world is just becoming more dangerous; that there’s more murder and rape and other forms of violence now than ever before. And, as a woman who often travels alone, I would be stupid to ignore or brush off these arguments. Because it’s true that you DO have to be a little more vigilant when traveling these days — and especially when traveling as a woman.

Is the world dangerous? Is travel dangerous?

Well, the world is definitely not safe. But it never has been. For as long as history has been recorded, we humans have oppressed, killed, and waged war against one another. In every corner of the globe, there have always been catalysts to violence; reasons why we just can’t seem to get along.

So yes, the world can be a dangerous place.

But you shouldn’t let that stop you from exploring it.

Here are four reasons why you should still travel, even with all the craziness happening in the world:

LIFE is dangerous

Watch the news or listen to people on social media, and you might be convinced that terrorists are lurking around every corner “out there.” But, in reality, terrorism attacks are rare in most parts of the world — and to be caught in one as a tourist is highly unlikely. Here are everyday things that you are MUCH more likely to die from:

  • Cows (kill roughly 20 Americans per year*)
  • Getting struck by lightning (32 per Americans per year*)
  • Driving your car (roughly 37,000 deaths in the US per year*)
  • Your own body (in the US, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes kill more than a million people every year*

(In case you’re curious, according to the U.S. State Department, 3,380 Americans have died in acts of terrorism both at home and abroad between 2001 and 2013 — and that includes the 9/11 attack. Only 350 U.S. citizens have been killed overseas as a result of incidents of terrorism during that time.)

I was probably much more in danger in this helicopter over Cape Town than I was wandering the city’s streets.

And for those who worry about being kidnapped, raped, or murdered while traveling abroad? I’m not saying that it never happens. But you are far, far more likely to fall victim to this kind of violence at home (often at the hands of someone you know) than you are as a traveler.

Life in general can be dangerous. But just because more than 100 people will die today in a car crash in the U.S., will that stop you from driving to work or the grocery store? Of course not. So why should fear keep you from traveling?

Travel encourages tolerance and acceptance.

Travel is one of the most educational experiences a person can enjoy outside of school. And not only will it help you learn about history and cultural traditions first-hand, but travel also helps you discover the number one lesson I’ve learned after years of exploring the world: people, regardless of religion or race or cultural background, really do want essentially the same things.

No matter if you’re in Canada or Cambodia, people want to feel safe and happy and want to be able to provide for their families. It’s really that simple.

Kids want to play and take selfies no matter where they’re from.

The more I travel, the more I realize that we really are more similar than we are different. And that knowledge has lead to a greater acceptance of all people, and I think has made me a more tolerant person overall. There are many stereotypes out there when it comes to people from different cultures and backgrounds, and I think travel is one of the best ways to shatter a lot of them.

If only more people would be open to leaving the confines of their country’s borders…

Travel can make you LESS fearful.

This ties into travel making us more tolerant, too, because a big part of tolerance is learning not to fear things we don’t fully understand. As your mind opens up to other ways of thinking and living, you begin to be less fearful of the world “out there.”

We live in a world right now where bad news seems to be everywhere. And it’s easy to assume from all this bad news that the world is only getting more scary by the day. But if you actually go out and experience that world and realize that you feel safe far more often than you feel threatened, some of that fear can be silenced.

You learn that not every person in Muslim-leaning countries hates Americans — or even Christians, for that matter. You learn that a lot of the fearmongering you see in the media is just that — we don’t have to be terrified of life beyond our borders, because not everyone is out to get us.

You become a global citizen.

The more you travel, the more personal connections you make with the places you’re visiting and the people you’re meeting. So when something terrible happens in France or Turkey or any other place that you’ve been and fallen in love with, it suddenly hits a lot harder.

Travel can make us more compassionate about things happening to other people. If you never leave your hometown, it’s easy to look at victims of terrorism and violence through a screen of “otherness” — those people are different than you, and therefore you don’t feel any real connection to them. But when you’re shared meals and laughs with people from that place or culture, it suddenly makes it more real. Because those people really aren’t much different from you, and you realize that it could happen to anyone.

The term “global citizen” is one without a concrete definition, but to me it means being aware of what’s going on in the world and actually *caring* about it.

Travel helps you imagine your feet in someone else’s shoes.

So, can I promise you that nothing bad will happen to you if you book that dream trip? No, of course I can’t. But I also can’t promise you that you’ll be perfectly safe driving to work tomorrow or having a drink at your favorite bar.

Life is too short to be afraid of the world — just get out there and explore it.

This article originally appeared on Medium and is republished here with permission.

More like this: Why I refuse to be scared when I travel

When you live on a tiny tropical island, it’s going to the mainland that actually feels like a vacation. Which is why it was one of my highlights of 2016, way back at the beginning of it, to finally visit Khao Sok National Park.

Elephant Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Elephant Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

After a wine tour around Khao Yai, a weekend in Bangkok, and a getaway in Hua Hin, I’d finally arrived on last stop on my big winter trip around Thailand. After Hua Hin, Ian headed back to Koh Tao, and Janine tapped back in as my travel buddy. We’d only been apart for a few days but we were thrilled to be back on the road together, and excitedly reunited at the Surat Thani train station after an overnight rail journey on my part and an overnight boat ride on hers.

There, we were met by a driver who whisked us away to Elephant Camp at Elephant Hills. Spoiler alert: yup, there were real live elephants involved.

Elephant Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

I’d been itching to visit Khao Sok National Park for years — it’s a popular getaway among Koh Tao expats — and while there is a wide variety of accommodation there for all budgets, I’d always been drawn to Elephant Hills, arguably the most unique and luxurious option in the area.

Here, deep in the Thai mainland, luxury doesn’t mean a soul-less corporate chain hotel. Nope, it means a lovingly crafted safari tent perched alongside a lush river. Elephant Hills consists of two tented camps: Elephant Camp in the Khao Sok jungle, and Rainforest Camp floating on Cheow Lan Lake.

We were on the Jungle Lake Safari package, a three-day-and-two-night-tour with one night at each camp.

Luxury Tented Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Luxury Tented Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Our tent, one of thirty-five that make up Elephant Camp, was stunning. Attention was paid to every detail, and we felt like we were on a true adventure safari. While the luxury tent concept is obviously wildly popular in Africa and catching on in other parts of the world as well — I’ve glamped in places as far flung as Peru and as local as Upstate New York — it’s fairly unique to Southeast Asia. In fact, Elephant Hills was the very first luxury tented camp in Thailand!

Luxury Tented Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Bathroom at Luxury Tented Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Bathroom at Luxury Tented Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Luxury Tented Camp at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Elephant Hills is more than just a place to lay your head at night. All visits there are part of comprehensive tour packages that include accommodation, all meals, activities, a tour guide, and most impressively, transfers to and from several of Southern Thailand’s most popular hot spots. The location combined with the convenient transfers make it the perfect stopover when hopping between Thailand’s two coasts.

While we had a busy itinerary of activities ahead, we were grateful that before lunch we had some down-time to lose it over the amazingess of our tent, gossip by the pool, and get excited about the days ahead.

Outdoor Shower at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Pool at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Pool at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Pool at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

At noon, we were summoned for a beautiful buffet lunch. Over several of our favorite Thai dishes, we chatted with both our tour guide and the other travelers who had made their way to Elephant Hills.

After lunch, it was time for our first adventure: a jungle river canoe trip down the Sok River. 

River Rafting at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

River Rafting at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

River Rafting at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

River Rafting at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

We were pumped to paddle our own canoes, but quickly adjusted to relaxation mode when we realized local river guides would be doing the heavy lifting. The water levels were very low — one of the guides told me they were just days away to switching to a further away rafting location — and so it was a very chill float.

That left all our energy to focus on the stunning scenery of limestone karsts in the background, and to be on the lookout for wildlife in the foreground. We didn’t spot much aside from some frogs and snakes, but I couldn’t get enough of the natural beauty of the area.

River Rafting at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

River Rafting at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

River Rafting at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

River Rafting at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

River Rafting at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

After, we’d make our way to the Elephant Hill’s namesake draw — it’s elephants! Canoeing was lovely, but let’s be real — we were all there for the pachyderms.

As we giddily piled into the decommissioned military vehicles that whisked us around Khao Sok, Janine and I could barely contain our elephant-induced excitement.

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Elephants certainly aren’t hard to find in Thailand, but unfortunately ethical animal encounters are.

The tide is turning on the idea of tourists riding elephants. On my first trip to Southeast Asia in 2009, I cluelessly rode an elephant at Angkor Wat in Cambodia and found it fairly underwhelming — there was very little interaction with the animal to enjoy. In 2013, I visited Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, where I learned about the cruel domestication system known as the phajaan which all elephants destined for riding must endure. Days of claustrophobic confinement and brutal beatings break the spirit of the elephant and the fear of pain it learns allows it to be ridden by tourists and perform tricks for the rest of its life. I knew then I’d never to ride an elephant again.

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

I wasn’t alone. In 2014, Intrepid Tours announced they were no longer offering elephant rides on their tour itineraries. In 2016, a man was killed by a captive elephant on Koh Samui, and across the border at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, an elephant dropped dead of a heart attack after fifteen years of carrying tourists day in and day out (my heart broke wondering if I’d been among them.) Pressure from those incidents, among others, prompted Tripadvisor and their partner Viator to cease ticket sales for all elephant riding experiences. The same year, I attempted to find the elusive elephant in the wild by journeying to Khao Yai National Park, home of the largest remaining wild elephant population in Asia. While my mission wasn’t technically successful, it was an unforgettable adventure. But yet I stillcraved another elephant encounter.

And then I learned of Elephant Hills. Once upon a time they too offered elephant rides, as was standard for Southeast Asian tour companies. Yet in 2010, they made the drastic decision to cease riding entirely in their continuous efforts to create an experience as enjoyable for the elephants as it is for the guests. And what they designed is an interaction that is far more rewarding and respectful than simply sitting on an elephant’s back.

Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

We started with the way to any elephant’s heart — food. As hungry trunks poked around wooden pavilion  we were gathered in, we chopped up fruit, sugarcane, bamboo and other pachyderm favorites. Then, with the blessing of their mahouts, or trainers, we had the thrill of feeding them.

My favorite part? Aside from seeing and feeling the power and dexterity of those gorgeous trunks, it was seeing how each elephant really had their own preference when it came to snack time! My girl was a big fan of pineapple — I knew we were going to get along great.

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Next, we gathered round and watched while the elephants played in the mud. This actually may have been one of my favorite parts of the day — just kicking back and watching the elephants do their thing the way they would in the wild.

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Finally, it was bath time, and we scrubbed our muddy buddies down with coconut husks and hoses and squealed with joy as they used their trunks to rinse off their backs (just wait until you see the video!) One broke off for a five minute back scratch against a tree. We might have been following a well-coreographed itinerary, but the elephants were basically just doing their thing — and I loved it.

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Finally, we gathered around to learn a little bit about the special relationship between mahout and elephant. All of the residents of Elephant Hills were rescued from either illegal logging operations (an industry banned in 1989 in Thailand) or cruel sectors of the “entertainment” industry. Rather than separate the elephants from the mahouts they know and trust, Elephant Hills offered these men and their families the opportunity to move to Khao Sok to continue working with their beloved animal companions.

While all the mahouts must adhere to certain standards set by the company, Elephant Hills also wanted to provide these men with some autonomy, which means that many of them still chose to ride the elephants at their necks and some use so-called “bull hooks” to steer the elephants. Purists may sneer at that choice and I have to admit that I didn’t love to see the hooks in use. But considering the alternatives, I’d say these are still some of the luckiest elephants in Southeast Asia.

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

There are currently around just 3,000 wild elephants left in Thailand, with another 3,500 or so in captivity. Sadly, there just isn’t enough wilderness left in Thailand to provide home for those captive creatures, even if the country woke up tomorrow and decided to return them there. The outlawing of logging in 1989 effectively created a crisis of elephant unemployment, and tourism swooped in to provide for the enormous food bills these animals rack up. Unfortunately, there have been a lot of wrong turns on that road.

But we can course correct. Now that I myself have had my eyes opened, I plan to pass it on by participating in ethical elephant encounters and promoting them here on Alex in Wanderland. Elephant Hills has won awards for animal welfare and for conservation, and I applaud them for their continuous efforts to try to provide better lives for the elephants in their care — during my visit, I was shown plans for expanding the elephant’s private sleeping area, a project that guests won’t even get a peek at, but will make on crew of elephants pretty pleased.

While I’ve been a big proponent of Elephant Nature Park over the years, I am thrilled to also now have a positive elephant experience to recommend in Southern Thailand, for those who may not be making it all the way north to Chiang Mai.

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Feeding, washing, and interacting with Asia’s largest land animal? Yeah, I’d say that’s going to be a highlight of almost anyone’s year. Doing it with one of my favorite humans? Even better!

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Ethical Elephant Encounter at Elephant Hills, Khao Sok, Thailand

Back at Elephant Camp, we retreated to our tents to get ready for the evening entertainment. While we spent most of the night gossiping over a glass of wine, we did peek in and enjoy some of the numerous official offerings including nature documentaries, a cute traditional Thai dance performance by kids from the local school, and a Thai cooking demonstration (they post the menus online in case you had too much wine — er, have a bad memory.)

After another lovely meal we eagerly retired to our tent where we fell asleep to the sounds of the jungle and the memories of the elephants we’d met that day.

Stay tuned for our journey onward to Rainforest Camp! How important is it for you to find ethical animal encounters when you travel?

3-devide-lines I was a guest of Elephant Hills in order to write this review. As always, you receive my honest opinions and thorough recommendations regardless of who is footing the bill. 3-devide-lines

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Elephant Hills: An Ethical Elephant Experience in Thailand

Elephant Hills: An Ethical Elephant Experience in Thailand

Elephant Hills: An Ethical Elephant Experience in Thailand

traveler of color

Photo: Clem Onojeghuo

While I’m proud of my Colombian heritage, there lingers a negative stereotype that pervades everything I do, especially traveling abroad.

To many, the simple fact that I am Colombian-American means I must have drugs on me, particularly cocaine, which I have never tried in my life. When I traveled to Colombia in the summer of 1994, to visit extended family and learn a little more about my culture, I was 13 years old, and as naive as they come. I remember that upon returning to the United States (Miami, where my sister lives), my suitcase was singled out and rummaged through by several TSA agents. Looking back, I know they were probably suspect of a young teenager flying to Colombia and back by herself. I was a prime target for a search simply because of where I was traveling to and from.

Fast forward 22 years. I am returning home after visiting my aunt and uncle in Phoenix with my mother. The TSA agent asks about my Hungarian last name. After a quick conversation, I claim I haven’t visited Hungary and mention that “she” (my mother) is Colombian, in an attempt to explain that I have another parent from another country. Bad idea. After some bottled hot sauce was found in my bag, I was pulled to the side, my bag was searched, I was patted down extensively by an agent, and my phone was tested for any dangerous residue. It was both ridiculous and embarrassing. I was treated like a criminal, and it was in Arizona.

In an effort to save you the drama I had to deal with, here are some things people of color should take note of while traveling:

Be aware.

I come from San Francisco, which is multi-cultural and generally very accepting of others. Don’t assume people you are visiting know anything about your culture. I would never negate who I am or where I am from, but this travel experience has reminded me to keep my eyes open and be aware of my surroundings. Some places may even be dangerous for you to travel to, so research beforehand. When I was traveling to Colombia, I was told not to wear jewelry, leave my bag anywhere in the airport, or hold anyone else’s bag. This was to prevent me from getting robbed, or inadvertently transporting drugs from one country to another.

Expect to be looked at.

While I was traveling in Thailand, someone joked that our group looked like the UN. We had African-American, Asian-American, Caucasian, Latino-American, and other races and ethnicities represented. People would stare at us when we went out as a group, and some people even wanted to take a photo with our African-American friend.

This happens abroad, but could also happen right here in the U.S. Not every city or town may be as diverse as where you live now. Just try to remember that people always notice what looks different, so try not to take offense (unless it is something obviously offensive). When in Colombia, my style of dress, and the music I was into was in contrast to what people in the neighborhood I was staying in were accustomed to. Also the fact that I spoke fluent English proved to be quite entertaining to some of the local teens. These differences were a good opportunity to learn about what was on trend there and also introduce my music and culture to others.

Know your stuff.

It is important to know the laws of wherever you are going, as well as your rights in every step of the traveling process (airport, at your destination, etc.). This will keep you informed and prepared in case anything happens. Know where the American embassy is in the country you are visiting. Finally, research the customs and culture of your destination. I made sure to read up on the customs of Thailand and Cambodia before traveling there. I learned how to say hello and thank you, that one should cover their shoulders and legs in Angkor Wat temples, and that it is illegal to insult the King of Thailand.

What may seem as discrimination or rudeness in another country could simply be due to a culture doing things differently. It is respectful to know how to be polite in any country, as it will save you from embarrassment or misunderstandings. When traveling to another place, especially another country, I like to research etiquette and customs of the culture I will be around. It is also nice to learn the basics like “hello,” “please,” “thank you,” and “goodbye.”

Remember to enjoy yourself.

It can be frustrating to be out of your element and feel like an outsider while traveling, but you have to remember to have fun regardless. Just because other people may not understand or accept your culture doesn’t mean that they can control your level of enjoyment while traveling. Some people never leave their town, let alone their country, or have access to other parts of the world. In Colombia, my jean shorts were seen as too short (when in fact they were normal by American standards), in Phoenix, I was searched by TSA after saying my mother is from Colombia, and I’m sure I have garnered more than a lifetime’s worth of looks for speaking in Spanish or not looking like everyone else. Does that deter me from traveling? Not at all. It does, however, make me more aware, and I hope it makes you aware too. More like this: Traveling while African

The seventh day of my Siem Reap itinerary involved again a pretty long drive into the country side. It’s a perfect trip if you are tired of Angkor Wat or Siem Reap. The first stop [...]

The post CAMBODIA – Tired of Angkor Wat? Go to Kulen Mountain, Banteay Srei & East Mebon appeared first on Chris Travel Blog.

Price of Travel have put together a “Backpacker Index” which breaks down the costs of visiting cities around the world. This research was formulated via the following elements;

  • One night in the cheapest bunk at the least expensive hostel with a good location and good reviews.
  • Two public transportation rides per day.
  • One paid/famous attraction per day (Every city is loaded with free things to do for budget-conscious travelers, but here we take the average cost of a major attraction in each city for each day.).
  • Three “budget” meals per day.
  • Three cheap, local beers each day as an “entertainment fund.” Non-drinkers might have dessert and coffee or attend a local music performance instead, so this is a general benchmark that should be proportional for each city.

While this data is meant for backpackers and budget travelers, the proportions will be nearly identical, so the list should also be useful to those with more money to spend. Here are the top 50 cheapest cities to visit in 2017.

1. Pokhara, Nepal

$17.95 per day

 Hotel Middle Path & SpaPokhara, NepalPeaceful place

2. Hanoi, Vietnam

$18.22 p/d

 Turtle TowerHanoi, Vietnam#history

3. Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam

$18.33 p/d

 pho chay nhuHo Chi Minh City, VietnamSmall, family-owned, dive restaurant. Vegan pho was delicious! #cheap-eats

4. Chiang Mai, Thailand

$18.74 p/d

 ศูนย์การค้าเทศบาลตำบลหางดง Hangdong MarketTambon Hang Dong, ThailandWhile most tourists flock to the big markets in Chiang Mai city, locals go to the small markets that are basically in every neighborhood in Thailand. In our area in Hang Dong we have at least 5! This covered market is near the police station and close to Baan Tawai, and the stalls sell local veg and spices, as well as excellent nam prik. #cheap-eats

5. Cairo, Egypt

$18.82 p/d

 Cairo EgyptAl Fagalah, EgyptOne of Thé most unforgetable times having an hour long trip on camel at desert near Pyramids was excellent #history#ancienttimes

6. Goa, India

$20.23 p/d

 Agonda BeachAgonda, IndiaLocated in the south (more mellow side) of Goa. Escape the cities, relax and recharge before you head back out to explore the rest of India and all it has to offer

7. Vientiane, Lao

$20.44 p/d

 Patuxay MonumentVientiane, LaosCool war monument dedicated to the people who fought for independence from France. You can go to the top and have a great view of the city. #history

8. Quito, Ecuador

$20.90 p/d

 San Francisco marketQuito, EcuadorThis is a local market where you can buy all the fruits you need. they also sell meats and other quick meals. If you are looking for flowers, you can purchase at this place as well. very close to San Francisco church and worth a visit. Very cheap eats

9. Manila, Philippines

$21.48 p/d

 Sofitel Philippine Plaza ManilaManila, PhilippinesEnjoy a day at the pool that overlooks Manila bay.

10. Yangon, Myanmar

$21.90 p/d

 China TownYangon, MyanmarNon stop Burmese Street market.

11. Kathmandu, Nepal

$22.23 p/d

 BouddhatanathKathmandu, Nepal#temple #buddhism

12. Hoi An, Vietnam

$22.29 p/d

 Hoi An Markettp. Hội An, Vietnamwalk the market and learn the locals way of life #markstravelingfeet #vietnam

13. New Delhi, India

$22.29 p/d

 Saravana BhavanNew Delhi, IndiaBest paneer dosa! Amazing South Indian cuisine. Don’t forget to try the thali.

14. Colombo, Sri Lanka

$22.45 p/d

 Seema MalakaColombo, Sri Lanka

15. Phnom Penh, Cambodia

$22.50 p/d

 Phnom PenhPhnom Penh, Cambodia#cheap-eats #free-wifi

16. Bucharest, Romania

$22.87 p/d

Romanian Athenaeum de Doru Negrea en 500px.com

Photo: negreavdoru

17. Sofia, Bulgaria

$23.78 p/d

 Former Communist Party HouseSofia, BulgariaDowntown Sofia is incredible during summer! Can’t wait for those sunny days 🙂

18. La Paz, Bolivia

$24.13 p/d

on the edge de Thomas Heinze en 500px.com

Photo: thomasheinze

19. Luang Prabang, Lao People’s Democratic Republic

$24.21 p/d

 Alms givingLuang Prabang, LaosThe daily ritual dating back to the 14th Century where Buddhist monks walk the streets every morning to collect their alms (food) for the day. Please observe from afar and don’t be like the ignorant tourists who flash cameras in their faces and disrupt the procession. #history

20. Bangkok, Thailand

$24.45 p/d

 Bang Khu Wiang Floating MarketBangkok, Thailand#newexperience #greatfood

21. Krakow, Poland

$26.13 p/d

Cambodia: Guide to the Temples of Angkor (2017 Travel Guide) with Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and more

Approach Guides

RECENTLY UPDATED FOR 2017! With insightful profiles for 23 of Angkor's top temples and nearly 200 high-resolution images, this is the definitive travel guide to Angkor, Cambodia's premier World Heritage destination. Angkor — the capital of the Khmer empire that thrived for 500 years from 802-1327 — is one of the most magnificent sites in Southeast Asia. The ancient city’s temples inspire with their innovative architectural designs, world-class narrative reliefs and Hindu-Buddhist iconography. Still infused with their historical magic, they are yours to discover.What’s in this guidebook★ Context. We begin by laying out basic features of the Khmer civilization that are particularly relevant for understanding Angkor: the global factors that took the Khmer empire from a fragmented, trade-based society to a centralized, agriculture-based powerhouse; its early cultural exchange with India; the rationale underlying the establishment of the capital in Angkor; and the nature of interactions with southeast Asian neighbors.★ Comprehensive look at Angkor’s art and architecture. We examine the distinctive Khmer style of art and architecture, isolating key features that you will see again and again on your temple visits; we tell you what makes them unique and what they symbolize. To make things come alive, we have packed our review with high-resolution images.★ Detailed temple profiles. This guidebook provides detailed profiles for twenty-five of the premier religious monuments in Angkor. For each, we provide information on its history, a detailed plan that highlights its most important architectural and artistic features and a discussion that ties it all together.★ Advice for getting the best cultural experience. This guidebook supplies logistical advice, maps and links to online resources. Further, to help plan and prioritize your temple touring itinerary, we rank temples based on the quality of their art and architecture and offer brief summaries of each temple’s highlights, so you can focus in on what most interests you. Finally, we give our personal tips for getting the most from your experience while on location.★ Information the way you like it. As with all of our guides, this book is optimized for intuitive, quick navigation; information is organized into bullet points to make absorption easy; and images are marked up with text that explains important features.★ NEW! Customers can now print this guidebook with our new PDF-on-Demand service. See the final chapter in the book for details.This guidebook includes profiles of the top sites in Angkor (Siem Reap), Cambodia: Angkor Thom, Angkor Wat, Bakong, Baksei Chamkrong, Banteay Kdei, Banteay Samre, Banteay Srei, Baphuon, Bayon, Beng Mealea, Chau Say Tevoda, East Mebon, Lolei, Neak Pean, Phnom Bakheng, Prasat Kravan, Preah Khan, Preah Ko, Pre Rup, Ta Keo, Ta Prohm, Ta Som and Thommanon.ABOUT APPROACH GUIDESTravel guidebooks for the ultra curious, Approach Guides reveal a destination’s essence by exploring a compelling aspect of its cultural heritage: art, architecture, history, food, or wine.PRAISE FOR APPROACH GUIDES Compulsive (and compulsively informed) travelers, the Raezers are the masterminds behind the downloadable Approach Guides, which are filled with a university course-worth of history and insights for 62 destinations worldwide. WHY WE LOVE IT: The Raezers share our desire for deep, well-researched information on the wonders of the world. - Travel + Leisure

Lonely Planet Cambodia (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet Cambodia is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Stand under the glimmering spires of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, trek the lush rainforest of the Koh Kong Conservation Corridor, or explore the floating village of Kompong Luong; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Cambodia and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Cambodia Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, Pol Pot, the legacy of the Khmer Rouge, culture, cuisine, environment Over 60 colour maps Covers Phnom PenhSiem Reap, Temples of Angkor, South Coast, Northwestern Cambodia, Eastern Cambodia and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Cambodia, our most comprehensive guide to Cambodia, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer, or Southeast Asia on a Shoestring, perfect for trying to extend your budget for a longer trip.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

*Source: Nielsen BookScan. Australia, UK and USA

Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Tempt your tastebuds with pho noodle soup in Vietnam, sail past the limestone peaks of Halong Bay, or experience the transcendent tranquility of temples like Angkor Wat; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - customs, history, art, music, dance, landscapes, environment, cuisine Over 70 maps Covers Hanoi, Halong Bay, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom PenhSiem Reap,  Sihanoukville, Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Golden Triangle and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand , our most comprehensive guide to Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for a guide focused on the individual countries included in this destination? Check out Lonely Planet's Vietnam guide, Laos guide, Cambodia guide or Thailand guide for a comprehensive look at all these countries have to offer; or Discover Thailand, a photo-rich guide to Thailand's most popular attractions.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Greg Bloom, Austin Bush, Iain Stewart and Richard Waters.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Cambodia & Laos

DK

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Cambodia and Laos is your in-depth guide to the very best of these two countries.

Whether you want to explore the temples of Angkor Wat, take a boat trip through the famous Tham Kong Lo caves, or sunbathe on stunning white beaches in southern Cambodia, Cambodia and Laos offer exhilarating options for visitors.

Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Cambodia and Laos

   • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights, including the temple complexes of Angkor and Luang Prabang.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights and restaurants.    • Detailed city map of Phnom Penh.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations.

With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Cambodia and Laos truly shows you this region as no one else can.

Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide.

Siem Reap: 20 Must See Attractions (Cambodia Travel Guide Books By Anton)

Anton Swanepoel

Explore Siem Reap and discover its hidden attractions. Magnificent Angkor Wat Temple amazes more than two million visitors each year. The gateway to this marvel is the nearby town, Siem Reap. Many visitors allow too little time or do not know about the attractions and activities to be discovered in Siem Reap.

The success of any holiday begins at home: researching, agonizing, and ultimately planning. Cambodia may be your trip of a lifetime – it has been for thousands, as backpackers dot the landscape, enjoying the people and the culture. The information contained within these pages is intended for all travelers: novice, experienced, and, of course, do-it-yourselfers. Discover 20 attractions and activities you must experience in Siem Reap, including an additional 9 attractions or activities to enhance your time in Siem Reap

Some of what you’ll learn – the short list:

A concise description of each attraction, including history and pertinent facts. Hours of operation and fees including best time to visit, where applicable. GPS coordinates for attractions where applicable. Much, much more.

Looking to be swept away by a tide of emotion, or overcome by the natural beauty of a land, lost to time?  Follow the millions who have discovered Cambodia, and in particular Angkor Wat and Siem Reap.  Let this practical guide be your first step on the path to a successful adventure.

If you cherish history, love culture, and crave the mysterious, this guide is for you.

Grab your copy today.

Lonely Planet Cambodia (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

#1 best-selling guide to Cambodia

Lonely Planet Cambodia is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Explore the magnificent temples of Angkor, experience the best and worst of Cambodian history at the capital, or taste the subtle spices of Khmer cuisine; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Cambodia and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Cambodia Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - including culture, history, art, cinema, music, dance, architecture, politics, landscapes, wildlife, cuisine, wine Over 55 maps Covers Phnom PenhSiem Reap, Angkor, Koh KongKampot, the South Coast, Kompong Chhnang, PursatBattambang, Banteay Meanchey, Kompong Cham,  KratieStung TrengRatanakiri, Mondulkiri, and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Cambodia, our most comprehensive guide to Cambodia, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet's Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand guide or Southeast Asia on a Shoestring for a comprehensive look at all the region has to offer.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet, Nick Ray and Greg Bloom.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

*Best-selling guide to Cambodia. Source: Nielsen BookScan. Australia, UK and USA, February 2013 to January 2014.

Stop being a Bitch, Quit your lame ass job & Move to Cambodia

Braeton Howard

In 2015 I randomly decided to move to Cambodia. I didn't know what I was doing or what I was in for. So, I wrote a straightforward, entertaining book on HOW to move to and live in Phnom Penh. I discuss visas, getting jobs, apartments, prices, scams to avoid and general knowledge to make moving to Phnom Penh easier. I hope you enjoy. Peace.

CAMBODIA - Solo & Single Adventure

Wayne A. Freeman

This is a genuine book with no sugar coating as though seen through a panoramic lens of bewilderment and wonderment. Cambodia, Solo & Single Adventure tells of the first-hand experiences of Wayne Freeman as he explores the other side of a country, the side the glossy brochures don’t tell you about. However they should tell you, because this book takes the time to explore and relate what nobody else bothers to. It tells you how to make the most of local culture and local people. It tells you how make just the smallest difference in the lives of others as you pass through. It is also a book about what a single man can get up to when abroad, but not in a way you might expect. Read about the first weeks spent in the “Wild, Wild West of Asia” as a solo traveller and single white male. The feelings felt while being a visitor to a country with such a recent traumatic past.Of course being a solo traveller doesn’t mean there weren’t encounters of an adult nature with an adorable bar girl that only knew a few words in English; freelance girlfriends looking for money or marriage, and even magical nights with a sweet endearing no touch virgin girl that helped with understanding Cambodian culture and language. Add to that a frightening event in a Siem Reap massage parlour with four girls (the only happy ending was making it out) and there are a couple of stories that will make you laugh. Throw in some no nonsense tips on safety, picking reasonable hotels, local travel options, basic language, solo traveling pitfalls and benefits and for the price of a coffee it will have you thinking about that dream trip. Go on take a great big relentless smile and this awesome eBook.... have the time of your life in Cambodia.

Exercise a high degree of caution; see also regional advisories.

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The Government of Canada takes the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provides credible and timely information in its Travel Advice. In the event of a crisis situation that requires evacuation, the Government of Canada’s policy is to provide safe transportation to the closest safe location. The Government of Canada will assist you in leaving a country or a region as a last resort, when all means of commercial or personal transportation have been exhausted. This service is provided on a cost-recovery basis. Onward travel is at your personal expense. Situations vary from one location to another, and there may be constraints on government resources that will limit the ability of the Government of Canada to provide assistance, particularly in countries or regions where the potential for violent conflict or political instability is high.

The Preah Vihear temple area and surrounding border region (see Advisory)

There have been frequent clashes between Cambodia and Thailand over a border dispute in this region, including exchanges of gunfire and artillery that resulted in numerous fatalities and the evacuation of civilians. The presence of landmines has been reported. The situation could deteriorate without warning. Exercise a high level of caution if travelling to any other areas of the Cambodian-Thai border.

Demonstrations

Parliamentary elections were held on July 28, 2013; however, the main opposition party has demanded an inquiry into alleged electoral irregularities. Demonstrations have been taking place since the elections and are expected to continue until the situation is resolved. Violent clashes have occurred, resulting in deaths. Avoid large gatherings and demonstrations, especially near the National Assembly Building, the Prime Minister’s residence (by the Independence Monument), the Phnom Penh Municipal Government Office, Freedom Park (also known as Democracy Park), Wat Phnom, and other government or military buildings or compounds in Phnom Penh, as well as in the provincial capitals and near political party offices. Monitor local media and follow the advice of local authorities.

Terrorism

In recent years, Cambodian authorities have averted a number of attempted bomb plots. On September 13, 2013, explosive devices were found in Phnom Penh, near the National Assembly Building and near Freedom Park.

Crime

Street crime, including pick-pocketing, targeting foreigners has been occurring with increasing frequency in urban areas, including Phnom PenhSiem Reap and Sihanoukville, even during daylight hours. Armed assaults along the riverfront in Phnom Penh and on isolated beaches in Sihanoukville also occur. Canadians have been injured in the course of assaults and armed robberies. Thieves, sometimes on motorcycles, grab bags and other valuables (including passports) from pedestrians, motorcycle drivers and their passengers. Personal belongings have been stolen from locked rooms, particularly in low cost accommodations. Items have been removed from luggage stored in the luggage compartments of buses, especially on journeys between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Banditry continues, largely at night, in rural areas and on routes between Snoul, Kratie and Stung Treng in the northeastern provinces. Foreigners have encountered difficulties with ill-disciplined police and military personnel. Exercise a high degree of caution at all times, avoid travelling alone, especially at night, and ensure personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times. Firearm ownership is high, and guns are often used in cases of robbery and personal disputes or disagreements, including those involving foreigners.

Women’s safety

Sexual assaults have been reported. Consult our publication entitled Her Own Way: A Woman’s Guide to Safe and Successful Travel for travel safety information specifically aimed at Canadian women.

Scams

Scams targeting tourists occur. Card games are often involved. Some travellers have been taken to an automated banking machine and forced to withdraw money.

Travellers have been victims of scams and extortion at border crossings. Some have reported that border officials demanded they pay extra charges before allowing entry into Cambodia. In other cases, travellers were taken by strangers to isolated areas for extended periods of time where they were intimidated and pressed for payment. Carefully consider accepting assistance from individuals offering to help with documentation or transportation.

Transportation

Road conditions are extremely poor. Travel by road should be undertaken in daylight hours, by either scheduled bus or cars travelling in convoy. Boats are often overcrowded, lack adequate safety equipment and are susceptible to robbery by armed gangs. Boat owners accept no liability for accidents. Avoid travelling by train due to poor track maintenance.

With the exception of flights between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, internal air service can be unpredictable, and flights may be cancelled on short notice. Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Travel from Laos should be undertaken by air only. The Lao side of the border is often closed to international travellers. For travel to Laos from Cambodia, you must obtain the relevant visa prior to arrival at the border.

Travel by motorcycle

Motorcycles are a common means of transportation in urban areas. Motorcycle accidents kill or maim several Canadians each year. Driving or riding on motorcycles in Cambodia is dangerous and should be avoided, even by experienced motorcyclists. Substandard road conditions, local disregard for traffic laws and drunk driving result in frequent accidents.

Although motorcycles can be easily rented in Cambodia, it is illegal to operate a motorcycle without a valid Cambodian motorcycle licence or an International Driving Permit with a motorcycle endorsement. Helmets are mandatory for motorcycle drivers and passengers, but many helmets do not meet international safety standards. Ensure your medical insurance will cover you when riding as a driver or passenger. Tourists in Siem Reap are not permitted to rent motorcycles. Foreigners who do not adhere to this law may be stopped by local police and told to return the vehicle immediately.

Passports are often requested as a guarantee when renting motorcycles. Unscrupulous owners have followed renters and taken the motorcycle by removing the lock and chain when the vehicle was parked, leaving the traveller without a motorcycle or passport. You should purchase your own locks and chains.

Canadian passports may not be used as collateral (as assurance for debts, rental of motorcycles, etc.). If your passport is inaccessible or stolen as a result of such misuse, you may be subject to investigation by Passport Canada and may receive limited passport services.

General safety information

Tourist facilities are well developed in Phnom PenhSiem Reap and Sihanoukville, but limited elsewhere.

You are encouraged to register with the Embassy of Australia in Phnom Penh, in order to receive the latest information on situations and events that could affect your safety.

Landmines

Cambodia remains one of the most heavily mined countries in the world. Landmines can be found in rural areas, especially in Banteay Meanchey, Siem Reap (except in the town of Siem Reap and the Angkor temples, which are safe), BattambangKampong Thom and Pursat provinces. The border area with Thailand is especially dangerous. Do not walk in forested areas or in dry rice paddies without a local guide. Areas around small bridges or secondary roads are dangerous. Do not visit outlying temples, particularly in the areas of Phnom Kulen and the River of a Thousand Lingas, as they are heavily mined. Strictly observe warning signs and do not handle any unknown object. Anything resembling a landmine or unexploded ordnance should be reported to the Cambodia Mine Action Centre.

Drugs

Illicit drug use has led to the death of several Canadians in Cambodia. For more information on how to avoid difficult and dangerous situations related to illegal drugs, consult our publication entitled Drugs and Travel: Do’s and Don’ts.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A is a disease of the liver spread by contaminated food or water. All those travelling to regions with a risk of hepatitis A infection should get vaccinated.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Japanese encephalitis

Japanese encephalitis is a viral infection that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Risk is low for most travellers. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to mosquito bites (e.g., spending time outdoors in rural areas) while travelling in regions with risk of Japanese encephalitis.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Rabies

Rabies is a disease that attacks the central nervous system spread to humans through a bite, scratch or lick from a rabid animal. Vaccination should be considered for travellers going to areas where rabies exists and who have a high risk of exposure (i.e., close contact with animals, occupational risk, and children).

Typhoid

Typhoid is a bacterial infection spread by contaminated food or water. Risk is higher among travellers going to rural areas, visiting friends and relatives, or with weakened immune systems. Travellers visiting regions with typhoid risk, especially those exposed to places with poor sanitation should consider getting vaccinated.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from a country where yellow fever occurs.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
  • Discuss travel plans, activities, and destinations with a health care provider.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

In some areas in Southeast Asia, food and water can also carry diseases like cholera, hepatitis A, leptospirosis, schistosomiasis and typhoid. Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Southeast Asia. Remember: Boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!

Cholera

There have been cases of cholera reported in this country in the last year. Cholera is a bacterial disease that typically causes diarrhea. In severe cases it can lead to dehydration and even death.

Most travellers are generally at low risk. Humanitarian workers and those visiting areas with limited access to safe food and water are at higher risk. Practise safe food and water precautions. Travellers at high risk should get vaccinated.

Schistosomiasis

Schistosomiasis is caused by blood flukes (tiny worms) spread to humans through contaminated water. The eggs of the worms can cause stomach illnesses like diarrhea and cramps or urinary problems. Risk is generally low for most travellers. Avoid swimming in contaminated water. There is no vaccine available for schistosomiasis.

Travellers' diarrhea
  • Travellers' diarrhea is the most common illness affecting travellers. It is spread from eating or drinking contaminated food or water.
  • Risk of developing travellers’ diarrhea increases when travelling in regions with poor sanitation. Practise safe food and water precautions.
  • The most important treatment for travellers' diarrhea is rehydration (drinking lots of fluids). Carry oral rehydration salts when travelling.

Insects

Insects and Illness

In Southeastern Asia, certain insects carry and spread diseases like chikungunya, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, lymphatic filariasis, and malaria.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.

Dengue fever
  • Dengue fever occurs in this country. Dengue fever is a viral disease that can cause severe flu-like symptoms. In some cases it leads to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.  
  • Mosquitoes carrying dengue bite during the daytime. They breed in standing water and are often found in urban areas.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. There is no vaccine available for dengue fever.

Malaria

Malaria

  • There is a risk of malaria in certain areas and/or during a certain time of year in this country.
  • Malaria is a serious and occasionally fatal disease that is spread by mosquitoes. There is no vaccine against malaria.
  • Protect yourself from mosquito bites. This includes covering up, using insect repellent and staying in well-screened, air-conditioned accommodations. You may also consider sleeping under an insecticide-treated bed net or pre-treating travel gear with insecticides.
  • Antimalarial medication may be recommended depending on your itinerary and the time of year you are travelling. See a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic, preferably six weeks before you travel to discuss your options.

Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, monkeys, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Some infections found in some areas in Southeastern Asia, like avian influenza and rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.

Avian Influenza

There have been human cases of avian influenza ("bird flu”) in this country. Avian influenza is a viral infection that can spread by contact with infected birds or surfaces and objects contaminated by their feces or other secretions.

Avoid unnecessary contact with domestic poultry and wild birds as well as surfaces contaminated with their feces or other secretions. Ensure all poultry dishes and eggs are thoroughly cooked.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.

HIV

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that attacks and impairs the immune system, resulting in a chronic, progressive illness known as AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). 

Practise safe sex while travelling, and don’t share needles, razors, or other objects which could transmit infection.

Remember that HIV can also be spread through the use of unsterile medical equipment during medical and dental procedures, tattooing, body piercing or acupuncture. Diseases can also be spread though blood transfusions and organ transplantation if the blood or organs are not screened for HIV or other blood-borne pathogens.

Hand, foot and mouth disease

Hand, foot, and mouth disease is a common viral illness that mainly affects infants and children. Travellers are at increased risk if visiting or living in overcrowded conditions. There is no vaccine for this disease.

Tuberculosis

Tuberculosis is an infection caused by bacteria and usually affects the lungs.

For most travellers the risk of tuberculosis is low.

Travellers who may be at high risk while travelling in regions with risk of tuberculosis should discuss pre- and post-travel options with a health care provider.

High-risk travellers include those visiting or working in prisons, refugee camps, homeless shelters, or hospitals, or travellers visiting friends and relatives.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

With the exception of some Thai-run hospitals in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, medical facilities throughout Cambodia are extremely poor and very limited. Doctors and hospitals may demand cash payment or written guarantees from insurance providers in advance for health services. Medical evacuation to Thailand or Singapore is often required in order to obtain acceptable standards of treatment. Seek immediate assistance in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap and consider leaving the country if you experience medical problems.

Psychiatric or psychological facilities and services in Cambodia are almost non-existent.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Laws

Penalties for possession, use or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect jail sentences and fines.

A permit is required to purchase or possess cultural or archaeological artefacts.

Procedures exist to address marriage requests between Cambodian citizens and foreigners, including formal application processes. For more information, contact the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

The sexual exploitation of minors is a serious offence in Cambodia and is subject to harsh penalties. Canadians may also be subject to criminal proceedings in Canada for acts of this nature committed while abroad. Consult our publication entitled Child Sex Tourism: It's a Crime for further information on the risks of committing this form of sexual abuse abroad.

An International Driving Permit is required, and must be exchanged for a Cambodian driving licence. A fee of US$25 is charged for the exchange.

Culture

Dress conservatively, behave discreetly and respect religious and social traditions to avoid offending local sensitivities.

Do not photograph airports or military installations, and ask permission before photographing individuals, including Buddhist monks.

Money

The currency is the riel (KHR). U.S. dollars are also widely used. Only newer, undamaged notes are accepted. Notes with the slightest tear will not be accepted. Personal cheques and credit cards are not widely accepted. Some banks in Phnom Penh accept Visa and MasterCard for cash advances. Traveller's cheques are accepted by major hotels and banks. There are a few automated banking machines (ABMs) in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.

Climate

The rainy (or monsoon) season extends from May to November. Severe rainstorms can cause flooding and landslides, resulting in significant loss of life and extensive damage to infrastructure, and hampering the provision of essential services. In 2011, heavy monsoon rains caused severe flooding, including flash flooding, in 17 of the 24 provinces in Cambodia. Keep informed of regional weather forecasts, avoid disaster areas and follow the advice of local authorities. For Mekong River conditions, consult the Mekong River Commission.

Consult our Typhoons and monsoons page for more information.