Once home to the powerful Khmer Empire, Cambodia is an extremely beautiful country, full of culture, history, breathtaking landscapes, and hospitable people. Tourism in the country is on the rise, with over 6 million people visiting it last year alone. Many people decide to return because they fall in love with the country and its people.
Traveling to Cambodia is relatively easy, but if you want to have the best experience, here are some useful tips you should now, to make your vacation as enjoyable as possible.
Visa and Entry Requirements
Tourists from many approved countries can get a visa upon arrival. You will be required to pay an application fee which is around $30 to $35 and provide two passport-sized photos. If you can, avoid paying in any currency other than the US dollar.
To avoid any unnecessary problems, the best to thing do is to get a visa before travel, and this can easily be arranged and done online. You can visit go-cambodia-online.com to get more information about this.
Cambodia’s official currency is the Cambodian riel (KHR), but the American dollar is widely accepted. Riels might be used in transactions that are under a few dollars, but otherwise the dollar rules. It is important to note that small change dominates in the country, so avoid paying with large notes. Many places do not accept bills that are torn or wrinkled, so be careful with how you keep your money.
Follow the rules and treat Buddhism with respect
It is completely fine to take pictures of the Angkor temples, but keep in mind they are considered a sacred religious site by Buddhists and Hindus. Speak quietly and avoid touching the ancient stones, and behave the same as in any other sacred place. When entering temples, palaces, pagodas, and any other religious structure – dress appropriately. Women should have their shoulders covered and wear trousers or skirts that are below knee-length.
When walking through the streets, women wearing bikini tops or men not wearing shirts is considered inappropriate. Cambodians are modest, gentle people, so you will probably not be confronted, however, dressing appropriately is a must if you want to avoid insulting local people.
Greeting and Loss of Face
Don’t expect to shake hands or see people wave in greeting. Sampeah is the official greeting custom. This is achieved by placing both palms together like a lotus flower and placing them in front of your chest when greeting peers, at mouth level for elders or high-ranking people, and at nose level when greeting parents, grandparents, and teachers.
Cambodians are generally happy people, who smile at everything. This might pose a problem since their smile doesn’t necessarily mean that they are happy. Nodding and smiling doesn’t always mean they understand you, it is also used when admitting they don’t know something. So, if their smile is followed by a nervous giggle, it is best to ask again or double-check that everything is clear.
Driving in circles
While Tuk-tuk drivers might have knowledge of the city and its streets, don’t expect others to know as well. Many people can’t read maps, so it is best to try to figure out the route on your own or use Google Maps for direction.
Unless there is a price tag, never agree to the first price, because it is probably negotiable. Prices will be inflated for tourists, but the initial price is usually twice as much. Walking away often helps, since sellers will probably call you back. Don’t forget to agree on transportation fees before jumping on a ride, to avoid inflated prices.
Be aware of the consequences of your actions and avoid unnecessary problems by paying attention to your behavior. The way you walk, talk, dress, and interact with locals will have a big impact on your overall visit to the country.