As we are based in Siem Reap we can provide you with all of the information you will need for your trip to Cambodia. We have therefore put together the following information, which we will update immediately whenever we are made aware of any changes.
Population: Approx. 15 million
Capital: Phnom Penh
Language: Khmer but English widely spoken especially in Siem Reap
Time Zone: GMT +7 hours and BST +6 hours
Currency: Riel, but US dollars are widely accepted
Weights/Measures: Cambodia use the metric system
Source from: Siem Reap Room
We recommend that you bring US dollars to Cambodia, as Riel is only used for buying small items and for tipping. There is approximately 4,000 Riel to 1 US dollar. You can use ATMs in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville to withdraw US dollars. The following cards are accepted at the ATMs; Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, Cirrus and Plus. Major credit cards are accepted in the larger hotels and in restaurants. Traveler's cheques can be exchanged at banks, money exchangers and most of the bigger hotels at a charge of 2%. Cash advances are also available on Visa and Master cards from most banks and money exchangers. Banks are open from 8:00am to 3:30pm Monday to Friday and some banks are also open on Saturday mornings. Money exchangers open early and close around 10:00pm. All major currencies are easily exchanged especially Thai Baht and the Euro. Western Union and Moneygram transfers are available in most major towns and cities. If you want to transfer money, then bank transfers are the cheapest way to do it.
Please be aware that there is a lot of counterfeit US dollars in Cambodia, so you should check your US dollars before you arrive and also when in Cambodia, even from banks. Also make sure that your US dollars are in good condition, because most places will not accept torn notes even if they are very small.
Costs of visiting Siem Reap
Costs in Siem Reap are still relatively low compared to the more developed countries. However, Siem Reap is more expensive to visit than other towns in Cambodia, especially if you take into consideration the entrance fees to the temples. You can find more information about these costs in our Angkor Temples section.
Getting around Siem Reap is also another cost to consider. This can be done relatively cheap by bicycle at US$1.50 per day, but if you prefer to get around by a tuk tuk or taxi, then this will obviously cost you a bit more. You can find more information about the costs of getting around in our Getting Around section.
Accommodation is another cost to consider when visiting Siem Reap, although you can find places to stay from as little as US$1 per night for a dorm bed to luxury hotels costing thousands of dollars per night. Basically though, you can find many types of places to stay in Siem Reap from budget accommodation to top end hotels and spa resorts. You can find more information about hotels in our Hotels section and about guesthouses, villas and other budget accommodation in our Guesthouses section.
You can enjoy eating and drinking in Siem Reap, whether you are on a tight budget or on an unlimited budget, because Siem Reap has many road side food stalls where you can eat for less than US$1 to very fine restaurants where you can easily spend a US$100 per person for a meal. Siem Reap has many places to eat now, so whatever budget you are on you can eat quite well. If you like going out for a few drinks (or more), then Siem Reap still has places where you can spend less than US$1 for a glass of beer or a few dollars for a known brand spirit. There are also a number of nice bars and cocktail bars in town where you can spend a night socialising and meeting other travellers on less than US$5. You will find some places to visit in our Restaurants & Bars section.
As for other costs in Siem Reap, then it is mainly the attractions and activities to consider. They are not really that expensive though and you just need to decide whether you want to visit them or not. To help you decide, you can find plenty of things to see and do in Siem Reap in our Other Attractions and Leisure Activities sections.
We recommend a minimum budget of US$35 per day for visiting Siem Reap, as this would cover a pass for the day for visiting the temples, a bed for the night and something to eat and drink. It is possible to visit Siem Reap on less than US$35 per day, but you are not going to enjoy it very much and we think visiting the Ancient City of Angkor is probably a once in a lifetime experience for most people. We would also recommend US$60 per day if you want to stay in a decent hotel, take comfortable transport to the Angkor temples, buy your Angkor pass and eat and drink well.
Siem Reap rarely has power cuts. Moreover, most large hotels and restaurants have back up generators.
The electricity supply is 220 volts AC, 50Hz. Most of the plugs are flat 2-pin, but round 2-pin plugs are also used in some places. Adapters are widely available.
International departure tax for adults is US$25 per person, for children under 12 years old it is US$13 per person and for children under 2 years old it is free. Domestic departure tax for both adults and children under 12 years old is US$6. There is no charge for children under 2 years old. VisasAll visitors require visas except nationals of Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Laos. Tourist visas are single entry and are US$20. You will need to bring a passport sized photograph with you, although if you do not have a photograph the immigration officials will photocopy your passport for a fee of US$2. They are valid for a one month stay, but can be extended for a further month in Cambodia. However, they are expensive at around US$45. Children under 14 years of age do need visas but they are issued free. The minimum length of stay is 24 hours and your passport must be valid for at least 6 months on arrival. An onward ticket is very rarely asked for.
Business visas are single entry and are US$25. They can be extended for single entry for 1 month or 3 months and multiple entry visas for 6 months or 1 year.
Overstay of any visa is charged US$5 per day.
You may be able to obtain an e-visa. For more information see evisa.mfaic.gov.kh.
Nationals of the following countries must apply for a visa at a Cambodian Embassy before entering Cambodia and they must also have a letter of invitation or have a pre-arranged tour by a travel agent: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Sudan and a return is advised if you have letter of invitation.
Certain nationals may also have problems crossing overland borders so please check with the Cambodia Embassy first if you are going overland. We have heard a few cases where nationals of India have had problems crossing the border by land but by air it does not seem to be a problem.
Arriving at the airport
When you arrive at the airport you will need to fill out an "Items to declare form" and also an "Arrival and Departure" card. If you do not have a visa on arrival, you will also need to complete a visa application form and attach a passport sized photograph. If you do not have a passport photograph, then one of the officials will gladly take a photocopy of your passport so you can use that instead of a photograph in exchange for a few dollars.
Health and hygiene
The most common illness amongst tourists to Cambodia is diahorea or sunstroke. We recommend that you always use bottled water and eat hot food, as this will reduce the chances of diahorea. Avoiding ice, salads and peeled fruit will help too. The heat and also drinking alcohol can have a big effect on your stomach as well. It's always a good idea to drink lots of water, wear a sun hat and keep out of direct sunlight.
Malaria is quite common in Cambodia, but not in Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. Anti-malarial tablets are not really needed, but if you are visiting other parts of Cambodia then it is advisable to take some form of anti-malarial tablets. Malaria is transmitted by mosquitoes which normally bite you in the evenings. To help protect yourself against Malaria then the best protection is to ensure that you cover up bare skin, especially in the evenings, use a Deet based repellent, mosquito nets, mosquito coils and also spray your room with mosquito spray before going to bed.
Dengue fever is also quite common in Cambodia and, unlike Malaria, it can be easily contracted in Siem Reap or Phnom Penh if precautions are not taken to avoid mosquito bites, especially in the rainy season or just after the rainy season. Dengue fever, like Malaria, is transmitted by the mosquito, but these mosquitoes bite during daylight hours unlike the Malaria carrying mosquito which normally bites in the evenings or early mornings. There is no vaccination for Dengue fever and, although it is not pleasant if you get it, it is rarely fatal as long as you seek medical attention as soon as possible. Protection against mosquito bites is the best protection against Dengue fever, so by following the same advice as above you can protect yourself against mosquito bites.
We strongly advise you seek expert medical advice before travelling to Siem Reap.
H.I.V affects a large amount of the people working in the sex industry, as does Hepatitis B and C. There is very little chance of catching bird flu in Siem Reap. Many drugs are available over the counter which would not be in the west. If you do become ill, let your hotel manager know as most of the time they will know where to find a good doctor. For emergencies then go to the new Royal Angkor Hospital on the airport road (see www.royalangkorhospital.com). We strongly recommend that you take out good travel insurance, one that will pay for transportation to Bangkok or home in case of emergency. You may also be better to see a doctor rather than go to some of the clinics for non emergencies, as you may find a receptionist diagnosing you with a serious medical problem.
Postal services and communications
The main post office in Siem Reap is on the West side of the river on Pokambor Avenue which faces Siem Reap river and it maybe easier to find FCC Hotel then it is about 400m from there following the river. You can send postcards, letters and parcels abroad and the service is pretty good. You can also make domestic or international phone calls and their also have a fax machine if you need to fax something back home.
The post office is open Monday to Saturday from 7:30am to 11:00pm and also 7:30am to 5:30pm on Sundays.
There a number of parcel service companies that have opened up in Siem Reap, but the one that most people will know is DHL Express, which is facing the river near the Old Market.
Internet cafes and telephone calls
There are probably over 200 internet cafes in Siem Reap where you can use internet facilities and also make domestic and international phone calls. Internet rates are normally US$0.50 to US$1.00 per hour. International phone calls via the internet are nearly all under US$1.00 per minute to all countries.
To phone Cambodia the international code is 855 and area code for Siem Reap is 63. If you are inside Cambodia then you will need a "0" in front of the 63 to phone Siem Reap.
Mobile SIM cards
Tourist SIM cards are now available from around US$2 each and they last for 2 weeks. Officially you need to be a Cambodian national with an ID card or you need to live and work in Cambodia to be able to buy a SIM card for your mobile phone for longer than 2 weeks.
There are many photo shops in Siem Reap where you can develop photos or put your pictures onto a CD. Memory cards for digital cameras are widely available and are much cheaper than in the west. Camera batteries are also readily available in Siem Reap.
Tipping is not expected, although it will be much appreciated by someone who is earning an average of US$50 a month in a restaurant. A few thousand riel or one US dollar is enough if you think they have served you well.
Theft is the main concern in Siem Reap as the Police authorities take crime very seriously when it involves the tourists. However, Siem Reap is probably one of safest towns in Asia and definitely safer than most towns in the West.
Commonsense can prevent theft, such as not carrying shoulder bags where someone on a motorbike could snatch it from you. Most theft though will occur from the place where you are staying, so be warned. Always put your valuables in a sealed envelope which can not be tampered with without you knowing when using a hotel safe or deposit box. Do NOT believe the receptionist if they say that they do not have an envelope or if they say "no problem". Most hotels and guesthouses will tell you not to leave any valuables in the room, because they will not be held responsible. This includes cameras, money, passports and anything else that is of great value to you. You should always keep valuables in the hotel safe but when you do not, then it is at your own risk not the hotel management's. Most staff in hotels and guesthouses will NOT steal from your room but the temptation can still be too great for them if you left, say, US$500 in your room which is over 1 year's salary to them!
Siem Reap is quite safe to walk around during the day and in the evening. However, if you are going out late at night by yourself then we advise that you go with a tuk tuk or moto driver who you are familiar with. The police patrol Siem Reap in the evenings and many places have night security guards to deter thieves from premises.
Please be aware that, despite what you may have heard, the Khmer Rouge is no longer active in Cambodia and there are no bandits.
Finally, one last piece of advice. You will find Cambodians to be very friendly but, just as in any other country, they will expect you to be friendly in return. It is never wise to get involved in an argument with local people whichever country you are visiting and that includes Cambodia.
Dangers and annoyances
Ants: There a number of types of ant in Cambodia and some of them can give you very irritating bites. Do not attract ants to your room by leaving food lying around, especially anything with sugar in them or snack foods like crisps.
Bed Bugs: Bedbugs carry a lot of pathogens (germs) which cause diseases, but they are unlikely to transmit any disease to you and the only thing you are likely to get is the discomfort of the actual bite. Bed bugs are like vampires and can drink a lot more of your blood than a mosquito. They can be found anywhere, even in 5 star hotels if the beds are not checked regularly. They generally live in the mattress or in the woodwork of a bed. Bed bugs are red/brown colour and look like a small beetle in appe
We spanly recommend that you do not give money or food to any beggars as this does not help them in the long term. If you want to help people in their situation, then there are a number of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) who are working with them, by trying to train them and helping them to find a job.
Dogs: Dogs can be very annoying in Siem Reap, because many people use them as guard dogs and when someone walks near their premises, their dog will start barking and when one dog barks everyone's dog start barking. Do not attempt to stroke any dogs even if they look friendly, because there is Rabies in Cambodia.
Land Mines: All the land mines have now been cleared around the temple area, so there is no cause for concern. However, if you are going anywhere off the main roads or tourist areas, then you should always employ the services of a guide.
Monkeys: The monkeys at the temples do look very friendly and you will see people feeding them close up, but be warned they can change their behaviour very quickly and remember there is rabies in Cambodia. They can also transmit tuberculosis (TB) and certain strains of hepatitis. It is actually illegal to feed the monkeys around the temples.
Mosquitoes: Mosquitoes can be very irritating more than anything else, especially in the evening. And of course they also carry some nasty diseases like Malaria and Dengue fever to name a few. To avoid them, cover up well in the evening showing little bare skin and also use a high deet repellent on any exposed skin. Hotels and guesthouses with a lot of greenery and stagnant pools will be over run with mosquitoes, especially in the rainy season and just after.
Scams: There is nowhere near as many scams in Siem Reap as in some Asian countries, but unfortunately as tourism grows the more scammers there are likely to be. We recommend that you do some research before you arrive about how much things are likely to cost.
Snakes: There are many types of snake in Cambodia, but you are unlikely to see one as most snakes avoid people and you are also less likely to see any on the main tourist routes. However, you should still be careful when visiting temples with jungle growth, because there can be snakes in the undergrowth, some which are deadly like the ferocious Malayan Pit Viper. Luckily these snakes are very rare. Other poisonous snakes include the Common Cobra, which has a pretty toxic venom and the Crate snake, which has venom the same strength as the Cobra but it is more scary because when it bites it does not let go. Another snake which can be seen is the Green Pit Viper, which is a small tree snake which grows to about 2ft, poisonous and normally attacks its victims from above. The Golden Tree snake, or flying snake, which is also small can also be found in Cambodia, but it is very rare with only mild venom.
There are also many varieties of water snakes to be found in Tonle Sap Lake, some which are very rare like