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Cambodia: All you need to know before travelling to this Asian country

The Basics
Population: Almost 15 million
Capital: Phnom Penh
Currency: Riel 
Khmer, English and French
Theravada Buddhist
Emergency number: 117

Visa, Please
Who needs one?
All foreign passport holders, except passport holders of Singapore, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam require a visa to enter Cambodia. Most visitors require a tourist visa, and it is possible to apply for one on arrival at major airports and boarder crossings. You will need US$20, a passport-size photo and a passport valid for at least six months. Call the Royal Embassy of Cambodia on 6732 4764 for more details.

Getting it sorted in Singapore
Apply for visas online at www.mfaic.gov.kh using a credit card to pay the US$25 fee. Your visa (valid for 30 days) will be emailed to you. Print a copy and take it with you, but check that the port you are entering from accepts e-visa visitors.

Health Hints

  • Malaria is present throughout the country, so see your health practitioner about antimalarial drugs. Also, wear long sleeves and trousers, and plenty of repellent
  • Cambodia is still affected by unmarked landmines. Don’t stray off main routes, including those around temples

Learn the Lingo

Thank you very muchAkun jann
Do you speak English?Teu nak niyeay phea sar anglei tay?
How much for this?Teu nis thlay pun mann?

Cambodia: The best bits

Hot Spots
Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, Kep, Tonle Sap Lake, Kratie, Banlung

Itinerary Ideas

  • The big two: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap (Angkor Wat)
  • The south: Phnom Penh – Kep – Kampot – Sihanoukville

Times & Dates
Flying time
2 hours

Time difference from Singapore
1 hour behind

When to go
Cambodia has four seasons:

• November to February, cool and dry

• March to May, hot and dry

• June to August, hot and wet

• September to October, cool and wet

Key dates
April: Chaul Chnam, the Cambodian New Year celebration, lasts for around three days from mid April. September to October: Pchum Ben or Soul Day. Running for 15 days from the end of September to October, this festival is dedicated to blessing the spirits of the dead. 9 November: Independence Day. A national holiday celebrating Cambodia’s independence from France in 1953.

Culture Corner
Before you go, watch…
The Killing Fields
. Depicting the events under the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot’s regime in the 1970s, which resulted in mass genocide, as seen through a local and US journalist’s eyes. Harrowing history.

Before you go, read…
The River’s Tale: A Year on the Mekong
by Edward Gargan (2001). Exactly what it says on the tin. A Dragon Apparent: Travels in Cambodia, Laos & Vietnam by Norman Lewis (1951). The British travel writer’s memoir includes a meeting with the King of Cambodia. Phaic Tăn: Sunstroke on a Shoestring, a Jetlag Travel Guide (2006). This mock guidebook isn’t specifically about Cambodia, but it will ring plenty of funny bells for anyone who has been there.

While you’re there, please don’t…
Point with your index finger. Instead gesture with your right-hand palm up.