Angkor Wat (Cambodia) Costs and 7 amazing temples you can’t miss! sunrise

9 Things you should know about Cambodia before going!

Cambodia stole my heart! It's a country that not many know about, but it is becoming a more famous backpacking spot by the year. So if you're planning a trip to Cambodia, here are some essential things you should know to make the most of your adventure.

What to expect in this article:

Angkor Wat (Cambodia) Costs and 7 amazing temples you can’t miss! sunrise

About Cambodia

Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia known for its history and amazing Angkor Wat. It is also getting more and more famous under backpackers, because it is quite a cheap country and getting more safe. 

The capital, Phnom Penh, has the Royal Palace and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, showing both its royal history and the tragic times under the Khmer Rouge.
The famous Angkor Wat temple in Siem Reap is a must-see. It is number 1 on Lonely Planet’s 500 best destinations in the world. Ever since I saw that, I wanted to go! 

In 2022, I had the chance to visit Cambodia and went to Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Kampong Phluk. You can read about my adventures in Cambodia here
In this article, I will share what you should know before travelling here. Cambodia might be getting more popular, but it still is not a country to go to unprepared 

9 Things you should know about Cambodia before going!
Angkor Wat (Cambodia) Costs and 7 amazing temples you can’t miss! tonle om gate

1. Cambodia Visa

Getting a visa for Cambodia is straightforward. You can apply online for an e-Visa (see this website) before your trip, which is valid for 30 days and allows you to enter through entry points like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports.
Once I applied for it I received an email with my visa the next day. Don’t forget to print it! 

Alternatively, you can get a visa on arrival at most borders and airports. Before heading to Cambodia, ensuring the visa was ready was a priority for me. In Indonesia, for instance, waiting at the airport for a visa on arrival took some time.

If you want to do this, then make sure to have a passport-sized photo and the visa fee in Riels or US dollars. 

2. Currency - Riel or Dollars?

Before leaving for Cambodia (actually during my whole trip to Asia), I made sure to have Riels and Dollars with me. As I mentioned before, you can apply for your visa online, but also on arrival. If you want to do it on arrival, then make sure to have dollars with you. 

Why? Because the Cambodian Riels have banknotes of 100, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 20000, 50000 & 100000. I used Riels for daily use, on markets for example. But for larger amounts, Dollars were preferred, so I didn’t need to carry that many Riels with me. Maths is not my best side, and paying such high numbers in Riels did not really help me. 

9 Things you should know about Cambodia before going!
Angkor Wat (Cambodia) Costs and 7 amazing temples you can’t miss! sunrise

3. Super friendly Cambodians

Cambodians are some of the friendliest and most welcoming people I’ve ever met. They say Thailand is the land of smiles, but they have not been to Cambodia yet. Even while walking on the street and looking at someone on a bicycle, they start to smile. It’s heartwarming. Especially knowing the history people have gone through (read more below). 

Even the children in the picture below were eager to try to speak English with us and told us all about how much rice she has to eat every day, to grow and how much she doesn’t like that. For me, people make the experience, so these kind of encounters are kept in my heart forever. 

Do respect local customs by dressing modestly, especially when visiting temples. Removing your shoes before entering homes or certain buildings is a common practice.

9 Things you should know about Cambodia before going!
My friend makes everyone laugh 🙂
9 Things you should know about Cambodia before going!
These kids were telling us lots of stories
9 Things you should know about Cambodia before going!

4. History of Cambodia

Cambodia’s history is both fascinating and tragic. The remnants of the Khmer Empire’s glory are visible in the stunning temples and monuments.

However, the more recent history of the Khmer Rouge regime is somber and significant. Visiting places like the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields was a sad experience that made me understand their history more. You have to visit these places and if possible, also hire a guide. 

I had the same feeling walking here, as when I was walking in Auschwitz (Poland). It might not be the most fun thing to do and it will most likely affect you for a moment, but it is needed to understand Cambodia better. 
It’s important to approach these sites with respect and sensitivity.

9 Things you should know about Cambodia before going!
The Killing Fields

Here you can see the sad activities you can do with GetYour Guide

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5. Angkor Wat and where to buy tickets

You can’t visit Cambodia and not go to Angkor Wat.
This ancient temple complex is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most incredible places I’ve ever seen.
That is why I wrote a whole different article about it, which you can read here! 

There are different pricings depending on how many days you would like to visit the temples. 

Single Day Pass – $37
Three Day Pass – $62
Seven Day Pass – $72

Tickets can only be purchased at the official ticket center, and all other tickets are not valid. Your ticket will have your picture taken at the ticket office window.

When we visited Angkor Wat (July 22) we chose a 1-day temple hunt and the second day was free for us. I am guessing this was because Covid just stopped and this is the way they wanted to attract people. Below you can find a schedule of the temples that we visited during the 1.5 days. 

Again, I want to say that Angkor Wat has been one of my highlights on my 4-months trip through Asia. You definitely have to go here! 

Angkor Wat (Cambodia) Costs and 7 amazing temples you can’t miss! ta prohm

6. Cambodia is not too touristic yet

One of the things I liked about Cambodia is that, apart from the famous Angkor Wat, the country isn’t overly touristy. You can explore many beautiful and authentic places without the crowds.

Maybe it was also because we travelled just after Covid (July 2022), but Cambodia needs much more attention. 
Visiting most temples felt incredible because they were often nearly empty. It was amazing to explore these sites alone while feeling safe throughout the journey.
Only Angkor is a different story 🙂 

9 Things you should know about Cambodia before going! 1
9 Things you should know about Cambodia before going!

7. Child beggars (Siem Reap)

While exploring Cambodia, you may see child beggars, especially in tourist areas, like the party street ‘Pub Street’ in Siem Reap. 

It’s heartbreaking, but it’s important not to give them money, as I have heard this can keep the cycle of exploitation alive.

Instead, consider giving food or supporting organizations that work to help these children. It’s a way to make a positive impact on their lives.
For example, in Siem Reap, while enjoying a pizza, a child approached the table. Instead of giving money, offering her a slice of pizza seemed a better option. Hopefully, it was appreciated.

9 Things you should know about Cambodia before going!

8. Getting around Cambodia (tuk tuks)

Tuk-tuks are the most common way of transport in Cambodian cities, and they are both fun and affordable. Negotiating the fare before you start your journey is a good practice.
For longer distances, buses and boats are popular options. It was very easy for us to travel between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh by bus and even from Siem Reap to Bangkok we went by bus. 
I can recommend a few apps like Uber so that you don’t need to negotiate. I wrote about these tips in this article

9. Phnom Penh - Modern city

Phnom Penh, the bustling capital of Cambodia, is more modern than you might expect. It’s a city with skyscrapers along with historical landmarks. 
The riverside area is especially cool, with fun cafes, restaurants, and bars. We also loved to be at the Sky Bar at this hotel. In the evening we visited the artist Daniel Park was performing and improvising, we could choose songs. It was lovely! 

Phnom Penh definitely is a unique blend of old and new. I am sure that when I visit this city again in the future, lots will have changed, hopefully in a good way. 

9 Things you should know about Cambodia before going!
Dinner near the river
9 Things you should know about Cambodia before going!
Skybar

Here are some activities in Phnom Penh

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Are you excited to visit Cambodia? I hope you are! If any of my tips have helped you, please let me know. There is so much to do in Cambodia, so I would love to visit it again in the future.

*Some of the links in the article are affiliate links, so I may receive a commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.

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