PHNOM PENH

It’s phnom-inal.

Phnom Penh travel guide

Phnom Penh means “Penh’s Hill”, on which the Buddhist temple stands.

Cambodia has only one time zone, UTC + 7 hours. Cambodia is five hours ahead of Paris and 11 hours ahead of New York/Toronto.

To travel to Cambodia, all travelers need a valid passport with six months validity beyond your date of entry.

Visas are available for one month to business and tourist travelers. Here is a list of countries that contain varying visa requirements for entering Cambodia.

One page of your passport is required for entry stamp upon arrival. In order to obtain a tourist visa, you will need:

  • A passport.
  • A visa application form that you must fill out.
  • A current picture of your face.
  • Your plane ticket.

One can receive a visa online prior to entry or applying directly at the airport. Visas will cost USD $30.00 per entry. Note that the import of Cambodian currency (Riel) is not allowed. More information about visa requirements can be found here.

Just landed in Phnom Penh International Airport? Here are a few ways to get where you need to go:

Train

The train at the airport only costs $2.50 for a 30 minute ride, and it will take you directly to Phnom Penh Railway Station, located at the heart of the city. If you have to stop by your hotel to drop off a lot of luggage, this may not be the route for you.

Shuttle Bus

This option costs $5 a person, and it may take you 30 minutes-1 hour to reach your destination. There are seven stops, and one may be near your hotel! During peak hours, the bus runs every 30 minutes, and every 60 minutes during non-peak hours

Rent an Express Minivan

You can rent express mini-vans along with a driver in your native language. You can rent them for a few hours or many days, and they often have extensive knowledge about tourism opportunities in the country. Depending on the time of year, it can be as cheap as $60 for a day to $150 a day.

Taxi

Regular taxis are also available outside the airport, which are always reliable. These fares are more expensive, ranging from $12-$18 per ride.

Tuk Tuk

 If you are traveling locally, the best mode of transportation is through PassApp. This is the Cambodian form of Uber or Lyft, so you can call a car or a tuk tuk. A tuk tuk is cheaper and commonly used, and it is similar in size to a golf cart. You can travel to any hotel for as little as $2 or $3. They charge you based on distance, not time spent driving you.

Phnom Penh has slightly less pickpockets than Siem Reap, but it is still recommended and customary to be watchful of your belongings. Unfortunately, Cambodia and the rest of Southeast Asia is notorious for female sex trafficking, so solo travelers should also be aware of this.

Safety tips:

  • Always hold your purse/backpack in front of you.
  • Don’t carry too much cash or valuables at one time.
  • Ensure the legitimacy of your tuk-tuk driver by ordering from PassApp.
  • On an everyday basis, do not dress provocatively, as it is not common in Cambodia.
  • Leave your valuables in a room safe in your hotel.
  • Carry a form of identification with you at all times.
  • Don’t walk alone at night.

Phnom Penh is always very hot and humid. Be prepared to sweat a lot, especially if you’re outdoors and exposed to the sun. To mitigate the heat, try to wear loose, bright clothes.

December-February: Sunny, dry weather. The best time of the year to visit with the least amount of humidity.

February-April: Hottest months of the year, with temperatures as high as 40° Celsius.

May-June: Hot and sticky, worst humidity of the year.

July-November: The beginning of the rainy months, with hard downpour that may lead to temporary flooding.

Khmer is the primary language used in Cambodia. Fortunately, there are not different dialects, but accents differ based on the countryside and the city. However, for tourists traveling in popular cities, English, French, and Mandarin are often spoken.

For important phrases that may be useful to travelers, refer to this article .

People in Cambodia are known to have good hearts, as they are nice to everyone new they meet.

Here are some general rules to follow during your stay in Cambodia:

For local events, timing is not strict. Be prepared for things to start later than officially stated.

Take off shoes when entering one’s home.

When visiting the royal palace or historical temples, always wear skirts/pants/dresses below the knee and a shirt that covers your shoulders and chest.

When greeting someone respectfully, clap your hands together and slightly bow.

Try to eat all the food on your plate, if possible.

Cambodian currency is the riel. 1 USD is approximately equivalent to 4,100 riel. For change of a dollar, there are also 50, 100, 200, and 500 riels. Their entire currency is made of paper, so they have no coins.

They do accept US dollars at most establishments. Almost all locals will only accept clean, crisp dollars. It is common to be denied your payment if the dollar is ripped or discolored.

Exchanging money in Cambodia can be done at hotels, currency exchange, and banks. Rates do apply.

Cambodia uses 270 volts of electricity, so chargers from North America will not work here. However, you can buy a voltage converter or a universal adapter can be used to charge devices. Your converter should look like this:

Tap water is not safe to drink in Cambodia. Stick to drinking water from bottles, a filtered reusable bottle, or boiled water that has been heated for over 20 minutes.

For brushing teeth use bottled water as well. Do not drink anything with ice or eat any pre-cut fruit.

Wifi

Your local cafes and hotels will typically have free and fast internet wifi. Here is a list of cafes that offer free wifi.

SIM Cards

You can buy SIM cards at local kiosks in the city, and could potentially save you a lot of money for international calls. Hot tip: bring an old burner phone to put the SIM card in!

Download PassApp, which gives you the ability to call legitimate tuk tuk or car drivers at a moment’s notice. This is Cambodia’s equivalent to Uber or Lyft. Tuk tuks are also a popular item on the tourist to-do list, as you can take it to the Royal Palace or a night market for cheap prices.

Cambodia is known for its poor human rights and gender inequality, however, there are no anti-LGBTQ laws in place. While it is not accepted culturally, big cities like Phnom Penh are more accepting of homosexuality, especially young people who have clear influences from American and K-Pop culture. There has been a small annual gay pride parade in Phnom Penh since 2003!

Locals are also generally aware of tourist’s differences, so most foreigners are not asked questions. PDA is considered taboo in Cambodia in general, so both homosexual and heterosexual couples should keep it to a minimum.

Phnom Penh is unfortunately extremely dirty, and is it still a country trying to improve their sustainability methods. You can bike around many great landmarks, such as taking Tonle Bati cycling paths to the killing fields.

One eco-friendly tourist company is called Grasshopper Tours, where you can tour the islands of Mekong. Another eco-tourism destination is the Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Center, which is controlled by an NGO that revives endangered species throughout Cambodia. You can hand-feed elephants and pet baby animals!

As for recycling, most areas in Phnom Penh have not reached this stage of development yet. At best, you will find two trash bins: combustible and non-combustible.

SHOP PRODUCTS MADE BY MALE VICTIMS OF SEX TRAFFICKING:

urban Light Chiang Mai

FOR THE PLANNERS:

Often referred to as “Paris of the East," Phnom Penh exudes French influence in its architecture & design.

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