Ancient temples, empty beaches, mighty rivers, remote forests ... and (outside Angkor) only a handful of tourists. But the word is out - Cambodia has emerged from the decades of war and isolation that made it a byword for atrocities, refugees, poverty and political instability. Those magical Angkor temples are drawing gaping travellers by the busload once more, and Cambodia is well and truly back on the South-East Asian travel map.
The successor-state of the mighty Khmer Empire - which ruled much of what is now Vietnam, Laos and Thailand - Cambodia boasts a rich culture, French-era (albeit a little weathered) capital and impressive natural scenery. The peace is young but relatively stable, and the country is slowly attracting the tourism currently sweeping neighbouring Vietnam. However, the proliferation of land mines and banditry in remote areas means the picture isn't all rosy, and for now the beaten path remains by far the one best travelled.
Cambodia has such an unstable recent history that no-one is ever quite sure what's around the corner. It is advisable to keep yourself well-informed about current affairs within the country.There are some excellent cheap English & French publications which allow you to do this : English: Cambodia Daily 1200 riel, Phnom Penh Post 3500 riel,fortnightly Bayon Pearnik - free monthly, French : Cambodge Soir, 1500 riel - daily.
The other major information sources are from guest-houses & people, both long-term resident ex-pats & travellers themselves. In Phnom Penh, Capitol GH is a renowned place for info, but now any friendly guest-house area is good for finding out what you need to know.
With regard landmines - There are still many thousands of land-mines & unexploded ordnance in more remote areas of Cambodia. The chances of approaching these areas unknown to you is very small. In rural areas, always seek local advice & don't stray from that path.
cambodia adventure travel
In Phnom Penh & Siem Reap, moto taxis are the main option.
cambodia vacation rentalsBus : Newly erected bus shelters have been spotted in Phnom Penh!! As yet no information on services.
Taxi : Phnom Penh Un-metered easily found around Central Market. One company ( Vantha Travel) does operate a couple of metered taxis. 24 hour service.
Car Hire : Car hire US$20+/day incl. Driver. Bargain
Cyclo : Cycle rickshaw. Phnom Penh. The most stylish way to see Phnom Penh. Single journey 1500 riel, must bargain !! usually $1/hour
cambodia tourist attractionsMoto-Motorbike Taxi : Motos are everywhere. Typically 1000 riel per journey. Bargain. One word of caution about moto drivers. The moto drivers at the GH's have good English. 95% of moto drivers in Phnom Penh have no English beyond .."you need moto?".
It helps to know your way back from town to your GH or navigate by landmarks obvious to locals (Psah Central, Wat Phnom). On the upside, these guys are usually cheaper!!! In Siem Reap $5-6/day
Mo-ped : $3/day, Dirt bike US$6/day ask at hotels, guest houses and agents. May need to show your passport.
Bicycle : Phnom Penh $1+/day in very bad condition. The roads are also poor and the traffic is horrendous except on Sundays.
These customs are common throughout South East Asia.
Toilet : Squat toilets are usual. Toilet paper is rare - cleaning by left hand is the custom. Flush with hand bucket. Most Guesthouses have western style toilets, some even have toilet paper.
Bathing : take water from a water pool with a bucket and pour over your head. Most guesthouses have showers.
Left hand : Do not touch others with your left hand as it is considered dirty - see above for explanation.
Touching the head of others : It is quite insulting to Cambodians. Never ever touch with your left hand.
Tipping : Not customary.
Clothing : Casual dress is generally acceptable . However religious sites require that arms and legs be covered.
Footware (indoor) : Locals don't wear shoes inside houses or temples. Remove your shoes before entry.
Bargaining : Common practice in markets, street stalls, taxis, cyclos.