Useful Information

  • Tradition & Culture

    The Khmer culture has lasted for centuries, and is based on tradition, honouring ancestors, respecting elders and living a life of honesty, humility and kindness. Which is probably why Cambodians are known for being some of the most warm, hospitable and humble people in the world. Above all these qualities, Cambodians are known for their remarkable ability to get on with life after enduring the atrocities that ravaged the country in the 1970s. 

    As with other neighbouring nations like Thailand, the concept of “saving face” is important. Displaying control and keeping a peaceful nature in public is paramount, as is not losing your temper or ridiculing others. 

    Most Khmer people are Buddhist. Monks are highly regarded and respected in society, and religious festivals and ceremonies are important parts of daily life. When visiting Cambodia, expect to see orange-robed monks and many displays of faith - from people visiting large, elaborate temples to them praying over small, humble shrines. 

    Despite the infiltration of modern ideas and concepts, Khmer customs and traditions are kept alive with traditional dance, art, festivals and costume enduring alongside modern pop music and dance.

  • Visa to Cambodia

    Obtaining your visa for Cambodia is quite a straightforward process. Tourist visas for most nationalities can be obtained on arrival at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap airports for 20 USD cash. You will be issued with a visa form while still on the plane or upon arrival, and will require one passport photo to accompany your visa application.
    By visiting www.mfaic.gov.kh and paying 25 USD by credit card, a 30-day tourist visa can be issued electronically within three business days. Note that this visa is only valid for arrival at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap international airports, Cham Yeam (Koh Kong), Poi Pet (Banteay Meanchey) and Bavet (Svay Rieng). Cambodian visas can be obtained on arrival at the following border crossings:

    • Phnom Penh International Airport
    • Siem Reap - Angkor International Airport
    • Poipet (Banteay Meanchey Province, bordering Thailand)
    • O’Smach (Oddar Meanchey Province, bordering Thailand)
    • Cham Yeam (Koh Kong Province, bordering Thailand)
    • Bavet (Svay Reing Province, bordering Vietnam)
    • Kaam Samnor on the Mekong River (Kandal Province, bordering Vietnam).

    It is important to be aware that Cambodian visa regulations and arrangements are subject to change. You must ensure you have organized or researched your own visa requirements prior to travel. We strongly suggest that you check with the relevant embassies in your home country for current visa guidelines.

  • LGBT in Cambodia
    Q: Is there any law against homosexual activities in Cambodia?
    A: No, Same-sex sexual activity is legal in Cambodia when it involves non-commercial acts between consenting adults in private. While traditional cultural mores tend to be tolerant in this area, even expressly providing support for people of an intermediate or third gender, LGBT rights legislation has not yet been enacted by the ruling government.
    Q: How Cambodian people accept LGBT?
    A: Discrimination in such areas as employment, education, housing, health care, banking and other businesses that offer services to the public on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is not expressly illegal.  Likewise there is no law that expressly deals with harassment or violence against LGBT people. No politician or organized political party has publicly supported for legislation to address discrimination and harassment against LGBT people. In 2007, the Prime Minister of Cambodia publicly stated that he was disowning and disinheriting his adopted daughter because she is a lesbian and had married another woman. However, in the same statement, Hun Sen stated that he did not want other parents to mistreat their gay children. Despite the decision of the Prime Minister, and the lack of civil rights protections, the 1990s saw a desire of more LGBT Cambodians to come out of the closet, and stand up for their human rights and dignity. The Government generally allows gay bars to exist, along with annual pride festivals and some degree of political activism on behalf of LGBT-rights. Several organizations have arisen to sponsor social activities for LGBT people as well as campaign for human rights and dignity, e.g., Cambodia LGBT Pride!, M Style and many more. While not officially sponsored by the government, there is also an active business for LGBT tourists visiting Cambodia. In 2010, the Cambodian Center for Human Rights (CCHR) established the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Project to empower LGBT people throughout Cambodia to advocate for their rights and to improve respect for LGBT people throughout Cambodia. In December 2010, the CCHR published a ground breaking report on the situation of LGBT people in Cambodia.
    Q: Is same sex marriage acceptable in Cambodia Law?
    A: Law on Same Sex Marriage has not yet been regulated. In February 2004, the issue of gay rights in Cambodia was discussed by then King-Father Norodom Sihanouk. King Sihanouk wrote on his web site he was impressed by marriage of same-sex partners in San Francisco, and that if his people wished for gay marriage to be legalized in Cambodia, he would do so. King Sihanouk also stated that he believed that God views homosexuals, as well as transvestites, as equal because "[God loves] wide range of tastes".
    Q: What is the customs in Cambodia that LGBT should be followed?
    A: There are no specific rules or customs for LGBT. However, Cambodian gay and lesbian still follow code of traditional customs. In Cambodia it is not polite to make eye contact with someone who is older or someone who is considered a superior.
    Q: Are there any gay-friendly hospitality and tourism services in Cambodia?
    A: In February 2011, after some Cambodian tourism businesses have set up a global campaign called “Adore Cambodia!” to let LGBT tourists know they are welcome in the country, the Ministry of Tourism welcomed this initiative. "We have no policy to discriminate on sex, national and religious grounds. We really support them," said So Sokvuthy from this Ministry. The country generally allows gay bars to exit. Most hospitality and tourism services are Gay and lesbian-friendly.
    Q: Are there any big events for the Gay community in Cambodia?
    A: Cambodia's first ever LGBT Pride celebration was held in 2003 in the capital city of Phnom Penh. It is now a yearly event that openly celebrates the diversity of Cambodia. Once a taboo subject, there is an increasing acceptance for homosexuality among Cambodians. In 2006, about 400 Cambodians in the Gay and Lesbian communities came to support and celebrate Gay Pride
    Q: Are there any social nudity places in Cambodia?
    A: No, there are not.

  • Social Convention & Etiquette
    Most Cambodians, especially in rural areas, are not used to Westerners and it helps to be aware of some of the more simple Cambodian social conventions, such as respecting privacy and never losing your temper.
    Cambodia is a very traditional society that values family structures and the role of religion in regulating life, it is much more traditional than those of Thailand and Vietnam and the conduct of outsiders needs to be adjusted accordingly. If entering a private home, it is common to leave your shoes outside.
    The head is considered sacred so it is improper to pat adults or children on the head.
  • Money & Expenses
    The currency of Cambodia is the Riel.
    In both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh there are several ANZ ATMs that distribute US dollars. US Dollars are widely accepted rather than local currency, and other currencies are little recognised. Credit cards have a very limited use and are not widely accepted.
    Allow $10 a day for basic day-to-day expenses (drinks, meals, etc). A local beer will normally cost around $1, a two course lunch $4 and a two course dinner $6.
  • Food & Drink
    As in most of South East Asia, so in Cambodia too, the staple food is rice. Along with rice, a lot of fish- mainly freshwater- (the water bodies of the country are rich in fish), and salads are popular dishes. Fish, beef, pork and poultry are popular ingredients spiced with a fascinating array of herbs, spices and sauces. Most Cambodian meals consist of a soup, and always include a lot of vegetables. The flavorings used are typically 'Oriental' ones- mint, lemon grass, coriander, coconut and fish sauce. Interestingly enough, Cambodia’s 'French Connection’ has influenced local cuisine to quite an extent; you’ll find distinct French dishes like frog’s legs and French bread in the country too. Some though, have been adapted to suit local palates, making them interesting variations on the original.

  • Tipping

    Tipping is very much the norm in Cambodia; especially in the service industry and you should be prepared to tip guides, drivers and porters who assist you during your stay.

    As a guideline if you are travelling alone we would recommend that you tip your guide $7 per day. If travelling in a couple you should offer $10 per couple per day. If you are travelling in a group of 3-4 then tipping between $15-20 per group per day is about right. For groups larger than four allow an increase roughly equating to 10% more for each additional person in the group. For your driver please tip around half of the total tip given to your guide. If your itinerary is more intensive and incorporates more specialized elements such as trekking then increase these guidelines by 20% or more depending on your satisfaction level. Higher tips are very welcome for exceptional guides.

    For porters a tip of $1 per person per bag is appropriate and it is useful to have several dollar bill notes to hand for your convenience, alternatively an equivalent amount in local currency will suffice.
    Bargaining is the rule in markets, and when negotiating rates with taxi drivers (always agree a price before your journey begins), but you won't need to be as forceful as you would in Thailand or Vietnam.

  • Language

    Khmer is the national language; however, Chinese and Vietnamese are also spoken. French was widely spoken until the arrival of the Pol Pot regime and is spoken by those of the older generation. English is now a more popular language to learn among the younger generation

  • Getting Around
    Siem Reap has direct flight connections with many international airports throughout Southeast Asia, so your visit to Angkor can be a brief 'add on' to another country in the region or a more in-depth exploration. We often suggest combining the temples with the capital, Phnom Penh, as in both places you will find, perhaps to your surprise, some of Asia’s finest hotels.

    Travelling from one to the other is usually by air, although the road has improved to make this a viable option, perhaps including a stop at the temple of Sambor Prei Kuk. Daily boat services crossing Tonle Sap Lake are rather limited, so unless you have time to take one of the longer cruises this may not be possible for you. Previously inaccessible areas of Cambodia are gradually opening up and the possibilities for more in depth trips through this unique country are endless. While facilities outside the main centers are more basic, a trip through the real Cambodia, away from the tourists, can be incredibly rewarding - but it is certainly not for everyone!