Cambodia – practically


You can get a 30-day-long visa at most of land border crossings. It’s supposed to cost 30$.

Border crossings

Laos – Cambodia (Veun Kham – Dom Kralor): Corruption. First, you need to fill a health form (1$). Then, you need to fill two other forms: a visa form (you will need one passport photo) and an entry form. The latter is made of two parts and one of them, the departure part, remains in the passport. Then, you need to pay. How much? I was told 35$ and the border official didn’t want to bargain. Finally, you need to get an entry stamp where your fingerprints will also be taken.

Cambodia – Vietnam (Prek Chak – Ha Tien): You need to hand in the departure form and get a departure stamp in your passport.

Visa extension

You can extend the visa once for another 30 days (you will need one photo) and the official price is 50$. The extension is done by an office in Phnom Penh. You can also use one of the agencies present in every big city (your passport still goes to the capital). I decided to use their service and paid 48$. Cambodian logic. The good thing was that it was a little cheaper and I didn’t have to visit offices but it was stressful to hand in my passport to a complete stranger without getting any receipt or anything. The procedure is supposed to take about a week. I happened to deal with it around 3-day-long Khmer New Year so it took two weeks. But the result was positive.

– Roads are of rather poor quality. Sometimes there’s smooth asphalt with a wide hard shoulder, sometimes a narrow, busy road full of potholes, sometimes a dirt road. You name it.

– Drivers are rather reckless and they keep only minimal distance while surpassing. You need to be careful.

– While crossing a zebra crossing at a green light, don’t ever expect that there’ll be no traffic coming at you or that those who are coming will accept your right of way.

– People are friendly and it was easier for me to meet someone who would speak some English.

– ATMs are available in every town and city.

– Cambodian riel can be bought only after entering the country and it has to be exchanged before leaving, otherwise it’s just waste paper. The currency is not convertible. American dollars are commonly used as well but you need to take into account that a higher denomination might not be accepted in a village shop.

– The Internet works well, WI-FI is available in hotels and guest houses. In touristy towns there are lots of restaurants with WI-FI as well.

– Small shops sell mainly beverages. It can be tricky to find something edible there. In towns the situation is a little bit better. In big cities you can find supermarkets with as fancy stuff as milk or cheese.

– Roadside restaurants are available everywhere.

– Food in Cambodia is… not the best in the world. The main dishes are rice with meat (which should be translated as a plate full of dry rice with a couple of bones on top) and noodles (imagine a bowl full of noodles with a little bit of watery soup). Seafood and fish soups are popular as well but it’s not my cup of tea. There are almost no vegetables in the dishes. Next time I’ll take vitamin pills with me. The good news is that a wide variety of fruit is available everywhere.

– There are quite a few dogs.

– Temples: Situated next to Siem Reap, the main monument of Cambodia is not only Angkor Wat temple but also a vast site of Angkor Thom and a dozen of smaller, but equally beautiful, temples in the nearest surroundings.

In one day you can take a quick look at the two main temples and two or three smaller temples (‘small route’). In three days you will have time to visit everything. In a week you can slowly behold and see your favourite places more than once.

Tickets (with a photo taken at the ticket office) are quite expensive and different options are available. 1-day ticket is 37$, 3-day ticket is 62$, 7-day ticket is 72$. You don’t need to use them in consecutive days. 1-day ticket is valid only for the same day, 3-day ticket is valid for 10 days, 7-day ticket is valid for a month.

Ticket office is in town, next to Angkor Panorama Museum. Then, you need to show your ticket at the entrance to every temple. The ticket is valid for: Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, all the temples in the Archeological Park, Banteay Srei (30km north of the town) and the Roluos Group (13km north-east of the town).

Most of individual tourists use tuk-tuks to get around (15$ for a ‘small route’, 20$ for a ‘big route’ without Banteay Srei and the Roluos Group) but you can easily do the same and for free on a bicycle. Outside of each temple there’s a parking area and guards so there’s no need to worry about the safety of the bike. Roads in the Archeological Park are asphalted, they link the temples logically and it’s easy to get around.

All these places, let me remind you, are ancient temples so an appropriate outfit is a must (shoulders and knees must be covered). A lady behind me couldn’t even buy a ticket because she was not wearing proper clothes.

Apart from these, other Khmer temples (in a better or worse shape) are scattered in the country. You can read more here: I visited also:

Preah Khan of Kampong Svay: free, the main temple is romantically collapsed but you can feel like Henri Mouhot here because there are no tourists

Sambor Prei Kuk: admission 3$ (since June 2018 – 10$), brick temples scattered in a forest, single visitors

Beng Mealea: admission 5$, overgrown with trees and partly collapsed, you walk on wooden catwalks; tourists groups get here as well, I’d suggest early morning hours

Banteay Chhmar: admission 5$, quite damaged, but situated in the middle of a village so local people come to take a break in the shade and there’s regular life all around, single visitors

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