FAQs for Cambodia Travel

1. Q: US$100 bill, does anyone have a suggestion as to how to convert them into smaller denominations? Is it true that ATM's in Cambodia dispense US currency?
A: Yes, the ATMs do dispense US$, you could also try to pay for your visa on arrival with a $100 bill, that will at least break one.
The other place to try is the banks, either ANZ or Canadia and your hotel may be able to help you out. It's hard to use such large bills on the street or in restaurants etc.
Do make sure that your bills are recent issue and in very good condition, ie no tears or rips and make sure you only accept pristine bills, you can get away with a slighty grubby 1$ but anything larger can be hard to use if it's damaged in any way.
The major money changers just love crisp new large denomination notes in USD, GBP or JPT and THB and are always very happy to change for smaller notes for you.
In the restaurants, if they cant change it they run over the road to a money changer for you.

2. Q : which currencies are using in Cambodia?

A : Bring US dollars, you can use them there and will get handed riel (the Cambodian currency) when you get small change. Save that for tipping, short tuk-tuk rides and buying inexpensive things like bottles of water, etc
Bring more smaller note (one dollar bill) with you and probably just change ten or twenty dollars to local currency (Riel) as you will need them for small purchase

3. Q : Do laundry services handwash only or are machines used too? when we send our clothes out to the laundry service (hotel or private), do we also include our underwear?

A : It is all hand-washed and air-dried. There are many laundry service are serving for you clothes wash, the several hotels are expensive and outside you probably can find cheaper one which cost US$2 per kilo average.
You can take everything (knickers included) to the laundry and the next day all beautifully folded/ironed (depending on the garment/fabric). Plenty of places offering a similar service.
Some places sew little pieces of wool onto your clothes to denote that they are yours. Some places also count the items out after they have weighted them.

4. Q : Money Changers & Funds Transfers?

A : Money changers in Cambodia fall broadly in to several tiers.

Firstly, the top ten or so who deal in bullion, precious stones and international currency exchanges and transfers as well as intra-Cambodia money transfers and run in parallel to the established banks. These top tier money lenders serve a very valuable function in a country where the vast majority of individuals and small businesses do not have bank accounts but still need, on occasions, to send or receive money.

Second tier money changers are those licenced as money changers and that is their sole function.

The third tier money changers are those that just operate as small scale money changers as part of another principle business such as a pharmacy or gold vendor or on the street in tourist areas such as Siem Reap.

In Phnom Penh, diagonally across from the Singapore International School in Charles De Gaul Boulevard, is to be found a cluster of leading money changers and all with their premises next door to each other. Each of these establishments displays the Buy and Sell rates for KHR to USD and, sometimes other currencies. The largest and most influential of these well established tier one money changers is that of Ly Hour (pronounced Hor). Ly Hour also, conveniently for tourists, operated a money changing service in Monivong Boulevard.

Funds Transfer within Cambodia: Whilst many of the lesser money changers can and will transfer funds within Cambodia for you I am a firm believer in using the major money changers for this as their documentation and service network throughout Cambodia is superior. For example, on my most recent trip, a need arose for a swift transfer of US$200. to a recipient in the provinces. So, off to Ly Hour and in to the back of the shop, not the street front counter, and sit down on one of the stools and wait your turn. The transfer details and requirements are entered to a serial numbered twin-copy form as you explain your requirement. One copy is given to you as your receipt and the other retained in house. The onus is then on you to phone the intended beneficiary and tell them them the phone number in their town that is set out on your form as well as the serial number of the receipt given to you. The cost of this service was only KHR 7,000. and I was phoned back by the recipient about forty minutes later to advise that they had the cash in-hand. The only requirement for a beneficiary is that they either have or can be contacted through a mobile phone/HP to be advised of the contact phone number to call and the official receipt serial number. The system works flawlessly as does the Australian, Sydney, Pisey Tem Money Transfer service between AU and KH in either direction.

In conclusion, the large money changers usually give a better rate of exchange for large denomination notes in fine condition than for small, mixed denomination notes.

5. Q : How much is Visa? What is requirement? Which country will allow/not allow to apply? How is visa work on arrival?

A : You need to apply a Visa to entry the country for $20 (tourist) or $25 (business) and a passport photo.
All nationalities require a visa or an ASEAN or other exemption from visa which, in reality, is a stamp in a current passport (or Diplomatic Laiser Passer) on entering and leaving Cambodia for those ASEAN countries with reciprocal agreements with Cambodia.

Only those with Philippine, Lao, Singapore and Malaysian passports do not require a visa. (All of the above are granted a 30-day stay in the country with the exception of the 15-day stay for Philippine passport holders.)

Visas WILL NOT be granted to the following passport holders on arrival;

Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Sudan. These passport holders must arrange for their visas in advance and must also hold a sponsor letter with them upon arrival.

Applying visa on arrival is easy and not very complicated as you keep walking in line and they are processing them for you. You should be given a visa form and a customs form when checks in, or when on board the plane, you should fill these in and then on arrival at Siem reap or Phnom Penh, passengers will be directed to the Visa on arrival desks, where you will hand over her passport, forms, photo and payment proceed along the line and by the time you reaches the end, the passport will be returned with the visa attached. Then you just proceeds through immigration and customs and you will be out into baggage reclaim. The whole proceed should take no more than 15mins.

6. Q : How much is the Angkor Wat pass, how does one get it, and how is it used?

A : The Angor Wat pass can be purchased at the toll booth en route to Ankor Wat. You will have your photo taken for the pass.

A one-day pass is $20, a 3-day pass is $40 (good for one week*) and a 7-day pass is $60 (good for one month*). *You must specify that you want to use the pass for this time period upon purchase, or you will only be able to use it for the consecutive days after purchase.

If you purchase your pass at 5:00pm, your pass will not be activated until the next day, allowing you into the complex to get a free sunset.

You must have your pass on you at all times, as they will check them at the entrance to the temples. It is also a good idea to bring a plastic carrying case in case it rains.

Temple hours: The Angkor Wat complex opens at 5:00am and closes at 6:00pm. Banteay Srie closes at 5:00pm, and Kbal Spean closes at 3:00pm, so plan your itinerary carefully. Passes are not required for the following, however there is a toll levied-

Phnom Kulen ($20), Koh Ker ($10), Beng Melea ($5).

7. Q : Is a visitor required to have a guide?

A . No, a guide for the Angkor Area is not required, and it is an entirely up to the visitor to decide if he/she needs one or not. A guide will definitely enrich your experience and can offer you detailed cultural and historical information, but many prefer to go without a guide. An English-speaking guide will generally charge $25 per day (more for other languages). They can arrange drivers as well, from tuk-tuks to cars to mini-vans. Prices will range from an additional $15-$60 for transportation

8. Q : Should a visitor take malaria medications? What else should one look out for?

A : This is a personal choice. While malaria really isn't a problem in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, there are malaria moquitoes around the Thai-Cambodia border area. Unfortunately, the malaria parasites in that area have recently become increasingly resistant to the usually highly-effective artemisinin based drugs. There is also dengue fever to worry about, so it is recommended to wear a good DEET-based mosquito repellent when you are outside, and re-apply periodically. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts are also good to prevent bites. At any market, you can also pick up mosquito coils to burn if you happen to like sitting outside at dusk, when the mosquitoes are out.

Vaccines: If you will be spending more than a couple of weeks traveling in Cambodia, it is a good idea to get a hepatitis A & B shot, as well as to update your tetanus shot. If you will be spending a good deal of time in rural areas on farms, working with livestock or in areas with rice paddies, you may want to look into getting a Japanese encephalitis vaccine. See the CDC homepage for detailed information on these diseases.

9. Q : Can I buy "women's products" in Cambodia?

A : Sanitary products for women are available in Phnom Penh at large markets and also in Siem Reap at some of the mini-marts. In Asia, pads are favored over tampons, so you may not find much of a selection. If you have a favorite brand (or size), it is recommended you bring them with you from home. Many female travelers opt for a Mooncup (or Divacup) so they don't have to worry about bringing these items with them.

10. Q : What should one bring to give to the kids?

A : bringing things to hand out at random is never a good idea, as it just encourages begging. Purchasing items from street children just encourages them to stay on the streets, missing school and missing out on an education. If you wish to help out children in Cambodia, arrange to visit a school or an orphanage, and bring supplies directly to them. You can buy school supplies and toys at the local market. Not only will this benefit the local business but you will be able to purchase the items cheaply and won't have to fill your suitcase with items from home. If you will be visiting the home of a local person, bring them some household items (soap, shampoo,cooking oil, salt, soup base, etc) which will be more useful than a decorative object.

11. Q : What kind of currency is used?

A : While the currency in Cambodia is the riel, dollars are widely accepted. You will usually get your change in riel. Small bills ($1) are good to have around for tipping, as is spare riel. Smaller bills are preferred for shopping at local markets, as a lot of vendors will not be able to change anything greater than a $20.

There are ATMs in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap which dispense dollars, and credit cards are accepted at a lot of hotels, higher-end restaurants, travel agencies and souvenir shops. There are numerous money changers as well. The vendors will usually expect the customer to pay the 3% bank fee for using a credit card.

Just a quick note : Make sure your dollars are not torn or old or discolored. Shops, restaurants, hotels and airport will not accept these bills. As much as possible, keep them looking new.

12. Q : What's the departure tax for flying out of Cambodia?

A. $25 for international, $6 for domestic flights. Payable at the airport upon departure, cash and visa accepted.

13. Q : How does one get a Cambodian visa?

A. First, make sure your passport will not expire within six months. Visas are available on arrival at the airport in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh for $20 (bring one passport-sized photo). You will get the application forms to fill out on the plane. Visas are also available at the land border crossings from Thailand, Vietnam and Laos. One-month visas are available at Cambodian embassies.

The e-visa is also available on this site Cambodian Visa

and costs $25 for a 30-day visa. You simply fill out the form, download a photo and process your payment by credit card. It takes from 24 hours to 3 days to process the visa, which you will print out and attach 2 copies to your passport.

14. Q: What kind of clothing is suitable?

A. People should wear whatever they are most comfortable in, but a fair amout of modesty should be exercised. It can be extremely hot and humid and while some are comfortable in loose-fitting cotton, others feel better in quick-drying synthetics. Garments made from "wicking" materials are available at outdoor/ adventurewear stores. This special fabric absorbs perspiration and dries while it is on your body. These items also launder easily, dry very quickly and do not wrinkle.

A hat is also recommended to keep the hot sun off your face, as is a good sunscreen (mosquito repellent goes over the sunscreen). While hiking boots would be too hot in the tropical climes, walking shoes/sneakers are good but sturdy hiking sandals ( those made by Teva, Keens, Chaco, Merril, etc) are ideal. Opt for a thin cargo pant or capri-length pant instead of jeans, which are too hot for the tropics. A definite no-no in Asia is showing too much skin. Women, keep it modest with the cleavage, showing a bare midriff or wearing short shorts. Swimwear is acceptable on the beach (you will notice the locals swimming in shorts and T-shirts!) but cover up when heading into town.

Cambodia can get quite chilly late at night or inthe early monring in the cool months (December, January) and it is a good idea to bring a fleece jacket. It's also good to have this for bus travel as sometimes the A/C can get downright cold.

When visiting active temples in Phnom Penh women should cover their shoulders. It is required for women to wear a long-sleeved blouse in order to enter the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. Those who are not dressed respectably will be turned away.

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