Monday, August 7, 2017

8 Things to Know Before Traveling to Cambodia

I traveled to the wonderful country of Cambodia this summer and visited Angkor Wat! I spent most of my time in Siem Reap, which is actually the 6th smallest city in the country, but I can't wait to return to explore even more. There's always more of a country to see than just one city or one major tourist destination. There was a lot to learn upon arrival so I thought I'd share a few things you should know before traveling to Cambodia, just to help your trip run a bit smoother.

1. Cambodia Requires a Visa

You are required to have a visa to enter the country. The visa is only good for one entry, meaning a one time visit. The visa you get can vary depending on your needs, such as a work visa, but a one time entry is good for 30 days. You need to make sure that your passport is good for six months before the expiration date of the visa you get for Cambodia though.

2. Visa Upon Entry

You can actually get your visa when you arrive in the airport in Cambodia! It will cost you $30 USD and you need to have two passport photos. You fill out some paperwork, which is basically your name, address, and passport information only to then watch it go through a line of employees who stamp and approve all of it. Then you'll have a nice shiny visa sticker in your passport and you're free to enter the country. Some visa companies charge more than $100 USD to get it before going to Cambodia. Why not save $70 USD and get it when you arrive?

3. Cambodian Riel is Dead

Cambodia has Riel as their currency but no one uses it! After so much war and a changing government it was deemed unsuitable and easily devalued over the years. Now they use U.S. dollars as their main form of currency. It is easily accepted everywhere and you may sometimes get Riel back in change since U.S. coins aren't as prevalent. $1 USD is 4,136 Cambodian Riel, but like I said the Riel isn't used and isn't very valuable.

4. Crisp Bills Only

Now there's always the issue of having counterfeit bills but apparently is even more prevalent in Cambodia. If you pay with a $10 USD bill that is new and colored, but has a bend in it because it's been folded up in your pocket you're going to get grief. Make sure you have only new bills with the coloring and that they are kept in crisp condition. Have a bunch of $1 USD bills to make life easier too so the change doesn't add up. You may even get bills back that are folded or bent and be given grief when you try and pay with them later. Just get ready for a little frustration.

5. 3 Day Pass for Angkor Wat

Most people get a 1 day pass for Angkor Wat but that is not enough time! Also the lines for the 1 day pass are twice as long. Instead get a 3 day pass for Angkor Wat. It does cost a bit more but you're getting three days! On top of that your pass allows you to visit different locations that others miss out on because they're hung up on just one of the many temples. You're going to want to keep track of your pass and not lose it because it isn't likely you will get it back even if it has your picture on it.

6. Haggle and Barter

There are many shops in the market for you to visit so please know what you're paying for. The most I paid for a t-shirt or tank top was $3 USD. I saw a girl haggle her shirt down to $1 USD. Don't be fooled by high prices and give in. I had one lady tell me the shirt I was looking at was $15 USD. I immediately responded saying the most I'd paid for a shirt was $3 USD and she came down on her price instantly. If you have a friend with you that helps so you can tag team it. A mask for $10 USD? Be the friend who jumps in saying that it was at the other shop for only $5 USD. It's easy to go from there.

7. Tuk Tuk for Life

Take a tuk tuk to get around. It's $2 USD to get anywhere solo. If you're with a friend it's $2 USD so it's $1 USD each. The drivers know where all the hotels are and can take you where you want to go. Make sure you have the name of your hotel correct because a lot have the word Angkor in it or another similar word. There's even a way to summon a tuk tuk on your phone! Download the Grab app. It's basically Uber/Lyft but for scooters/tuk tuks.

8. Size is Everything

If you end up buying clothes or shoes please make sure you try on what you buy first. I found a shirt as a medium that fit me just fine but then another one that was a double extra large that fit. The people selling you the merchandise are more than happy to try and find the size you need so just ask. Make sure you check the quality as well because some shirts may have a small hole in it. I only ran into that with one shirt I tried on but still it would have been devastating to find after getting home and ending up with a ruined shirt after a wash.

I knew about the visa process before entering the country of Cambodia but some of these other things I learned after I arrived so hopefully my experience helps you if you're preparing to go to Cambodia in the future! Did any of these surprise you? Let me know what you think in the comments below. (:

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