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Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia
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Cambodia Snapshot

• Population: 15.2 million
• Capital: Phnom Penh
• Currency: Riel
• Language: Khmer
• Religion: Theravada Buddhism

The Kingdom of Cambodia is a land that continues to surprise and delight its visitors. Home of the Angkor temples (the magnificent legacy of the Khmer empire that ruled over much of Southeast Asia 1,000 years ago) there is much to discover in this country.

By day, learn about the history of the capital city Phnom Penh; by night, dine on traditional Cambodian feasts and experience Cambodian nightlife. Visit the islands that dot the Cambodian coast and the quaint little provincial towns that make up the beautiful countryside. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Wat, travel the Mekong River by boat and relax on pristine beaches.

Learn about the tragic history of the Killing Fields, the Tuol Sleng Museum and other reminders of the Khmer Rouge regime. You will be amazed by the optimistic attitude of Cambodians, who have found the courage to continue smiling despite three dark decades of civil war. See for yourself what it means to live up to the saying “What doesn’t break us makes us stronger”.

Above all, tap into your adventurous spirit and come unveil the mysteries of Cambodia with Indochina Pioneer.

Most popular sites of Cambodia

• Siem Reap – a cluster of villages with a French colonial center; the gateway to the Temples of Angkor
• Phnom Penh – the capital city of Cambodia, situated at the confluence of three rivers and offers an interesting mix of colonial buildings, temples, markets and broad avenues
• Tonle Sap Lake – one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes, home to floating villages, forests, and natural splendor
• Sihanoukville – a jewel of white sands, blue sea and fresh seafood, situated in the south of Cambodia
• Kampot, Kep and Bokor National Park – less known but worth a visit on longer itineraries or when crossing into Vietnam at Ha Tien

Cambodia Pre-Trip Information

Packing

Indochina Pioneer facilitates your holiday by arranging all the services making up your trip. However, be sure to pack all that you will need before leaving your home!

Packing Checklist – Be sure to check them all 😉

Essentials

  • Travel documents (passport, visas, travel insurance certificate, air tickets, tour voucher)
  • Money (cash, credit card, debit card, traveler’s cheques, and money pouch)
  • Daypack for your personal needs during the day
  • Camera and extra memory cards and batteries
  • Cell phone and cell phone charger
  • Laptop charger (if you are bringing your laptop)
  • Travel plug/international adapter
  • Medication (including a doctor’s letter if you are carrying a large amount of medication)
  • Prescription glasses/contacts and if necessary, contact lens solution

Best to bring along

  • First aid kit
  • Toiletries
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • Refillable water bottle with filter

Wardrobe

  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Comfortable clothing, either light or heavy options, depending on the season you are traveling
  • Clothes suitable for visiting temples (long pants/skirts, long sleeved tops)
  • Waterproof jacket / raincoat / umbrella
  • Hat & sunglasses
  • Bathing suit

Optional comforts

  • Earplugs & eye mask
  • Sleep sheet for home stays/trains
  • Lightweight travel towel
  • Local language phrasebook

Preparation

Here are some considerations to ensure that your adventure sets off with a great start:

• Please read our guidelines on responsible tourism so that your trip is beneficial both for you and the communities you visit.
• What interests you? eg. weavings, archaeology, religious art, jewelry, mountain biking, kayaking, etc. Let us know so we can steer you in the right direction.
• Read up a bit about Cambodia before you leave. Your guide will give you a general understanding of the places you visit, but feel free to ask for specifics.
• Learn a little Khmer before your trip. The more you know, the more fun you will have.
• Ask your cell phone provider for an international data plan if you will need coverage whilst traveling.
• No data? No problem! Bring a book, journal, postcards, or playing cards with you to occupy yourself when waiting.
• “Take only photos, leave only footprints”, but nonetheless try to be sensitive with the photos and footprints.
• Try to support locally owned businesses, hotels, restaurants, and traditional artisans.
• Let us know at once if you encounter any problems. Don’t wait until the trip is over. Our drivers, operators, guides and hotel staff are there to help you.
• Most of all, relax, be patient, and keep an open mind. Bring your sense of humor and adventure and discover the magic of Cambodia.

Getting Around in Cambodia

In recent years, there have been massive improvements to the roads, making it easier to get around the country. New highways have been built, old dirt roads have been replaced, and a reasonable bus network has been developed. Overall, fares are very reasonable.

Plane
Cambodian national airlines rarely last for more than a few years and as such, it is better to fly on another Southeast Asian airline. For example, the Thai carrier Bangkok Airways flies the very popular Phnom Penh to Siem Reap route.

Train
A disgrace, to say the least, traveling by train should only be considered as a novelty or checklist item.
The Battambang train runs once a week, with the trip taking anywhere from 18 to 24 hours, departing from Phnom Penh on Saturday and returning the following day. Fares are nominal and you can choose to sit on the roof of the train car.

Local buses and Minibuses
With the recent improvements to the Cambodian road networks, the bus systems have followed suite and are worth considering. A number of private bus companies run to and from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, serving destinations across the country, with the hubs at Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville.

Car
Shared taxi for long distance travel is another cost-effect option if you have a small group of 3 or 4 people. Keep in mind that a taxi charter is generally priced at 6 passengers, you will have to pay six passengers’ worth of fare to secure the taxi for yourself.
Renting a car to drive yourself is far less common.

Motorbike
Cambodia is awash in motodops – guys with a motorcycle and a baseball cap – who will take you anywhere on their bike for a few dollars. This is a great way to do half-day tours, such as exploring Battambang, but not for long distances, such as from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap.
Larger endure-style dirt bikes can be hired long term from a number of dirt bike rental shops in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. Prices are reasonable, but be sure to carefully check the bike, and do not use the chain and padlock provided by the shop to lock up the bike at night – use your own.

Bicycle
Long, with a scenic flat coastline, Cambodia can be a great destination for cyclists. Most Cambodian towns have accommodations, so it shouldn’t be hard to find a room for the night. Make sure to pack a good supply of inner tubes and patch kits as Cambodian bikes are not the best. If possible, bring your own bike.

Boat
Only two regular ferry runs still operate in Cambodia – Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, and Siem Reap to Battambang. Boats no longer run north up the Mekong to Kompong Cham and the Ko Kong to Sihanoukville boat now only goes as far as Ko Sdech.

The Phnom Penh to Siem Reap boat ride is worth doing once and once only. It is expensive in comparison to the bus, the middle of the trip is boring (you will be in the middle of a lake with no scenery) and, if you sit on the roof, chances are you will get sunburned. We recommend taking this boat ride one way if you insist, and take the bus for the return trip.

The Siem Reap to Battambang trip is a lucky draw – the quality of the boats varies from one day to the next, overloading is the norm, boats run aground regularly, and occasionally they sink. That said though, the Battambang portion of the trip is spectacular.

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