Cambodia Travel Requirements for the First-Time Visitor

Visas, Currency, Holidays, Weather, What to Wear

Souvenir seller, Old Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia
••• Souvenir seller, Old Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia. Mike Aquino, licensed to About.com

Visitors to Cambodia must present a valid passport and a Cambodian visa. Passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry into Cambodia.

If you want to get your Cambodia visa before you travel, it can be easily procured at any Cambodia Embassy or Consulate within your country before travel. In the US, the Cambodian embassy is located at 4530 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20011.

Phone: 202-726-7742, fax: 202-726-8381.

Nationals of most countries can get a Cambodia visa on arrival at either the Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville or Siem Reap airport, or through border crossings from Vietnam, Thailand and Laos.

To get a visa stamp, just present a completed visa application form; one 2-inch-by-2-inch recent photograph, and a US$35 fee. Validity of your visa is counted from 30 days after the date of issue, not from the date of entry.

You can apply for a Cambodia e-visa online: just complete the online application form and pay with your credit card. Once you receive your visa through email, just print it out and carry the printout with you when you visit Cambodia. Read this Online Cambodia E-visa article for more details.

As of September 2016, a multiple-entry visa with validity up to three years can be secured; pricing and availability to be updated.

Cambodia tourist and business visas take effect for one month from your entry into Cambodia. The visa must be used within three months of the date of issue. Overstaying tourists will be fined to the tune of $6 per day.

If you plan to extend your stay, you can apply for a visa extension through a travel agency or directly at the immigration office: 5, Street 200, Phnom Penh.

A 30-day extension will cost US$40. Your other alternative (better if you're close to a border crossing) is to do a visa run to a neighboring country.

Visa-free travel arrangements are in force with citizens from ASEAN member countries like Brunei, Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia. Travelers from these countries can stay up to 30 days without a visa.

Cambodia Customs Regulations

Visitors 18 years or older are permitted to bring the following into Cambodia:

  • 200 cigarettes or its equivalent quantity in tobacco;

  • one opened bottle of liquor;

  • perfume for personal use.

Currency must be declared upon arrival. Visitors are prohibited from carrying antiques or Buddhist reliquaries out of the country. Souvenir stand purchases, like Buddhist statues and trinkets, can be taken out of the country.

Cambodia Health & Immunizations

Take all the health precautions you need before flying in. Good hospital facilities are rare in Cambodia, and the pharmacies are more limited than one might like. Major complaints will need to be taken out of the country, to Bangkok at the very nearest.

No specific immunizations are required but having some just in case may be wise: malaria prophylaxis, in particular, is recommended for travel into Cambodia.

Other diseases you may want to cover with immunizations are cholera, typhoid, tetanus, hepatitis A and B, polio and tuberculosis.

For more specific health issues in Cambodia, you can visit the Center for Disease Control website, or MDTravelHealth.com’s page on Cambodia.

Malaria. Malarial mosquitoes are a dime a dozen in the Cambodian countryside, so bring some mosquito repellent to use at night. Wear long-sleeved shirts and long trousers after dark; otherwise, the more touristy places are relatively safe from mosquitoes.

Money in Cambodia

Cambodia’s official currency is the Riel: you’ll find it in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, 50000 and 100000 notes. However, US dollars are also widely in circulation in the major towns and cities. Not a lot of places accept major credit cards, so travelers’ checks or cash should be used above all else.

Carry dollars in small denominations, or change them a little at a time. Do not change all your cash into riels in one swoop, as it’s almost impossible to change riels back to dollars.

Travelers’ checks can be exchanged at any bank in Cambodia, but will cost you about 2-4% extra for converting it into dollars.

Some ATM machines dispense US dollars. If you want to get cash advances from your credit card, some shops will offer this service, but will charge high handling fees.

  • Find out more about the Cambodian riel: Currency in Cambodia

Safety in Cambodia

Street crime is a risk in Phnom Penh, especially at nighttime; visitors should take care even in popular tourist nightspots. Bag-snatching is also a risk in urban areas – usually pulled off by enterprising young men on motorcycles.

Cambodia is still one of the most heavily land-mined countries in the world, but this won’t be a problem unless you venture near the border with Vietnam. Visitors must never stray off the known paths, and travel with a local guide.

Cambodian law shares the draconian attitude to drugs common in Southeast Asia. For more information, read: Drug Laws and Penalties in Southeast Asia - by Country.

A number of tour agencies in Siem Reap profit from bringing tourists to orphanages, either to watch orphan apsara dances, or to provide opportunities for volunteering or teaching English. Please do not patronize orphanage tourism; believe it or not, this actually does more harm than good. For more information, read this: Orphanages in Cambodia are Not Tourist Attractions.

Cambodia Climate

Tropical Cambodia runs 86°F (30°C) most of the year, although the mountains will be slightly cooler. Cambodia’s dry season runs from November to April, and the rainy season between May and October can make overland travel impossible, with some areas flooded out.

When to visit. The cooler but not-too-wet months between November and January are the ideal time to visit Cambodia.

What to wear. Bring light cotton clothes and a hat to beat Cambodia’s heat. Sturdy shoes are well-advised for the major walking around you’ll be doing at the Angkor temples.

When visiting religious sites like temples and pagodas, both sexes will be wise to wear something modest.

Getting In and Getting Around Cambodia

Getting in: Most travelers entering Cambodia prefer the speed and comfort of air travel, but others prefer entering through the border crossings from Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand. The next link provides more details on international travel into Cambodia.

Getting around: Your choice of transportation within Cambodia will depend on the climate, the distance you wish to travel, the time you have, and the money you want to spend. More information on travel within the country here: Getting Around Cambodia.