TRAVEL TIPS: 10 Things To Know Before You Go To Cambodia

Cambodia Travel Guide Blog Phnom Penh Siem Reap Tips

Recently, we traveled to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia. It was a 6-day adventure and we really had an awesome time.

Sometimes, even if you carefully planned your trip, there are things that you will miss in the planning process. Let me share to you some of the things that (I think) I should have known before traveling to Cambodia.

10 Things to know before traveling to Cambodia

1. US dollars are widely used in Cambodia

Everything you buy in Cambodia is in US dollars (USD). It is widely used and accepted anywhere in Cambodia. They actually use USD more than their own currency which is the Cambodian Riels. Quite amusing right?!

TRAVEL TIP: When traveling to Cambodia, it's better if you don't change your money to Riels, so it won't lose its value. It's also good if you bring smaller US dollar bills. Just always remember that anything worth $1 USD, pay it in USD. If you buy something for $1.50 USD, you give them $2 USD, they will give you 2000 Riels as change. But if you buy something like $3 USD, and give them $5, they will give you $2 USD as change. If you buy something worth $2.50, give them $2 USD and 2,000 Riels. If you're someone who always convert currency, remember that $1 USD is equals to 4,000 Riels.

2. Your USD bills should be in good condition

If your USD note or bill has a little tear or rip, or if it's old, they won't accept it. Save yourself the hassle, make sure that you USD bills are in good and crisp condition. So, when accepting change from the vendors, check also the bills they give you so you won't have a hard time using them in buying things.

TRAVEL TIP: Have a wallet that will hold your USD bills. Don't just keep it in your pocket where it has high chances of getting torn. I had a few USD notes that has tiny tear and they didn't accept it. :(

3. The Angkor Archeological Complex is so big

Yeah, I've read in many travel blogs that it is a huge complex, but it's actually bigger than I imagined it to be. I should have taken a lot of sleep and rest before exploring the complex so I could have more energy climbing up stairs, walking, and enduring the heat.

TRAVEL TIP: Be sure to wear comfortable pair of shoes and light, breathable clothes. And bring a bottle of water.

4. Angkor Wat sunrise watching is too crowded

If you want to see the sunrise in Angkor Wat, be sure to arrive early, at around 4:30 or 5:00 am to get a good spot. Expect around 800 to a thousand people in one place just to see the sunrise. So, be prepared.

TRAVEL TIP: Buy your Angkor Pass at 5:00 PM the day before. The ticket booths open at 5:00 AM, if you buy your tickets the day before, you could go to Angkor Wat as early as it opens.

For convenience, you can book an Angkor Wat Sunrise and a visit to three of the most popular temples in the Angkor Complex with Klook.com for only 654.00 pesos. This is a guided tour which already includes a private service van, English-speaking local tour guide, sunrise watching, and a visit to 3 temples: Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, and Bayon Temple. Please note that the One-day Angkor Pass worth PHP 1,850.00 (USD 37) is not included in the package.

BOOK AND RESERVE HERE: Sunrise Angkor Exploration + Angkor Temples Tour

5. Beware of bag snatching and pick-pocketing in Phnom Penh

The hotel staff and the tuk tuk drivers will always remind us to keep our valuables safe. When you go out, or walk in crowded places, put your backpack in front of you and always be mindful of your belongings. Be sure not to use your mobile phone while on the sidewalk or even when riding a tuk tuk. I suggest that when going out to explore, don't bring your wallet and just bring enough cash. Also, don't bring your passport with you. Leave it in a safe place inside your hotel room or if the hotel has a safety deposit box, leave it there. I'm sure that your passport is the last thing you want to get lost.

I'm not saying that Phnom Penh is not a safe place. It is still safe! But it is good to be alert and cautious all the time.

6. It's expensive to travel in Cambodia

Compared to the Philippines, and other ASEAN countries that I've been to, it's pretty expensive to travel to Cambodia. A one-day Angkor Pass costs $37 USD, a decent meal is about $5 USD, tuk tuk ride is about $3-5 for short distances, Royal Palace and National Museum entrance fee is $10 per person for each destination. Be sure that you prepared for all of these expenses.

7. There are so many Night Markets in Siem Reap

The night market and the Pub Street are the best places to be at night in Siem Reap. They have so many night markets selling a wide variety of merchandise, food items, and souvenirs. Be sure to include an ample amount of time in visiting the pub street and the night markets in your itinerary.

TRAVEL TIP: One or two nights are enough for Pub Street and shopping or eating at the night markets in Siem Reap.

For the best night market experience, you can join a guided group tour which includes transportation via remork (tuk tuk), English-speaking and friendly tour guide, and a lot of food! It lasts for about 3 hours which will give you an insight on the different flavors of Siem Reap.

BOOK AND RESERVE HERE: Siem Reap Street Food by Night

8. Practice your bargaining skills

Although it's generally expensive traveling to Cambodia, there are also some goods that are really cheap. For example, when shopping at the night markets, be sure to practice your haggling skills because the cost is (almost) always negotiable.

TRAVEL TIP: For a shirt, when you ask "how much?" they will tell you 5 or 6 US dollars. When you say, "Oh it's expensive," they will ask you "how much you want to pay?" Ask them back, "how much is your best price?" Then they will lower it down to $4 dollars. Haggle again. Hehehe! You can get a shirt for just $2 US dollars.

9. Learn a few Khmer words

Khmer is the main and official language of Cambodia. Learning a few Khmer words would really go a long way. Here are some words that you should start memorizing before going to Cambodia:
  • Hello – Sous-dey
  • Good morning - Arunn sous-dey
  • Good afternoon - Tiveah sous-dey
  • Good evening - Sayoan sous-dey
  • Thank you – Orkun
  • Thank you so much - Orkun cheraown
  • Sorry – Somm toh
  • How much does it cost? - Tlay bonmaan?

10. You'll fall in love with the nice people

Cambodians are very nice, warm, and accommodating. They speak good English, they always greet you with a smile, and they are respectful and always ready to help. Cambodians are polite and really amazing, and it's a big part that made our trip to Cambodia so special and memorable. I would definitely love to visit it again soon.

ALSO READ: Vietnam-Cambodia Itinerary + Travel Planning Tips

I hope these travel tips to Cambodia help you in planning your trip. Enjoy, have fun, and have a memorable trip to Cambodia!

ALSO READ: First-timer's Travel Guide to Siem Reap 2020 with a 10,000 Pesos DIY Itinerary


For convenience and to avoid scammers, we booked our activities and transfers via Klook.com. We've used it several times in our recent trips to Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and we really love their services. It's our go-to app when traveling abroad.

Download the Klook App for FREE at Apple Store and Google Play.

When booking for flights, I always use the Traveloka App. They offer cheap flights and accommodations in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, Cambodia. What I love most about it are their weekly promo codes that give you additional discount on flights and hotel accommodations. With Traveloka, I can assure you that you'll always get the best deals and promos on hotels and flights!

For accommodations, you can get discounted room rates when booking in advance via Agoda.com.


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  1. We just returned from Thailand and Cambodia's Siem Riep on 18 December and I'll add my perspective about the ten things to know befire visiting Cambodia:

    1. US dollars. Yes, bring USD, thirty of which you will leave for a Visa at passport control along with a passport photo you brought with you if flying in to Siem Reap from outside the country. Elsewhere, including taxis, Tuk Tuks, markets, everywhere, you will spend in dollars and get full dollars in change plus Rials for fractional dollars.

    4, Sunrise. Consider visiting Angkor Wat at Sunset instead. We were the last few people down the stairs from the tower complex in the evening and got some great filtered light photos to the south and southwest from up high, and then back toward and within the complex after all the crowds had left.

    Also, ladies, you MUST wear shoulder covering clothing and below the knee skirts or long pants, and men need long pants. One of our group who had her shoulders showing was refused entrance to the inner temple. This is the rule at most all the temple ruins in both Cambodia and Thailand, and she'd been told so before. Just do it.

    5, Night Markets. As we found in both Thailand and Cambodia, the night markets are mostly about tourist chotskies and cheap tee shirts and elephant pants. If you want art pieces, shop elsewhere. And, if you find something you want, buy it. It will still be cheap compared to your home pricing. Don't get over burdened with getting the "best price." Note that vendors are superstitious and anxious to make that day's first sale, and they may be more willing to bargain early on.

    6, Expensive to Travel. $37US entry fee to Angkor Complex may seem a bit steep, but, whatever, who cares? Its why you came. Five dollar dinners and $3 Tuk TuK rides. Not expensive, and cheaper than Thailand.

    The best meal we had on our 18 day trip was at Khmer Touch Cuisine near Pub Street in Siem Reap. $25US for two of us including specialty drinks and marvelous French influenced food, and they brought us a number of extras to try, were very enthusiastic, and loved our being at their restaurant.

    10, Cambodians. I totally agree that they are a warm and welcoming people. Enjoy yourself.

  2. my wish is to work in Cambodia by God's will...soon

  3. my wish is to work in Cambodia by God's will...soon


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