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Cambodia

‘Grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome,' declared the French explorer Henri Mouhot, who rediscovered the fabled temple city of Angkor, the spiritual and cultural centre of Cambodia. These staggering ruins, some partly covered by trees and creepers, others salvaged from the jungle and free to explore during a holiday in Cambodia, remain the country's major draw. [See Cambodia itinerary ideas]

But there's plenty more to this beguiling country, which is moving on from the blood-tinted days of the Khmer Rouge and is an increasingly popular destination for travellers. Many of the old colonial buildings from the French protectorate are being restored in pretty towns like Kep, and awareness is growing of the allure of Cambodia's natural wonders alongside its architectural gems.

Rare Irrawaddy dolphins can be seen at Kratie on the Mekong River, an artery that flows through beautiful countryside dotted with small villages and pretty waterfalls. Cambodia's other great waterway is the Tonlé Sap, the ‘Great Lake' that provides food in abundance and floodwaters that, after the summer rains, turn this into the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia. Explore both on a tailor-made trip to Cambodia.

Elsewhere, coastal reefs shelter abundant marine life and forest-clad mountains are home to elephants, tigers, monkeys and bears. Of course you'll want to visit the mysterious remains of Angkor, but in the course of your Cambodia holiday leave a little time for some other attractions too.

WEXAS Travel brochure for Cambodia

China, Japan & South East Asia

Our in depth guide packed with background information, sample itineraries designed by our experts and hand-picked suggestions for what to see and do, where to stay and when best to go.


When to go

Cambodia has two distinct weather seasons - dry (October to April) and wet (May to September). March to June is hottest, with temperatures sometimes in excess of 35°C. Humidity is greatest during March and April, whilst the coolest months are October to December when daytime temperatures hover around 25°C. The dry, cool months are when visitor numbers peak, but Angkor Wat is particularly stunning in the wet season, surrounded by lush greenery, with moats brimming with water - and far fewer tourists.

JANUARY FEBRUARY MARCH APRIL MAY JUNE JULY AUGUST SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER DECEMBER
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Essential Experiences

We’ve rounded up our list of recommended sites and things to do. Click on the map to enlarge it and see what we suggest or follow the links in the list to discover how to get the best out of your holiday.


Practical Information

Capital - Phnom Penh

Size - 181,035 sq km

Language - Khmer

Population - 14.5 million (2012)

Religion - 95% Buddhist; minority Christian, Islamic, Daoism and Confucianism

Currency - 1 riel = 100 sen

Time zone - GMT+7 hours

Flight time - London to Phnom Penh 14-18 hours (via Bangkok, Dubai, Seoul)

Festivals

Cambodia's national festivals are intertwined with Theravada Buddhist rituals celebrating the ebb and flow of life. The major festivals are:

January/February (moveable) - Meak Bochea. Candlelit processions on the full moon day of the third lunar month, commemorating the spontaneous visit of 1,250 monks to do homage to the Lord Buddha.

14-16 April - Khmer New Year. Three days of celebrations draw Cambodian families together from all across the country.

April/May (moveable) - Visaka Bochea (Buddha Day). Prayers and offerings to the monks to commemorate the Buddha's birth, enlightenment and passing into Nirvana.

May (moveable) - Royal Ploughing Ceremony. Ritual ploughing of a field in Phnom Penh with sacred cows by representatives of the king marks the start of the planting season.

September/October (moveable) - Pchum Ben (Ancestors' Day or Festival of the Dead). The culmination of a 15-day observance called Dak Ben, during which Khmers make offerings to dead ancestors and light candles to guide the spirits of the dead.

November (moveable) - Bonn Om Touk (Water Festival). Three-day festival of river parades, boat races, music and fireworks mark the annual reversal of the water flow between Tonlé Sap and the Mekong.

Visas

Please note that entry requirements and visa regulations can change often and at short notice. We can provide general information about the passport and visa requirements for your trip and this information may be included after the itinerary section of your quotation. Your specific passport and visa requirements and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant Embassies and/or Consulates. Neither we nor the principal(s) or supplier(s) accept any responsibility if you cannot travel because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. Please call your WEXAS specialist if you wish to discuss entry requirements.

Passport requirements

Passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date of entry. Entry will normally be refused if your passport is damaged or has pages missing.

Money

Currency

The Cambodian riel is the official currency in Cambodia but the US dollar is widely used and the most useful currency for visitors. The Thai baht is also used quite widely on the western border. Most hotels, restaurants, shops, taxis, buses and airlines set their prices in US dollars, but small transactions are usually done in riel. Change of less than $1 is also given in riel. You will need to carry a small quantity of riel for motorcycle taxis, snacks and other small purchases.

There is no coinage in Cambodia, only bank notes, in denominations of 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 50,000 and 100,000 riel. The distinctive red and purple 500 riel note and the brown and lilac 1,000 riel note (worth about 8p and 16p respectively at mid-2013) are the most useful for those small transactions.

ATMs

There are credit card-compatible ATMs (Visa and MasterCard) dispensing US dollars in major cities including Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville, Battambang and Kompong Cham. There are also ATMs at the Cham Yeam and Poipet borders if you are entering the country from Thailand.

Cash and EFTPOS

Credit cards are accepted in most hotels, resorts and upscale restaurants, but expect to spend dollars and riel in shops, markets and food stalls. Normal banking hours are from 8 am to 3 or 4 pm from Monday to Friday and some open on Saturday mornings until 11.30.

Guideline prices

A wholesome meal from a street stall or market can be as little as 1,000 riel, Khmer restaurants charge about $2 for a main course, and international cuisine can knock you back up to $50 a head with wine. After a few days you'll be so accustomed to cheap living that on reaching Angkor the $20 entry fee for the temple ruins may seem steep. Expect to bargain when shopping for souvenirs at markets.

Itinerary ideas [11]

The itinerary ideas listed below are designed to give you a flavour of the things to do in Cambodia. We can adjust any element and tailor-make your trip though, to suit your individual needs and available time. To start planning your trip, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.

Places to stay [5]

The places to stay listed below only represent a handful of the accommodation options available in Cambodia. We can also recommend and arrange accommodation to suit your personal tastes and budget. To start planning where to stay in Cambodia, talk to one of our destination specialists on 020 7590 0613.

Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia

Deluxe

What does Deluxe mean

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WEXAS accommodation rating

  • EXCEPTIONAL: Ultra-luxury hotels that look to redefine the boundaries of experience, service and facilities (typically higher than 5 stars)
  • DELUXE: Outstanding accommodation with top-of-the-range facilities and excellent service, usually in a fantastic location (typically 5 stars)
  • SUPERIOR: A higher standard of accommodation with a better range and quality of facilities, often in a good location (typically 4 stars)
  • STANDARD: A good standard of clean and comfortable accommodation with a reasonable range of facilities (typically 3 stars)
  • BASIC: Simple accommodation with limited facilities that can be in remote areas where accommodation is extremely limited (typically 1 or 2 stars).

A stunning new resort - Cambodia’s first luxury private island accommodation - Song Saa features five-star villas with private plunge pools and ocean views, …

Amanjaya Pancam Hotel, Cambodia

Deluxe

What does Deluxe mean

?
x

WEXAS accommodation rating

  • EXCEPTIONAL: Ultra-luxury hotels that look to redefine the boundaries of experience, service and facilities (typically higher than 5 stars)
  • DELUXE: Outstanding accommodation with top-of-the-range facilities and excellent service, usually in a fantastic location (typically 5 stars)
  • SUPERIOR: A higher standard of accommodation with a better range and quality of facilities, often in a good location (typically 4 stars)
  • STANDARD: A good standard of clean and comfortable accommodation with a reasonable range of facilities (typically 3 stars)
  • BASIC: Simple accommodation with limited facilities that can be in remote areas where accommodation is extremely limited (typically 1 or 2 stars).

Experience Cambodian riverside lifestyle at Phnom Penh’s luxury hotel, the Amanjaya Pancam. Situated in the prime location of Sisowath Quay in the heart of …

La Residence d’Angkor, Cambodia

Deluxe

What does Deluxe mean

?
x

WEXAS accommodation rating

  • EXCEPTIONAL: Ultra-luxury hotels that look to redefine the boundaries of experience, service and facilities (typically higher than 5 stars)
  • DELUXE: Outstanding accommodation with top-of-the-range facilities and excellent service, usually in a fantastic location (typically 5 stars)
  • SUPERIOR: A higher standard of accommodation with a better range and quality of facilities, often in a good location (typically 4 stars)
  • STANDARD: A good standard of clean and comfortable accommodation with a reasonable range of facilities (typically 3 stars)
  • BASIC: Simple accommodation with limited facilities that can be in remote areas where accommodation is extremely limited (typically 1 or 2 stars).

For a luxury stay in the heart of Siam Reap, look no further than La Residence D’Angkor. This luxury boutique hotel boasts fifty five exclusive rooms with …

Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor, Cambodia

Superior

What does Superior mean

?
x

WEXAS accommodation rating

  • EXCEPTIONAL: Ultra-luxury hotels that look to redefine the boundaries of experience, service and facilities (typically higher than 5 stars)
  • DELUXE: Outstanding accommodation with top-of-the-range facilities and excellent service, usually in a fantastic location (typically 5 stars)
  • SUPERIOR: A higher standard of accommodation with a better range and quality of facilities, often in a good location (typically 4 stars)
  • STANDARD: A good standard of clean and comfortable accommodation with a reasonable range of facilities (typically 3 stars)
  • BASIC: Simple accommodation with limited facilities that can be in remote areas where accommodation is extremely limited (typically 1 or 2 stars).

For a delightful alternative to the more traveled resort destinations, look no further than Siam Reap in Cambodia and stay at the Raffles Grand Hotel …

Raffles Hotel Le Royal, Cambodia

Superior

What does Superior mean

?
x

WEXAS accommodation rating

  • EXCEPTIONAL: Ultra-luxury hotels that look to redefine the boundaries of experience, service and facilities (typically higher than 5 stars)
  • DELUXE: Outstanding accommodation with top-of-the-range facilities and excellent service, usually in a fantastic location (typically 5 stars)
  • SUPERIOR: A higher standard of accommodation with a better range and quality of facilities, often in a good location (typically 4 stars)
  • STANDARD: A good standard of clean and comfortable accommodation with a reasonable range of facilities (typically 3 stars)
  • BASIC: Simple accommodation with limited facilities that can be in remote areas where accommodation is extremely limited (typically 1 or 2 stars).

The Raffles Hotel Le Royal is the place to stay in Phnom Penh, situated in the most picturesque part of the city in the heart of the cultural, shopping and …

Offers [1]

WEXAS negotiates with a wealth of travel companies, airlines, cruise operators, hotels and tour operators to bring you the very best travel offers. For great value or a range of add-on benefits, review the list of offers below.

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