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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.