While the temples at Angkor Wat are certainly a phenomenal sight to behold, and the main attraction for many visiting Cambodia, it’s not the jungle infused ruins that will stay with you in years to come, it’s the remarkable people who call this captivating country home.
Having endured decades of civil war followed by years of bloodshed, there’s a lot to be learned from the Cambodian culture – from their immense perseverance and drive to their positivity and kind-hearted nature. The Khmer people have many a traumatic tale, yet still they smile, still they turn and call you sister or brother, still they’re filled with infectious optimism. It’s impossible to leave with anything other than admiration for them.
Cambodia has rebuilt itself at a rapid pace but despite being rich in spirit, many Khmers still live in poverty. Visitors can have a huge impact on the economy by choosing their experiences wisely, funding young people’s study and giving them first-hand experience by dining in training restaurants, buying local handmade crafts, visiting art galleries and watching the efforts of local performance schools.
Cambodia is unlike anywhere else in Asia and will leave you humbled and bursting with gratitude. Our experts here in the UK have travelled extensively across the country, whilst also drawing on the knowledge of our local team on the ground. Get in touch and we can work together to create your unforgettable journey through this exceptional land.
Time difference: GMT +7
Flight time: Flights from London to Phnom Penh vary in length depending on your chosen route but take upwards of 14 hours with at least one stop over along the way. Flights from London to Siem Reap take around 17 hours with one or two stop overs along the way too.
Currency: Cambodian Riel (KHR) with the symbol ៛
Language: The official language of Cambodia is Khmer which is spoken by nearly 90% of the country’s population and is used for all official communication.
Telephone Code: +855
Tipping: While tipping in Cambodia is not necessarily expected, average salaries are quite low, so it is always appreciated. A tip of around 10% in restaurants would be fair but if you feel the service or food warrants more, then by all means tip extra. Some high-end restaurants will include a service charge so be sure to check the bill.
Tipping guides, drivers and hotel staff is again at your discretion but will always be met with a grateful smile and help boost employees monthly wages. While temples don’t charge an entrance fee, if a monk blesses you or you’re guided around, it’s deemed polite to leave a few thousand riel in the donation boxes.
Etiquette: Cambodian etiquette is deeply rooted in respect be that for the elderly, for visitors or sacred places. Those who follow the Buddhist faith believe living a good life will lead to enlightenment , so expect plenty of good-will and kindness as you travel.
Cambodia is a conservative country and although a loving collection of people, public displays of affection are not deemed appropriate. It’s worth remembering that the left hand is viewed impure so don’t use it to eat, touch anyone or pass anything, always use the right and when receiving something cup both hands together. It’s also impolite to touch people on the head or point your feet at anyone, so always tuck them under your legs when sitting on the ground.
When entering someone’s home be sure to take your shoes off along with any hats or shoes and if taking a photo with an elder it’s seen extremely rude to put your hand around their shoulder. Finally, when visiting temples, as with other Asian countries ensure your shoulders and upper legs are covered. Cambodia has suffered some truly traumatic events in recent history and while many people will share their stories with you, don’t bring up sensitive subjects yourself, especially at meal times.
Religion: Theravada Buddhism is the official religion of Cambodia with 95% of the population practising this more traditional school of Buddhism which encourages patience, gentleness, conservatism and a lack of concern for material wealth. Minority populations follow local religions while Islam and Christianity make up the remainder.
Visas: You can look up the latest advice on https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/cambodia/entry-requirements. Please be aware that this information can change at short notice.
Vaccinations: Health facilities, hygiene and disease vary world-wide and you may choose to take the necessary vaccinations before you depart. You can find out more about Cambodia on the NHS’s Fit for Travel website.