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Cambodia - Country Profile

Summary

After decades of civil war, Cambodia is finally getting back on its feet. One of the great wonders of the world, the Temples of Angkor are making themselves noticed on the world stage and other areas of the country are slowly opening up to visitors. Cambodia has some amazing beaches too - pleasantly laid back and not yet overrun with tourists. The people remain some of the poorest in the region, especially in the isolated villages along the Tonle Sap lake. Corruption and poor infrastructure mean travel can be a challenge, but despite this the people are some of the most welcoming and friendly.

Highlights

Weather and times to visit

The monsson winds bring rain from May to October, while the rest of the year is hot and dry. The best time to visit is December to January when the weather is still relatively cool.

Language

Unlike most languages in the region, Khmer is not tonal. However there are both vowels and consonants that are unlike any English sounds. English is widely spoken in the tourist areas

Currency and money matters

The Cambodia Riel is the official currency, although US Dollars are the standard currency for most transactions with riel used only for small value items. Dollars are dispensed from ATM machines across the country.

Business Hours

Banking hours are usually 8.30 to 3.30pm Mon to Friday with some open on Saturday mornings. Shops, travel agents and other tourist orientated businesses stay open into the evening.

Visas

Visas are issued on arrival at airports and most border crossings - however there have been many scams at border crossings with corrupt officials and inflater prices. The Aranya Prathet (Thailands) to Poipet crossing is notorious for problems on both sides of the border, some officially sancitioned! If you plan on making this crossing check the lastest info on what to be wary of.

Visas can also be obtained in advanced from Cambodian embassys in the region. There is also an e-visa that can remove some of the hassle, although this takes 30 days to process and is not accepted on all border crossings.