Sharing borders in the north with Laos and Thailand, in the east with Vietnam and in the south-west with the Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia lies at the very heart of South East Asia.

Although slowly recovering from the horror of Pol Pot’s three-and-a-half-year reign, the country is once again attracting visitors from across the world; and despite unexploded land mines, the occasional bandit and poor transport, they journey in their thousands to the spectacular temples of Angkor’s ‘Lost City’ at Siem Reap, gritty Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.

Such interest is not surprising. Cambodia, with its warm, welcoming people, lush green forests, dense jungles, abundant wildlife, banana plantations and mighty rivers is breathtaking.

Here is a world largely undiscovered – from Banlung’s hill tribes to Battemban’s colonial architecture and Sihanoukville’s beautiful sandy beaches.

Set against this, the country’s brutal past is both puzzling and disturbing – the reason so many visit the Killing Fields is to understand better the reason for the Khmer Rouge’s cold-blooded slaughter of two million people.

Thankfully, today, peace and tranquillity reign, making it possible for travellers to explore large areas of this wonderful country in relative comfort.

Cambodia’s currency is the Riel (CR), although US dollars are widely accepted along with credit cards. ATMs are available in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Traveller’s cheques are not recommended.


See & Do

There are number of sights to see and activities to do during your stay in Cambodia. Below are just a few of the possibilities.

  • Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri - elephant rides
  • Kratie – watch fresh-water dolphins
  • Phnom Penh – Central Market, Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng prison museum
  • Angkor - magnificent Hindu temple
  • Choeung Ek - extermination camp
  • Kep – fading French villas
  • Sihanoukville – deep sea port
  • Tonie Sap river – leisurely cruises from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
  • Bokor Hill Station – hotel, casino and church from the French era
  • Boeng Yeak Lom – crystal clear volcanic lake
  • Kompong Luong – floating Vietnamese village
  • Virachay National Park – elephants, bears and tigers



Head for Cambodia’s markets – open every day from 7am-5pm – for souvenirs and bargains galore. Phnom Penh has two:

  • Central Market – great for jewellery, gifts and clothes
  • The Russian Market (Psar Toul Tom Poung) – stuffed with stalls selling silverware, jewellery, CDs, DVDs, bags and ceramics

When it comes to souvenirs, Cambodia is tops for silk – still woven by hand. Buy it at a good price in the form of a bag, scarf or purse, or if you prefer, in lengths. The krama, the country’s unique checked scarf is available in both silk and cotton.

Cambodian silver is another must-have. Look out for exquisite dining ware and cutlery and intricate necklaces and anklets created by Khmer silversmiths.

Always haggle!

Food & Drink

There are plenty of good restaurants in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. And food stalls, ideal for enjoying Cambodian dishes, can be found almost everywhere.

Khmer is much like Thai food, but with the emphasis on coconut milk and spices.

  • Fish. Most dishes are flavoured with prohak, fermented fish paste
  • Fruit. Cambodia has a wide range, including logan, lychee, rambatan, pineapple, durian, coconut and jackfruit
  • Spiders. Yes, really! Deep-fried, they are served as a snack – especially in the north
  • More fish. Amok trey is fish in a coconut curry sauce, steamed and served in banana     leaves
  • Noodles. Sold on the street, rice noodles with curry sauce are widely available

Local drinks

  • Coconut juice – sold fresh     
  • Wine made from rice
  • Tea – usually green tea
  • Beer – Angkor is a popular brand
  • Soda water and lemon – a refreshing Khmer drink

Among many recommended restaurants in Cambodia are:

  • Ginga (Japanese) – Phnom Penh
  • Khmer Borane (Cambodian) – Phnom Penh
  • Mount Everest (Indian) – Phnom Penh
  • Malis (Thai) – Phnom Penh
  • Blue Pumpkin (Asian) – Siem Reap
  • Khmer Kitchen (Cambodian) - Siem Reap
  • Meric (Asian) – Siem Reap
  • Traditional Khmer Food (Cambodian) – Siem Reap
  • Thmor Da (seafood) – Kep
  • La Paillote (French) – Sihanoukville


It pays to be choosy when planning a night out in Cambodia. In Phnom Penh and Siam Reap, and to some extent in Sihanoukville, things can get fairly lively thanks to the many visitors and ex-pats. Bars and restaurants abound: however, there are few clubs and places that provide live music. Remember, cover charges at strip clubs in Phnom Penh’s main tourist areas can be heavy.

Bars and night-spots:

  • Heart of Darkness bar – Phnom Penh
  • Phnom Penh Internet Café Pub – Phnom Penh
  • Laundry Bar –Siem Reap
  • Linga Bar - Siem Reap

Other entertainment

  • Water Festival. The Tonie Sap river’s change of direction in October/November is used as a great excuse for people to make merry. Crowds gather on the banks to watch as colourful boats paddle for prizes
  • Cambodian Aspara dance. Although sometimes seen in villages, Siam Reap is where this traditional dance is most frequently performed


Take a bus ride, the most common mode of transport, and get to relaxing beaches at Kep, Sihanoukville and elsewhere.

Health & Safety

Before heading for Cambodia be certain to check with your doctor about vaccinations.

Risks include: malaria, bilharzias (schistosomiasis), giardiasis, dysentery, typhoid fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, hepatits B, avian flu, HIV/AIDS. Avoid mains water, uncooked meat, unpeeled fruit, salads and fruit from street vendors.

Remember medical facilities are poor and health insurance is essential. As for personal safety, with much of the country still heavily mined, be sure to travel with a guide and avoid travelling at night.

Street crime remains a problem in Phnom Penh and violent crime in Seem Reap and Sianoukville. Terrorism is still a concern throughout South East Asia.

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