Travel Tips – 2023
Essential Cambodia Travel Tips – 2023
Cambodia is still the same wonderful country you have heard all about or visited ‘once upon a time’. However, economic growth over recent years, as well as a world-changing pandemic has led to a few shifts in the Cambodian traveler experience. Through this page, we endeavor to keep our travel tips up-to-date with the information we feel you (as a traveler) may need to know.
- Everyday attire in the Kingdom of Wonder.
When traveling to Cambodia, it is important to be aware of the country’s cultural norms in order to avoid offending locals.
Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are generally very relaxed when it comes to foreigners and their around-town clothing. However, it is considered rude and distasteful to enter a café/bar/restaurant shirtless or wearing attire that is very revealing. Cambodians in general are not people to make a fuss over these moments but take into consideration how you may be making the locals feel in their workplace. When traveling anywhere rural we definitely suggest dressing modestly.
Most importantly if you are visiting any religious sites please follow the Angkor Code Of Conduct.
02 Be aware of your body language.
This may sound silly, but it is very true. The tourists who generally have difficulty are always the ones that go about their day with what can be perceived as strong or aggressive body language. Chill. A sunny disposition can go a long way. Even if things don’t seem to be going your way it is best to remain easygoing. Anger and frustration often force things to take longer and get worse.
03 Use Cambodian Riel over United States Dollar.
While both currencies are still accepted within the Kingdom, Cambodia is making a noticeable push toward the Cambodia Riel. You will be able to withdraw a wide range of Riel from any ATM and any money changers will exchange currencies for you very easily. It is very usual for the Reil to fluctuate regularly so check the National Bank of Cambodia to find out the most up-to-date exchange rate. Most businesses use the 4000 Riel to 1 USD exchange. Others follow the daily exchange rate which can fluctuate from 3800-4200 Riel.
As of 2023 ATMs will only dispense $ 100.00 USD notes. No lower denominations are available to withdraw. Many money changers will refuse to change your $100.00 note to smaller USD denominations due to a lack of smaller notes. If you choose to use $100.00 notes at a business be prepared for the staff to request the use of smaller denominations OR the business will return your change in a mix of USD & Cambodian Reil (or all Cambodian Reil).
Every business in Cambodia holds the right to refuse to accept ripped, torn, old, stained, and damaged USD notes. This leads us to our next point…
04. Businesses hold the right to not accept your damaged USD note.
Cambodia has run a dual-currency system since the UNTAC period in the early 90s. As of 2023, the Cambodian government and the National Bank of Cambodia have decreed that they will only accept the most pristine USD notes. Even a small tear in the note is reason enough to reject your money. A spot of ink, writing or any other form of damage to the bill, will be reason enough for a business to reject your USD.
Although the US dollar is accepted almost anywhere in Cambodia and is an important element in Cambodia’s monetary system, it’s not the official currency of Cambodia. Banks and money changers only accept damaged US dollars after charging 5 to 30 percent of the bills’ value. Depositing or changing a damaged 100-dollar bill may cost a shopkeeper as much as $30.
Don’t take it personally, think of it as this… You are paying with a note that isn’t accepted by the national banks which means the seller is giving you the item for free if they accept your damaged note. Save yourself the hassle and just use Cambodian Reil.
Also please remember that notes with limited damage are still legal tender outside of Cambodia.
05 Stay hydrated!
The number one thing that puts tourists into hospital here is not Dengue Fever or Malaria but, in fact, dehydration!
Royal D rehydration sachets have near-mythical powers as a hangover cure and are perfect for hot weather replenishment and usually cost only 500 Riels from any pharmacy. We suggest the orange flavor as it tastes better than the tropical fruit version. It definitely makes you feel better so drink as many as you can in a day!
You can also try the traditional Cambodian rehydration remedy of coconut water, which is full of minerals with plenty of potassium.
06 Water & Ice.
We often get asked if our water is safe to drink in the cafe. The answer is yes!
Generally in significant tourist hubs businesses that opt to serve free water will ALWAYS be using safe and filtered drinking water. However, we recommend checking your ice cubes as this is where many tourists get caught. Check to see if your ice has holes through the center, if they do then it means the ice has been made in a filtered facility and delivered to the business freshly frozen that morning. Some more high-end establishments will make their own ice for aesthetic reasons so if you’re unsure feel free to ask.
We highly recommend bringing your own water bottle and asking for refills around town. Siem Reap alone generates an estimated 250-300 tons a day! Please help by keeping our beautiful city and country clean by reusing your bottles and refilling at any ‘Refill not Landfill’ businesses.
07 Siem Reap is far more walkable than it used to be.
Our city has had an upgrade, and it was a big one!
Now we have the most amazing footpaths and bicycle lanes which makes getting around by foot an awesome way to see the town. We recommend enjoying the riverside walk in the early mornings and late afternoons to get a real sense of a Cambodian city lifestyle and our Siem Reap community enjoying the outdoors and active lifestyles.