The sensational ruins of Angkor may be the main attraction, but Cambodia’s exquisite temples, secluded beaches, charming villages and magical markets deserve lots of attention too. With genuine locals always ready to share a sincere smile, Cambodia will steal your heart and enrich your spirit.
Cambodia Tours & Travel
Top deals in Cambodia
|4 Jan 2015 Cambodian Traveller||9||$980||View trip|
|5 Jan 2015 Cambodian Traveller||9||$980||View trip|
|8 Jan 2015 Angkor Trails||9||$995||View trip|
|18 Jan 2015 Cambodian Traveller||9||$995||View trip|
|18 Jan 2015 Best of Cambodia||14||$1165||View trip|
All our Cambodia trips
Cambodia trip reviews
Our Cambodia trips score an average of 4.73 out of 5 based on 535 reviews in the last year.
Cambodian Traveller, June 2014
Review submitted 29 Jun 2014
Cambodia Adventure, June 2014
Fantastic tour. Our tour leader, Jay (Yoeurp), was knowledgeable, enthusiastic, well-organized, and took good care of the group. We were very impressed with how helpful he was in organizing each day's activities.
Review submitted 28 Jun 2014
Articles on Cambodia
Recipes of the world: Amok Trei (Cambodia)
Posted on Thu, 27 Nov 2014
Here’s a recipe for amok trei - fish curry - that you’ll learn to cook on Intrepid’s Real Food Adventure Cambodia.Read more
5 places to stay that aren’t your usual hotels
Posted on Mon, 12 May 2014
How can you find out more about local life without imposing on people? Here are 5 of the most wonderful homestays for fantastic real life experiences.Read more
All’s not fair in love and war
Posted on Thu, 10 Apr 2014
“Lest we forget” is our heartfelt pledge to all the people who have paid the highest price in defense of their country’s borders or beliefs. Historic sites around the world [...]Read more
How to photograph the Temples of Angkor
Posted on Thu, 30 Jan 2014
One of the best things about moving to Singapore seven years ago was having the opportunity to travel around South East Asia. My husband and I first visited the Temples [...]Read more
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in Cambodia, you may find yourself travelling by:
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in Cambodia you may find yourself staying in a:
At a glance
|Capital city:||Phnom Penh (population 2,000,000)|
|Time zone:||(GMT+07:00) Bangkok, Hanoi, Jakarta|
|Electricity:||Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type C (European 2-pin)|
Best time to visit Cambodia
Any time of the year is a good time to travel in Cambodia, with each season having its advantages. The climate in Cambodia is generally hot and humid throughout the year. Temperatures stay in the 30s most of the year, dropping back to the 20s at night. There are officially two seasons in Cambodia – wet and dry. During November to May you can expect dry conditions, while June to October will have wetter weather.
Culture and customs
As with other neighbouring nations like Thailand, the concept of “saving face” is important. Displaying control and keeping a peaceful nature in public is paramount, as is not losing your temper or ridiculing others.
Most Khmer people are Buddhist. Monks are highly regarded and respected in society, and religious festivals and ceremonies are important parts of daily life. When visiting Cambodia, expect to see orange-robed monks and many displays of faith - from people visiting large, elaborate temples to them praying over small, humble shrines.
Despite the infiltration of modern ideas and concepts, Khmer customs and traditions are kept alive with traditional dance, art, festivals and costume enduring alongside modern pop music and dance.
Eating and drinking
Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.
Like most other Asian countries, rice, noodle soups and stir fries are common in Cambodia. Drawing on Thai, Chinese and Vietnamese cuisines, Cambodian food is strong in flavour but usually not as spicy as food from neighbouring countries.
Things to try in Cambodia
This delicious dish consists of fish seasoned with coconut milk and chilli wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed. Found in up-market restaurants, cafes and markets – Amok is a national culinary treasure!
A remnant of Cambodia’s French-colonial past, fresh, crunchy baguettes are sold from street stalls and at markets - and make a great, low-cost breakfast or snack.
3. Tropical Fruit
Jackfruit, mangoes, bananas, pineapple, dragon fruit and watermelon are all plentiful in Cambodian. Get a street vendor to mix up a fresh juice or smoothie for a refreshing treat.
Geography and environment
Most of the country is low-lying, except for pockets of mountains. Large cities like Siem Reap and Phnom Penh are typically built-up, busy and filled with modern conveniences like nightclubs, bars, public transport, internet cafes and restaurants. Smaller towns and rural areas enjoy more peace and space, with low-density, simple housing and a reliance on agriculture for income.
History and government
Evidence of early life in Cambodia dates back to 1500BC, and further evidence suggests that by the 1st Century, rice cultivation, fishing and animal husbandry were the basis of organised society in Cambodia. Various empires arose in the early stages of Cambodian history, with the Funan and Chenla Kingdoms reigning before the rise of the Khmer civilisation. Regarded as one of the most powerful empires in the world, the Khmer Empire prospered from the 9th to the 13th centuries. This was a time of growth and expansion, and many of the artistic treasures and archaeological monuments that Cambodia is known for come from this era. The world-famous temples of Angkor were built during this period, and hold important clues to how life was lived back then. Temple inscriptions depicting daily life, religious ceremonies and military exploits give us important insights into this fascinating civilisation. There are many theories that speculate on the decline of the Khmer Empire. It’s more than likely that a combination of factors including drought, the arrival of the Plague and the rise of neighbouring Thai superpower Ayutthaya resulted in the loss of momentum for a once-powerful empire. A period of decline followed, with the 15th to the 19th centuries marking a time of Cambodia having a lower profile in international affairs, until coming under French Colonial rule in 1863.
The events that have shaped Cambodia’s recent history began with the Communist Party of Kampuchea overpowering the Khmer Republic after more than 100 days of fierce fighting. What followed was a radical change in society, with Pol Pot leading the country now known as Kampuchea. This brutal regime soon set about restructuring society and was responsible for committing awful atrocities against the civilian population. Religion and education were repressed, currency and banking were abolished and people were sent to work in the fields. Business people, educators, scholars and other high-ranking members of society were hunted down and murdered by the Khmer Rouge. It's estimated that hundreds of thousands of people (possibly millions) were murdered between 1975 and 1979. In addition to this, many more died of starvation and disease due to lack of medical care and nourishment.
This nationalistic, murderous regime was finally overcome by the Vietnamese Army in 1979, signalling the beginning of the peace process and the establishment of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea. In 1993, millions of Cambodians voted to elect a new government, which then ratified a new constitution, and in 2004 a tribunal was established to serve justice to the people who committed atrocities during the Khmer Rouge era.
Today, Cambodia is rebuilding and moving on from it’s tragic past. Many NGOs have set up programs that empower and support Cambodians with education, health care, training and counselling. While wide-scale poverty and other social problems remain, Cambodia continues to gain strength from its burgeoning tourism industry, and has recently been successful in increasing access to education and health care as well as improving overall living standards.
Top 10 Must-Visit Places of Cambodia
1. Phnom Penh
Cambodia’s capital may be chaotic but there are moments of peace to be found. Relax in a riverfront bar, find serenity in a local temple or soak up the grand atmosphere of the Royal Palace.
Beautiful Battambang is home to wonderful examples of French-Colonial architecture, ornate temples, peaceful pagodas and scenic villages. Choose to day trip here or stay longer to be immersed in this place of authenticity.
With brilliant beaches and a balmy, tropical climate, the port city of Sihanoukville offers a great beach break for weary travellers. Bask in golden sunshine, swim in azure waters, visit a nearby island or laze the day away swinging in a hammock.
4. Siem Reap
With vibrant markets, cool bars, excellent restaurants and superb street food - fun times, culinary adventures and a healthy dose of retail therapy are guaranteed in sensational Siem Reap.
5. Kompong Cham
Full of old-world charm and quiet beauty, Kompong Cham is a great place to switch gears and go slow. Wander the streets to admire decaying colonial buildings, visit a Wat for a quiet moment of reflection or sit on the riverbanks and watch fishermen glide by.
The sprawling ruins of ever-impressive Angkor are not to be underestimated. From the smiling faces of the Bayon and the twisted trees of Ta Prohm, to the magnetic aura of mighty Angkor Wat, this archaeological site is both intriguing and inspiring.
Riverside Kampot is a blissful place to unwind. Acting as gateway to nearby mountains, waterfalls, caves, ruins and national parks, this little haven of tranquillity has a great range of quaint guesthouses and cute cafes to keep travellers comfortable.
Home to rare river-dwelling dolphins, amber sunsets and a gorgeous riverfront, Kratie may be small in size but is still a great spot to stop and get away from it all for a few days.
A world away from the rest of Cambodia, the mountainous Mondulkiri Province has its own unique culture. Minority groups live in traditional villages here, alongside lush landscapes and a temperate climate. It may be difficult to get to remote Mondulkiri but it’s well worth the journey.
10. Ream National Park
Home to a wide array of birds including eagles, kingfishers, storks and egrets, as well as many species of striking butterflies, a visit to Ream National Park is a great way to get in touch with Cambodia’s natural world.
Markets are plentiful in Cambodia - from the large markets like the Central and Russian Markets in Phnom Penh, to the smaller, local markets in regional areas. As with most markets in Asia, bargaining for a good price is commonplace.
It's also a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.
Things to buy in Cambodia
1. Silver Jewellery
2. Stone and Wood Carvings
3. Traditional Cambodian Scarves (known as ‘Kramas’)
4. Hand-Woven Baskets
5. Silk Clothing and Sarongs
Festivals and Events in Cambodia
Khmer New Year (Chaul Chnam Thmey)
An important celebration in the Khmer calendar, the Cambodian New Year sees three days of people taking part in rituals, playing traditional games, performing gestures of goodwill towards others and enjoying feasts. Most Cambodians return to their homes to spend time with their families during this time but it’s still a fabulous time to see Cambodia shine.
Pchum Ben Day
"Ancestors’ Day" involves Cambodians visiting pagodas bearing food, flowers, rice and gifts, which are given to monks to offer to the afterlife so the dead do not haunt the living. This is a particularly poignant celebration given Cambodia’s recent history.
Celebrating the end of monsoon and the natural flow reversal of Tonle Sap and the Mekong, this festival is a visual feast featuring illuminated ornamental boats, music performances, colourful racing boats, fire works, dance, food and drink. With millions teeming into Phnom Penh, this is a great time to see Cambodia in high spirits – although it can get very crowded.
FAQs on Cambodia
Australia:Yes - on arrival
Belgium: Yes - on arrival
Canada: Yes - on arrival
Germany Yes - on arrival
Ireland: Yes - on arrival
Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
South Africa: Yes - on arrival
Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
USA: Yes - on arrival
Visas can be organised either in advance or on arrival. Check with your embassy or consulate and allow approx 3 weeks for processing. It is also possible to obtain your Cambodian visa on arrival at the airport or border crossing for approx. US$30 (cost subject to change) - you will need a passport photo.
If a point of contact is requested, please write: Freedom Hotel, Road #6, Siem Reap, Cambodia.
E visas are now available for most nationalities through the official website www.evisa.gov.kh
From 01 October 2014 the E visa cost will be USD30 (visa fee) plus USD7 (processing fee)
IMPORTANT - please note the Cambodia Government has reported many fraudulent E visa websites that pretend to be official e visa websites. Intrepid recommends only using the official E visa website above or by contacting your Travel agent.
Meal in a mid-range restaurant = US$4-6
Street snack = 2000-4000 Riel
Souvenir t-shirt = US$3-4
For more information on insurance, please go to: [site:intrepid_insurance_link]
Jan 7 Victory Day
Feb 25 Meak Bochea Day
Mar 8 International Women’s Day
Apr 13 Khmer New Year (3-day holiday)
May 1 Labour Day
May 9 Royal Ploughing Day Ceremony
May 13 King Sihamoni’s Birthday
May 25 Visaka Bochea Day (Birth of Buddha)
Jun 18 Former Queen’s Birthday
Sep 24 Constitution Day
Oct 14 Pchum Ben (3 day holiday)
Oct 29 Coronation Day
Oct 31 Former King Sihanouk’s Birthday
Nov 9 Independence Day
Nov 27 Water Festival (3 day holiday)
Dec 10 Human Rights Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. The religious festivals follow the Buddhist lunar calendar, so dates change from year to year. For a current list of public holidays in Cambodia go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Cambodia/public-holidays
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Cambodia Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Cambodia
1. Be considerate of Cambodia's customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.
3. Ask permission, remove your shoes and cover your shoulders with a jacket or wrap before entering a place of worship.
4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
5. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
6. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
7. Refrain from touching or interfering with ancient monuments, relics or historic sites.
8. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
9. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
10. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
11. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
12. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
The Intrepid Foundation
The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. By donating to The Intrepid Foundation you can make a difference in local communities - in health care, education, human rights, child welfare and the protection of wildlife and the environment.
In Cambodia, The Intrepid Foundation proudly supports:
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Cambodia include:
* The Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB) is focused on delivering education and training to increase awareness of the need for conservation and environmental protection. It also provides rescue, rehabilitation and release services for wildlife, and conservation breeding of selected endangered species.
* Green Gecko provides security, education, love and opportunities to Siem Reap street kids through their formative years and into their adult lives. It also supports the children's families and the broader community through long term health, education and training initiatives.
* The Starfish Project helps those unable to access government and other large NGO assistance. Activities include medical care, housing projects, water and sanitation, woman and children in prison, as well as small business assistance. They also run a popular cafe/bakery, massage centre and handicraft shop.
Intrepid Travel also supports the following non-profit organisation:
* The Children's Surgical Centre in Phnom Penh provides free surgery and treatment to children. Intrepid is collecting children's spectacles which are reconfigured and fitted by professional ophthalmologists. If you can help, please bring children's spectacles and give them to your leader at the start of your trip.
The Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB)
Cambodia's first organization committed to wildlife and biodiversity conservation, ACCB rescues and rehabilitates threatened species, and educates and trains locals in environmental protection and management.
Image supplied by ACCB.
This inspiring centre is dedicated to supporting and empowering the street kids of Siem Reap with education, training, health care, counselling and creative workshops.
Image supplied by Green Gecko.
The Starfish Project
This community-based humanitarian organisation assists disadvantaged Cambodians with housing, medical care, small business advice and water and sanitation. The Starfish Bakery and Cafe, handicraft shop and massage centre all provide employment opportunities for disadvantaged locals as well as crucial funds for the outreach projects.
Image supplied by The Starfish Project.
To learn more or donate, go to: www.theintrepidfoundation.org
|First They Killed My Father||Loung Ung|
|When Broken Glass Floats: Growing Up Under the Khmer Rouge||Chanrithy Him|
|Angkor: Cambodia's Wondrous Khmer Temples||Dawn Rooney|
|Cambodia Now: Life in the Wake of War||Karen Coates|
|The Road of Lost Innocence: The True Story of a Cambodian Heroine||Somaly Mam|