Trekker - Travel the world

Cambodia - Travel Information

Cambodia is a country with a fascinating history. On one hand Cambodia was the house of one of the most impressive cultures of the ancient world, the Angkor culture. On the other hand Cambodia is a place where one of the most terrible genocide in the history has occurred. Today Cambodia is one of purest countries, but the most interesting one in Asia.

Cambodia's Geography

Cambodia is situated in South East Asia between Thailand and Vietnam. Cambodia?s population is about 12 million inhabitants and its land size is 181,000 sq km.

The official language in Cambodia is Khmer.

When to travel to Cambodia

The best season to travel in Cambodia is from November till January. From February until April the temperature and humidity increases and the traveling becomes more difficult. During the monsoons (May-October) the rain might be very strong and parts of the roads become inaccessible.

In and Out

It is possible to receive entrance visa to Cambodia at the border for the cost of about $25 (1000 Baht). A passport photo is required for the visa. Pay attention to the fact that near the window where the visa is being issued, sometimes there are people that pose as immigration clerks (and demand a higher fee- 1,100 Baht) therefore it is advisable to pay only to the clerk sitting at the window.

It is also possible to issue the visa at Bangkok embassy through travel agencies.

The border pass where most backpackers cross is called Poi Pet. An agency in the kahwasan Road in Bangkok will sell you a combined ticket that includes a bus to Poi Pet and a bus to Siem Reap (relatively comfortable). Those who are interested in saving can reduce costs by an independent drive, but in my opinion the saving does not justify the loss of convenience. The main disadvantage in an organized drive is that you get to Siem Reap at evening and the bus brings all the passengers to the same guest house. However most of the hotels are similar and so are the prices. I didn?t see that the price I paid at the hotel where the bus took me were any different then other hotels.

Travel costs in Cambodia

Cambodia is a relatively cheap place to travel. $300-$400 per month will be sufficient for most backpackers. This budget is based on accommodation in guest houses and eating relatively cheap food.

Getting around

The transportation in Cambodia is currently in a rapid development. If in the past Cambodia was full of inaccessible dirt roads then today more and more speedways are being paved. Roads that I think are important to mention:

  • Siem Reap ? Poi Pet Road: a difficult dirt road that during the monsoons turns muddy and difficult to move on. During dry season it is still difficult and full of dust but more reasonable.
  • Battambang? Phnom Penh Road: an excellent paved road which makes it my favorite way of getting to Phnom Penh (and the cheapest one). From Siem Reap you can take a boat on Tonle-Sap Lake to Battambang (an experience for itself).

Border Pass between Cambodia and Laos

Due to the many questions I have seen in this matter, here is the most convenient (and interesting) way to cross the border between Cambodia and Laos (the information is relevant for the middle of the dry season!)

  • Arriving to the main station of Ho Wah Genting Company and purchasing a ticket to Kompong Cham city. It is advisable to take the 08:45 AM bus. Cost- 6500 Rial, the bus is air-conditioned and the road is comfortable.
  • When the bus stops for food break at Skuon town, it recommended going and seeing the local delicacy- deep-fried spiders.

  • At Kompong Cham it is worthwhile renting a motorbike to see several sites in the area.
  • From Kompong Cham continuing north in a fast boat that leaves from the harborage near the big bridge that crosses the Mekong (it is recommended to sit on the roof- but don?t forget water, hat and sunscreen!)
  • It is recommended to split the ride to the north and stop for the night at Kratie town, to see the rare river dolphins that live there. The cost of a ticket up to Kratie is $7. The price from Kratie to Stung Treng is $8.
  • From Stung Treng taking a small motor boat that goes along the Mekong up to the border with Laos. The cost is $6.
  • During the border crossing they tried taking from us a payment (bribe) of $3 both in the Cambodian side as well as in the Laotians side. After a short negotiation we compromised on a payment of $1 per person (on both sides).
  • From the border pass there is a very comfortable road that goes north. It is possible to take a motorbike or a taxi (they wait near the exit of the border pass). If a motorbike is taken, then it is recommended to stop by the waterfalls. The cost of a motorbike until the place where you leave to Don Det Island is $2.

(Last update: May 2004)