This ultimate checklist is going to prepare you for your trip to Cambodia and includes; my best tips and the most important thing you need to know about before you travel to this country.
Getting a visa:
Depending on where you are from, you are most likely to need a visa before you can enter this country. We flew to Siem Reap and got our visa directly at the airport. Even though the airport is quite small, it might take up to two hours of standing in different lines. The visa costs 30$ (Feb 2018) and you can only pay in cash and only in Dollar. You will also need a passport photo so please don’t forget to bring that with you.
From the airport to the city centre (Siem Reap):
The airport is approximately 20-30min drive from the city centre of Siem Reap. Most hotels (even the super affordable ones) offer a pick up shuttle from the airport to the hotel, which naturally is the most convenient option. If you haven’t booked an hotel yet then you are also able to get there by taxi / tuk tuk. Please note that there are no busses to the city centre.
The price for a single day Angkor pass is currently 37$. You can also get a three days ticket for 62$ or even a 7 days ticket for 72$ p.p. You do not have to use the multiple day passes on consecutive days but you can only use it for a certain amount of time. Please be aware that you will have to get this ticket yourself! You cannot have someone else arrange this ticket for you, since the ticket office will be taking a picture for on the ticket. Single day tickets have to be bought on the day itself or after 16:30 on the day before.
How to avoid crowds (best times to visit):
Most people wake up around 04:00am to get to Angkor Wat before the sunrise (the ticket shop is not yet open this early so if you want to go through with that; get your single day ticket the day before). Seeing the sunrise on a good (read: cloud free) morning is definitely an experience on its own, but not as glorious as you would expect when you are forced to share the famous picture spot with thousands of other tourists. To avoid the crowds, either head to another part of the complex during the sunrise or just visit Angkor Wat later during the day (it gets very busy at sunset as well especially since the late visits are free of charge). We got some bicycles from our hotel, headed 45min to the Angkor Complex and spend a few hours wandering around the temples/ruins. I think the must sees are: Victory Gate, Ta Prohm, Bayon and Angkor Wat.
Your perfect time table:
Victory Gate 07:00-07:15
Ta Prohm 07:30-09:00
Bayon 10:00 – 11:30
Angkor Wat 12:00-13:30
Lunch in Siem Reap and then back to the pool
Flying a drone:
Flying a drone is absolutely forbidden and the Cambodians are very strict about it. Don’t bring your drone to the temples at all. The penalty for flying a drone might involve being send to jail and it is not worth the risk.
Rules when entering the temples:
Since this is an active religious and holy place, make sure to respect the rules and wear clothes that cover your shoulders and knees. When taking a picture of a monk, be respectful and ask beforehand. They will most probably say yes, they are really nice people after all. Also keep your voice down when entering the prayer rooms of the temples and don’t feed the monkeys. You will always see tourists who don’t respect the rules but just stick to those little things, so you won’t cause or get into trouble (be aware that the clothing rule might be enforced to refuse you access to certain parts of the temple)
Vegetarian or Vegan:
Being a vegan or vegetarian might not be a problem in Cambodia. The typical Khmer dishes are mostly fish or meat, but vegetarian options are readily available in most restaurants (in the touristy parts of city centre). I recommend checking out the New Leaf and Footprint Café (not only if you are vegan). The food is incredible and I can recommend ordering the vegetable curry. Both these restaurants (and surely others as well) donate profits to help the local communities, which is an even better reason to visit these places.
For more information check out my other blog post or head over to my youtube channel and watch the Siem Reap – Travel Guide.