Let’s plan a trip to Cambodia: A Land of Profound Beauty

Let’s plan a trip to Cambodia: A Land of Profound Beauty

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Cambodia is a paradoxical journey to a country which is known for its magnificent temples. What was once a part of the powerful Khmer empire, is today a magnet for travellers drawing soul searchers and adventurers to relish its past beauty and revel in the splendour of its current sophistication.The intrepid traveller finds solace in its upcountry beauty where the rhythm of life catches on to a lazy tune, which gently gives way to the charisma of the modern cities of Cambodia who have quickly climbed up the ladder of international tourism bringing together a plethora of fine dining restaurants and luxurious hotels and a gamut of tourist attractions. And between the rural and the urban scenes of Cambodia lies its altruistic soul in the sublime architecture of Angkor Wat and the numerous temples speckled across the country. Cambodia is truly a traveller’s dream!

Here’s what you need to know to prepare for your dream:

Visas: You can get a visa on arrival for Cambodia for a stay of up to 30 days. The fee for visa on arrival is $20. Make sure that you have a passport which is valid for at least 6 months from the date of arrival. You should also have a confirmed flight ticket for your return and other necessary travel documents which include a completed via application form to ensure that you do not get delayed.

Getting There: If you are planning your journey to Cambodia, then the first thing to do is book your tickets. You will be able to enjoy lower air fares if you book well in advance for your travel. Since international travel usually involves a certain extent of planning, I generally get the chance to enjoy great flight rates when travelling to another country.

We booked our seats in the Air Asia flight from Bengaluru to Phnom Penh which was an overnight flight that started from Bengaluru at 11:05 PM and landed at Phnom Penh at 8:25 AM after a 2 hour 50 minute layover at Bangkok. It gives you the chance to kick start the journey with a whole day to explore the place when you take an overnight flight and reach your destination early in the morning.

For our return to Bengaluru we chose an Air Asia flight which started from Phnom Penh at 5:10 PM and landed in Bengaluru at 10:20 PM with a 2 hour 10 minute layover in Bangkok. The flight timing was ideal for us to enjoy the day in the city before we left for the airport, reaching home just in time for a restful sleep to shake off the weariness of our travel.

Stay Safe: Journeys are so much more than just visiting a new place and enjoying new sights. They include the need to stay safe while travelling to a place where you are introduced to new foods and new cultures. Travellers are often vulnerable because of the fact that they know so little about the place, the people and the norms of the region they are travelling to. While the trip itself leads to a spectrum of experiences, the following information will help you prepare in a more adept way for your trip to Cambodia.

*I feel it is always good for travellers to read about the people and culture and the general norms of the place they are travelling to. So if you are thinking of how to spend your flight time, then this may be a great idea.
*Travel insurance is of utmost importance when you are travelling to another country. It will give you peace of mind knowing that your loved ones and your valuables are safe should anything go wrong.

*Good research about your accommodation pays off in more ways than you can imagine. Find out more about the area where it is located, its proximity to the places you plan to visit and the overall reviews of people who have stayed there before.

*Cambodia is a traveller-friendly country and you will find yourself being greeted by smiles at most of the places you visit. But make sure that you stick to the marked paths especially if you are in remote regions because some areas may have land mines.

Accommodation: I’ve lately had my eyes on the best deals for a trip to Cambodia and I have realized that a lot of money can be saved when we package the flight and hotel in one deal. I am still on the lookout for what will be best for my trip, but it is always advantageous to make all reservations in advance.
My tip is to look for accommodation not just based on the price you will be paying for the place, or the luxury it extends to its guests, but also with regards to its location, since you wouldn’t want to spend a lot of time travelling from one place to another instead of enjoying yourself at the sights.

I will soon have a ‘Cambodia travel guide’ blog post up, so stay tuned.

 

Other Essential Information:

Time Zone Difference

Cambodia is 1 hour and 30 minutes ahead of India. While smartphones are convenient for keeping track of the time, the good old wristwatches are often devoid of technical problems especially when you do not have a local SIM and your internet on the smartphone is not working. You may notice that the clock on your smartphone may end up showing the wrong time. When travelling abroad, it is best to switch to manual instead of automatic for the clock time.
Cambodian time = GMT +7

When to go and Weather

The best time to visit Cambodia is in the months of October, November, December, January and February. Since the holiday season sets in during December and continues till New Year, you may have to book in advance if you plan on travelling at this time of the year. The climate gets warmer after February, and the dry and dusty summers last till May when the rainy season sets in. The rains usher beautiful green landscapes, and wash away the dust and grit from the temples making them look beautiful in the background of cloudy skies. If the rains do not bother you, then this time of the year can give you the chance to explore the natural beauty of Cambodia.

Exchange Rates: The official currency of Cambodia is Cambodian Riel (KHR)
40KHR = 1 INR or 1 USD = 4044KHR {approximately}

If your itinerary includes travelling to the larger cities of Cambodia, then you will be able to use your credit card at most of the hotels, restaurants and stores. Most of the tourist places have ATMs as well. You will find Forex centres in the urban areas too. If you are travelling to remote regions then carrying cash will be helpful.

Local Travel

This beautiful country offers a lot of attractions, and travelling to reach the different regions may include using car, train, bicycle or boat. Depending on where you are travelling to, and the means of travel you are comfortable with, you may end up choosing one or more of these modes of transport. Renting a car or a bike is the most flexible way of travelling because you can stop wherever you want and enjoy your trip. Usually you will get a driver when you rent a car, but some companies offer self-driven cars as well.

Local Supplies

If you would like to experience the way of living of the people of Cambodia, then the best way to do so is to book a bungalow. In the urban cities, you will be able to find most of the ingredients you need at local stores. The cities also have malls if you are looking for a more organized place to shop.

Charging PCs and Gadgets

How often do we think of this small but important point before we leave our country? Most of the time, electricity is the last thing on our mind, but when our laptops and other gadgets run out of battery, there is nothing more important than getting them recharged. The good thing is that electricity at Cambodia is 220V which is similar to that of India, so if your gadgets are built for this charge then there should be no problem.

How to Call Internationally

The country code is +855. Add the area code you are dialling to and then dial the phone number.
855 + area code + phone number.

Purchasing a Sim Card

If you are planning a short visit to Cambodia then you may not need a SIM. Most of the hotels have Wi-Fi so you can connect to the Wi-Fi system to use data on your smartphone or to connect to the internet on your laptop. If you are planning to stay for a longer period of time, then you may want to consider buying a local SIM to save hefty phone bills when you return.

There is a booth at the Phnom Penh airport and the city has a lot of local stores that sell SIM cards too. The best thing to do is to walk into one of the official stores of the service operators to get your SIM card up and running. You will need your passport and about 10 minutes of your time to complete the purchase and the initial setup. Cellcard and Metfone are the most reliable cell networks in the country.

Internet Connectivity

With an increased use of Wi-Fi, internet cafes in Cambodia have reduced. For the few internet shops that are still functional in the cities, you will be charged around $2 an hour. Hotels, guesthouses, restaurants and cafes offer free Wi-Fi so you will be able to connect to the internet at these places easily.

 

You are now all set to explore the mesmerizing Empire of Temples

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* I love bringing together a bunch of conflicting items and weaving my own sense of one-ness to them. *

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