Cambodia, a southern portion of Indochina peninsula, is known as the land of legendary Angkor temples with rich history and culture which dates back to the ancient Angkor Empire. This Cambodia travel guide is here to help you approach the most authentic Cambodia with some guidelines below aimed at first-time travelers to the country.
1. You will be amazed by the ability to speak English and other languages of Cambodians in a handful of cities like Siem Reap, Phnom Penh. Khmer is the national language in Cambodia; however, you will find it easy to strike up a conversation with almost anyone and won’t be afraid to get lost. The impressive bilingual culture can be traced to the colonization of Cambodia by the French, as well as to the blooming tourist industry. Pretty much no one is completely fluent in the second language but many speak at least enough to communicate with tourists.
2. Tuktuk, a three wheeled vehicle, is the main transport around towns and cities. Sometimes these vehicles are powered by an engine, and sometimes they're pedal power alone. The average price for one trip (4 persons/1 vehicle) is from 1 to 1.5 USD. They are a great way to explore temples as you get the breeze of the bike but some protection from the carriage on the back. Besides tuktuk, you can spot moto-taxis by the baseball caps and sunglasses on the drivers. Pay around 1000-2500 riel for a ride. A whole day's riding around will cost $5-7. Cyclos are also an option for a leisurely look around but much slower. A cyclo ride costs about half of what a moto ride costs, though visitors are expected to be more generous. Also, for your own convenience, you can opt for hiring a bicycle or motorcycle. Any guesthouse should be able to arrange it or at least give you some advice. The rental normally costs $5-7 per day for a motor scooter or a 250cc dirt bike.
3. Tourists to Cambodia can easily see different types of insects such as bugs, spiders, cockroaches, grasshoppers or silkworms for sale because insect cuisines are considered as nutritious foods by Cambodians. As a result, they are sold in markets, pushed through the streets on carts or even offered in hotels and restaurants as specialty dishes of Cambodia. The most famous dish among those insect cuisines may be the jumping spiders, also known as large hairy spiders or a-ping fried with garlic, pepper and other spices to make tasty dishes. You can try all of these insects but nobody ensures hygiene problems which is still an argument.
4. Almost shops and supermarkets close at 9 p.m in Cambodia. Some cafes close at 9:30 or 10 p.m. Cambodian nightlife is a lot more locally orientated although foreigners are amply catered for in the country's many bars, restaurants and clubs.
5. Currency is a bit flexible. You can pay both Riel (the currency of Cambodia) and Dollar, or even the money Bath (Thai) without being rejected. If the price of an item is 5,000 Riel, you can pay $1 plus 1,000 Riel. Also, if you spend Dollar, you will get some Riel as change, just mix 'n' match. Credit cards are useful only at a few ritzy places in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap; therefore, cash is best.
6. Pickpocketing is not common, but it's happened. Don't carry lots of cash or your passport (carry a photocopy of it if you must). Avoid going out at night especially in Phnom Penh because it’s a mafia town and crime against foreigners is mostly in the form of night-time robberies at gunpoint. Don’t travel in unfamiliar countryside because you may take a risk of stepping on any landmines. Also, don’t yell at anybody because revenge is a popular motive here; therefore, always show your respectful behaviors towards the locals and smile at everybody.
7. Despite Cambodia’s status as a developing country, its grocery stores are, compared to many neighboring countries, fantastic. Phnom Penh is a great city for shopping; its stores and markets purvey everything from handicrafts and homewares to sportswear and souvenirs. Local markets such as Russian Market and Central Market are great places to go for deals on clothing, DVDs, inexpensive electronics, and souvenirs.
8. The travel magazines are distributed free at hotels, entertainment venues and shopping mall. Do not refuse because they are all free with beautiful images and written in English. You will find all information about tourist attractions and may find something useful during your trip.
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