Excited about your first trip to Cambodia? You’ve every reason to be, as it’s an unimaginably beautiful country bursting with historical, cultural and archaeological treasures. And of course, incredible food.  

But if it’s your first time in Cambodia, there are a few things you need to know. Keep these tips in mind for a smooth, safe and successful trip: 

  1. Prepare for some seriously hot weather 

It can get hot in Cambodia. And we mean really, really hot. There are lots of ways to deal with it though, starting with packing loose, breathable clothing and plenty of sunscreen. It’s also smart to get up early in the morning to visit tourist attractions, doing all your exploring before the hottest part of the day.  

  1. Take US dollars with you – not Cambodian riels

The currency in Cambodia is the riel, but you may have trouble spending it in Cambodia. In actual fact, the US dollar is more widely used by locals, along with hotels, shops, restaurants and transport. You’ll often get small change in riel, but you can use this for tips.  

  1. Dress respectfully for temple visits

As a general rule, you’ll need to cover knees and shoulders when visiting Buddhist temples in Cambodia – especially if you’re a woman. You may not be granted entry if you’re not dressed appropriately.  

  1. Give yourself more than an afternoon for Angkor Wat

The most famous tourist attraction in Cambodia is much, much larger than you think. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is a huge complex extending miles in all directions, with over 20 temples to explore.  

  1. The tap water is to be avoided

Stick to drinking bottled water in Cambodia, as the tap water isn’t safe for drinking. You could also buy a filtering water bottle if you prefer.  

  1. Don’t be put off by the wet season

While Cambodia during rainy season can be very wet indeed, it’s not always the case. On some days, you may get just half an hour of heavy showers before the skies clear. 

  1. Take sensible safety precautions at night

Cambodia is generally a safe, friendly country, but it’s still smart to practice a few common-sense safety tips. For example, get a tuk-tuk rather than walking at night, particularly if travelling alone.  

  1. Learn a few phrases in Khmer before you go

Many people in Cambodia speak at least some English, but knowing a few key words and phrases in the local language (which is Khmer, not Cambodian) can help win over the locals – and make your trip run more smoothly. For example:

  • Chom reap sour – hello (formal)
  • Chom reap lear – goodbye (formal)
  • Lee hi – goodbye (informal)
  • Bah/jah – yes (male/female)
  • Arkun – thank you 
  • Som dtoh – sorry/excuse me
  • Som ket loy – the bill, please. 
  1. Mosquito protection is a must

To avoid itchy mosquito bites (or the risk of mosquito-borne diseases) during your trip, make sure you pack insect repellents, protective clothing and perhaps a mosquito net for sleeping at night.   

  1. Be mindful of tipping

Tipping is considered the norm in Cambodia, particularly in the service industry, so be prepared to tip drivers, porters and guides during the stay.