Traveling Luck for Cambodia

Cambodia is located in Southeastern Asia, bordering the Gulf of Thailand, between Thailand, Vietnam, and Laos.

Cambodia has borders with Laos for 541km, Thailand for 803km and Vietnam for 1228km.

Land in Cambodia is mostly low, flat plains; mountains in southwest and north.

Cambodian land covers an area of 181040 square kilometers which is slightly smaller than Oklahoma

As for the Cambodian climate; tropical; rainy, monsoon season (May to November); dry season (December to April); little seasonal temperature variation.

Cambodian(s) speak Khmer (official) 95%, French, English.

Cambodian National Map

Cambodian Map

Regions of Cambodia

Most Cambodians consider themselves to be Khmers, descendants of the Angkor Empire that extended over much of Southeast Asia and reached its zenith between the 10th and 13th centuries. Attacks by the Thai and Cham (from present-day Vietnam) weakened the empire ushering in a long period of decline. The king placed the country under French protection in 1863. Cambodia became part of French Indochina in 1887. Following Japanese occupation in World War II, Cambodia gained full independence from France in 1953. In April 1975, after a five-year struggle, Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh and evacuated all cities and towns. At least 1.5 million Cambodians died from execution, forced hardships, or starvation during the Khmer Rouge regime under POL POT. A December 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside, began a 10-year Vietnamese occupation, and touched off almost 13 years of civil war. The 1991 Paris Peace Accords mandated democratic elections and a ceasefire, which was not fully respected by the Khmer Rouge. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy under a coalition government. Factional fighting in 1997 ended the first coalition government, but a second round of national elections in 1998 led to the formation of another coalition government and renewed political stability. The remaining elements of the Khmer Rouge surrendered in early 1999. Some of the remaining leaders are awaiting trial by a UN-sponsored tribunal for crimes against humanity. Elections in July 2003 were relatively peaceful, but it took one year of negotiations between contending political parties before a coalition government was formed.


Cambodia Country Profile

In 1999, the first full year of peace in 30 years, the government made progress on economic reforms. The US and Cambodia signed a Bilateral Textile Agreement, which gave Cambodia a guaranteed quota of US textile imports and established a bonus for improving working conditions and enforcing Cambodian labor laws and international labor standards in the industry. From 2001 to 2004, the economy grew at an average rate of 6.4%, driven largely by an expansion in the garment sector and tourism. With the January 2005 expiration of a WTO Agreement on Textiles and Clothing, Cambodia-based textile producers were forced to compete directly with lower-priced producing countries such as China and India. Although initial 2005 GDP growth estimates were less than 3%, better-than-expected garment sector performance led the IMF to forecast 6% growth in 2005. Faced with the possibility that its vibrant garment industry, with more than 200,000 jobs, could be in serious danger, the Cambodian government has committed itself to a policy of continued support for high labor standards in an attempt to maintain favor with buyers. The tourism industry continues to grow rapidly, with foreign visitors surpassing 1 million for the year by September 2005. In 2005, exploitable oil and natural gas deposits were found beneath Cambodia's territorial waters, representing a new revenue stream for the government once commercial extraction begins in the coming years. The long-term development of the economy remains a daunting challenge. The Cambodian government continues to work with bilateral and multilateral donors, including the World Bank and IMF, to address the country's many pressing needs. In December 2004, official donors pledged $504 million in aid for 2005 on the condition that the Cambodian government implement steps to reduce corruption. The major economic challenge for Cambodia over the next decade will be fashioning an economic environment in which the private sector can create enough jobs to handle Cambodia's demographic imbalance. More than 50% of the population is 20 years or younger. The population lacks education and productive skills, particularly in the poverty-ridden countryside, which suffers from an almost total lack of basic infrastructure. Fully 75% of the population remains engaged in subsistence farming.

Cambodian natural resources include oil and gas, timber, gemstones, some iron ore, manganese, phosphates, hydropower potential

a land of paddies and forests dominated by the Mekong River and Tonle Sap

Cambodian religion is Theravada Buddhist 95%, other 5%.

Natural hazards in Cambodia include monsoonal rains (June to November); flooding; occasional droughts.

Travel Advice on Cambodia

Cambodia

This advice has been reviewed and reissued with amendment to the Summary and Crime section; Road Safety section (travel by motorcycle); Entry Requirements, Health and General sections.  The overall level of the advice has not changed.

SUMMARY

  • You should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners.

  • The greatest risks to travellers are from road traffic accidents, armed robbery after dark, landmines and unexploded ordnance in rural areas.

  • Outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in Cambodia have resulted in a small number of human fatalities.  As a precaution, you should avoid live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.  For further information see Health section below and also read the FCO’s Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet

  • Most visits to Cambodia are trouble-free.  The majority of incidents for which British nationals require consular assistance in Cambodia are road traffic accidents, bag snatches whilst on public transport and drug related issues.

  • You should keep a photocopy of your passport with you at all time for identification purposes.

  • We strongly recommend that you obtain comprehensive travel and medical insurance before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.  Please see: Travel Insurance.


SAFETY AND SECURITY

Crime

You should be aware of the risk of armed robbery and other crime (including sexual offences) in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap after dark.  You should be on your guard against pickpockets and bag snatchers especially when travelling on local transport.   Foreigners walking or travelling as passengers on motorcycle taxis in downtown Phnom Penh and other cities have had bags snatched or have been robbed at gunpoint after dark and increasingly during daylight hours.  Travel by car and in groups will significantly reduce the risk as will limiting night time travel around Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap to well-lit public areas.  You should avoid isolated areas after dark, including beaches in the Sihanoukville area, where there have been an increasing number of violent incidents. There are high levels of firearm ownership in Cambodia and guns are sometimes used to resolve disputes. 

Banditry and extortion, including cases involving poorly disciplined military and police personnel, continue in some rural areas, particularly at night in areas between Snoul, Kratie and Stung Treng in the north eastern provinces.

There have been a small number of grenade / bomb attacks, although most have been linked to business or personal disputes.  There is no evidence to suggest that British nationals, or Western interests more generally, have been the targets of these attacks.  However, there is a danger foreigners might get caught up in any further attacks.

Political Situation

Cambodia Country Profile.

You are advised to keep away from large gatherings, demonstrations and political meetings.  You should also avoid expressing forcible opinions on Cambodian politics or culture.

Local Travel

Cambodia remains heavily affected by landmines and unexploded ordnance.  Mined areas are frequently unmarked.  You should therefore not stray off main routes in rural areas, including around temple complexes.

Seasonal flooding occurs both in Phnom Penh and the rest of Cambodia starting at the end of July or early August and continuing until November.  Travel to some provinces can be seriously disrupted during this time.

Road Safety

In order to drive in Cambodia local legislation requires holders of International Driving permits to exchange these for Cambodian driving licenses.  There is a fee for the exchange of US $25.

The majority of roads in Cambodia are in a very poor condition.  Travel after dark significantly increases the risk of an accident.  Vehicles often do not have lights and cattle stray onto roads.  Overloaded vehicles coupled with erratic driving skills make road traffic accidents (RTAs) potentially the greatest risk to visitors.  Due to the high number of RTAs involving tourists on motorcycles in Siem Reap, the local police have banned rental outlets from hiring motorcycles to tourists.  Furthermore, the police authorities are now stopping tourists on motorcycles to advise them to return bikes immediately.  You are advised against travelling as a passenger by motorcycle taxi because of poor road and vehicle maintenance, the low level of driver skills and the risk of crime.  However, if you travel by motor cycle you are advised to take precautions including the use of a helmet and protective clothing as either a driver or passenger.  You should also ensure that your insurance policy provides coverage for riding motorcycles either as a driver or passenger.

Sea/River Safety

Accidents have occurred due to overloaded or poorly maintained boats on all routes.  Even modern vessels may be overcrowded and life-vests and other safety equipment are not routinely provided.  Boats operating on Cambodia’s inland waterways are also susceptible to robbery by armed gangs.  Boat travel on rivers becomes difficult in the dry season (March – May)

There have been attacks against ships in the South China Sea and surrounding seas.  Mariners should be vigilant; reduce opportunities for theft; establish secure areas onboard; and report all incidents to the coastal and Flag State authorities.

Air Safety

Domestic air services in Cambodia are limited.  Internal air services to Mondulkiri and Stung Treng have been discontinued indefinitely.  Air travel to Ratanakiri in the north east of the country is preferable to overland travel because of security concerns and extremely poor road conditions.  However, you should be aware of concerns about the safety and maintenance standards of aircraft owned by local airlines operating internal flights, as evidenced by a November 2005 crash of a Royal Phnom Penh Airways plane.  These flights are often cancelled or rescheduled at short notice.  There may also be safety risks associated with travel on Cambodian Government aircraft, including those operated by the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

Rail Safety

We advise against travelling by train.  Trains and rail track are poorly maintained which increases the risk of accidents.


LOCAL LAWS AND CUSTOMS

You are advised to keep away from large gatherings, demonstrations and political meetings.  You should also avoid expressing forcible opinions on Cambodian politics or culture.

The sexual abuse of children is a serious crime.  The UK and Cambodian authorities are committed to combating travelling child sex offenders and the Cambodian government continues to crack down on those who commit such offences.  Those arrested and convicted can expect to receive long sentences in a Cambodian prison where facilities are very poor.  The UK has no prisoner transfer agreement with Cambodia and those found guilty can expect to serve their full prison term in Cambodia.  Legislation in the UK, The Sex Offenders Act 1997, can be used to prosecute in the UK those who commit sex offences against children abroad and has already been used successfully in cases of British nationals who have committed such offences in Cambodia.

You should never get involved with drugs; penalties for drug offences including those involving Class C drugs are severe.  Prison sentences can be long and served in grim conditions.

You should not take photographs in or near airports or military bases.   You should ask permission before taking pictures of members of the public especially monks and other religious figures.  When entering religious sites it is a courtesy to dress in appropriate clothing, avoiding shorts and torn clothing.  You are expected to remove your shoes when entering temples and private accommodation.


ENTRY REQUIREMENTS

You need a visa for Cambodia.  Visas for Cambodia can be obtained on arrival at Pochentong and Siem Reap International airports and some other border points.  The current price is 20 US Dollars for a one-month tourist visa.  A tourist visa can be extended for one extra month.  A business visa costs 25 US Dollars for one month and can be renewed indefinitely.  Two passport photographs are required.  The Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched an electronic visa ("e-Visa") facility for tourist visas only.  The e-Visa costs US $20 with a US $5 processing charge.  Applications should be made through the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' website: http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/index.php?version=eng , where full terms and conditions of the e-Visa are also listed.

You should ensure that your passport is stamped on arrival, especially if you cross over a land border.  Those that overstay their authorised visa can expect a fine calculated on an incremental daily rate, currently $5 per day.  Additionally, you will be expected to pay for the visa extension that you should have sought.

The London Embassy of the Kingdom of Cambodia can be contacted at the Royal Embassy of Cambodia, Wellington Building, 28-32 Wellington Road, St John’s Wood, NW8 9SP (tel: 020 7483 9063); (fax: 020 7483 9061).

Passports should have minimum three-month validity beyond your intended length of stay.

You should be aware that the US$25 airport departure tax is not included in your ticket, and is payable on departure from Phnom Penh and Siem Reap international airports.  There is also a smaller tax of $13 on domestic flights.

Single parents or other adults travelling alone with children should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country.  For further information on exactly what will be required at immigration please contract the Royal Cambodian Embassy in London.

Entry from Thailand

Visas can be obtained on arrival in Cambodia from Thailand at Poipet (07:30-20:00) and Koh Kong (07:00-20:00).  The border at Poipet is the one used by most tourists heading for Siem Reap and the Angkor temples.  If you arrive at Koh Kong you can now continue your journey by boat to Sihanoukville or overland on road No 48.  Road No 48 is a mountainous, unpaved route that is in poor condition.  It is particularly difficult to use during the rainy season.  You should be aware that there are four informal ferry points to cross and no health facilities or other services along the six to eight hour journey through the forest from Koh Kong to Sre Amble.

In early 2004, new border crossings opened at:  Prom in Pallin town, Dong in Battambang province, and at O Smach and Choim both in Oddor Mean Chey province.  You are able to obtain visas on arrival at each of these locations.  See travel advice for Thailand.

From Vietnam

Visas can now be obtained on arrival in Cambodia from Vietnam at the border points of Bavet in Svay Rieng province, and Kaorm Samnor checkpoint by the Mekong River in Kandal Province.  (See travel advice for Vietnam).

From Laos

Travel between Cambodia and Laos is best completed by air.  The land and river border at Stung Treng is now closed from the Lao side.  We advise you not to cross this border, as the situation is unclear.  (See travel advice for Laos).


HEALTH

We strongly recommend that comprehensive travel and medical insurance is obtained before travelling.  You should check any exclusions, and that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake, including cover for medical evacuation by air ambulance particularly if you plan to engage in adventure sports.  Please see Travel Insurance.
Ideally your policy should be linked to assistance organisations such as International SOS.
The standards maintained by Cambodian emergency services are poor in comparison to the UK and evacuation is recommended for medical emergencies.  Hospitals are not recommended for anything but immediate stabilisation prior to an air medical evacuation or for minor medical concerns. The approximate cost of an air ambulance to Bangkok is 15,000 US Dollars.  An air ambulance to the UK would be approximately 100,000 US Dollars.
Public health facilities in Cambodia are poor.  Private clinics in Phnom Penh are often better equipped but expensive. Local pharmacies provide a limited supply of medications, but because the quality of locally obtained medications can vary greatly you should bring adequate supplies for the duration of your stay.
Malaria is widespread in Cambodia but in the main tourist areas, including Phnom Penh and the Angkor temple complex, the risk is low.  More than three-quarters of British travellers who contract malaria in 2005 did not take preventive measures, such as malaria prevention tablets.  However, malaria can occur despite appropriate prevention, and therefore you should promptly seek medical care in the event of a fever or flu-like illness in the first year following your return from travelling to a malaria risk country.  Before travelling you should seek medical advice about the malaria risk in Cambodia.
Dengue Fever, a mosquito-borne infection found in tropical and sub-tropical regions around the world, is also widespread in Cambodia.  Symptoms are a severe flu-like illness, but infection is seldom fatal.  There is currently no vaccine to prevent infection.  You should take normal precautions against mosquitoes.  For more information, please consult the World Health Organisation's Dengue fact sheet (under `health topics') at the following website: http://www.who.int/topics/dengue/en/.
You should be aware that food hygiene is often poor and mains water unfit to drink.
HIV/AIDS is endemic and safe sex practices are essential.
You should seek medical advice before travelling, and ensure that all appropriate vaccinations are up to date.  For further information on health, check the Departments of Health’s website at: www.dh.gov.uk

Avian Influenza
There have been outbreaks of Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) in poultry in Cambodia.  This has led to a small number of human fatalities believed to have arisen through close contact with infected poultry.  Since the end of 2003, a number of human deaths have also occurred in Azerbaijan, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.
The risk to humans from Avian Influenza is believed to be very low.  However, as a precaution, you should avoid visiting live animal markets, poultry farms and other places where you may come into close contact with domestic, caged or wild birds; and ensure poultry and egg dishes are thoroughly cooked.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned of the possibility that the Avian Influenza outbreaks could lead at some point to a human flu pandemic, if the virus mutates to a form, which is easily transmissible between people.
British nationals living longer term in an Avian-Influenza affected region should take personal responsibility for their own safety in the event of a future pandemic, including considering their access to adequate healthcare and ensuring travel documents are up to date.
You should read this advice in conjunction with the Avian and Pandemic Influenza Factsheet.


GENERAL

If things go wrong when overseas, please see: What We Can Do To Help.

The British Embassy in Phnom Penh is only able to issue passports with a limited validity.  Applications for full validity passports are forwarded by commercial courier to the British Embassy in Bangkok for processing.  You should allow at least 10 working days for this service however, this excludes the courier time, so applicants should allow up to 15 working days for this service.  The courier cost of approximately US $48 will be added to the passport fee.  If you are replacing a lost or stolen passport rather than replacing one that has become full you must also apply for a new exit visa from the Cambodian authorities.  This can take up to 3 working days.

You should keep a photocopy of your passport separate from the original and carry this with you at all times.  Your passport, when not in your possession, should be stored in a secure location.

Flights out of Phnom Penh are limited and often very full.  You are therefore recommended to reconfirm you return flight direct with the carrier 24hours before departure.

If you are a British national and plan to stay for an extended period in Cambodia you are strongly advised to register with the British Embassy in Phnom Penh upon arrival.  You can register online at www.britishembassy.gov.uk/cambodia.

The British Embassy in Phnom Penh also has consular responsibility for Commonwealth citizens whose countries are not represented in Cambodia and citizens of the Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, Greece, Malta, Cyprus and the Czech Republic.  We strongly advise nationals of all these countries to register at the British Embassy in Phnom Penh.

Following the statement to Parliament on 22 June 2004, by the Minister of State for Children, Young People and Families, Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, the UK has imposed a temporary suspension of adoptions of Cambodian children by UK residents.  This suspension will take effect immediately and will be imposed on all UK applications to adopt children from Cambodia where the prospective adopter has not yet received a matching report from the Cambodian authorities.  The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has lead responsibility for inter-country adoption.  For more information, please see the DfES website at www.dfes.gov.uk/adoption/.

Money


You should take enough money for your trip and some back-up funds, e.g.  travellers’ cheques, in sterling or US dollars.  Limited ATM facilities are available in Phnom Penh.  However, you should not rely on these, and take enough cash or travellers cheques to fund your trip.  Credit cards are accepted at a limited number of hotels and restaurants in Phnom Penh and larger cities.  Most transactions are conducted in cash (US Dollars).  Travellers’ cheques can be cashed at a limited number of banks and larger hotels.  Money transfer (Western Union) and credit card advance facilities operate in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.