Phnom Penh Travel Information
Local time is GMT +7
Local electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. The European round two-pin plug is standard. Travellers should be aware that power cuts are frequent and, outside the capital, electricity is generally only available in the evenings.
Khmer is the official language. French is also spoken, but English is fast becoming popular with the younger generation.
Malaria is common in Cambodia and malaria prophylaxis is recommended for all areas except Phnom Penh and around Lake Tonle Sap. Dengue fever, transmitted by mosquitoes, is also prevalent, especially in the heavily populated areas. Insect protection measures should be taken throughout the day. Travellers staying long-term, or for more than one month, and those who may engage in extensive outdoor activities, should be vaccinated against Japanese encephalitis. Vaccinations for hepatitis A, hepatitis B and typhoid are recommended for all travellers. If you come from a yellow-fever-infected area then a yellow fever vaccination is required. Avoid swimming or paddling in fresh water as Bilharzia is present. Tap water is not suitable for drinking but bottled water is widely available. Avoid uncooked meat, unpeeled fruit, salads and food sold by street vendors, and don't drink beverages containing ice. Medical facilities are very limited in most of Cambodia, except for a few expensive private clinics in Phnom Penh. Treatment must be paid for with cash and health insurance is essential.
Tips are not necessarily expected, but are welcomed in restaurants and hotels. Hotels often add a 10 percent service charge to the bill, but small amounts for personal services are appreciated, as salaries in the country are low. Tour guides should be tipped.
Cambodia remains one of the most heavily land-mined countries in the world. When hiking or visiting rural areas, travel with a local guide and never stray off the main paths. It is not advisable to travel in rural areas at night.
Caution should be taken in the capital, Phnom Penh, especially at night, as street crime is a problem, and popular tourist nightspots may be targeted. After dark there is also a risk of crime in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Visitors should be aware that bag snatching is becoming an increasing problem on tuk-tuks, motorcycle taxis, and while walking in the main towns. Due to the large numbers of tourists involved in road accidents on motorcycles, police in Siem Reap and other tourist centres have in the past banned rental outlets from hiring motorcycles to tourists - these bans are sporadic and may happen at any time.
There is political tension, tourists should avoid large gatherings, demonstrations, and political meetings. Travellers are also advised to avoid the Cambodian-Thai border areas because of ongoing border disputes; the Preah Vihear temple area has become particularly dangerous.
Permission should be sought before taking pictures of people, particularly monks. Avoid touching someone on the head as it is considered the most sacred part of a person's body. When visiting religious sites, shoes should be removed, and shorts avoided; women in particular should dress modestly. A traditional greeting in Cambodia is a bow, bringing together the hands at chest level (similar to hand position for prayer). With foreigners Cambodians sometimes convert to the handshake. The simple rule is to respond with the same greeting you were given.
Developing a personal relationship in Cambodia is important before any business can be discussed, a process which might include shared meals and plenty of socialising. It is considered rude to cause any business associate to 'lose face' publically, so tact and politeness are important.
On introduction, the most senior in the group will be introduced first, and visitors are advised to do likewise so that the hosts understand the hierarchy of the group; the highest-ranking person on both sides should greet each other first and perform the introductions. A light handshake is appropriate on introduction, after which business cards can be exchanged using both hands; it is considered impolite to put the card away without making a show of studying it for a short while. If men are dealing with women they should wait and see if they extend a hand before doing so. Eye contact should be kept to a minimum.
In Cambodia people are addressed with the honorific title 'Lok' for a man and 'Lok Srey' for a woman followed with the first name or both the first and surname. Dress is conservative, but formal business suits will be out of place in the tropical heat; lightweight suits can be worn for formal meetings. Business hours are generally 8am to 5pm Monday to Friday, often with a long lunch from about 12pm till 2pm.
The international access code for Cambodia is +855. The outgoing code is 001 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 00144 for the United Kingdom). Phnom Penh's area code is (0)23; the code for Siem Reap is (0)63. Internet cafes provide a fast and inexpensive service in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and other main towns. Free wifi is available at restaurants, cafes, and hotels in most tourist centred areas. Local prepaid SIM cards can be purchased for a reasonable price to avoid expensive international roaming fees.
Travellers to Cambodia are allowed to enter the country with a reasonable amount of tobacco products and spirits for personal use: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 200g of tobacco; about 350ml of perfume; and two litres of alcohol. Cambodian customs authorities may enforce strict regulations on the import or export of drugs, firearms, antiquities, and ivory.
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