Buddhism in Cambodia

Fast Facts

Business Hours

Vendors and restaurants tend to be all-day operations, opening at about 8am and closing at 9 or 10pm. Government offices, as well as banks, travel agencies, and museums, are usually open from 8am to 4pm or 5pm with an hour break for lunch.


Once a place where violence and banditry was an everyday occurrence, Cambodia has become much safer in recent years. The civilian population is more or less disarmed and civil authorities have firm control, but stay on your toes. Try not to be on the roads late at night and be careful to lock your valuables in hotel safes. In the event of trouble -- as in a holdup -- comply and report any incidents to local officials.

Drug Laws

Availability might look like permission, but that's not the case. It's a time-tested rule that you can bribe your way out of (or into) anything in corrupt Cambodia, but it's best not to test it. Police are crooked and may be the ones selling the drugs (out of uniform) in order to collect the bribe. Like anywhere, dabbling in this arena makes you friends in all the wrong places, and Cambodia is not a good place to have the wrong friends.


Cambodia uses 220-volt European standard electricity, with rounded, two-prong plugs requiring an adaptor. Bring a surge protector for delicate instruments.


Australia and Canada: No. 11 Street 254; tel. 023/426-000. United Kingdom: No. 27-29 Street 75; tel. 023/427-124. United States: No. 27 Street 240; tel. 023/426-436.


In Phnom Penh dial tel. 117 for police, or tel. 119 for an ambulance.


You'll want to take care of any medical or dental issues before arriving in Cambodia. The SOS Clinic in Phnom Penh (No. 161 Street 51; tel. 023/216-911) is your best bet in a pinch.


Reliable service can be found in the major centers; prepaid wireless connections have recently become available. Prices for connections range from 50ยข per hour at budget Internet cafes to $3 per hour for wireless DSL connections. Note that local Internet cafes can be a bit frustrating; without the proper protective software, bothersome pop-ups and very slow connections are common. Pay more and get more is the rule.


Khmer police exist to harass and collect, not to protect and serve. Contact them only in the event of a major emergency at tel. 117 or to the expat hot line: tel. 023/724-793.

Post Offices

Hotels usually sell stamps and send post cards.


The Cambodia Daily and the twice-monthly Phnom Penh Post are both good local rags with nitty-gritty news from Cambodia as well as stories from wire services like the Associated Press. You can also find Thailand's Bangkok Post and the Nation as well as the International Herald Tribune and the standard array of international news mags (Time, Newsweek, and the Economist). Free local magazines are chock-full of good insights. Look for the useful Canby Publications, a free guide published in each of the tourist areas of Cambodia and updated regularly. Also check out the often raunchy Bayon Pearnik, which details life among Cambodia's kooky expatriates.

Radio & TV

97.5 LOVE FM is the English-language frequency out of Phnom Penh, and serves up music ranging from classic rock to rap as well as lots of expat chat. Most hotels in Cambodia have some sort of basic satellite cable connection, usually "borrowed" from Thailand.

Telephone & Fax

Phones in the major centers are reliable and international direct dial is common.


Tipping is not obligatory but appreciated. A blanket 10% to 20% is exorbitant. Best to just round up any check or leave a buck or two.


Public toilets are a little rough -- mostly of the Asian "squatty-potty" variety -- and rather grungy with an attendant at the door charging a small fee for entrance and a few squares of gritty paper. Not a bad idea to bring your own roll and some germ-fighting hand sanitizer. Facilities in Western accommodations are more familiar.


Recommended to buy bottled water, available everywhere.

Telephone Dialing Information at a Glance

To place a call from your home country to Cambodia: Dial the international code (011 in the U.S., 0011 in Australia, 0170 in New Zealand, or 00 in the U.K.), plus the country code 855, the city code (23 for Phnom Pehn, 63 for Siem Reap), and the phone number (for example, 011+855+23/000-0000). Important note: Omit the initial "0" in all Cambodian phone numbers when calling from abroad.

To place a call within Cambodia: Dial 0 before the city code (as numbers are listed in this book). Note that all phone numbers are six digits after the city code.

To place a direct international call from Cambodia: Most hotels offer international direct dialing, but with exorbitant surcharges of 10% to 25%. Faxes often have high minimum charges. To place a call, dial the international access code (001) plus the country code, the area or city code, and the number (for example, to call the U.S., you'd dial 001+1+000/000-0000).

International country codes are as follows: Australia: 61; Myanmar: 95; Canada: 1; Hong Kong: 852; Indonesia: 62; Laos: 856; Malaysia: 60; New Zealand: 64; the Philippines: 63; Singapore: 65; Thailand: 66; U.K.: 44; U.S.: 1; Vietnam: 84.

Post offices and Internet cafes all rent time on direct lines. If you can manage the static and the delays, affordable Internet phone service is available at Internet cafes. Also keep your eyes open for the many street-side stalls with mobile phones on loan, a good choice for regional calls.

Entry Requirements

All visitors are required to carry a passport and visa. A 1-month visa can be issued on arrival at the Phnom Penh or Siem Reap airports for about 80,000 Riel ($20), and an overland visa-upon-arrival is available from both Thailand (overland from Poipet) and Vietnam (by boat from Chau Doc or by bus through Moc Bai) for $22. Bring two passport photos for your application. For other entry points, you must obtain your visa before arrival. An overland crossing goes between to Laos via Stung Treng, but it's a trip reserved for the hearty.

Tourist visas can be extended three times for a total of 3 months. Any travel agent can perform the service for a small fee. Business visas, for just $25 upon entry, can be extended indefinitely.

Customs Regulations

Currency in possession must be declared on arrival. Cambodian Customs on the whole is not stringent. With a long, sad history of theft from the Angkor temples, it is forbidden to carry antiques or Buddhist reliquary out of the country, but Buddhist statues and trinkets bought from souvenir stalls are fine.


The U.S. dollar can be used anywhere. The exchange rate at the time of publication was 3,900 Riel = $1. The Thai Bhat is widely accepted in the western region of the country.

The Riel comes in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 50,000, and 100,000. You cannot change Cambodia's Riel outside the country, so anything you carry home is a souvenir.

There are no ATMs with international capabilities in Cambodia.

Currency Exchange
You can change traveler's checks in banks in all major towns. Because the U.S. dollar is the de facto currency, it's not a bad idea to change traveler's checks to dollars for a 1% or 2% fee and make all purchases in U.S. cash.

Traveler's Checks
Traveler's checks are accepted in most major banks for exchange, but not commonly at individual vendors. American Express is a good bet and is represented by Diethelm.

Credit Cards
Cambodia is a cash economy, but credit cards are becoming more widely accepted. Most large hotels and high-end restaurants accept the majors, but you'll want to carry cash for most transactions and certainly in the countryside.

Health Concerns & Vaccinations

The health essentials for Vietnam are quite similar to Cambodia. Health considerations should comprise a good part of your trip planning for Cambodia, even if you're going for only a few weeks. You'll need to cover all the bases to protect yourself from tropical weather and illnesses, and you will need to get special vaccinations if rural areas are on your itinerary. You should begin your vaccinations as necessary (ask your doctor how many weeks before your trip you need to allow to give them time to take effect). If you follow the guidelines here and those of your doctor, however, there's no reason you can't have a safe and healthy trip.

Malaria is not a concern in Phnom Penh or any of the larger towns, but upcountry and even in and around Siem Reap and Angkor Wat, it's quite common. Many travelers take preventative medication. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at for current information. An antimalarial prophylaxis is recommended everywhere but in Phnom Penh. Take atovaquone proguanil (brand name Malarone), doxycycline, or mefloquine (brand name Lariam). If you plan to travel extensively in the rural areas on the western border with Thailand, primaquine is the only effective preventative.

Other mosquito-borne ailments, such as Japanese encephalitis and dengue fever, are also prevalent. Your best protection is to wear light, loose-fitting clothes from wrist to neck and ankles, wear a bug repellent with DEET, and be particularly careful at sunset or when out and about early in the morning.

Hepatitis is a concern as anywhere, and reliable statistics on AIDS are not out, but with rampant prostitution and drug abuse, Cambodia is certainly fertile ground for the disease. Recent efforts to educate needle users about the dangers of the substance and the importance of clean needles, as well as increased condom use, are positive signs, but recent statistics show that the tide of new AIDS cases is rising.

Medical Safety & Evacuation Insurance--The Cambodian medical system is rudimentary at best and nonexistent at worst. Make sure that you have medical coverage for overseas travel and that it includes emergency evacuation. There are a few clinics in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, but for anything major, evacuation to Bangkok is the best option.