Cambodia

Official name: The Kingdom of Cambodia

Cambodia is a constitutional monarchy. The monarchy is symbolic and does not exercise political power.

The majority of people in Cambodia are Buddhist; however, there is also a large Muslim population. The hill tribes are animist.

Angkor Wat (Wat is temple) is a must see World Heritage site. There are many different temples in the area. The jungle template is said to be most amazing. Angkor Wat is near the city of Siem Reip (Siemreab in the picture above – Northeast corner). The best time to see the temples is early morning. Apparently, sunrise is spectacular and a lot of buses head out to see it. Once the sun rises, the buses head back to Siem Reip for breakfast an you are left alone with the temples for a couple of hours before the tourist traffic returns. Also, you can bike around the various temples, which gets you away from the buses.

Phnom Penh is the capital of Cambodia. Most of the tourist in that area are rather glum. They are museums that provide a remembrance of the Khmer Rouge legacy and include the Killing Fields and a high school that was used as a torture facility.

Cambodia is one of the most land-mined countries in the world.

Cambodia does not have good health care. If a problem occurs, either make your way to Phnom Penh or out of Cambodia to Thailand or Singapore.

The Canadian consulate recommends against traveling by train.

May to October is monsoon season, April is the warmest month of the year.

Foreigners are often unable to cross into Cambodia from Laos. Border crossings may be closed to foreigners. It is not possible to get a visa for Cambodia at a Laos border crossing, so if you do try it, ensure you already have a visa.

Biking notes

The warm weather and poor road conditions ensure that your tires will wear faster than you expect. Finding 700mm tires is a problem. It is recommended that you bring along a spare in case you need it.

Also, presta valves are not common. If your tubes use presta valves, you should bring a schrader converter. You don’t want to get stuck being unable to pump up your tires!

If you are staying in hotels, you will need a sleeping bag. Apparently, the hotels often have air-conditioning that only has one setting – cold! If you turn it off, the room will have no air exchange, so it is necessary to be left on. Without a sleeping bag, you will find yourself getting too cold at night.

Lights are handy for those times when you wish to be riding before sunrise (e.g. observing the sunrise at the temples or catching the early morning boat).

Money

The currency appears to be a little crazy. US dollars and Thai Baht can be used in many places, and my be more convenient too. At the time of writing, 1 Canadian dollar converts to 4,000 Cambodian Riels. Further reading shows that the smaller towns and villages require local currency. So, you can use US dollars or Baht in the cities, but the small towns require Riels.

There are ATMs in Siem Reip and Phnom Penh.

Embassies and visas

We will require a Visa for Cambodia. It is possible to get an e-visa; however, it limits which places we can enter Cambodia. All these valid land crossing locations are pretty far south, so if we are planning on visiting Cambodia after Laos, we will need to get a different type of Visa. We can enter Cambodia from Thailand or Vietnam and purchase a visa at the boarder. We will require 2 passport sized photos for the Visas. It is also possible to get visa’s in advance at Cambodian embassies:

Cycle journals from Cambodia