I’ve got plenty of great and not-so-great memories from traveling to Siem Reap, Cambodia, via Cebu Pacific. One of the great ones include my entry’s unexpected win at the 2012 BlogFest.Asia Writing Competition, but then there was a problem with the flight I booked at their office at Robinson’s Galleria that may have badly affected how I feel about the budget airline.
Regardless of the minor issues I’ve had with CebPac, my views about Cambodia will never change. The country has plenty to offer, from great Indian and Chinese food to beautiful textile.
For anyone planning on a trip to Cambodia, just remember a few things:
1. Know when to visit Cambodia. Cambodia is always filled with tourists during cool months, usually from December to February. It’s rainy from June to October, and for some reason there are less people in November and during summer, from late February to early June.
I have also found that food, accommodations and even clothes are a bit more expensive during “tourist months”.
2. Bring enough money. Hey, money is always essential. When visiting Cambodia, it is recommended that you allot $30-50 for each day of your stay. The country accepts both US dollars and their local currency, and while a backpacker can easily find a guesthouse for just $12 a night and a filling meal for just $2 a pop, it never hurts to have enough cash on hand in case you want to visit a few places around Siem Reap.
Keep in mind that hawkers and business establishments don’t like dilapidated or torn bills, dollars or riels. Don’t bring in dilapidated bills, and don’t accept them either. I learned that the hard way when a few hawkers refused to accept payment just because I tried to pay with the dilapidated bills I got from a sneaky hawker.
3. Try the local food. This is always a must wherever you are! Be adventurous and open-minded when it comes to local food. Food in Cambodia can be as low as 1000 riels (25 cents) for a quick snack like a spinach dumpling or as high as $7 for a complete meal for one person at a popular restaurant. Don’t know what to expect? Take a look at some of the local fare here.
4. Bring sunblock. Even on cool months like December and February, it’s always better to wear sunblock (and drink water) especially when visiting the Angkor temples. Seriously.
5. Wear appropriate clothing. Respect other people’s beliefs. People showing most of their skin are not allowed to step foot on the temples, so it would be wise to wear appropriate clothing (jeans and a t-shirt are fine!) when taking a tour around the city.
6. Learn their culture and history! This is probably the most important. Visit museums and temples to learn even just a bit about the rich Khmer history, from the kings of the first centuries to the communist revolt in the 70s. It doesn’t hurt to learn a bit about their language, too, like “aw-kun” for “thank you” and “thlai poon muhn” for “how much”. Here are a few places I suggest you visit in Siem Reap.
So there you have the important things to remember when visiting Siem Reap (or hey, any country for that matter). How about you? Do you have anything to add to the list? Let me know in the comments.