Cambodia: Travel Resources
Getting a Visa
The easiest way to get a tourist visa (valid for 30 days) is to buy one on arrival at the Pnomh Penh and Siam Reap airports or at the land-borders. This will cost you $30. An additional passport photo is required when applying for the visa. If you do not have a photo with you they will charge you a dollar or two – I assume to scan your passport photo!! You can also apply for an e-visa online at www.evisa.gov.kh. The cost of the visa is $30 plus a $6 surcharge. Note that the tourist visa can be extended for another 30 days, but only once.
When to Visit
Most people visit Cambodia during the dry season between November to March. Personally, I think the best time to visit is probably during the wet season between May and October, since the wet season isn’t really that wet. Although it rains heavily nearly every day, the downpours typically only happen late in the afternoon after 4 or 5 pm and therefore do not really impact on your sightseeing or travel plans. It is also significantly cooler during the rainy season, with the downpours providing some extra cooling. Moreover, during the rainy season, the countryside looks much lusher, moats around the temples and the barrays are full of water, the rice paddies are verdant and the skies contain some impressive cloud formations. Secondly, the crowds are much thinner during this time. The above picture, for example, was taken in Angkor Wat at 3pm. At that time, the place was nearly deserted and that with about 2.5 million people visiting the place every year. Finally, because less people are visiting most hotels and hostels are offering discounts and hence travelling becomes significantly cheaper. The only downside is that because of the cloud cover in the early morning and late evening you probably will not be able to get at decent sunset/sunrise picture of Angkor Wat. But that is a small price to pay.
Siam Reap: Where to Stay and Eat
You are definitely not going to starve in Siam Reap as there plenty of street stalls and restaurants around the Pub Street area catering for all tastes. Although I normally try and stick to the local cuisine, after two weeks of noodles and rice I suddenly craved pizza for some reason so I tried out Il Forno, which I had spotted earlier while walking around the Pub Street area. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the pizza which was actually baked in a brick oven. Right next to Pub Street there is also a big market where you can stock up with drinks and fruits for your visit to the Angkor Archaeological National Park. I ended up buying large backs of Rambutan, which are one of my favourite tropical fruits, most evenings.
There are plenty of homestays and hotels in Siem Reap choose from. At the budget end a bed in a hostel will probably set you back a few dollars or so while for a room in a budget hotel you can expect to pay somewhere between $15-$30. If you want a pool you look at an extra 5 to 10 dollars. If you visit during the low season you can actually stay in some pretty decent hotels without paying over the odds. While in Siam reap I stayed in the Chronicle Residence and Spa (Street 30) which is a pretty swanky boutique hotel with pool and spa and I payed $40 per night. The staff was very friendly and helpful, they offered free tuk-tuks to Pub Street and the centre of town. Furthermore, the hotel has the advantage that it is close to the Angkor Archaeological Park.