Cambodia - practical info
Travelling alone or with a companion?
Compared to most countries in Asia, Cambodia is a small country, less than 2/3 the size of Italy. Following a long and catastrophic civil war, Cambodia has opened up to tourism via a stress-free and relaxed atmosphere mirroring that of its neighbour; Thailand. The main attraction is still the archaeological site of Angkor, but the country also boasts a stretch of coastline with magnificent beaches that has not yet been discovered by international tourism.
When planning a motorcycle tour, it may be useful to analyse the four micro-areas that make up the territory of Cambodia:
Cardamom and Dâmrei Mountains - Including the western mountain range (reaching 1,500m), beaches on the gulf and islands. Major landmarks include: Battambang, Kampot, Koh Kong, Pailin, Pursat, Sihanoukville, the Bokor National Park and Kep.
Northwest Region – which is home to the location that draws the largest number of tourists visiting Cambodia: the archaeological site of Angkor. Other interesting locations include; Anlong Veng, Siem Reap, Sisophon, Koh Ker, Poipet, Tonle Sap Lake and Preah Vihear.
Central Valleys and Mekong River - Bordering with Thailand and Vietnam and the location of the capital Phnom Penh and also Kampong Cham, Kompong Thom and Krek. The Mekong River dominates the country's hydrology.
Eastern Region - That is, the area to the east. Landscape wise, it is a beautiful region consisting of forests, rice fields and the amazing Yak Loum crater lake, but at the same time it is also perilous due to the existance of minefields yet to be reclaimed...
Travelling alone or with a companion? Once again, it depends on personal travel experience. Those who are familiar with the Asian continent will certainly be able to "face" Cambodia with both caution and the right attitude. Those who have travelled mainly through Western countries should opt for an organised motorcycle tour or, if travelling with a group of fellow motorcyclists, opt for a 4x4 guided tour.
Personal and motorcycle documents
Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your entry into the country, but this period could vary depending on the agreements that exist between individual countries and the Cambodian Government. Whilst staying or travelling through Cambodia, it is essential to always carry a certified copy of your passport. Providing, of course, that your motorcycle tour will return to the starting point where your original passport can be left safely.
Visa: It is also necessary to obtain a Visa and this will be issued by the Cambodian diplomatic-consulate located in individual countries. The visa is valid for a 30-day stay during a 90-day period. It must be stamped in two copies and presented, along with your passport, upon arrival and departure. The online procedure, which involves scanning your passport and passport photos plus making a credit card payment, can be carried out on this website: https://www.evisa.gov.kh/.For short stays, the visa can also be obtained at the land borders or upon arrival at international airports: simply fill out the application form provided and make the payment. The cost is €59.95 per person (including children). You will subsequently be asked to upload a passport photo and a scan of your passport using the dedicated online uploading tool. If possible, it is still preferable to submit your application before departure.
Those who have included Cambodia in a larger Asian motorcycle tour will be able to enter the country at a land border crossing with Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Each border crossing has the facility to issue a Tourist Visa, although some do not recognise the validity of the Tourist Visa purchased online. See below a list of all border crossings.
Thailand: Cham Yeam, in the province of Koh Kong; Chorm, in the province of Oddar Meanchey; Daung, in the province of Kamrieng Battambang; Then Pet, in the province of Banteay Meanchey; Prom, in the province of Pailin; O Smach, in the province of Oddar Meanchey. Vietnam: Bavet, in the province of Svay Rieng; Kaoam Samnor, in the province of Kandal Mekong; Phnom Den, in the province of Takeo; Trapaing Sre, in the province of Kratie Laos: Dong Kralo, in the province of Stung Treng.
Those who decide to hire a motorcycle locally can use one of the four International Airports in Cambodia ie., Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Preah Sihanouk and Sihanoukville.
US Dollars is a foreign currency that is commonly used. We recommend obtaining a quantity of small value bills. ATM / Cashpoint machines for Visa and Mastercard are commonly found in large cities across the country.
Driving licence: to drive around Cambodia, an international driving permit is required, which must be converted into a Cambodian licence by paying a fee of US$33 for those driving vehicles and motorcycles over 125cc.
Road conditions in Cambodia are constantly improving; however, it is common for vehicles to have no lights and for traffic to be disorganised and, in the main cities, quite chaotic. Every rider should not only be wary when travelling on Cambodian roads but also when it comes to selecting a motorcycle rental shop. We are still receiving reports of untrustworthy companies where fleets of motorcycles are made up of unchecked vehicles that are unsafe for road use. The roads in rural areas are often unlit.
The Cambodian Tourist Office (see below under "Useful Information") provides e-brochures on the different areas of the country as well as downloadable maps.
Cambodia drives on the right. It recently became mandatory for motorcycle helmets to be worn but at best, only the rider wears one as the cost of purchasing a second helmet for a passenger is an unjustifiable expense for most Cambodian families.
Outside large cities, street signage is almost exclusively in the local language and without the assistance of a navigator or guide, a rider can risk becoming lost several times in just one day!
One more word of advice....when riding through Cambodia do not hold back on honking the horn, as every rider should make themselves as visible as possible. Do not risk riding in the rain as the roads can become a river and unsafe for riding so just stop and wait for the rain to pass and (usually only an hour).
The country has enjoyed relative peace and stability for years now; nonetheless, when it comes to demonstrations (particularly political ones), we recommend staying away from gatherings, especially in Phnom Penh.
If travelling alone and away from the regular tourist routes, proceed with extreme caution in areas where there are still landmines and unexploded bombs (the presence of which is not always marked or signposted). Avoid trails in remote rural areas as well as those near archaeological sites in the regions of Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, and Kratié — including the zones along the borders with Laos, Vietnam and Thailand and the surrounding archaeological sites.
Micro-crime is reported at Angkor Wat and in the town of Sihanoukville, a city overlooking the Gulf of Siam, the origin being the high number of tourists and foreign residents.
If not travelling in an organised group, always report your daily movements and itinerary to a third party. Beware of guides who approach you offering their services, as they are often unapproved, unauthorised and inexperienced.
It is also important to note that are severe prison sentences for drug use, even for the use of “soft” drugs.
Country code: KH
Capital: PHNOM PENH
Population: approximately 16,200,000 million
Area: 181,000 square kilometres (almost a fifth is water)
Neighbouring countries: Laos, Thailand, Vietnam.
Time zone: 6 hours ahead of Italy (+five in summer time)
Languages: Khmer (English and French in tourist areas)
Religion: Thearavada Buddhism is the official religion.
Currency: Cambodian Riel (KHR). 5.000 Riel correspond to 1.22 US dollars. The dollar currency is accepted almost everywhere as well as the Thai Baht. All main credit cards are accepted in hotels, shopping centres, shops and restaurants in major cities.
Power Grid: 220V. 50Hz. The mains power frequency is not very stable.
Mobile Networks: The area code to call in Cambodia is 00855. There are five mobile service providers in Cambodia: Cellcard/Mobitel, Metfone, Smart, Qb, Beeline, CooTel and Excell. Tourists can buy a SIM Card for their mobile phones at the arrivals terminal of all airports in Cambodia and at the border Checkpoints.
Internet access: internet access can be easily found in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap (in internet shops and coffee shops at $1US an hour). Wi-Fi is available in most hotels, restaurants, Mini Mart, Cafés and shopping malls.
Medical aid: 119
Police services: 117
Fire services: 118
Tourism Cambodia – 262D Monivong Blvd, Khan Daun Penh – Phnom Penh, Cambogia – tel. (855) 023 218 585
https://www.tourismcambodia.com/ - Email: email@example.com. The office can provide a lot of information in English as well as brochures and maps to download.
Tourist information centre in the capital: Preah Sisowath Quay, right in front of the Court of Appeal, 12207. Tel: (855) 097 2473 773
Tourist information centre in Sihanoukville: Serendipity Beach (St.), Sihanoukville, Preah Sihanouk Sihanoukville, Preah Sihanouk. Tel: (855) 016 351 319
Useful information for italian motorcycle tourists
Embassy: there is no Italian diplomatic representation in Cambodia.
The competent Italian Embassy is the one in BANGKOK, Thailand – CRC Tower, All Seasons Place – 40th floor (27th Floor Chancellery) – 87 Wireless Road – Lumphini, Pathumwan – Bangkok 10330 – Tel. +66 250 4970 – Mobile phone number for genuine emergencies only: +66 818256103 - E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
https://ambbangkok.esteri.it/ambasciata_bangkok/it/ Honorary Italian Consulate in Phnom Penh: Dott. Aurelio Flacco – Mobile: +885(0)17540544.
Borey Peng Houth Boeung Snor, Street P-22, Nr. 4, Sangkat Niroth, Khan Chbar Ampov, 12123 Phnom Penh - email address: email@example.com.
In the event of a serious emergency, contact can be made with the French Embassy
Tel: (+855) 23 430 020 (from outside the country), 023 430 020 (locally);
Facilities and standards are not comparable to those found in European countries. It is recommended that foreign visitors should only visit a hospital for minor complaints / problems or to facilitate repatriation or the transfer to a neighbouring country (we recommend Thailand). Due to vulnerable healthcare and hygiene conditions, visitors should always be careful with food and beverages. Avoid a "motorcycle stay/drive" visit to Cambodia if you have a poor or fragile state of health.
Illnesses: those typical of the Asian area (include Plasmodium Falciparum Malaria, (except in the area of Phnom Penh city) and Dengue Fever. Always take preventive measures against mosquito bites. For a longer stay, Anti-Hepatitis A + B and Anti-Malarial Prophylaxis may be appropriate.
HIV/AIDS are also quite widespread.
The last case of Bird Flu (H5N1 virus) was reported in February 2013.
Returning to food, as a precautionary measure avoid meat and poultry eggs and only eat poultry if it is well cooked.
In the country there have also been cases of Zika "virus", viral illness transmitted by the "Aedes aegypti” mosquito, also responsible for the "dengue fever" and "Chikunguya".
Before departing for Cambodia, it is highly recommended to purchase travel insurance that covers medical expenses and repatriation or transfer to another country in the event of illness or accident.
Vaccinations: a vaccination against yellow fever is mandatory only for travellers coming from countries where there is a risk of the transmission of the disease, as well as for travellers who have spent over 12 hours in an airport located in an at-risk country, even if only passing through.
The COVID-19 situation
As of 3 October 2022, it is no longer necessary to present a passenger health declaration or a full Covid-19 vaccination certificate to enter Cambodia.
The Cambodian Ministry of Health encourages all citizens to maintain a certain level of precaution — including regularly monitoring their own health conditions — and to observe the measures in force to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Light but technical clothing. Rain suit, open or full-face helmet. If you are arriving overland, you will of course have a specially prepared kit for tackling asphalt and dirt tracks. In case of hiring a motorcycle locally, it is also important to obtain information about hiring all the necessary accessories. An alternative is to fly to Cambodia with luggage that can be mounted to the pre-hired motorcycle, where a rider might also install an emergency/accessories kits which will include a charger for a smartphone / GPS, photo / video camera and / or tablet and any related item. A 30-litre backpack with comfortable shoulder straps would be useful in many situations, as well as a waist bag with compartments for tools, documents and other small items (see GIVI’s GRT710 model from the Gravel-T line).
In Cambodia, a litre of petrol currently costs an average of 4,650 Riel (May 2023).
When to travel
The country is located completely within the tropics with its most southern point being just 10° above the equator.
The climate is tropical-monsoon, warm and humid with heavy rains August-October and with more moderate temperatures November-March.
The rainy season is from May to October. If your journey to Cambodia clashes with the rainy season, it is vital to always keep up to date on the weather using the website; http://www.cambodiameteo.com/map?menu=3&lang=en
Motorcycle rental and tour operators
Some offers from the web:
Website: http://www.victorymotorbike.com/- $76, Street 172, Sangkat Phsa Thmei 3, Khan Daun Penh, Phnom Penh - Tel: 012 800 649 / 011 488 118 - Whatsapp: +855 16 904400 - Telegram: +855 11 488118 - email address: victorymotorbike(at)yahoo.com - Facebook: www.facebook.com/VictoryMotorbike
Rental service for scooters and motorcycles of all sizes. The many models offered include the Honda XR 650cc and 250cc, Honda Hornet 250cc, and Suzuki Hayate 125cc.
It is also possible to engage a tour guide service if needed.
https://www.rentalmotorbike.com/. Both a UK phone number (+44 203 769 00 23) and a US phone number (+1 201 478 89 64) are provided. In order to make contact via e-mail, you will need to complete an online form.
This well-known international organisation also has a presence in the Cambodian capital.
There is usually a wide variety of motorcycles in their fleet but currently, it is limited to just two vehicles; the 110cc Yamaha Legenda scooter and the Honda Enduro XR 250 Tornado. The website has details on rates and how to book a vehicle...
Contents updated as of May 2023