This post is to serve as a public service announcement for travelers visiting Cambodia.
Don’t Wander Off
In recent days you may have heard of a traveler who wandered off the trail and was stranded for two weeks. Because of this Angkor Thom Tours wanted to remind travelers don’t wander off the trail while visiting anywhere in Cambodia. Unlike other places that are less dangerous, jungle survival in Cambodia is far different.
Tourist areas are landmine free. But be aware if you plan to take pictures further away. In reality, as a tourist you should never be far enough away to experience this. Yet again because of recent news we are reminding you of the threat. In case you are in an area that is off the beaten path, stay close to your guide and communicate with them verbally. Away from towns and cities landmines and booby traps are still active. Traps and landmines are skillfully set so you will not see them.
2. Poisonous Stuff
Here in Cambodia there are insects and plants that are poisonous. Plants have mostly been cleared but insects and animals are another story. Snakes and lizards are common in 6 to 8 foot lengths. Smaller snakes are also poisonous. A great article on poisonous snakes in Cambodia can be seen here. Many insects are poisonous as well. Please do not let any worms, ants or insects crawl on you willingly. There are insects that are poisonous to the touch! While not fatal it is a painful burn and a trip to the hospital.
3. A Bad Time
No one wants to think of what can happen. But wandering off can very easily lead to a bad time. For this reason we remind you please don’t wander off. If you do we don’t know what might happen but it just might be a bad time. Help us help you. Stay on the paths and be on time to your meeting points.
Angkor Thom Tours is here to ensure you have a 5 star experience while visiting Cambodia. Again, while we are a developing country please feel safe when you visit. Siem Reap still has dirt roads and open air street stalls. You might describe it as living in touch with nature. It really is an exciting experience. But don’t let your excitement get the best of you. Think of your safety first! If you have any questions or would like to go somewhere that is not travelled by tourists as much, please let me, Chang, know. Do not just go on your own.
Finally, we look forward to welcoming you to the Kingdom of Wonder that is Cambodia. You’ll find amazing things you won’t see anywhere else in the world! Contact Me now to make arrangements.
It is natural to want to help the street children you will undoubtedly come across when visiting Siem Reap. They will stare at you with their big brown eyes, tug on your shirt and say, “One dollar, just one dollar”. You will think, “Sure, what harm will one dollar do?”. But the sad reality is, that one dollar can do a lot of harm.
When we buy from street children, the responsibility to earn money shifts from the parents onto the child. For every sale a child makes, their parents see the value in it. They see the money that the children bring home each evening and realise it is an ‘easy option’ for them to get food on the table. Although every situation is unique, we are perpetuating these attitudes and behaviours by buying from children.
Furthermore, it traps children in the poverty cycle. “I need money for school,” is a common line from child sellers. Maybe they do. Public school in Cambodia runs for half a day, though children usually have to partake in extra classes. However, even if the children ARE in school, do you think they will have the energy to concentrate if they are working in their free time? And once they see they can make money by selling on the streets, they are more likely to drop out of school. This means that the child is likely to remain uneducated, thus not being able to break the cycle of poverty as they won’t have the skills or knowledge to access gainful, full-time employment in the future. We would help these children more by not buying from them, and not be perpetuating this negative cycle.
Instead of buying from street children when visiting Siem Reap, shop and dine at social enterprises. These enterprises provide training, fair wages and good working conditions to Cambodians, and often support NGO’s with their profits. It is a sustainable way to help people living in poverty, and you also benefit!
Make sure to ask Chang for his suggestions of which social enterprises to dine at when you book him for your next trip to Siem Reap. And remember, don’t buy anything from that cute child on the street. It just isn’t worth it.
When heading to another country, it is always a great idea to do your research. Many cultures differ vastly from Western culture, and you don’t want to inadvertently offend someone in your host country! This list of cultural customs in Cambodia covers the basics so you can have a great time whilst respecting the local culture.
Pagoda etiquette – When you visit Buddhist pagodas (which there are plenty of in Cambodia), always err on the side of caution with the dress code. It is best to keep a hat off when entering a pagoda, and ensuring your knees and shoulders are covered it all times. If you are female, it is absolutely forbidden to touch a Monk. You should also avoid pointing the soles of your feet or fingers towards Buddha statues or Monks. Finally, remember to take your shoes off being venturing inside any pagoda building.
Greetings – The traditional way to greet someone in Cambodia is by putting your hands together in front of your face. Although some Cambodians may shake your hand, it is usually only people who are used to interacting with foreigners. To be on the safe side, always greet people with this traditional method as you don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable
Titles – A great thing about Cambodian culture is the respect they show for other people. Instead of calling people by their names, they usually address them by a title. For example, if someone is younger than you, call them ‘oun’ (pronounced own). If they are around the same age or a bit older than you, call them ‘bong’. If they are much older than you, call them ‘om’ which translates to grandparent. This is a fantastic way to show respect for the beautiful Cambodian people AND help you save face if you forget names!
Be sure to book one of our tours to gain a better insight into the local culture from Chang. He can take you to his favourite local places, educate you further on the culture and of course, he loves to practice his English!
So, you are heading to Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonder. Cambodia is a glorious country, and whether you visit during the hot season, rainy season or cool season, you are bound to have a fabulous time. To help you prepare for your upcoming trip, read this guide on what to pack for a trip to Cambodia.
Cambodia is a modest country, and you will be hard pressed to find locals wearing anything but long sleeves and long pants. To respect the culture, it is best to always have your shoulders and knees covered. If you do find it is too hot, pack a light shirt or shawl to wear over your sleeveless tops, particularly when visiting the temples.
Don’t enter the country without it. Every year, thousands of people in Cambodia contract malaria or dengue fever, and it can be deadly. At the very least, it will ruin your trip. By simply applying mosquito repellent every few hours, you will be able to skip these tropical diseases and ensure you remain healthy long after you depart the country.
Sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer
Cambodians don’t typically use toilet paper. If you are stuck and have to resort to using a squat toilet, it will serve you well to have some sanitary wipes on hand. Hand sanitizer also comes in handy, especially if you are about to tuck down on a meal at a street food stall that doesn’t have hygiene facilities.
Hat + sunscreen
Cambodia is a very hot country (except for December and January), and the fun will be beating down on you all day, especially if you are visiting the temples. To avoid having beet-red skin like many other tourists, wear a hat and plenty of sunscreen to avoid some nasty sunburn.
A book on Cambodia
There are surprisingly quite a few books written about Cambodia, and we do recommend you read at least one either before you visit the country or while you are there. First, they Killed my Father is a true story written by Loung Ung in the voice of her five-year-old self. It covers her life before the Khmer Rouge assumed power over Cambodia in 1975, her four years under the brutal regime and what happened in the end. It has been made into a Netflix film, so if you really weren’t into reading, watching it is always an option!
Before you head to Cambodia, be sure to book one of our tours. We have a range of options available to suit different budgets and travel plans, and Chang is a respected driver with years of experience under his belt.
See you soon!