Cambodia : Other Useful Information
Vaccination is not required before entry into Cambodia. The Bayon Pearnik advises that it isn’t necessary to take Malaria tablets (as they make many people feel ill) if you’re only visiting the areas of Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. However, Malaria tablets should be taken if you’re planning to visit less touristy areas with jungle (such as Ratanakiri and Mondulkiri).
Jabs for Hepatitis A + B, Tetanus, & Typhoid are a must with Rabies, Polio and Influenza a wise move with a Japanese Enclephitis jab advisable if your going to jungle areas.
Should you become ill, your best bet is to contact a private clinic (which do maintain international standards) and there are a number in Phnom Penh and, to a lesser extent, Siem Reap. However, Sihanoukville (and everywhere else in Cambodia) still has very limited medical facilities. If you do become really unwell or have an accident, it’s advisable to struggle onto a plane to Bangkok where medical standards are high.
Money & Banks
The national currency of Cambodia is officially the riel. However, it could definitely be argued that the US Dollar is the currency of choice in the country today. Indeed, most restaurants and bars will have prices in dollars. But when it comes to small change, the Riel still rules so expect to receive riel back as change rather than coins (as Cambodia doesn’t have coins).
The rate of exchange between the two currencies floats around but it tends to stay close to US$1 = 4,000 riel. Riel denominations come in 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000 and 10,000 notes. There are 20,000, 50,000 and 100,000 riel notes in circulation but don’t accept them as there’s a charge from shops when you use them.
There are currently no ATMs in Cambodia accepting international credit or debit cards! But banks, hotels and many large western bars offer credit card cash advances (normally with a minimum charge of 2%. Banks will do money transfers and will also cash travelers cheques. Canadia Bank doesn’t charge a fee for cash advances using MasterCard and UCB offers a similar service for Visa. Western Union money transfer is widely available throughout Cambodia. Banks generally operate from 8AM till 5PM (Monday through Friday). Please note that, just like other banks across the world, most banks are closed on Saturday afternoons and all day on Sunday. WARNING: When taking money out of a bank via your credit card, check your receipt before signing. There have been cases of bank fraud by members of staff.
Hotels and guesthouses will allow you to make local calls cheaply, and there’s also phone booths offering inexpensive local calls all over Phnom Penh and elsewhere. If your thinking of staying in the country for a long period of time, you’ll be interested to know that there are four cellular GSM service providers offering competitive rates (although coverage can be suspect at times).
The cheapest option if you need to phone internationally (IDD) from Cambodia is to make a call over the web. Calls to the US are especially good value at 500 riel per minute. Phone cards are available at shops in denominations of up to US$50. Calls at the weekends are cheaper than during the week. Telephones in Battambang are less expensive then elsewhere in Cambodia as the interphone offices route calls via Thailand. The country code for Cambodia is 855.
Most hotels and business centres have this service but it’s expensive ($5-$7 per page). Probably best to use e-mail!
It‘s easy and cheap to access the internet and e-mail in Cambodia. There are loads of internet cafes in the main tourist areas and many are open until late at night. Currently the charge is US$0.50-1 per hour in Phnom Penh but it is a little bit more in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. The price for internet access, though, does increase in less well trodden tourist areas. For example, it is $4 an hour in Koh Kong!
International post is routed by air through Bangkok and the rates are listed in the main post office in Phnom Penh. It can take up to three weeks for a letter to reach a destination outside of Asia. It’s not advisable to post letters in the provinces because the service is unreliable. In Phnom Penh, send letters only from the GPO on the corner of Street 102 and 13 near Wat Phnom where the Post Restante service is.
You can receive mail from the same place but it’s not a good idea to have anything of value sent there. The same rules apply in Siem Reap. The main post office is along the river, 400m south of the Grand Hotel d’Angkor. In terms of sending mail, this post office does have a reliable Express EMS found at the counter. DHL, FEDEX also operate in Phnom Penh. The main post office in Sihanoukville is at Victory Beach at the back of the Holiday Palace Casino and is supposed to have a reasonably reliable service.
The Bayon Pearnik is an independent magazine dedicated to raising beer money as well as encouraging debate over standards of taste, humor and journalistic ethics. Not to be taken seriously or while driving or operating heavy machinery. Always consult your doctor first because we're not responsible for what happens to you.
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