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A holiday to Cambodia would have been unthinkable a few decades ago. But this stunningly beautiful country is moving forward. And, without forgetting its past, it is forging a new identity that’s increasingly tourist-friendly.
Visiting during the rainy season, which runs from June through to October, can present a few problems in terms of the logistics of getting around. It’s a tropical country affected by monsoon rains, so it’s not just the odd drizzle you have to deal with. Yet, the countryside transforms during this time, becoming even greener, and with fewer tourists, it’s easier to see some of the country’s star attractions at their least crowded.
The dry season is divided between a cooler and warmer period. During the hottest times of year, February to May, some of the cities can become pretty hard to handle, with temperatures above 35˚C and extremely high humidity. The cooler period, from November to January, might be more comfortable for a sightseeing trip.
Cambodia is increasingly popular with tourists and the infrastructure supporting this is getting better. But it’s still nowhere near as busy as neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam. It’s always better to try and book your flights early as there are limited departures from the UK.
To find the cheapest flights with Expedia you can select ‘Show flexible dates’ to see prices from other days around your chosen departure time. If you can be flexible, you might find there are cheaper Cambodia flights on certain days of the week.
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There are numerous flights to Cambodia from UK airports.
There are three major international airports in Cambodia. Of the three, the busiest is located just outside the capital Phnom Penh. It handles around four million passengers a year with further expansion plans for the future.
Siem Reap International is the closest airport to what is Cambodia’s biggest attraction, the Angkor Wat temple complex. It’s also the busiest in terms of aircraft movements. There are plans to upgrade the airport with a more modern facility in the near future.
Sihanoukville international is the country’s third largest, located around 12 miles outside of the city. It’s a relatively small airport with few international flights but these are on the increase as Cambodia becomes more appealing to tourists.
Flights to Cambodia from London, as well as other UK airports, are available from a number of different carriers.
Road travel in Cambodia used to be fairly hit and miss. If you got caught in a rain storm or took the wrong road you could be looking at long delays. But the government has gone to great lengths to improve the roads in the last ten years. All main highways are sealed and there are lots of bus, mini bus and shared taxi options, mostly catering specially for tourists.
You’ll pay significantly more than the locals, but public transport options are still cheap by European standards. Longer and overnight bus journeys are often on sleeper buses, which are slightly more comfortable.
No visit to Cambodia is complete without a visit to Angkor Wat. This colossal temple complex covers more than 400 acres and is the remains of the major city of the ancient Khmer empire. These days you’ll have to share the experience with tens of thousands of other tourists but its vast size means you can still explore ruins almost on your own. And as one of the most astonishing places on the planet, it’s hard to begrudge anyone the chance to see its majesty.
The capital Phnom Penh is another must, but for very different reasons. The city was the focal point of one of the most horrific episodes in human history, when an authoritarian government forcibly removed the entire population and instigated a reign of terror that lead to the death of between one and half and three million people. Museums and memorials in city are incredibly moving.
Tourist visas are available on arrival at the main airports and cost around $30. You should arrive with a passport-size photograph to use or arrange your visa online before you travel.
You should also check if you need a yellow fever certificate before travelling.