Travellers Tips Cambodia #2: Visas & Money

NOTE: I arrived from Singapore to Phnom Penh so all the information here regarding arrivals is for that route. I never flew in or out of Siem Reap so cannot provide any info on their process!

Cambodia supports the ‘visa-on-arrival’ simplicity that most countries I’ve visited (except Vietnam) have applied. You simply fill in your boarding cars, hand over your passport and information to the immigration man, wait for your name to be called out and take your newly stamped passport back. It cost me $30USD – you can get money from an ATM machine in arrivals very easily at a more reasonable rate/charge than you would from any exchange desk.
            Arriving in Phnom Penh with outrageous food poisoning, I was completely out of it – the staff were kind, helpful and professional. Surprising when you consider how rude security usually is at any western airport!

Getting into the city from Phnom Penh airport is easy, as long as you book directly with the desks. There are a number of options. Firstly – moto. If you have no bags and are comfortable on the back of a bike – go for it. It’ll be the cheapest and quickest way in. If you do have bags, be wary – there are reports of travellers being seriously hurt and even killed by bag snatchers who target moto-tourists. If you choose this way, head outside the airport gates – you can get a ride for as little as $2.
            Another option is a Tuk-Tuk  ($6-10 depending on your negotiation skills)– but again, be wary of your valuables. I met a guy who had his phone snatched from his hand by a man on a bike as he sat in the back of a Tuk-Tuk. Also – not quite as quick.
            The slowest and most expensive way – but also the safest, hassle free – is by airport taxi. It cost me a grand $12, which is extortionate when you can travel halfway across the country for a mere $15. But air-conditioning, a locked boot and safety had me and my stomach sold.

Cambodia really sucks in terms of currency. To make things complicated for the less-mathematically minded of us, they use two currencies: the Cambodian Riel  & US Dollars. Now work out converting that into Australian dollars for each purchase, and my head hurts.
            There are roughly 4000Riel to the USD – most places will accept both currencies but make sure you are getting the correct change. They are aware that us westerners get confused and will often take advantage of that – I am sure that I was sucked in more than once.
            ATM machines spit out US Dollars – I think the maximum you can take out at a time is usually 200, depending on the bank branch you choose.
            Irritatingly, the ATM’s often dispense stupidly large notes of either $50 or $100 that you have to get changed before spending. Stalls, shops and restaurants won’t often have the change for a $100 note when you’re spending around $2 a meal. And changing it in a Western Union or a bank can incur a fee or a lower exchange – sneaky sneaky. You can’t avoid it, but just be aware & cautious when walking around with large notes. 

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