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Phnom Penh is the capital and the largest city in Cambodia. Situated on the banks of the Tonlé Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers, the city is the wealthiest and most populous city in Cambodia. Once known as the “Pearl of Asia”, it was considered one of the loveliest French-built cities in Indochina in the 1920s. Today it is home to the country’s political hub, the nation's centre of economic and industrial activities, as well as the centre of security, economics and cultural heritage. It is a fascinating city and an excellent base to explore the region.

Independence

Cambodia was granted independence from French colonial rule on 9th November 1953.

Language

The official language is Khmer, which is part of the Mon-Khmer family and has its origins in Sanskrit and Pali. Recently, English has been gaining in popularity especially with the younger generation. French is also widely spoken as a second language but mostly by the older generation, who had closer ties to French colonial rule.

Religion

The official religion is Theravada Buddhism, which is practised by 95% of the population. The remaining 5% is made up of mainly Muslim and Christian faiths.

Climate

The climate is tropical, and there are only two seasons: the summer or green season lasts from May to November and the winter or dry season lasts from December to April. There is little temperature variation year round; December is the coolest month, with temperatures around 20° to 32°C, and April is the hottest month, with temperatures sometimes above 40°C.

Visas

A visa, valid for 30 days, can be obtained on arrival at Phnom Penh Airport. The cost is US$20 for a tourist visa and US$25 for a business visa. Two passport-sized photographs are required, and your passport must be valid for at least six months after your arrival date. Visas can be extended at the Immigration Department in Phnom Penh. Visas are also issued at Cambodian embassies or consulates in foreign countries; however, the validity is based on the issue date and not on the arrival date.

A tourist eVisa can be arranged via http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa/ prior to arrival at US$25, and an express visa can be arranged through our concierge with US$10 handling fee to Customs

Airport Taxes

The international departure tax at Phnom Penh International Airport is US$25; the domestic departure tax is US$6.

Taxes are included in the air ticket price.

Customs

Each person must complete an immigration form and a customs declaration form for submission upon arrival in Cambodia. Any amount of foreign currency can be brought into Cambodia, but the amount of local currency (Cambodian riel) must not exceed 100,000 riel per person (approximately US$26). Tourists and non-residents carrying more than US$10,000 in cash or its equivalent must declare it - otherwise you may not be able to take the same amount out of the country.

Currency

The official currency in Cambodia is the Cambodian riel. The value of the riel fluctuates regularly against the US dollar. Denominations come in 100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5000, 2000, 1000, 500, 200, 100 and 50 riel. The most common denominations used are those with a value of less than US$1 dollar. US dollars are widely used, and establishments catering to foreign tourists usually quote prices in US dollars. The riel is used often as the coinage for US dollars (US coins are not accepted in Cambodia and cannot be used); hence, change of more than US$1 is often given in US and less than US$1 in riel.  Please be aware that US bills that are torn or very old are not accepted by most businesses or even by banks for exchange, especially if the bill denomination is greater than US$20. There are numerous ATMs in Phnom Penh and most have the option of taking out either riel or US dollars. Foreign currencies can be easily changed into US dollars or Cambodian riel at most hotels, airports or markets.

Tipping

Tipping is not compulsory but is widely practised in hotels and restaurants. Tipping is greatly appreciated though not expected.

Health

It's hot, so drink plenty of water to prevent dehydration, but never drink tap water. Good quality bottled water is available everywhere.

Wear light, breathable clothing for protection against the sun and against mosquitoes. Wear a hat and use sunblock while sightseeing. Though there is no risk of malaria in Phnom Penh, there is a risk in the surrounding countryside. It is recommended that you use insect repellent as protection against mosquitoes, especially during dawn and dusk when they are the most active. Light-coloured clothing is also a deterrent for mosquitoes.

No vaccinations are required for entry to Cambodia, but they are highly encouraged. Please consult a doctor for recommendations. It is wise to bring essential medication to Cambodia as there is no guarantee they will be available locally.

Telephones

Mobile phones are widely used. Currently there are no pay phones in operation in Phnom Penh; however, roadside stands offer mobile phone usage charged by the minute. Overseas calls are quite expensive in Siem Reap, as there is no access to phone companies such as AT&T, which offers local numbers for international calls in a variety of different countries.

Opening Hours

Government offices are open Monday to Friday from 7:30 am to 11:30 am and from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. Banks are open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm and are closed on weekends and public holidays. ANZ ATM machines are widely available, Only a few places (such as the major hotels) accept credit cards and traveller's cheques. Even at the airport, visas and departure taxes must be paid for in cash.

Photography

Photographers should prepare for very bright conditions outside the temples and for dark, shadowy conditions inside the temples. Both very low and very high ASA film will be useful. Photography is forbidden in airports, railway stations and near military installations. One should also use discretion when photographing people, particularly monks and women. Generally, the Cambodian people are accommodating when it comes to having their picture taken, but please ask first.

For any further information please contact the Concierge on rlr.concierge@raffles.com or ph: +855 23 981 888

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