Cambodia Tours & Advice on Visa and Best Time to Visit Cambodia
Laurus Travel’s small group tours to Cambodia and its neighbouring countries, Vietnam, Thailand and Laos, are active adventures with a focus on culture and history. They are conducted by experienced tour leaders and certified Cambodian tour guides.
Cambodia Tours List
Our Cambodia tours all include Siem Reap where the world-famous Angkor Wat is located. In addition, unlike so many other tour operators, we visit the capital of Phnom Penh. We know some travellers are put off by the extravaganza of the royal palace and the lavish life style of corrupt officials and their cronies in a country where so many still live in poverty. We are not there to judge. We do what we can to help, such as donating to well construction in the countryside to provide clean water to villagers.
Cambodia: Basics Information
“Most Cambodians consider themselves to be Khmers, descendants of the Angkor Empire that extended over much of Southeast Asia and reached its zenith between the 10th and 13th centuries. Attacks by the Thai and Cham (from present-day Vietnam) weakened the empire, ushering in a long period of decline. The king placed the country under French protection in 1863, and it became part of French Indochina in 1887. Following Japanese occupation in World War II, Cambodia gained full independence from France in 1953. In April 1975, after a seven-year struggle, communist Khmer Rouge forces captured Phnom Penh and evacuated all cities and towns. At least 1.5 million Cambodians died from execution, forced hardships, or starvation during the Khmer Rouge regime under POL POT. A December 1978 Vietnamese invasion drove the Khmer Rouge into the countryside, began a 10-year Vietnamese occupation, and touched off almost 13 years of civil war.
The 1991 Paris Peace Accords mandated democratic elections and a cease-fire, which was not fully respected by the Khmer Rouge. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy under a coalition government. Factional fighting in 1997 ended the first coalition government, but a second round of national elections in 1998 led to the formation of another coalition government and renewed political stability. The remaining elements of the Khmer Rouge surrendered in early 1999. Some of the surviving Khmer Rouge leaders have been tried or are awaiting trial for crimes against humanity by a hybrid UN-Cambodian tribunal supported by international assistance. Elections in July 2003 were relatively peaceful, but it took one year of negotiations between contending political parties before a coalition government was formed. In October 2004, King Norodom SIHANOUK abdicated the throne and his son, Prince Norodom SIHAMONI, was selected to succeed him. The most recent local (Commune Council) elections were held in Cambodia in 2012, with little of the preelection violence that preceded prior elections. National elections in July 2013 were disputed, with the opposition – the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) – boycotting the National Assembly. The political impasse was ended nearly a year later, with the CNRP agreeing to enter parliament in exchange for ruling party commitments to electoral and legislative reforms. The CNRP made further gains in local commune elections in June 2017, accelerating sitting Prime Minister Hun SEN’s efforts to marginalize the CNRP before national elections in 2018. Hun Sen arrested CNRP’s President Kem Sokha in September 2017 and subsequently dissolved the CNRP in November 2017 and banned its leaders from participating in politics for at least five years. CNRP’s seats in the National Assembly were redistributed to smaller, more pliant opposition parties.” — Source: CIA Factbook used with permission
According to World Bank, the Cambodian economy has been doing very well for quite a while.
“Following more than two decades of strong economic growth, Cambodia has attained the lower middle-income status as of 2015, with gross national income (GNI) per capita reaching $1,070. Driven by garment exports and tourism, Cambodia has sustained an average growth rate of 7.6% in 1994-2015, ranking sixth in the world. Economic growth reached 6.8 percent in 2017, according to preliminary estimates by authorities, and is expected to remain strong over the next two years (6.9% in 2018 and 6.7% in 2019), as recovering tourism activity coupled with fiscal expansion compensate for some easing in garment exports and construction growth. ” — Source: World Bank, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
Cambodia Tours: Best Time to Visit
Like most of Southeast Asia, Cambodia is warm all year round. However, it does have four distinct seasons. The best time to visit Cambodia is during the cool season (November – February) of the dry season (November – May). The cool season (November – February) is the peak time for tourism. The second part, also called hot season, of the dry season falls on March, April and May. Temperatures begin to rise is March, coupled with modest increase in humidity. In April and May, temperatures in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap easily go up to 35°C or 95 degrees Fahrenheit, which can be very uncomfortable.
It gets hot and wet in June, July and August. The wetness begins to go down in September until November when dry season kicks in. If you do not mind moderate raining, which does not last for days on end, late September and October can be good time to visit Cambodia as the tourist sites are less crowded and hotels are more affordable. Angkor Wat actually looks its best between September and November due to lush vegetation.
Low Tourist Season (May–Sep)
Hot and humid but beautiful. Accommodations are heavily discounted except for beach resorts on the South Coast.
Shoulder Tourist Season (Apr & Oct)
Change of season. Very hot in April. Rains tapering off in October, temperatures bearable.
High Tourist Season (Nov–Feb)
Cooler and windy, with almost Mediterranean temperatures. Act early on hotel and transportation reservations. Be prepared to shell out lots of money on high-end accommodations for Christmas and New Year period.
Cambodia Tours: Visa Requirement
Visa fee $30
This is the fee you’ll pay if you apply on arrival. The Cambodian government has a website (https://www.evisa.gov.kh/) to handle applications online but the website doesn’t seem very reliable. If you can get your visa online, you’ll be charged $7 extra for the convenience, which they call processing fee. No matter which route you choose, a letter of approval or invitation is NOT required. If you do it on arrival, please bring a photo of passport type. [ more ]
Cambodia Tours – Reading List
Available for customers.