Cambodia may be a small country, but it is a country with big history. During the Khmer era this place was grandiose and even now, as temples and shrines lay in a state of disarray and the country grows and flourishes beyond its history, the kingdom’s old-fashioned charm and sleepy little towns will draw you in; the warmth and hospitality of its people will make you feel instantly at home.
Much like the rest of Southeast Asia, Cambodia’s weather is dominated by monsoons, giving it two distinct seasons: wet and dry. The rainy season usually lasts from mid-May to mid-September while the dry season usually runs from early November to March. Depending on when you plan to visit, you can figure out what kind of extra gear will be needed for your holiday.
With all the historical architecture that Cambodia has open to the public, you will undoubtedly be walking a ton and you won’t want to rely on local stores to have what you need when you arrive. Think ahead and pack a lightweight backpack so you can bring your own snacks and toiletries with you. That way, no matter what time of day or night it is, you have what you need with you.
During the wet season, all bets are off. One second you will be basking in sunlight and the next you will be drenched from a torrential downpour. Instead of holing up in your hotel for your whole holiday, pack a raincoat or poncho. They are easy to pack and easy to have on hand so you are always prepared for rain.
During the dry season, you will want a pair of sandals to beat the heat. Make sure they are broken in and comfortable since you will be doing a ton of walking and no one wants to deal with blisters. Beyond sandals, you will need a pair of closed-toe shoes for entering temples. When visiting temples also be sure your knees and shoulders are covered out of respect.
Just before the start of the rainy season, temperatures can soar up to temperatures around 38 degrees. Don’t forget to pack a good sun hat to protect your eyes and face from the bright rays.
Finding your regular toiletries in Cambodia is tough to do, particularly if you are used to more luxurious brands. Pack enough toiletries for your entire trip plus some extra since you can’t rely on local stores to carry what you need.
Mosquitos & Malaria are a fairly large problem in this country. To ward off the pesky bugs, carry a few travel sizes of each so you can throw one in your backpack and quickly reapply during the day.
Staying hygienic in this area is key for preventing sickness, so you may find that it’s a good idea to carry a travel pack of hand wipes. You may also want to include some stomach medication seeing as stomach problems are the most common problem travellers encounter in Cambodia.
Beyond the essentials, you may need a few tech-friendly additions to make sure you capture the memories of your trip. There are a few tools/accessories that you don’t want to forget when you are headed to Cambodia.
You may think that your brand new extra-large memory card is enough for all of the pictures you want to take, but once you get to Cambodia and see its natural beauty first-hand, you’ll wish you had packed an extra or two. With all of the temples and scenic views, it is likely that you’ll fill up the first card pretty fast, so the extra memory card will be a total lifesaver.
Many of the large temples can be quite dark and will not have lighting, so bringing along a small flashlight to carry in your backpack can help you navigate the darker ruins so you don’t potentially trip or hurt yourself.
English is not common among older Cambodians and although younger Cambodians learn English in school, they may not be fluent or even proficient. If you come prepared with a phrasebook and at least attempt the language, you will charm any Cambodian that you come across. You may want to start practicing ahead of time though, as the official language, Khmer, is very difficult for those not accustomed.
When visiting Cambodia, it’s important to do a bit of planning and research before your passport gets stamped. You’ll want to know what time of year you are visiting and where you might be going, as this will influence what you will need to pack for your trip. Regardless of when you go, always pack travel insurance for an added layer of protection as you travel the world.
Image courtesy of Flickr user elitatt