Category Archives: Tips

Border processing in some countries in South East-Asia (round trip) (Part 1)

Editor’s note: We continue with our favorite traveler, Hugo, and his adventures in Cambodia. This time, he talks about border processing.

Recently, we’ve been having requests for information regarding Visa or border processing at the gates between Thailand-Cambodia, and Vietnam-Cambodia. This series is split into three, with this post as the first one. 

We hope you find this useful and entertaining.


This story and those tips are based on my own experience on crossing border, which is subjective. Thus, this is just a shared experience and habits, feel free to not take them in consideration if they are not relevant for you. ~ Hugo

My Golden Rules for crossing border:

border processing

  • Always check on internet opening hours of the crossing point
  • Always be aware of the Visa application (which are different depending on your citizenship) – refer to your Embassy
  • Be careful of the Visa validity: FYI: overstay cost you 10 USD per day in Cambodia & in Vietnam if you have 2 weeks free tourist entry, once you leave the country you have to wait a month before coming back.
  • Be aware of the time you will cross the border (night or day time)
  • Be patient and polite, even if something went wrong, you will for sure avoid problems.
  • https://www.canbypublications.com/cambodia/overland.htm

New Years Eve 2017 in Cambodia

With the New Year fast approaching, it is time to decide where you want to be for the countdown on New Years Eve 2017 in Cambodia. If you are still undecided, here are some places you might want to consider as the place to be when ushering in 2017.

new years eve 2017

Phnom Penh

This year’s countdown to 2017 is expected to be big in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. While many gather to the streets to witness the fireworks display at the strike of midnight, several people will be celebrating at the main hotels that are hosting festive events.

Sofitel will host its “Gala Dinner in the Phokeethra Grand Ballroom,” which promises fantastic entertainment to go with their feast. On the other hand, Raffles will also have their “Kingdom of Wonder Gala Dinner,” which will be held poolside. Also hosting events are Nagaworld and Hotel Cambodiana.

If the big hotels are not appealing, several bars and pubs along the Riverside are sure to have their own countdown festivities – showcasing a great view of the river and the fireworks display.

Sihanoukville

Although Sihanoukville has just had its Cambodia Sea Festival, the party never seems to stop at this beachside province. As it is, Sihanoukville is easily one of the most popular places to go to when one wants to celebrate a New Year’s countdown.

Every year, fireworks color the sky when welcoming the coming year. A walk along the Occheuteal Beach showcases fun, partying, and merriment for those who are celebrating New Years Eve 2017.

Since Sihanoukville is quite popular during this time, it is best to book bus tickets ahead of time so as to ensure you have a ride going there. Bus tickets can be purchased with BookMeBus for more convenience.

Siem Reap

Yet another favorite of locals and expats alike, Siem Reap promises its guests with a night of partying especially in the famed Pub Street.

While Pub Street is already a party scene during regular days, the fun increases on countdown night, making it THE place to be with friends and family. Siem Reap usually runs out of hotels to stay due to the yearly crowd that gathers. So it would be best to start checking for rooms and booking ahead.

Travel to Siem Reap is also expected to be almost full, so if you plan to travel from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap or Bangkok to Siem Reap, you should start checking for flights or book bus tickets online through our website.

 

It comes as no surprise that everybody wants to welcome the New Year with much revelry and celebration. Thus it is important to beat the crowds and book ahead. Take care and book ahead to beat the holiday rush at BookMeBus.

Water Festival 2016: Two million people expected in Phnom Penh

As preparations for the Water Festival 2016 ramp up, many residents of Phnom Penh are also preparing themselves for the influx of travelers coming from the provinces of Cambodia.

Currently, the expected number of Cambodians travelling to Phnom Penh are at around two million. There are, however, a number of locals and expats who have planned trips going from Phnom Penh to Battambang, Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, or even abroad. Only to escape the crowds that will surely be difficult to get around the city in.

water festival 2016

Water Festival 2016: On going preparations

A quick walk through the city, displays several preparations. In fact, as of tonight, the ministry boats have already been spotted floating and lit up.

  • Concert stages are being set up at the park
  • Booths surrounding the concert stage have been set up around the fountains.
  • Several cleanup drives were done along Riverside.
  • Boats have been prepared and tested.
  • Restaurants are displaying Water Festival 2016 promotions.
  • Grass has been cut and hedges trimmed.
  • Police attentiveness has increased and special vigilance is provided against possible thieves during the festival.

Safety precautions during the Water Festival

Below are some tips for safety during the Water Festival celebrations

  • Traveling at night increases your chances of being a victim, so its best to stay in groups and be vigilant at all times.
  • Pick-pocketing alert. Be aware of your surroundings and be alert when shopping or moving around town.
  • Avoid carrying large sums of money.
  • Avoid keeping all money in a single place.
  • Do not wear expensive jewelry when going around town.
  • Keep all valuables safe inside your bag.
  • It is best to have companions whenever going to somewhere unfamiliar.

For sure, the government is trying their best to keep travelers and locals safe and sound during these times. Nevertheless, a bit of common sense is sure to go a long way.

Cambodia Money Fast Facts

Many travelers often worry about Cambodia money. Questions often arise as to what currency is accepted? What is the exchange rate? Where can I have money exchanged? Will ATMs accept international cards?

Here are some Cambodia money fast facts that might help travelers. It is extremely helpful especially during the preparation phase.

Cambodia Money: Basics

  • Cambodian currency is called Riel
  • US Dollars are accepted throughout Cambodia
  • Rough conversion is $1 = 4,000 Riels (20,000 Dong)
  • At the Thai or Vietnamese border, some restaurants accept Riels, Dong, or US Dollars
  • When paying in Dollars, the change will be in Riels if it is less than $1

Cambodian Money Fast Facts

Where can I exchange money?

  • Cambodian banks in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and Sihanoukville have banks that are able to exchange currencies.
  • Local shops offer money exchange. These are easy to spot as there is often a booth in front displaying various types of currencies.

Can I use ATMs or credit cards?

  • There are ATMs available in Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, and Siem Reap. However, these can be sparse in the more rural areas.
  • Most of the ATMs are ANZ, ABA, and Canadia Banks. Although recently more banks have set up their own ATMs.
  • Whenever using an ATM, it will cost around $5 for every withdrawal.
  • Credit cards are helpful and accepted at restaurants, major hotels, and several establishments.
  • ATMs are available 24 hours.
  • Cambodian banks generally open at 8:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.

There is much debate about how much amount to take. It is best to carry smaller cash denominations so that it is easier to pay. When booking with BookMeBus, however, we accept all kinds of payments: Credit cards, debit cards, Wing, SmartLuy, among others.

Pchum Ben Staycation: Things to do

As many locals head for the provinces during Pchum Ben, the streets of Cambodia’s urban areas somehow end up being quiet. Deserted to a certain extent. It is during these times that many expats travel outside of Cambodia, due to the long weekends this season brings. However, some do not have the luxury, and often consider having a Pchum Ben staycation.

Although at times it can feel too deserted during Pchum Ben, surely enjoying a staycation is not such a bad idea. What can you do during this time in the big city?

Pchum Ben Staycation: Things to do

  • Immerse yourself in tradition – For sure, there is a neighborhood pagoda which you can visit to observe Khmer tradition. It would be best, though, to go with a friend. That way, somebody can walk you through the process. Note: Please dress conservatively.
  • Biking through the empty streets – During Pchum Bend, the streets are noticeably peaceful and perfect for taking your bike out (or renting one!). While biking is possible during regular days, one often contends with traffic, vendors, among other things. However, during Pchum Ben, the peaceful streets make it possible to have a relaxing time exploring the city streets. Note: Extra caution should be exercised as there are some who drive fast at these times.
  • Go swimming at urban resorts – You do not need to go to the provinces in order to relax. There are many hidden gems in the city, where you can relax and swim, or sit by the poolside and read a book. There are many hotels that open their pools to non-guests at this time for a certain fee. A quick search will often reward you with several options during this time.
  • Have a picnic – Since the weather is nice in the afternoon, there is always that possibility of having a lovely afternoon picnic. Just make sure there is no rain. During Pchum Ben, the parks are often empty so it is possible to have a small spread and enjoy with friends or enjoy quiet moment with a book.
  • Get a massage – End your staycation during Pchum Ben with a nice massage or time at the spa. By the end of day, you will find yourself well pampered, rested, and well relaxed.

While the usual downside is that many shops are closed during this time, there are still several convenience stores that remain open. It is often recommended to stock up on some amenities for a couple of days. Still, this does not hinder anyone from having a much needed vacation. Even if it is a staycation during Pchum Ben.

If it all becomes too boring or quiet, then hop on a bus and visit the many provinces that Cambodia has with BookMeBus. Download our app and check out the many routes available.

pchum ben staycation