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Arriving in Cambodia
Not sure why we had thought it was a good idea to do an all nighter on our 6 hour layover in Malaysia as we waited for our 7am connecting flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia. But we did.
This, obviously, made us rather tired and made the whole customs situation when we arrived in Cambodia – a lot worse than usual.
Once we landed, we were escorted off of the plane and were shown through to customs where, amongst the other passengers, we fought for the available pens and filled out the relevant forms. For us as UK citizens, we had to fill out an arrivals card and a visa application.
In Cambodia you can obtain a visa upon arrival for a stay of up to 30days costing $32 dollars. Chances are, you wont have dollars if you’ve come from Thailand or Bali like us, but that’s easily solved with the ATM’s provided.
Now, here’s a little story you may laugh at, but we genuinely weren’t any wiser.
But where I learn, I can then share with you guys 🙂
So when using a card abroad (I’m using the STA travel card on this trip) you will incur charges from the card plus any charges the ATM adds on (usually $4-5). So it’s best to withdraw in bulk rather than lots of little withdrawals.
That’s where the card will bite you in the bum with charges.
At the same time though, you don’t want to be withdrawing large amounts that would screw you over should it be lost or stolen.
Anyway, we needed to withdraw money for our visa, so we took the opportunity to take out more money to last us the week.
We paid our visa and withstood the stand off looks and Khmer language thrown at us by the officials as they processed our visas.
They did ask us for a passport photo for the visa application but seemed to brush it off when we said we didn’t have one. Maybe take one if you have one spare at home.
10 minutes later our visa was approved and we joined the queue for passport control. At this point we were realizing the thorough regime adopted at the border which, really, is great but after zero hours of sleep the queue just seemed to last forever.
We picked up our bags which, by this time, had done a marathon of loops around the conveyer belt and headed for the exit.
Fully aware we were going to need a taxi but didn’t have any Cambodian Rupiah on us, we stopped besides the taxi counter at the bureau de change and changed our dollars into Rupiah.
We then booked the taxi from the airport to our hostel of choice – Mad Monkeys.
‘Thats $3 by bike $7 by car $10 by van’
‘Wait, why is this in dollars not rupiah?’
‘You can pay either’
So tip number 1 … When you withdraw money for your visa (US Dollars) DON’T then change it into Cambodian Rupiah. You will lose money and lose the service charge $5.
We later went on to found, most menus / charges are presented in dollars and so, should you want to exchange money at home before coming out to Cambodia, get US Dollars!
In the grand scheme of things the loss really wasn’t the end of the world, but when you’re backpacking every little helps.
I had read a lot of blogs prior to my trip but not read anything about the currency situation so hopefully I can save you a few pennies by not making the same mistake 🙂
Anyhow, we were too tired to cry about it LOL, so we hopped in the car, split $7 between us and rode 20minutes to the centre of the action and the beginning of a love affair with Mad Monkeys, a chain of 4 hostels throughout Cambodia.
After dumping our bags in the storage lockers (you can’t check in until 1), we sorted through our crease filled laundry and handed over a bin liner each of washing to the ladies at reception.
Our tight schedule allowed us just 6 days to adventure through Cambodia, so our time here wasn’t extensive and we had to make the most of each day.
Needless to say we quickly regretted the all nighter we had pulled at KL airport.
With only ourselves to blame, we browsed the popular excursions in Siem Reap and booked onto one for the afternoon.
Stay tuned to see what we got up to…