Like the rest of Southeast Asia, Cambodia experiences monsoons, which are known as tropical wet and dry seasons. The southwest monsoons blow inland and bring precipitation and high winds from May to October. The northeast monsoon brings in dry season, which lasts from November to April.
During the rainy season, humidity is high and temperatures range from 75° to 90°F. Rain is heaviest from September to October and the driest period is from January to February. Temperatures during the dry season range from 70° to 95°F. The best months to visit Cambodia are November to January when the temperatures (70° to 85°F) and the humidity (with 0 to 5 inches of rain) are lowest.
The official language and the language primarily spoken by Cambodians is Khmer. However, among the younger generation and those in the business class, English is the favored foreign language to learn and is widely spoken and taught in larger cities.
Sometimes used in the government is Cambodian French, which is a dialect found in Cambodia and is a remnant from the colonial days. Depending on the region you visit, there are five main dialects spoken throughout Cambodia, all of which are mutually intelligible.
The language, unlike most of its neighboring Asian countries, is not tonal. Khmer uses its own script, which has different styles used for different purposes.
Public Holidays and Festivals
January 1 – New Year
January 7 – National Day / Victory from Genocide Day
April 13 or 14 - Chaul Chnam (Cambodian New Year celebration)
April or May - Visaka Bochea (Buddhist observance)
May 1 – Labour Day
May 20 – Day of Hatred
May – Royal Ploughing Ceremony
September or October – Pchum Ben (Ancestor’s Day)
November 5 – Independence Day
November – Water Festival
Although the US dollar is accepted throughout Cambodia, the official currency is the Cambodian riel. The exchange rate as of Feb 2010 is 4,155 riel to US$1.
Bring small denominations of US cash with you wherever you go to avoid problems with changing larger denominations or counterfeit notes. Banks will give you the best rates.
Bartering is not as intense as in neighboring countries because the vendors’ asking price is not markedly higher (unless at a very popular tourist attraction); therefore, it is important to be respectful when haggling at the markets.
Tipping is not expected but is greatly appreciated as wages are low.
230V/50 Hz; both British and European plugs are common