5 Tips for Traveling alone in Cambodia

5 Tips for Traveling alone in Cambodia: One of my favorite trips!

After spending past Christmas holidays in the Amazon/Brazil,  I settled on traveling alone in Asia for a “Cambodian Christmas” the next year. I flew out Dec. 25 after celebrating a traditional Christmas Eve at home in Washington, DC. As the holidays approach, I was busy reading through the itinerary for my solo travel package and packing Insect Shield outfits in lieu of festive cocktail dresses. As I head out for a Mekong Delta river cruise, the greatest challenge is stuffing 17 days worth of clothes and electronics into the allowable carry-on for the flight over.

Here are 5 lessons I have learned:

5 Tips for Traveling alone in Cambodia:

1. Visas:  I thought I had read all the fine print to get visas for traveling alone in SE Asia. Vietnam accepted applications for visas 6 months ahead  good for 30 days covering my travel time.   In contrast, Cambodia would not accept applications more than 3 months ahead. I failed to notice one key fact: The Cambodian visa is valid from the day of application. Of course, if you just apply 3 months before you arrive, your visa will expire before you leave. Be sure to apply 3 months from when you want to leave to go home not when you plan to arrive!

5 Tips for Traveling alone in Cambodia:

2. Baggage restrictions:  Watch out for the new even stricter restrictions on carry-on’s. In addition to measuring the length , width and depth of your bag, weight limits of 15 pounds may apply. So take out a measuring tape and then get an approximate weight by hefting your bag on the bathroom scales.

5 Tips for Traveling alone in Cambodia:

3.  Connecting flights: A well-traveled friend from Thailand spent 3 hours changing planes in Beijing for Bangkok. You will improve your chances if you fly one airlines and can connect from one international terminal avoiding passport control lines. Be especially careful if your close connection requires transfers from international to domestic terminals.

If you can connect in a region with the same temperature/climate zone,  you will be better off. On my return flights from SE Asia’s warm January days, I landed in very cold Beijing.  Unfortunately the flight did not land at a Jetway but out on the tarmac. The result? A plane full of vacationers bedecked in flip-flops and tee shirts had to scurry across the runway to a distant commuter bus. I was freezing even in long cotton sleves and wished I had flown through Hong Kong instead!

5 Tips for Traveling alone in Cambodia:

4. Travel Class:  In today’s time of travel woes of shrinking legroom on planes, the destination’s comfort level is sometimes overlooked. Although rates in Asia outside of major cities tend to be lower than Western Europe, if the price of lodging is substantially below market, it may not be the best value as to quality whatever the savings.  (One factor I have often forgot as a solo traveler is to ask about the type of bed provided. I once was on a river cruise where I was a solo given a bunk-bed and had to crouch to read or get in and out of bed. I discovered at the end of the trip that the bunkbeds were generally taken apart for single travelers, a much better deal!)

5 Tips for Traveling alone in Cambodia:

5.  Guide or No Guide:  Going it alone can be very empowering. However, with short time frames in unfamiliar areas, I have found a semi-private or private guide was worth the money. In the snows of St. Petersburg, Russia, one bleak January day, my guide and I hitchhiked with varying success once past the local subway service and saw alot more than the usual tourist attractions.

After struggling with strategies how to dodge marauding monkeys, I found I was lucky to locate one for a selfie!

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