Asia Unlocking 2022 – When will Cambodia reopen for tourism?

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Cambodia Travel 2022
where to visit in Cambodia

After months of fighting the pandemic with lockdowns and vaccine rollouts, many countries have stabilised their epidemiological situation and are slowly reopening their borders once again.

The first few countries in Southeast Asia that announced plans to reopen were Singapore, Thailand, and certain provinces in Vietnam. 

Now, Cambodia is joining its neighbours with a reopening plan of its own. The country is starting off with a small pilot project, which currently includes a handful of designated areas, that is designated to gauge the situation. If all goes well, the country will fully reopen in several stages.

This is great news for intrepid travellers who are planning to apply for a visa for Cambodia from the USA and want to trek through its national parks, see the majestic Angkor Wat, and enjoy the country’s rich culture.

The current situation in Cambodia

Although Cambodia is still fairly off the beaten path compared to its neighbours, its tourism sector was greatly impacted by the pandemic.

Before the coronavirus took hold of the world, Cambodia received more than 6.5 million visitors that accounted for almost $5 billion in revenue. Out of those, 2.6 million visitors visited Cambodia’s most famous attraction, Angkor Wat! However, that number sharply dropped to only 1.3 million visitors in 2020, and revenues sunk to about $1 billion.

The country has managed to effectively fight the pandemic until March of this year, when cases began rising and hit an all-time peak of 1,130 new cases on June 30.

After a widespread vaccination rollout — 90 per cent of the population has one vaccine, and 85 per cent are fully-vaccinated — daily cases have dropped to the low 100s.

Cambodia’s reopening plan

Cambodia launched its reopening program on November 30 with two seaside provinces: Sihanoukville and Koh Kong (which includes the extremely popular Dara Sakor). 

Although details are scarce and the program is still in development, there is some information that is already known about Cambodia’s reopening.

To enter Cambodia under its reopening scheme, visitors must be fully vaccinated; take out appropriate travel insurance that will cover the cost of treatment for COVID-19; test negative before departure and after arrival.

Travellers will need to start their Cambodian vacation with a 5-day stay at one of the designated locations before they are allowed to visit other parts of the country. Otherwise, they will be required to quarantine.

If the program is successful, Cambodia’s Tourism Ministry stated that other destinations will be added to the approved list, with the goal of opening the entire country once the pandemic is under control.

After Sihanoukville and Koh Kong, the province of Siem Reap (home to the famous Angkor Wat temples) is expected to open to tourists in January.

What to see and do in Cambodia

If you’d like to take advantage of the reopening and see Cambodia for yourself — or simply want to do a bit of armchair travel for the time being — there are plenty of amazing sights in the country.

Perhaps the most popular attraction in the entire country is Angkor Wat. In fact, it’s so famous that its silhouette is on the national flag! As one of the biggest religious structures in the world (by land area), Angkor Wat was originally built in the 12th century and features more than a thousand buildings spread over 400 acres.

Angkor Wat Temples is the most popular attraction in Cambodia
Angkor Wat Temples is the most popular attraction in Cambodia

For something a little more off the beaten path, head over to northeast Cambodia and take part in the Elephant Valley Project. This program was developed by an NGO that helps rehabilitate elephants, conserve their natural habitat and support locals who are part of the program. One of the best things about the program is that travellers can walk around the complex with a local guide, who introduces each elephant and gives a little background on their story.

Take part in the Elephant Valley Project that was developed to rehabilitate elephants, conserve their natural habitat and support locals.
Elephant Valley Project was developed to rehabilitate elephants, conserve their natural habitat and support locals.

In the heart of the country is Phnom Penh, the capital and largest city in Cambodia. Thanks to its location, Phnom Penh’s involvement in Cambodia’s history has led to many beautiful buildings, including the Royal Palace of Phnom Penh. This magnificent complex once served as the residence of the head of state, although today some parts have been opened to the public.

Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city in Cambodia.
Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city in Cambodia.

After a long day of sightseeing and learning more about Cambodia, it’s time to refuel with some local cuisine.

The dishes of Cambodia can be considered a tourist attraction in their own right, especially since everything is made from local ingredients, diverse, and most importantly, delicious.

The most famous dish across all of Cambodia is amok, a type of steamed fish curry. It can be found in virtually every restaurant and cafe, and it is believed that amok was even a favourite dish of the royal Khmer family!

The most famous dish across all of Cambodia is amok, a type of steamed fish curry
The most famous dish across all of Cambodia is amok, a type of steamed fish curry

Most Cambodian dishes will usually include a type of meat (the most popular being chicken or fish) along with a side of rice or noodles. However, vegans and vegetarians shouldn’t worry, as the two biggest cities, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, are very vegetarian-friendly.

Food is Cambodia is made from local ingredients, diverse, and most importantly, delicious.
Food is Cambodia ismade from local ingredients, diverse, and most importantly, delicious.

To finish off their meal, Cambodians will usually opt for the most famous dishes across Southeast Asia (mango sticky rice), or enjoy a local favourite: rolled banana cake, which is also eaten during festivals.

Where to go next?

Taxi that I hired at Siem Reap International Airport, Cambodia

While most Asian countries are still on the backfoot after the new omicron variant and are taking baby steps to reopen, a few are planning to do it systematically and slowly. Thailand has announced Exemption from Quarantine (TEST & GO) entry rules from 16 December 2021 which include indian tourists. Also, The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has launched the the 7 Greens Concept to promote environment friendly safe and sustainable travel for all – residents, travellers and business partners.

Related

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BEYOND ANGKOR WAT, THE UNIQUE FACTS ABOUT CAMBODIA

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Practical guidebook for your first Vietnam visit

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19 Comments

  • peter says:

    it is an amazing blog for travel out of India. I will definitely travel to these places.

  • Alice Mola says:

    I’m glad to hear the COVID situation in Cambodia is so much better than here in Europe, while Cambodia has cases in the 100s, France just hit a peak since the pandemic started a few days ago. Hoping that 2022 is the year where Cambodia can get their tourism back up!

  • Predrag Kovačević says:

    You think that 1,5k cases a day, for a 16 million people country is too much. We have 8 million people, and we had allmost 8k cases a day. Great country though, and awesome pictures.

  • Heather Castillo says:

    I think it’s going to be a while before most of the world opens back up. We have to get control of this monster.

  • Nyxie says:

    I’ve had Asia on my list for a while now but with COVID I’ve not been able to go, for obvious reasons. While I can’t see me going anytime soon, it’s still good to read up on possible places for me to visit and things to do.

  • Gervin Khan says:

    I have never been there but I know there’s a lot of beautiful spots to explore, temples, and a lot of delicious food to taste in that place.

  • Ave says:

    I have never been to Asia yet but I’d love to visit Cambodia one day. I had no idea that they are doing such a great job with vaccinating and that such a huge percentage of people have already two doses. Angkor Wat is an amazing place to visit.

  • Cinny says:

    Thanks for the great travel information. I would love to travel to Cambodia.

  • Alita Pacio says:

    Cambodia is a great country. I will never forget my travels there. I’m glad they are slowly reopening.

  • Beth Pierce says:

    Angkor Wat is on top of my list this year. I’ve had friends visit the place and it was amazing

  • briannemanzb says:

    A lot of places in Asia was badly affected by the Covid such as Bali. But this is great news. I’m glad they’re reopening and I hope things get back to normal soon

  • Elizabeth O says:

    I’ve never been to any Asian country but Cambodia will be on my list. This place looks pristine and amazing

  • Kelly Bolen says:

    This has a ton of great information! Thank you for sharing, and the pictures are beautiful. Cambodia looks amazing!

  • Ebony says:

    Thanks for sharing this helpful information! I’m glad the country is making some strides to reopen. Most of Asia has been shut down to US travelers due to COVID. Looking forward to visiting this beautiful country soon!

  • Marysa says:

    It is interesting to see how travel is evolving through the pandemic. Cambodia would be a nice place to explore.

  • Thena Franssen says:

    The world will start to open to travel more and it’s going to be exciting for all! Can’t wait!

  • christiana Onuoha says:

    Cambodia is definitely one of the countries on my bucket list. These places sound really exciting.

  • katrina m kroeplin says:

    i can’t wait to get back to traveling that’s for sure. i miss it so much.

  • Jethro Walrus says:

    The photo of monks appear to have been taken in Ayutthaya, Thailand…

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