Like many other countries in Asia, business relationships in Cambodia have their foundations in personal relationships. Connections are important in making contacts and establishing trust. It is recommended that approaches to potential business contacts be made with a prior introduction or personal reference. Potential partners and customers in Cambodia frequently are more receptive to those who arrive with an introduction or letter from a known government official or business contact. Although not absolutely required, small gifts with a company logo are appreciated, as are luncheon or dinner invitations.
Business travelers to Cambodia should have business cards. As in many countries, cards are exchanged to formalize the introduction process. It is recommended to distribute and receive business cards with both hands as a sign of respect and take a few seconds to study a person’s card after it has been received. This is particularly important when dealing with Cambodia’s ethnic Chinese minority, many of whom hold influential positions in the country’s business community.
The “sampeah” – placing palms together in a prayer-like position – remains the traditional gesture of greeting, particularly for women, although it is becoming more popular to shake hands. Foreigners may shake hands with men and women, but should wait until the woman offers her hand; otherwise, use the traditional sampeah greeting. Touching someone on the head, pointing with the feet, or pointing in someone’s face are deemed extremely rude and offensive. Wearing hats in houses, buildings, and particularly in temples is also considered rude.
Cambodia is a tropical country ill-suited for formal Western business attire. In a strictly formal meeting, however, it is advisable that men wear a suit and tie and women wear a dress or business suit. In a less formal setting, business casual attire may be appropriate.
’Travel within cities and provincial towns is generally safe, but prior to arrival in Cambodia, business travelers should consult the U.S. Department of State’s current travel advisory. Travelers should also consult the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia’s website for updates.
U.S. citizens may register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program with the Department of State to obtain updated information on travel and security within Cambodia.
A valid passport and a Cambodian visa are required. Tourist and business visas for U.S. passport holders are valid for three months beginning with the date of issue. Cambodia offers online visa processing (“E-visas”) through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. Travelers may also apply in person at the Cambodian Embassy located at 4530 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C. Tourists and business travelers may also obtain a Cambodian visa upon arrival at the airports in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and at all major border crossings. All methods of obtaining a Cambodian visa require passport-sized photographs and a passport that is valid for a minimum of six months beyond the date of entry into Cambodia.
The fee is $30 for tourist visas and $35 for business visas. Travelers should bring with them two passport-sized photos for the visa application. A tourist visa can be extended for one month, but only one time. Business visas can be extended for 1, 3, 6, or 12 months for between $45 and $300 depending on the length of the extension. The Ministry of Interior has a team at the Council for the Development of Cambodia to assist investors in obtaining long-term business visas.
Travelers should note that Cambodia regularly imposes fines for overstaying a visa. If the overstay is 30 days or less, the charge is $10 per day.
U.S. companies that require travel of foreign businesspersons to the United States should be advised that security evaluations are handled via an interagency process. Visa applicants should go to the State Department Visa Website or the website of the U.S. Embassy in Cambodia.
Cambodia’s currency is the Riel, which trades in a very narrow range at around 4,000 Riel to 1 U.S. dollar. Riels come in notes; coins are not in use. Cambodia is a heavily dollarized country where riels and dollars are used interchangeably in urban areas. More riel use is expected in rural areas. U.S. coins are not accepted in Cambodia; therefore, change for purchases will be given in riels. Thai Baht and Vietnamese Dong are also used in provinces near the respective borders. Money exchange is pervasive in Cambodian local markets and there is very little difference in exchange rate compared to the banks. ATM machines dispense Cambodian riels and U.S. dollars.
Telephone (landlines as well as cell phones), fax, internet, and telegram services are available in Cambodia. International telephone charges in Cambodia are priced based on the country being called. Cell phone service covers most areas of the country. International roaming service for mobile phones is available but can be expensive. Internet services are rapidly improving both in terms of price and service, but unlimited broadband service is still relatively expensive. Internet access via wireless systems is provided in most major hotels and is free of charge in many restaurants and cafés.
Cambodia has three international airports: Phnom Penh International Airport, Siem Reap International Airport, and Sihanoukville Airport. These three airports have been upgraded in recent years with modern terminals. Domestic air service links Phnom Penh with Siem Reap and Siem Reap with Sihanoukville.
Cars and buses offer a cheap way to travel to most provincial capitals. Cambodia launched public bus transportation service in Phnom Penh in February 2014. Although small, the number of passengers using public transportation is slowly increasing. Passenger train service between Phnom Penh, Takeo, Kampot, and Sihanoukville restarted in April 2016 after a 14-year suspension. Train service currently operates to six provinces: Takeo, Kep, Kampot, Preah Sihanouk, Battambang, and Pursat. Metered taxi service is available in Cambodia. Motorcycle-taxis (locally known as moto-dups), and three-wheeled motor taxis (known as tuk-tuks), are popular forms of transportation. Taxi services using mobile apps are increasingly popular with both foreign and local services providers competing in the market. Grab is one of the leading transport mobile service providers in the market. The U.S. Embassy does not recommend using moto-dups as they are prone to accidents and there is a greater risk of street crime. Private cars are available for rental in most cities upon arrival. Rental fees run between $25 and $50 per day. If contracting with an independent taxi service, visitors should agree on the price with the driver before embarking. In Phnom Penh, travel at night on foot or motorbike is not recommended.
There have been notable improvements to the Cambodian road network over the last several years. The safety of road travel outside urban areas varies; traveling only during daylight hours can reduce the potential risk of road accidents. During the rainy season, some locations cannot be reached by road.
Cambodia has an international and commercial deep-water port at Sihanoukville.
Khmer is the official language of Cambodia. English is commonly used in most business meetings. Some senior government officials, however, prefer using Khmer in official meetings. Chinese, French, Thai, and Vietnamese are also widely spoken.
Medical facilities and services in Cambodia do not meet international standards. Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, and Siem Reap have a limited number of internationally run clinics and hospitals that can provide basic medical care and stabilization. Medical care outside of these three cities is rudimentary. Local pharmacies provide a limited supply of prescription and over-the-counter medications, but because the quality of locally obtained medications can vary greatly, travelers should bring adequate supplies of medications for the duration of their stay in Cambodia.
A current list of clinics, hospitals, and pharmacies with names, addresses and telephone numbers may be obtained from the U.S. Embassy Consular Section website.
For information on avian influenza (bird flu), please refer to the Department of State’s Avian Influenza Fact Sheet. The U.S. Embassy is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Cambodia.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the U.S. CDC hotline for international travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747) or via the CDC’s web site. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization’s (WHO) website.
The Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and whether it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation.
Local time, business hours, and holidays
During U.S. Eastern Standard Time, Cambodia is 12 hours ahead of the U.S. East Coast. Cambodia consists of a single time zone and is GMT +7.
Business hours for commercial offices are usually from 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and Saturday mornings. Government offices are officially open from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
|International New Year’s Day
|Day of Victory over the Genocidal Regime
|International Women’s Rights Day
|Cambodian New Year
|International Labor Day
|Birthday of His Majesty NORODOM SIHAMONI, King of Cambodia
|Visak Bochea Day
|Royal Ploughing Ceremony
|Birthday of Her Majesty the Queen-Mother NORODOM MONINEATH SIHANOUK of Cambodia
|Commemoration Day of the Late King-Father NORODOM SIHANOUK of Cambodia
|Coronation Day of His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Boromneath NORODOM SIHAMONI, King of Cambodia
|National Independence Day
Temporary Entry of Materials and Personal Belongings
Certain articles temporarily imported for re-export are exempt from import duties and taxes. The importers are required to pledge that such articles will be re-exported within the specified period and may be required to provide a guarantee which is refunded after all the obligations under the pledge have been fulfilled.
Below are goods authorized to import under Temporary Admission:
Goods for display or use at exhibitions, meetings, or similar events with reasonable quantity.
Professional equipment necessary for a technician or professional person entering Cambodia to perform a specialized task or job (does not include machinery and specialized equipment used in the manufacturing industry or packaging of goods; or used for the exploitation of natural resources, construction or improvement of buildings, or land development or similar projects).
Containers, pallets, packages, samples, and other goods imported in connection with a commercial transaction, but which are not purchased or sold in any part of the commercial transaction.
Goods imported exclusively for educational, scientific, or cultural purposes, including parts for scientific equipment and educational materials that are authorized to import under temporary admission.
Goods imported for sports purposes, which are used by tourists, athletes, or business travelers for competition or demonstrations, or for training within the customs territory.
Other materials used for promoting tourism and attracting tourists to visit the country.
Goods imported by passengers travelling across the border for their own use.
Goods imported for humanitarian purposes including laboratory and surgical equipment and goods used to relieve victims of natural disasters and similar catastrophes.
Transport means conveying persons and goods for commercial use such as vessels, aircraft, road vehicles, or trains which are used for international transportation whether or not for fare payment, including spare parts, accessories, and equipment.
Additional details on temporary entry can be found at the Customs and Excise Department’s website. Transportation of duty-free goods under the transit procedure in the customs territory shall be attached with transport permit issued by the General Department of Customs and Excise. Additional details on duty free goods can be found at General Department of Customs and Excise of Cambodia.