This comprehensive packing list will help you remember everything you need to fully enjoy a vacation in Cambodia.
Cambodia is a rapidly-developing country and now firmly on the map for tourists. This means it’s becoming easier to travel there. In the capital city Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, the town closest to the magnificent Angkor temples, there are plenty of places to pick up supplies. But this isn’t yet true for the rest of the country, where it’s a good idea to pack everything you need.
Preparing For A Vacation In Cambodia
The key things you need for a Cambodian vacation won’t be in your luggage at all. These are the essentials to prepare well before you leave for the airport. Double check the critical items you need:
- Make sure your passport has at least 6 months left before it expires, and a couple of blank pages.
- Check which vaccinations you need for Cambodia and book them at least six weeks before departure. You should be able to get them from your usual medical professional. See the FitForTravel website for general recommendations.
- If appropriate, you can also get your doctor to prescribe enough medication to cover your trip.
- Face mask – COVID is still very active in many countries and you may be required to wear an SFP2 facemask on the plane and in some indoor spaces. It’s also a good idea to carry a small bottle of hand sanitiser when you travel.
- Most nationalities can get a Cambodian visa for $20USD Siem Reap or Phnom Penh airports on arrival, but it pays to check the requirements. Bring a passport photo as well. Here is my overview of getting a visa at Siem Reap.
- Compare prices and times of flights to Cambodia on Skyscanner. This is best done about three months prior to travel. The two main airports are Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
- Book at least two or three night’s accommodation in Cambodia before you arrive. Booking.com has a wide selection of hotels in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh to suit every budget.
- Cambodia is a big country and there is plenty to see. See the Travel Happy 1 week Cambodia itinerary and 2 week Cambodia itinerary for a sense of the major areas. For more detailed info, a guidebook like Lonely Planet Cambodia is still the most efficient way to get specifics on each area.
Travel Insurance For Cambodia
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Luggage For A Vacation In Cambodia
- Backpack – If you decide to go backpacking in Cambodia, a well-made backpack like Osprey will make all the difference. You want to carry everything without damaging your back. You’ll also need a daypack for general daily use.
- Suitcase – If you’re planning a simpler trip – flying in just to see Angkor, for example – then standard luggage is fine. A daypack is still essential.
- Travel Billfold – Split your money and other valuables so they are in various places on your person. A travel billfold worn around the neck is a good way of protecting valuables. You can keep some small bills in your pockets or day bag.
- Packing Cubes – Backpack or suitcase, a set of packing cubes will help you everything organized and make it easy to locate items without having to unpack everything.
- Well-Designed Toiletry Bag – Get a bag with compartments to make everything easy to organize and access. Magic2Door is a good example.
- Luggage Locks – Inexpensive and worth having to keep anyone from tampering with your checked-in luggage during transit. If you’re traveling via the US, make sure you get TSA-approved luggage locks.
What Clothes To Pack For Cambodia
Cambodia is hot all year round, even in rainy season. The heat and the humidity combine to make most tourists sweat a lot.
- T-Shirts, Tops, Pants And Shorts – Linen and cotton were the traditional way to combat the heat. However, these fabrics retain sweaty moisture, making the material damp and heavy. These days, the synthetic materials used by UnderArmour and similar brands are more effective at keeping you cool. These wick moisture away and leave you feeling drier and less sweaty.
- Underwear – In addition to UnderArmour tshirts and tops, I recommend investing in UnderArmour underwear. Long boxers for men and sports bras and panties for women will keep sensitive parts of the body cool. Walking around in the heat creates friction on your skin. The right underwear will cut down on this painful chafing.
- Lubricant – I’d also suggest using KY Jelly or some other water-based lubricant on your any sensitive areas to avoid chafing from walking or other exercise. It will save a lot of pain.
- Loose Fitting Long-Sleeved Tops, Pants And Long Skirts – Despite the hot weather, it makes sense to stay covered up as much as possible. It will help protect your skin from the sun and mosquitoes. Bring at least one baggy, long-sleeved top and pair of pants to wear. If have decent underwear you won’t overheat.
- Hoodie – It might sound strange to bring a hoodie to a tropical country but it’s perfect for keeping you warm on flights and doubles as a pillow. Plus, it’s useful when it rains.
- Rain Jacket – A lightweight foldaway rain jacket is also a useful addition to your day bag.
Medicines and Toiletries To Pack For Cambodia
A well-stocked toiletry bag can make all the difference to how much you enjoy your Cambodian vacation. Stomach trouble,, sunburn, allergies and rashes, cuts and scratches – all these minor ailments can take the edge off your vacation enjoyment if they’re not treated immediately.
- Stay Hydrated – Dehydration is the number one cause of people feeling unwell. Many people are dehydrated before they even go on vacation, and a tropical country like Cambodia will quickly make things worse. Bottled water is readily available in Cambodia. If you’re planning an extended hike around the temples, a dedicated Camelbak hydration pack or similar may be worthwhile. Drink at least 2 liters of bottled water a day, and get into the habit of rehydrating before you feel thirsty.
- Sunscreen – The Cambodian sun is brutal, especially after 10am. Generously apply an SPF 30+ sunscreen every morning and afternoon. Wear a hat and cover up when possible.
- Mosquito Repellent – Itchy mozzie bites can really make a vacation miserable and a good squirt of mozzie repellent is another essential each morning. Mosquitoes love the dusk so, if you’re enjoying sundowners outside on a verandah or similar, make sure you’ve liberally applied repellent before you go out.
- Travel First Aid Kit – A small, well-designed first aid kit with Band-Aids and disinfectant means you can quickly treat cuts and scratches and stop them getting infected.
- Hand Sanitizer – You won’t always have access to clean water and may not be able to wash your hands after going to the toilet. Hand sanitizer is always useful for situations like this.
- Diarrhea Tablets – Diarrhea is usually caused by a change in what you’re eating rather than actual food poisoning. A brand like Imodium is good for temporarily stabilizing an upset digestive system. Remember to drink lotS of water and seek medical advice if it doesn’t clear up after a couple of days.
- Indigestion Medicine – Gaviscon is my go-to for curing heartburn. It comes in individual sachets – perfect for keeping in your day bag.
- Quick Drying Towel – A small, lightweight foldaway towel is a useful item in any backpack. It ensures you can dry off in any situation and also doubles as a makeshift blanket or head wrap to protect your head from the sun.
- Condoms – Always have protected sex and take care of yourself and your partner. If vacation romance blossoms, it’s best to be prepared.
Cell Phones and Electronic Devices
- SIM Card – It’s cheap and simple to get a Cambodian SIM card at the airport when you arrive. This will save you a fortune in data costs.
- Waterproof Phone Case – Your phone faces a number of opportunities to get damaged by water. Water, sand, and electronics don’t mix and you always risk being caught in a downpour. Get a waterproof pack for your phone or tablet to keep them protected.
- Shockproof Phone Case – A shock absorbing case for your phone or tablet is also a necessary protection. You want a case that can safely guard the phone if dropped on tiled floors and concrete sidewalks. The Otterbox range has saved my device on a number of occasions.
- Power Bank – Spending all day out and about will chew through your battery levels much faster than usual, especially if you’re taking lots of photos. Ensure you have power for your phone by getting a power bank with plenty of capacity.
- Don’t forget your phone charger!
- Universal Plug Adaptor – You’ll need a Universal plug adaptor, preferably with surge protection. Cambodia uses 3 types of plug – 2 pin flat blade, 2 pin circular and the 3 pin plug, so an adapter is essential as you’ll never know what kind of plug socket you’re going to get.
- Laptop Cover – If you’re traveling with a laptop, get a padded cover to keep it protected. Make sure your daypack is comfortable to carry with your laptop in, and keep a plastic bag within the pack to wrap your laptop in if it starts to rain. Most bags are not waterproof so don’t risk it.
- Flashlight – Even though your phone doubles as a flashlight, it’s still useful to carry a tiny but super powerful flashlight on your keyring like the Nitecore Tube. Also, a small personal security alarm makes a huge noise and is a good source of reassurance.