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Can I Travel to Cambodia Now?

by Melissa Nicholas
Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia from a far above the jungle canopy

This article focuses on the critical question, ‘Can I travel to Cambodia now?’. We’ll detail if and how you can travel to Cambodia and the practicalities of travel there too.

Like some of its neighbouring countries, Cambodia reported few COVID cases during the first year of the pandemic. The Kingdom then began to see an uptick in cases in conjunction with a community outbreak on the 20th February 2021 followed by the emergence of the Delta variant in April 2021. However, unlike many of the other countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia didn’t really have a pronounced spike with cases fluctuating between 400 and 800 a day for most of the year in a population of 16 million.  This may be explained by its excellent vaccination rate. There have been periodic lockdowns, most notably in the capital Phnom Penh and more recently in Siem Reap.

When will Cambodia open its borders to foreigners?

Although the borders are not completely closed, tourist visas are not being issued and most visitors currently need to obtain a visa prior to arrival and quarantine for 14 days on arrival at a specific pre-booked hotel in Phnom Penh. At the time of writing, we are expecting these restrictions to ease and Cambodia to open for tourism in a more normal way on 1st November. This would be timely – at the beginning of the dry season and in time for the peak travel seasons for holidays to Cambodia.    

Guide smiling and raising his arms with peace signs

Is Cambodia on the UK ‘go’ list?

Cambodia has always been on the UK “Amber” list which means it will automatically switch to the “Go” List when the traffic light system changes on 4th October.  

Does the FCDO advise against all but essential travel to Cambodia?

There is no COVID 19 specific FCDO (Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office) advice in place for travel to Cambodia. This means that the UK government do not believe there is any specific risk relating to COVID 19 whilst you are there. In turn, this means that most standard insurance policies will be valid for your trip.

What are vaccinations levels like in Cambodia?

Cambodia has had remarkable success with vaccination and ranks alongside much wealthier Singapore in having one of the best vaccination rates in Southeast Asia.  At present (early October) 80% of the population have had at least 1 vaccination, 66% of the population are fully vaccinated and Phnom Penh claims to be one of the most highly vaccinated capital cities in the world. Vaccination rates are still increasing and children from 6 years old are now being vaccinated. 

Do I need to be double vaccinated to get into Cambodia?

At present no – however it is quite likely that this will become a requirement should Cambodia ease the arrival quarantine requirement on 1st November.

Child stood on boat on the Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia

What tests do I have to take to get into Cambodia?

Presently a negative PCR test is required within 72 hours of departure (and tests at the beginning and end of quarantine). 

Do I have to quarantine on arrival in Cambodia?

Yes. At present, you would need to quarantine in a hotel for 14 days. We expect this measure to be removed from 1st November. 

A luxury tent at Shinta Mani Wild overlooking the river in the heart of the Cardamom Mountains

Are there direct flights to Cambodia?

It is worth noting that there are no direct flights from the UK to Cambodia and you need to transit a third country which will obviously need to be open. At present, the most popular route flying to Cambodia is via Singapore with Singapore Airlines. Until the border opens there are no flights into Siem Reap, all flights are into Phnom Penh. Historically most people travelled into Cambodia on flights from or via Thailand (Bangkok) or Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi). Vietnam is currently closed to tourists. Thailand is partially open but tourists can’t yet travel to Bangkok – this could be a moot point since we expect Bangkok to open up at around the same time as Cambodia. Thailand is currently on the UK Red List but as of 4th October you are permitted to transit a Red List country as long as you don’t stopover there – this again may end up being a moot point as we would expect Thailand to be removed from the Red List before Cambodia reopens.    

Additionally, you can fly to Cambodia via Dubai/Qatar.   

School children on steps underneath flag poles with the cambodian flag on top

Do I have to wear a mask in Cambodia?

Masks are currently mandated in public areas throughout Cambodia and are required when out and about. At present, you may take off your mask in restaurants and bars when eating and drinking. Mask wearing was fairly commonplace before the pandemic, these days don’t be surprised to see locals wearing masks at all times even in their own cars! 

Can I eat in local restaurants in Cambodia?

Currently, you are able to eat in restaurants throughout Cambodia, however social distancing measures are in place and should be adhered to.  

Street food in Cambodia at a hawker stall

Do I have to quarantine in the UK on return from Cambodia?

Cambodia is currently on the “GO” list. This means that (as of 4th October 2021) double vaccinated travellers only need to fill in a passenger locator form before returning to the UK and take a test on Day 2 back in the UK. At present, the Day 2 test needs to be a PCR test although the UK government have indicated that by the end of October this will change to a cheaper lateral flow test.   

Take a look at our guide to Covid testing for travel for more in-depth information on the current situation.  

What if I’m not vaccinated?  

The old “Amber List” rules will apply when you return to the UK. You’ll still need to take a test before you return and pay for Day 2 and Day 8 tests on return. You will also be expected to isolate at home for 10 days on return, but you can test to release on Day 5.  

Why should I book a trip to Cambodia now?

We believe you should book a trip to Cambodia now:

The first few weeks of Cambodia opening could be an amazing time to go. Angkor Wat in particular is often very busy and there is going to be a sweet spot before tourists return en masse, for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see the temples without the crowds. Cambodia is also one of the less wealthy countries in the region and booking a trip there will provide hope and support to guides, drivers and many others who have been affected by the pandemic. Any trip booked with ETG is backed by our Covid Promise.   

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