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Cambodia Travel Tips: A Comprehensive Guide for First-Timers

Cambodia is a treasure trove of ancient temples, lush landscapes, and culinary delights that promise to tantalize your taste buds. Whether you’re drawn to the ancient allure of Angkor Wat, the vibrant streets of Phnom Penh, or the country’s serene beaches, knowing a few Cambodia travel tips can transform your trip from good to unforgettable. This go-to guide will help you navigate the enchanting landscapes of the country with insider advice on everything from when to visit Cambodia to respecting cultural norms, as well as why you will want to bring your Visa credit cards along.

Island in Cambodia

Cambodia Visa Requirements

Cambodia’s visa process is relatively straightforward and traveler-friendly, with two main ways to obtain one.

Many travelers can snag a visa on arrival at major entry points like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports, as well as at certain land crossings. You’ll need to present a passport valid for at least six months, a passport-sized photo, and $30 USD for a tourist visa fee. This visa is good for a 30-day stay.

For those who prefer to get things sorted in advance, Cambodia offers an e-Visa option. Apply online, pay the fee (slightly higher than the visa on arrival, due to processing charges), and you’ll receive your visa electronically. Print it out and bring it along for a smooth entry.

If you fall in love with Cambodia and aren’t ready to leave after your time is up, you can extend your visa once for up to an additional 30 days by visiting an immigration office.

Tourists at Angkor Wat

Health & Safety Precautions to Take in Cambodia

Embarking on a Cambodian adventure is thrilling, but staying healthy and safe ensures your journey remains nothing but enjoyable. Here’s some Cambodia travel info you need to know to keep the good times rolling without a hitch:

  • Vaccinations: Before you jet off, chat with your doctor about travel vaccinations. Typically recommended are shots for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and possibly rabies if you plan on visiting with Cambodia’s wildlife. A tetanus booster might also be a good idea.
  • Stay Hydrated, But Smartly: The Cambodian heat can sneak up on you, so drinking plenty of water is key. Stick to bottled water, though, as tap water isn’t always safe to drink. And while you’re at it, avoid ice unless you’re sure it’s made from purified water.
  • Personal Safety: Keep your belongings close, especially in crowded places. Use common sense, like not flashing expensive gadgets or jewelry, and always keep a copy of your passport separately from the original.
  • Beware of Common Scams: Like many popular tourist destinations, Cambodia has its fair share of scams. Some to watch out for include overly friendly locals inviting you to visit a school or orphanage for donations, rigged meters in taxis, and tuk-tuks, or being offered a deal that’s too good to be true (because it probably is).
Cambodian riel

Cambodia Currency Overview

In Cambodia, the US dollar is widely accepted alongside the Cambodian riel, giving travelers greater flexibility. For small purchases, like street food or market buys, cash in local currency is often preferred. However, the scene is changing with the introduction of credit/debit cards and mobile payments, which are gaining traction in urban centers and tourist hotspots.

In recent years, Cambodia has seen an uptick in the acceptance of Visa credit cards, particularly in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and other areas frequented by tourists. More hotels, upscale restaurants, and shops are now equipped to handle these transactions, making it convenient for travelers who prefer not to carry large amounts of cash. Using a Visa card reduces the need to constantly withdraw cash or convert currencies. It’s also considered safer, as it minimizes the risks associated with carrying cash, such as loss or theft. Furthermore, Visa payments are secure, backed by rigorous fraud protection measures.

Using a credit card while travelling in Cambodia

Additional Perks of Using a Visa Card When Travelling in Cambodia

With a Visa card, reserving accommodations and signing up for activities in Cambodia becomes a breeze. Many hotels and tour operators prefer card payments for their convenience and security. Dining out in Cambodia can also be an even more delightful experience when your Visa card benefits. A number of restaurants partner with Visa to offer special discounts to cardholders. This could mean anything from a percentage off your total bill to complimentary dishes. Additionally, a variety of merchants have special Visa offers that provide exclusive offers and promotions for cardholders. This can range from shopping discounts at retail outlets, savings on spa services, to special deals on tours and experiences.

One of the immediate benefits of sticking to your Visa card is bypassing the need to familiarize yourself with a new currency, which can often be a time-consuming task fraught with confusion over conversion rates. Furthermore, transactions made with cash can sometimes involve haggling or negotiating, which can detract from your travel experience. Paying with a Visa card, especially on official platforms for accommodations and activities, ensures transactions are straightforward, secure, and often come with the added benefit of record-keeping, making it easier to track your expenses during your trip.

Female traveler using a credit card

When it comes to getting around, the convenience of Visa extends to ride-hailing services as well. In Cambodia, you can use your Visa card with popular ride-hailing apps like Move-by-LM Car and Grab. This not only simplifies the payment process but also ensures that you don’t have to carry large amounts of cash on you for transportation. It’s a safer and more secure way to navigate the bustling cities and scenic countryside of Cambodia, providing peace of mind as you explore.

For those looking to rent a car, major rental services such as Hertz and Avis accept Visa as well, making it straightforward to book a vehicle for your adventures. This means you can secure a rental car before you even land, ensuring that you have the freedom to explore at your own pace the moment you arrive. Additionally, when planning to travel across the country, the BookMeBus app partners with Visa to offer a seamless online booking experience for bus tickets. This is incredibly convenient for travelers, allowing you to plan your intercity travels from the comfort of your smartphone or computer.

Visa’s reach extends to cultural experiences as well. Booking museums or tours online becomes significantly easier when you use your Visa card. Many cultural and heritage sites, as well as tour operators in Cambodia, prefer or exclusively accept online bookings made through cards. This not only helps you secure your spot in advance but often grants you access to Visa-exclusive offers or fast-track entry, enhancing your cultural exploration without the hassle of last-minute arrangements or the need to carry cash.

ENJOY SPECIAL OFFERS WITH YOUR VISA CARD

Khmer New Year

When to Visit Cambodia

The best time to visit Cambodia depends both on the climate and on the festival and cultural events you wish to experience. Let’s take a look at both.

Understanding Cambodia Weather

Cambodia’s climate is tropical, meaning it’s warm year-round, but there are distinct seasons that could sway your travel plans:

  • Dry Season (November to April): Marked by sunny days and clear skies, the dry season is ideal for temple touring and beach lounging. The coolest months, November to February, offer the most comfortable weather for exploring.
  • Wet Season (May to October): The rainy season transforms the landscape into a lush, green paradise, with showers mostly occurring in the afternoon. Despite the rain, this season has its perks: fewer tourists, lower prices, and the countryside at its most vibrant.

Festivals and Cultural Events

Cambodia’s calendar is dotted with festivals and events that offer a glimpse into the country’s soul. Here are a few not to miss:

  • Khmer New Year (Choul Chnam Thmey): Celebrated in mid-April, this is one of the most important holidays in Cambodia. It marks the end of the harvest season. The country comes alive with traditional games, dances, and rituals, making it a fantastic time to experience Khmer culture.
  • Pchum Ben: Falling in September or October, this 15-day festival honors ancestors through offerings and rituals. It’s a profound cultural observance filled with visits to pagodas and family gatherings.
  • Water Festival (Bon Om Touk): This spectacular event, usually in November, celebrates the reversal of the flow on the Tonle Sap River. It features boat races, fireworks, and concerts, drawing crowds to the riverbanks in Phnom Penh.
  • Angkor Festival: Dates vary, but this cultural event showcases traditional Khmer dance, music, and arts at the stunning Angkor Wat complex. It’s a unique opportunity to see Cambodia’s ancient heritage brought to life.
Getting Around Cambodia

Getting Around Cambodia

Navigating the diverse and vibrant landscapes of Cambodia is an adventure in itself, offering travelers a mix of traditional and modern transportation options.

Transportation Options

  • Tuk-tuks: The quintessential Cambodian transport, tuk-tuks are ideal for short distances within cities and towns. They’re affordable, accessible, and offer a genuine local experience. However, prices can vary, so it’s wise to agree on a fare before setting off.
  • Buses: For longer journeys between cities and provinces, buses are a cost-effective option. With a range of services from local buses to more luxurious coaches equipped with AC and Wi-Fi, there’s something to suit every budget and comfort level.
  • Taxis: More expensive than tuk-tuks but offering greater comfort and safety, taxis are a reliable option for getting around, especially if you’re traveling in a group or with lots of luggage. Look for metered taxis or use a reputable booking app to avoid overpaying.
  • Domestic Flights: With several domestic airports dotted around the country, flying can save time when traveling long distances, such as from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. It’s a bit pricier but worth considering if you’re short on time.

Travel Safety Tips

  • Always negotiate and agree on a fare before beginning your journey in tuk-tuks or taxis without a meter.
  • For buses and flights, compare prices online and book in advance for the best deals.
  • Consider using your Visa card for booking tickets for its convenience and the added layer of financial security it provides.

Driving in Cambodia

Renting a motorbike or car gives you the freedom to explore Cambodia at your own pace. Motorbikes are a popular choice for the adventurous traveler. They offer unparalleled flexibility but come with risks, especially on Cambodia’s sometimes chaotic roads. Ensure you have a valid international driver’s license, wear a helmet, and drive cautiously.

Renting a Car might be preferable for those less confident on two wheels or traveling in groups. It offers comfort, security, and the ability to cover long distances with ease. Using a Visa card to book car rental services adds another layer of security to your transactions, protecting against fraud and unauthorized charges.

BOOK YOUR CAMBODIA TRIP WITH VISA

Cambodia Hotel

Cambodia Accommodation Tips

Cambodia offers a wide array of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s budget and style, ensuring a comfortable stay whether you’re backpacking solo or indulging in a luxurious getaway.

Hostels are a staple for budget-conscious travelers, offering not just a place to sleep but a vibrant social scene, making them perfect for solo adventurers or those looking to meet fellow travelers. Guesthouses and boutique hotels, on the other hand, strike a balance between affordability and charm, often located in renovated traditional Khmer houses.

Then there are Cambodia’s luxury resorts, which offer a host of exquisite services, from spa treatments and gourmet restaurants to private tours of archaeological sites. These establishments cater to those seeking comfort and pampering in spectacular settings, often amidst breathtaking landscapes.

When booking your stay at any property, it is best to book online and in advance. This will allow you to browse and compare a wide range of accommodation options and access exclusive online rates and promotions that are often not available offline.

You can enjoy even more perks and discounts if you book through Agoda with Visa. This will allow you to take advantage of special Visa offers and discounts, reducing your travel expenses and ensuring a smooth and secure transaction.

BOOK YOUR PERFECT STAY IN CAMBODIA WITH VISA

Angkor Wat-Siem Reap

Plan Your Cambodia Trip Ahead and Save More with Visa

Embarking on a journey to Cambodia–or any destination–calls for savvy planning and smart booking choices. To ensure your adventure is as smooth and enriching as possible, make sure you plan your trip ahead and secure your bookings online. Utilizing a Visa card for your travel expenses, including flights, accommodations, and activities, not only streamlines the process but also unlocks a host of Visa card benefits.

Whether you’re dreaming of floating above the Angkor Wat temples in a hot air balloon, delving into the vibrant streets of Phnom Penh, or unwinding on the serene beaches of Koh Rong, using your Visa card to book these experiences in advance can lead to not just peace of mind but also tangible rewards. Discounts on hotels, savings on airfare, and special offers on activities are also just a tap away when you plan your Cambodian adventure with Visa.

SAVE MORE ON YOUR CAMBODIA TRIP WITH VISA

Locals in Cambodia

Cambodia Cultural Etiquette and Tips

Understanding some key cultural dos and don’ts can go a long way in enriching your journey through Cambodia:

  • Respect Religious Sites: When visiting temples or religious sites, dress modestly by covering shoulders and knees. Remove your shoes before entering temple buildings or someone’s home as a sign of respect.
  • Greetings: The traditional Cambodian greeting involves placing your hands together in a prayer-like gesture called “sampeah,” accompanied by a slight bow. The higher you hold your hands, the more respect you are showing.
  • Photography: Always ask for permission before taking photos of people, especially in rural areas or of monks. This shows respect for their privacy and culture.
  • Basic Khmer Phrases: Learning a few phrases in Khmer, the official language of Cambodia, can significantly enhance your interactions with locals, showing your respect and effort to engage with their culture. These might include hello (choum reap sur), Thank you (aw-kohn), excuse me (som toh), and goodbye (choum reap lir).

EXPLORE MORE VISA OFFERS

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Cambodia Travel Tips: A Comprehensive Guide for First-Timers

Cambodia is a treasure trove of ancient temples, lush landscapes, and culinary delights that promise to tantalize your taste buds. Whether you’re drawn to the ancient allure of Angkor Wat, the vibrant streets of Phnom Penh, or the country’s serene beaches, knowing a few Cambodia travel tips can transform your trip from good to unforgettable. This go-to guide will help you navigate the enchanting landscapes of the country with insider advice on everything from when to visit Cambodia to respecting cultural norms, as well as why you will want to bring your Visa credit cards along.

Island in Cambodia

Cambodia Visa Requirements

Cambodia’s visa process is relatively straightforward and traveler-friendly, with two main ways to obtain one.

Many travelers can snag a visa on arrival at major entry points like Phnom Penh and Siem Reap airports, as well as at certain land crossings. You’ll need to present a passport valid for at least six months, a passport-sized photo, and $30 USD for a tourist visa fee. This visa is good for a 30-day stay.

For those who prefer to get things sorted in advance, Cambodia offers an e-Visa option. Apply online, pay the fee (slightly higher than the visa on arrival, due to processing charges), and you’ll receive your visa electronically. Print it out and bring it along for a smooth entry.

If you fall in love with Cambodia and aren’t ready to leave after your time is up, you can extend your visa once for up to an additional 30 days by visiting an immigration office.

Tourists at Angkor Wat

Health & Safety Precautions to Take in Cambodia

Embarking on a Cambodian adventure is thrilling, but staying healthy and safe ensures your journey remains nothing but enjoyable. Here’s some Cambodia travel info you need to know to keep the good times rolling without a hitch:

  • Vaccinations: Before you jet off, chat with your doctor about travel vaccinations. Typically recommended are shots for hepatitis A and B, typhoid, and possibly rabies if you plan on visiting with Cambodia’s wildlife. A tetanus booster might also be a good idea.
  • Stay Hydrated, But Smartly: The Cambodian heat can sneak up on you, so drinking plenty of water is key. Stick to bottled water, though, as tap water isn’t always safe to drink. And while you’re at it, avoid ice unless you’re sure it’s made from purified water.
  • Personal Safety: Keep your belongings close, especially in crowded places. Use common sense, like not flashing expensive gadgets or jewelry, and always keep a copy of your passport separately from the original.
  • Beware of Common Scams: Like many popular tourist destinations, Cambodia has its fair share of scams. Some to watch out for include overly friendly locals inviting you to visit a school or orphanage for donations, rigged meters in taxis, and tuk-tuks, or being offered a deal that’s too good to be true (because it probably is).
Cambodian riel

Cambodia Currency Overview

In Cambodia, the US dollar is widely accepted alongside the Cambodian riel, giving travelers greater flexibility. For small purchases, like street food or market buys, cash in local currency is often preferred. However, the scene is changing with the introduction of credit/debit cards and mobile payments, which are gaining traction in urban centers and tourist hotspots.

In recent years, Cambodia has seen an uptick in the acceptance of Visa credit cards, particularly in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, and other areas frequented by tourists. More hotels, upscale restaurants, and shops are now equipped to handle these transactions, making it convenient for travelers who prefer not to carry large amounts of cash. Using a Visa card reduces the need to constantly withdraw cash or convert currencies. It’s also considered safer, as it minimizes the risks associated with carrying cash, such as loss or theft. Furthermore, Visa payments are secure, backed by rigorous fraud protection measures.

Using a credit card while travelling in Cambodia

Additional Perks of Using a Visa Card When Travelling in Cambodia

With a Visa card, reserving accommodations and signing up for activities in Cambodia becomes a breeze. Many hotels and tour operators prefer card payments for their convenience and security. Dining out in Cambodia can also be an even more delightful experience when your Visa card benefits. A number of restaurants partner with Visa to offer special discounts to cardholders. This could mean anything from a percentage off your total bill to complimentary dishes. Additionally, a variety of merchants have special Visa offers that provide exclusive offers and promotions for cardholders. This can range from shopping discounts at retail outlets, savings on spa services, to special deals on tours and experiences.

One of the immediate benefits of sticking to your Visa card is bypassing the need to familiarize yourself with a new currency, which can often be a time-consuming task fraught with confusion over conversion rates. Furthermore, transactions made with cash can sometimes involve haggling or negotiating, which can detract from your travel experience. Paying with a Visa card, especially on official platforms for accommodations and activities, ensures transactions are straightforward, secure, and often come with the added benefit of record-keeping, making it easier to track your expenses during your trip.

Female traveler using a credit card

When it comes to getting around, the convenience of Visa extends to ride-hailing services as well. In Cambodia, you can use your Visa card with popular ride-hailing apps like Move-by-LM Car and Grab. This not only simplifies the payment process but also ensures that you don’t have to carry large amounts of cash on you for transportation. It’s a safer and more secure way to navigate the bustling cities and scenic countryside of Cambodia, providing peace of mind as you explore.

For those looking to rent a car, major rental services such as Hertz and Avis accept Visa as well, making it straightforward to book a vehicle for your adventures. This means you can secure a rental car before you even land, ensuring that you have the freedom to explore at your own pace the moment you arrive. Additionally, when planning to travel across the country, the BookMeBus app partners with Visa to offer a seamless online booking experience for bus tickets. This is incredibly convenient for travelers, allowing you to plan your intercity travels from the comfort of your smartphone or computer.

Visa’s reach extends to cultural experiences as well. Booking museums or tours online becomes significantly easier when you use your Visa card. Many cultural and heritage sites, as well as tour operators in Cambodia, prefer or exclusively accept online bookings made through cards. This not only helps you secure your spot in advance but often grants you access to Visa-exclusive offers or fast-track entry, enhancing your cultural exploration without the hassle of last-minute arrangements or the need to carry cash.

ENJOY SPECIAL OFFERS WITH YOUR VISA CARD

Khmer New Year

When to Visit Cambodia

The best time to visit Cambodia depends both on the climate and on the festival and cultural events you wish to experience. Let’s take a look at both.

Understanding Cambodia Weather

Cambodia’s climate is tropical, meaning it’s warm year-round, but there are distinct seasons that could sway your travel plans:

  • Dry Season (November to April): Marked by sunny days and clear skies, the dry season is ideal for temple touring and beach lounging. The coolest months, November to February, offer the most comfortable weather for exploring.
  • Wet Season (May to October): The rainy season transforms the landscape into a lush, green paradise, with showers mostly occurring in the afternoon. Despite the rain, this season has its perks: fewer tourists, lower prices, and the countryside at its most vibrant.

Festivals and Cultural Events

Cambodia’s calendar is dotted with festivals and events that offer a glimpse into the country’s soul. Here are a few not to miss:

  • Khmer New Year (Choul Chnam Thmey): Celebrated in mid-April, this is one of the most important holidays in Cambodia. It marks the end of the harvest season. The country comes alive with traditional games, dances, and rituals, making it a fantastic time to experience Khmer culture.
  • Pchum Ben: Falling in September or October, this 15-day festival honors ancestors through offerings and rituals. It’s a profound cultural observance filled with visits to pagodas and family gatherings.
  • Water Festival (Bon Om Touk): This spectacular event, usually in November, celebrates the reversal of the flow on the Tonle Sap River. It features boat races, fireworks, and concerts, drawing crowds to the riverbanks in Phnom Penh.
  • Angkor Festival: Dates vary, but this cultural event showcases traditional Khmer dance, music, and arts at the stunning Angkor Wat complex. It’s a unique opportunity to see Cambodia’s ancient heritage brought to life.
Getting Around Cambodia

Getting Around Cambodia

Navigating the diverse and vibrant landscapes of Cambodia is an adventure in itself, offering travelers a mix of traditional and modern transportation options.

Transportation Options

  • Tuk-tuks: The quintessential Cambodian transport, tuk-tuks are ideal for short distances within cities and towns. They’re affordable, accessible, and offer a genuine local experience. However, prices can vary, so it’s wise to agree on a fare before setting off.
  • Buses: For longer journeys between cities and provinces, buses are a cost-effective option. With a range of services from local buses to more luxurious coaches equipped with AC and Wi-Fi, there’s something to suit every budget and comfort level.
  • Taxis: More expensive than tuk-tuks but offering greater comfort and safety, taxis are a reliable option for getting around, especially if you’re traveling in a group or with lots of luggage. Look for metered taxis or use a reputable booking app to avoid overpaying.
  • Domestic Flights: With several domestic airports dotted around the country, flying can save time when traveling long distances, such as from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. It’s a bit pricier but worth considering if you’re short on time.

Travel Safety Tips

  • Always negotiate and agree on a fare before beginning your journey in tuk-tuks or taxis without a meter.
  • For buses and flights, compare prices online and book in advance for the best deals.
  • Consider using your Visa card for booking tickets for its convenience and the added layer of financial security it provides.

Driving in Cambodia

Renting a motorbike or car gives you the freedom to explore Cambodia at your own pace. Motorbikes are a popular choice for the adventurous traveler. They offer unparalleled flexibility but come with risks, especially on Cambodia’s sometimes chaotic roads. Ensure you have a valid international driver’s license, wear a helmet, and drive cautiously.

Renting a Car might be preferable for those less confident on two wheels or traveling in groups. It offers comfort, security, and the ability to cover long distances with ease. Using a Visa card to book car rental services adds another layer of security to your transactions, protecting against fraud and unauthorized charges.

BOOK YOUR CAMBODIA TRIP WITH VISA

Cambodia Hotel

Cambodia Accommodation Tips

Cambodia offers a wide array of accommodation options to suit every traveler’s budget and style, ensuring a comfortable stay whether you’re backpacking solo or indulging in a luxurious getaway.

Hostels are a staple for budget-conscious travelers, offering not just a place to sleep but a vibrant social scene, making them perfect for solo adventurers or those looking to meet fellow travelers. Guesthouses and boutique hotels, on the other hand, strike a balance between affordability and charm, often located in renovated traditional Khmer houses.

Then there are Cambodia’s luxury resorts, which offer a host of exquisite services, from spa treatments and gourmet restaurants to private tours of archaeological sites. These establishments cater to those seeking comfort and pampering in spectacular settings, often amidst breathtaking landscapes.

When booking your stay at any property, it is best to book online and in advance. This will allow you to browse and compare a wide range of accommodation options and access exclusive online rates and promotions that are often not available offline.

You can enjoy even more perks and discounts if you book through Agoda with Visa. This will allow you to take advantage of special Visa offers and discounts, reducing your travel expenses and ensuring a smooth and secure transaction.

BOOK YOUR PERFECT STAY IN CAMBODIA WITH VISA

Angkor Wat-Siem Reap

Plan Your Cambodia Trip Ahead and Save More with Visa

Embarking on a journey to Cambodia–or any destination–calls for savvy planning and smart booking choices. To ensure your adventure is as smooth and enriching as possible, make sure you plan your trip ahead and secure your bookings online. Utilizing a Visa card for your travel expenses, including flights, accommodations, and activities, not only streamlines the process but also unlocks a host of Visa card benefits.

Whether you’re dreaming of floating above the Angkor Wat temples in a hot air balloon, delving into the vibrant streets of Phnom Penh, or unwinding on the serene beaches of Koh Rong, using your Visa card to book these experiences in advance can lead to not just peace of mind but also tangible rewards. Discounts on hotels, savings on airfare, and special offers on activities are also just a tap away when you plan your Cambodian adventure with Visa.

SAVE MORE ON YOUR CAMBODIA TRIP WITH VISA

Locals in Cambodia

Cambodia Cultural Etiquette and Tips

Understanding some key cultural dos and don’ts can go a long way in enriching your journey through Cambodia:

  • Respect Religious Sites: When visiting temples or religious sites, dress modestly by covering shoulders and knees. Remove your shoes before entering temple buildings or someone’s home as a sign of respect.
  • Greetings: The traditional Cambodian greeting involves placing your hands together in a prayer-like gesture called “sampeah,” accompanied by a slight bow. The higher you hold your hands, the more respect you are showing.
  • Photography: Always ask for permission before taking photos of people, especially in rural areas or of monks. This shows respect for their privacy and culture.
  • Basic Khmer Phrases: Learning a few phrases in Khmer, the official language of Cambodia, can significantly enhance your interactions with locals, showing your respect and effort to engage with their culture. These might include hello (choum reap sur), Thank you (aw-kohn), excuse me (som toh), and goodbye (choum reap lir).

EXPLORE MORE VISA OFFERS

You may also like