First time Visitor to Cambodia and you have visions of Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields, however the Cambodia of today is quite the contrary. It is changing FAST! Though Cambodia has been on the map for centuries it is a nation in its infancy, but is changing at lightning speed.  Deprived for so long, its people long for education, infrastructure and the opportunity for a better life. Roads to major cities have now been completed cutting travel times in half, people are out in the streets around the clock when they use to lock themselves in at dark. Building Projects continue to change the face of the city. As little as five years ago the skyline only had a few buildings over 5 stories high.  Along with development Cambodia is enduring some growing pains as well.  The number of vehicles on the roads has increased making certain areas of Phnom Penh places to avoid at certain times of the day.  Western fast food franchises have claimed their stake in the country.  KFC, Swensens, and the Pizza Company have many locations through out Phnom Penh and in Siem Reap as well. 

Travel to the rural areas and you will always hear a cheerful hello from the children. Sometimes in the most remote location someone will want to practice English with you. Many roads have been paved making it easier for the local population to travel back to their provincial villages during the holidays.  Buses now travel around the clock between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. This being said, one only needs to take a turn off of the main highway to find themselves in a world unaffected by the recent development.

We look forward to serving you, and on behalf of myself and my staff at  California 2 & Guesthouse, (Hotel California) Phnom Penh, Welcome to Cambodia!

Kuha Nokor Temple north of Skun

We believe that life isn't the destination, but rather the journey. On the pages that follow, we hope to help you cast away any fears and to provide you with a simple glimpse of what is available as to serve as a catalyst for your own adventure.  Click on the specified links through out the site for a brief captioned picture tour of  Phnom Penh, Day Trips around Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat and Sihanoukville Kampot Kep. We have also captured some of the many personalities of the Cambodian people and have provided a links page for additional information from other sources. Motorcycle riders will be interested in our Motorcyle Cambodia Page.   Some of the pictures are linked for a larger view. Just hit the back button to return to the page. For Adventurous Travlers I have included a  Surf Cambodia page of out of the way accessible places that with a little effort, you too can visit. We also have a GPS page to insure you don't get lost while exploring some of the most remote places. NEW! Site page with more in depth photos of whats available in the Provinces  CLICK HERE    NEW!    Phnom Penh Night Life

When we first opened in 1994 our learning curve was the same as yours.  We have taken the time to see what this wonderful country has to offer, discover new places and temples, As a result, you will benefit on insight to lessen your learning curve, save time and see many places that don't even get a mention in guide books. Many local expats dine in our restaurant and have plenty of insight as well!

Visa

A visa is required for entry into Cambodia. Arriving into the country by Air, visa applications are usually provided on flights and currently Bangkok Airways provides them in the waiting area prior to boarding the plane. Upon arrival at Phnom Penh (Pochentong) International Airport, you enter the terminal, cue at the desk, provide your passport, application and one passport photo to the customs official. An official will stamp it and pass it down like an assembly line. When it gets to the end you pay $20.00US for a tourist Visa or $25 for a business visa.   You can avoid a cue at the visa processing area by securing a visa in advance.  Here is the link to the E Visa site.   http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/evisa/

After you have retrieved your luggage you will be greeted by a hoard of taxi and moto drivers eager to get your business. Don't let this intimidate you. A taxi will cost $10.00 to the hotel and the ride will take about 30 minutes. They all know where the hotel is located and if they appear to be confused, you tell them near the Mekong Express Bus.  Many Taxis will tell you we are closed. This used to be the case as they tried to get you to go to a hotel that would offer them commission.  This used to be the norm, but since the internet, the traveller is more savy and knows where he is going.

Overland border crossings have been reported to operate under their own set of rules.  Expect to pay 1000 Baht (25 dollars) for a tourist visa.

Upon arrival our friendly staff will greet  you and get you situated.  You will find our location easy to get  your bearings. From here you can comfortably venture out and return to the tranquil setting along the river front. A short walk to the south is the Night Market. Less than a kilometer is the Silver Pagoda, Royal Palace and National Museum.  West of our location is Wat Phnom and the Post Office.

Airport Taxi Scam Warning!!!

We encourage our visitors to use the airport taxi in order to give business to them. You have booked with us or maybe another hotel. Commissions sometimes are paid to taxis who bring customers to their establishments. We infact will pay a taxi commission if he brings us someone cold off the street, but we don't pay commissions to taxis when travelers have either booked us on the net or have done their own home work via word of mouth, guide books, internet etc. A taxi will do his best to convince you (sometimes to the point of really being annoying) to go to a place where he will receive a commission. Regardless of your staying with us or another establishment, kindly tell them you have a previous booking or you are a friend of the owner of the establishment or you are catching up with other travelers.

Overland Travel Scam Warning!!!

Traveling over land via Poipet to Siem Reap and from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh by bus:

Some Local tour companies are in the practice of turning a 6-8 hour journey into an all day affair. They will try to heard you in to restaurants and make the claim that the bus is broken, then will take the bus to another location and go through your luggage. After a few stops to add hours to the trip and put you into a fatigue state they will roll you into their hotel and guest house which is somewhat out of the way or down dark streets. You do not have to stay there. There are Moto dops and taxis available to take you to other hotels and guest houses. They might be a block away at times. You can also get a shared taxi from the border crossings for a slightly higher fee.  There are more Reputable companies these days and they might be a couple of dollars more, but worth the Expense.

Money Scam Warning!!!

Some  tour operators will tell you that you must change money to the local currency. This is false! The US dollar accepted through out the country, and the Thai Baht is accepted around Siem Reap, Koh Kong, Sihanoukville and many places in Phnom Penh.  The current rate of exchange is about 4000 RIEL to 1 US DOLLAR. These tour operators have been known to offer as low as 2500 RIEL for one dollar taking 25 to 50 percent of your money! Wait until you can exchange money with a reputable bank/exchange or hotel.

 

CAMBODIA  a brief introduction

Cambodia is a third world country! Things do not function as they do in your country. Thirty years ago in Phnom Penh there wasn't a doctor, lawyer, dentist, painter, teacher, street sweeper, plumber, builder...you get the point. They either fled or were killed off by the Khmer Rouge.  However the city functions relatively well. Good basic human instincts put things in order. Traffic at first looks like chaos but there is a method to it. A whole generation is missing and it will take probably another two generations to bring the country up to speed. Despite this, there is dynamic growth, and many entrepenuers . Building projects are everywhere. The people are finally enjoying basic living that they were deprived from for so long due to war. Tents for celebrations spring up periodically on streets for weddings, and bons (colorful Buddist celebrations for various reasons) or funerals. They will set up loud speakers and make their celebrations known and the general rule in Cambodia is if you have a speaker you must play it at distortion levels! In the past, power failures were common due to lack of proper infrastructure.   Come to Cambodia with an open mind and you will be surprised how rewarding your visit will be and like many others, perhaps we will start seeing you on a yearly basis!

Cambodian Girl
Tourist Attractions.

In Phnom Penh-Wat Phnom, Wat Ounalom, Toul Sleng Museum/Killing Fields, Royal Palace, National Museum, Shopping in the Russian, Central or Various markets around town as well as Soriya Center. Mekong Island (Koh Dach silkweaving island), Water Park, Go Cart Track, Apsara Arts Khmer Dance, Shooting Range (just beyond the airport).

Day Trips (sites with in 50K of town)-Oudong, Phnom Chissor, Tonle Bati, Wat Boran, Kien Svay, Phnom Tamau (Zoo), Phnom Baset and Wat Nokor Vimean Suor, Longvaek.

Riverfront traffic after King Sihamonis coronation
Other Great Destinations with in the Kingdom:

Siem Reap-Angkor Wat

Siem Reap boat tickets available for $25 dollars. The boat leaves at 0700 with transfer to the port. Approximately five hours. Water Levels in the Sap River fluctuate as well as the direction of the river. At the peak of the dry season flying or taking the bus could be a better option. Mekong Express located just 3 doors away from us, runs the best bus service and leaves at 7:30, 8:30, and 12:30 daily. Cost is 15 US dollars and takes about 5 hours. Paramount Angkor also provides good service and is just around the corner.  There are night buses that leave daily near the night market. 

Other destinations we can help you plan for.

Sihanoukville (Kampong Som) at the coast, Kratie (Kracheh) where the Irawaddy dolphins are located, Kampong Cham up the Mekong River with rubber plantations and temples,  Battambang with some great temple sites as well, Takeo and Kampot Province to the south.

 

Chanthy in Kampot Province

Embassies and Visa Services:

Cambodia Tourist Visas are 30 days and can be extended for 1 month only.

Business Visa can be obtained upon entry to the country and can be extended up to one year (multiple entry).

Lao, and Vietnam Visas can be processed in about 24 hours and require additional passport photos. A Vietnam Visa will cost around 30 dollars, quite a lot cheaper than the 55 pounds some of my customers had paid in the UK.

Banking.

Traveler's checks and cash advances at most banks in town for a 2% fee. It is Always a good idea to exchange some dollars into smaller Riel as you will encounter Monks, Landmine victims, and 'tour guides' at various sites and markets. $1.00US is about 4000 Riel. Dollars are the primary currency in Phnom Penh. There are no coins which is GREAT! No heavy pockets or loose change. If you make a 2.50 purchase with 3 dollars, you will receive 2000 riel back in change. Thai Baht is accepted in areas closer to the Thai - Cambodia Border. ATMs are located all over the city now. Foreign cards will be charged a fee up to 4 dollars.

IMPORTANT!  Locals do not like torn or damaged bills and will not accept them, even if they are taped up. Don't wad your money up and stuff it in your pocket. When taking a cash advance or cashing travelers cheques, check the bills the banks are giving you. Some times they are the worst at passing bills you will have the most trouble cashing in Cambodia.

IMPORTANT! Don't wait till the last minute to cash money or make travel arrangements.  Banks keep similar hours as to those in the west.  Travel agents will operate until 6 PM (some later).  Getting a bus ticket to the next destination in a timely manner might mean the difference in a morning or noon departure.  Cambodians travel to the provinces during holidays and seats fill up fast around such times.

 

 

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Rooms

The difference between Deluxe and Standard rooms are the size of the rooms and bathrooms.

All of our rooms have ONE king size bed (180cm x 200cm).

All rooms have Cable TV, stocked fridge, ensuite bathrooms with hot water, ceiling fans, air conditioners and room safes and WIFI access.

Electricity is 220V.

We do not have extra blankets (we are in the tropics). We do not stock extra beds. Please respect the circuit breaker keys for the Air Conditioners. We are able to keep our cost down and pass this savings to you. Electricity is in short supply in the Kingdom and the demand is high and the electric company is well aware of this.

Room One California 2 Room One
Room 10 Room 10

Above two of our deluxe rooms.

Safe and valuable concerns.

Please follow the directions provided for using the room safes. Remember your PIN. The boss doesn't like to come in on his off time.

Petty theft does happen on the streets of Phnom Penh. Travel smart. Don't put all of your money and documents in a fanny pack and walk the streets. When going out at night, take only the amounts you will need and spread it around between your pockets.   While riding on the back of a moto or in a tuk tuk hang on to your goods tightly.

Room Refrigerators

Dont you hate getting DINGED by outrageous mini bar prices! We do too.  We put fridges in our rooms for YOUR convenience.  Our mini bar/fridge drinks are priced at $1.00 for soft drinks and $1.25 for beer.  Please consume beer from your fridge in your room.

Luggage

Many of our visitors come from cold climates or pack coats for those damn freezing flights! If you are taking a short trip to the beach, Kracheh to see the dolphins or where ever, we will be happy to store a bag for you until you return.

Laundry.

Just leave your laundry in the hamper provided in your room. The earlier we can pick it up the faster we can return it to you. Humid/rainy tropical conditions at times can put a damper (pun intended) on same day service. Just notify the staff and we will at least get you an outfit in time to hit the town in the evening. 1000 riel per item.

Bar crowd at California 2      Callifornia 2 Bar Phnom Penh

Chilling In the Bar

 

B 52s at California 2

B-52's

Dining.

Breakfast is on the house from 6 am to 11 am daily. For guest we offer eggs and toast or French Toast, and a free flowing coffee pot all day.  A la Carte our Huevos Rancheros and Pancakes are popular among guest and expats.    We will always provide you with a good meal, our cooks are good, prices are reasonable, but there are a variety of fine dining experiences to be enjoyed in the City. We can recommend quite a few. Click to view our menu.

Carnitas    Khmer New Years

                 Seasoned Pork y Frijoles               Khmer New Years Antics                

 

Grilled Pork Chop at California 2

Grilled Pork Chop

Photo Processing.

Film prices and processing are generally cheaper than in California. You might capture 'The Shot' and want to make an enlargement as well. Nice booklets to protect your photos and negatives are also provided. 

Digital Photography -  Photo shops will process pictures from a CD or digital storage devices. Be careful about viruses getting on your memory stick  from photo shops and scan your USB device before you transfer any files back to your own computer.

Henh from Preah Theat Temple

Internet Communications / WIFI

Many competitive shops are with in walking distance. Prices range from $.50 to $1.00 an hour for Internet usage. (Remember we are on the opposite side of the world from the US East Coast. 12:00 noon here is 1:00 AM in New York during the summer and 12:00 AM in the winter). GMT + 7  Long distance phone calls can be handled at most internet cafes. We have wifi. Just check with the receptionist about the log on password.

Night Life   NEW!   Phnom Penh Night Life

We are open 24 hours and so is our kitchen for our jet lagging arrivals and coverage of late night sports, but  Phnom Penh offers a variety of nightlife to suit all interest. Dancing at Martini Pub, or Riverhouse Lounge, Shooting Pool in Cambodias largest rock and roll bar Sharky's, or more intimately at the Air Force Bar,  Zanzibar & Rose Bar on Street 104. The Cadillac Bar, and DV8 bar are just a few.  Or have late night drinks at Howie's  Bar,  Heart of Darkness on Street 51 is a popular dance spot during the late night hours.  There are too many places for us to list but they are all listed in the Phnom Penh Pocket guide. Have a drink in our lobby and browse the Canby Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville guides, or Bayon Pearnik.

Photos Galore

Our site is full of photos. Click on any of the following links.  A picture is worth a 1000 words. Many people don't plan enough time in Cambodia, but as you will see there is plenty to visit through out the Kingdom.

 

CALIFORNIA 2 complete site links with the main tourist destinations listed first and more in depth photo pages of the various provinces.

Home   Phnom Penh   Angkor   Sihanoukville   NEW!  Phnom Penh Night Life   Menu    Faces    Day Trips   Motorcycle   Surf Cambodia   Links   Isaan

NEW! Site page with more in depth photos of whats available in the Provinces. 

The following links below consolodated for easier surfing   CLICK HERE

TAKEO AND SOUTH OF PHNOM PENH      KAMPONG CHAM    KAMPONG THOM    KO KER    KAMPONG CHHNANG    PREAH VIHEAR

BANTEAY MEANCHEY   ODAR MEANCHEY  BATTAMBANG  THEN AND NOW PHOTOS FROM 1999/2000    KRACHEH   MONDOLKIRI  (KAMPOT, KEP  under construction)

   

Apsara Surf

We Post these Tips for making your stay in Cambodia more pleasurable in our rooms. Some of the information has already been stated above. We also post them so we don't find our selves having to deal with issues that with a little common sense could have been avoided.

Cambodia is a third world country though at times on the surface it doesn’t appear to be. Police and Security operate at a minimal level. On the street, in taxis and buses, safeguard your personal belongings. Don’t give a thief an opportunity to capitalize on your carelessness. People have not strapped on back packs or have left them loosely in a tuk tuk only to be snatched up by a passing motorbike thief. Street kids, beggars and vendors are opportunist. Don’t leave telephones or personal affects on bars and tables at restaurants. Often times a police report will cost you a “donation” to the local precinct. Average monthly salaries are between 40-80 dollars a month. Don’t be flamboyant (a target) with jewelry or cash. Don’t give dollar notes to beggars as it sends the wrong message to people who actually work all day for the same amount. 200-500 riel is sufficient should you give. We can suggest other charitable organizations that will ensure to get the money to the people who need it the most. Don't check valuables in unlocked (and at times Locked)  luggage whether flying, riding buses, taxis and any mode where someone has access with out your attention!

Embassies, banks and travel agents usually operate 7am-5pm Monday through Friday. Don’t wait around to make travel plans, Visa, or do your banking. Cambodia has an overabundance of holidays. Plan your activities accordingly.   Overstay is charged at 5 dollars a day.  Negotiate taxi fares before you are at their mercy for services rendered. 1000 Riel is only 25 cents and it’s not worth getting worked up over. Most sales are final. Always inspect merchandise before purchasing. Once money leaves your hands it is difficult to get a refund.

Many travelers find Cambodia hot. Well it is. Drink plenty of fluids to keep hydrated. Royal D an electrolyte additive to water is available at pharmacies and is like Gatorade. After a day out, a cool shower is very effective while your air conditioner begins to cool the room. Airconditioners are not instant. They run, then compressors kick on, then they begin to cool. If you are looking for immediate relief after a hot day out, turn on your AC, and then hop in the shower (takes a layer of Phnom Penh off as well) and when you get out you will feel fresh.   Wash your hands regularly and don’t bring the bacteria to your mouth or eyes.  Travelers diarrhea is often caused by not being acclimated to the heat, food, alcohol, and time zones. Take time to rest. Ciproflaxicin can be purchased in local pharmacies and is an effective antibacterial drug. Bacteria also attaches to carbon, and some pharmacies sell carbon tablets. Most locals shy away from Imodium as we feel it is best to get the bad stuff out.  Major medical care is limited here. There are clinics and western medical staff in Phnom Penh. Pharmacies carry a wide variety of remedies.  Be aware of your surroundings and use common sense.

Malaria and Dengue fever exist in Cambodia.  Malaria is not prevelant in the bigger cities.  Local expats do not take malaria pills and never have issues.  Mosquitos will go for ankles and feet as there are more blood vessels there.  Shoes, socks and long pants prevent getting bitten.  Dawn and Dusk are the worst times. Repellant is a good option. 

Remember the Khmer Rouge killed off a large poplulation of educated people. Their logic, or methods vary distinctly from where you come from. Be patient or better yet share your education and experience. The people here are friendly and really eager to learn. The country is in a growing stage and will take a few more generations, but they are trying. Cambodia  surpasses the region in spoken English. Finding someone to help you is not a problem.

 Plenty of travel information in our lobby,  just ask the staff to see photos, guide books etc.

Have a pleasant stay.

CALIFORNIA 2 complete site links with the main tourist destinations listed first and more in depth photo pages of the various provinces.

 

Home    Back to site index page

 

Apsara Surf