How to get a Cambodian Visa at Siem Reap Airport

How to get a Cambodian Visa at Siem Reap Airport

Getting your visa on arrival in Cambodia at the Siem Reap airport is a pretty easy affair and it is outlined in the 4 steps below.

Just one of the amazing temples around Angkor Wat!

1.) Complete forms during your flight.

There is one international airport in Siem Reap (Siem Reap International Airport.) During your flight to REP, you will likely get the following forms from the flight crew :

  • Application Form Visa on Arrival
  • Arrival/Departure Card
  • General Department of Customs and Excise Passenger’s Declaration (Customs Declaration form)
Cambodia Visa on Arrival Application Form 
Cambodia Arrival/Departure Card
Cambodia Customs and Excise Declaration Form

If you do not receive them from a member of the flight crew member, just ask them. If they’re not available, don’t worry; you can pick them up once you arrive at the airport. However, you will more than likely receive them during your flight, so you can fill them out with a pen. Ink pens are not typically provided at the airport, so it’s best to have your own with you. If you have questions when filling out the forms, just ask a flight crew member. He or she will be able to assist you.

2.) Receive your visa at the Siem Reap airport visa area

Once you’ve landed, you’ll enter the airport at which point you’ll need to have the following available to give to the visa officer :

  • Passport with 6 months validity and 2 blank pages for the visa sticker
  • 1 passport photo (4 x 6 cm)
  • $30 USD cash (exact change)
  • 3 above-mentioned forms (completed)

If you do not have a passport photo, you can pay approximately $2 ~ 3 USD (exact change) and they will just make a copy of your passport and use that rather than a passport photo.

Once you’ve de-planed and entered the airport, you’ll need to go to the visa kiosks. Look for the signs that say “Visa on Arrival” and follow them. As you enter the airport, you’ll see a large hall/room and will need to walk straight ahead. The signs are typically in plain view, but if you cannot locate them, just ask. Do NOT go to your left, which is the customs and immigration clearance kiosk area.

3.) Clear customs and immigration

Once you’ve given all proper documentation to the visa officer and received the visa sticker in your passport, exit the visa kiosk area and head to the customs and immigration clearance area to your left. You’ll then show them your passport and all other remaining documents including those that you filled out on the flight to Siem Reap. You’ll then pass through the immigration area to collect your luggage.

4.) Collect your luggage

Once you’ve collected your luggage, you’ll exit the baggage claim area into the public area of the arrivals terminal. Your Cambodian guide will be waiting for you there with a sign that says “Globe Drifters” in plain sight. He will guide you to your tuk tuks that will take you to your hotel.

You’re now ready to start your adventure in Cambodia!

The beautiful blue waters surrounding Koh Rong Sanloem!

An American in Cuba : A Guest Blog by Leslie Spoor

An American in Cuba

A guest blog by Leslie Spoor

I never even thought about going to Cuba – it has been off limits my entire lifetime. But then, over the course of an hour, not one, but two emails came into my inbox promoting a trip and I thought it must be a sign! A sign to take a trip to Cuba! And it seemed really important to go now, before the trade embargo is lifted and our US commercialism mentality charges full steam into Cuba, destroying the quaint and simple lifestyle it has enjoyed since it was first discovered by Christopher Columbus in 1492.

But here was the thing – despite the fact I am a seasoned world traveler, I was a bit nervous about going to a place that few Americans had visited. I tried researching information and did find some, but even with that little bit of info, it still seemed better to go with a tour group familiar with the customs and history of Cuba.

So we ended up picking Globe Drifters as our tour group of choice and boy are we glad we did!

As luck would have it, we opted to go to Cuba, a third world country by anyone’s standards, at the worst possible time.  We picked the week the U.S. President decided to go too. And the Rolling Stones decided to have a concert that week. Oh, and it was Spring Break, Holy Week and, of course, Easter.

What were we thinking? Here is a country barely able to support itself and now it was going to be overrun with visitors. Even though Americans have only recently been allowed to travel to Cuba, other countries (especially Canada and Great Britain) have been traveling there for years.

So we scheduled the trip, very excited to go, only for it to be challenging right from the beginning – Our charter was cancelled, there were problems with our casa particulares (the homes where we were staying throughout our trip), Havana was closed down for the Presidential visit, there are no ATM machines, barely any Internet, and no cell service. Had we been alone, we would have been cut off, isolated and unsure of what to do.

It was Globe Drifters to the rescue! Not only did they have connections and experience in Cuban travel, but they engaged a Cuban tour company who chauffeured us from town to town, making sure our accommodation was reasonable, showing us the best places to visit (and eat!) and explained Cuban history and culture at every opportunity.

If it hadn’t been for Globe Drifters and Jodie, Rebecca and our guide, Tatiana, our trip could well have been a disaster. So yes, while it was challenging and even sometimes downright ridiculous, it was also an amazing, beautiful, fun and exciting adventure. And that is the key to a successful Cuban vacation – you must remember it is an adventure.

I was amazed by how much I didn’t know before traveling to Cuba. Globe Drifters puts out a fair amount of good information before you go, but there were still unexpected surprises and of course unforeseen complications due to the particular week we visited.

When we returned to the US after our weeklong visit, it occurred to me that other Americans opting to go to Cuba might benefit from a comprehensive ‘how to’ travel guide. So I wrote An American In Cuba, a quick and downloadable e-book travel guide.

Now is the time to go to Cuba, before it is disturbed by all the corporations chomping at the bit to get into the country and build a coffee shop and discount super store on every corner. Go now! Consider Globe Drifters as your tour company and for sure, download An American In Cuba, available for download at Amazon. For just $3.99 it may help you have an unforgettable Cuban travel experience.

 

*Leslie Spoor is an entrepreneur and founder/president of two successful companies – Executive Errands®, a lifestyle management company in the Palm Springs area (www.executive-errands.com), and Concierge Business Solutions® (www.conciergebusinesssolutions.com), a consulting company for small business owners and a software development company that services clients all across the US and internationally.  Leslie may be reached by email at info@conciergebusinesssolutions.com

Food in Cuba

Food in Cuba

Many travelers are pleasantly surprised at the quality and variety of food that can be found in Cuba. Beans and rice are the staples, along with cucumber, tomato and cabbage as conventional ingredients for a Cuban salad. Chicken and pork are the most common meats served in Cuba. However, fish and a surprising variety of delicious seafood are also very frequently offered.

Here are eight of the most common Cuban foods and dishes. Try not to drool all over your keyboard!

  • Moros y cristianos — Also known as “rice and beans” is a staple of the Cuban diet. It can be found at pretty much ANY Cuban restaurant. It is literally translated as “Moors and Christians”. The black beans represent the “Moors” while the rice represents the “Christians”. The black beans are boiled in water and the rice is then boiled in that same water. Other ingredients such as garlic, bell pepper, oregano and bay leaf are added for more flavor. Moros y cristianos can be eaten alone or with a meat/fish dish.
Moros y cristianos (black beans and rice)
  • Ropa vieja — This is one of Cuba’s most famous dishes and can be literally translated as “old clothes”. Don’t worry though, the taste is far from that of an old pair of gym socks! This specialty consists of shredded beef flank slow cooked in its own juices and stock along with tomato sauce. There are some vegetables such as onions and bell peppers added and it is usually served with rice and/or beans.
Ropa vieja tastes better than its name suggests!
  • Plátanos — Plantains look just like bananas, but are less sweet and are commonplace in Cuban cuisine. You’ll find them prepared in different ways, but every way is delicious! I actually went through painful plantain withdrawal after leaving Cuba! 😉 One way you’ll see them is in the form of mariquitas or pan-fried in thinner slices, which gives them the appearance and texture of crispy chips! Another common plantain preparation method is twice-frying them and when prepared this way, they are called tostones. They are also known in Cuba as tachinos/chatinos.
Tostones aka tachinos aka chatinos. (Try saying that 3 times fast!)
  • Picadillo — A dish that is actually common in a lot of Spanish speaking countries, but is equally popular in Cuba. It is made of minced beef that has been seasoned with onions, garlic, oregano, cumin and other herbs and spices. Picadillo is almost always served with… You guessed it! Rice and/or beans! It can sometimes have a slightly Christmas-y taste thanks to the occasionally added cinnamon and raisins.
Picadillo cubano served with plantains & rice and black beans
  • Mojo — Austin Powers lost his mojo and you can find yours in Cuba! Mojo is a sauce used in the preparation of some dishes, but is also frequently used as a dipping sauce for fried plantains and cassava/yuca. It usually contains garlic, olive oil, onion and a citrus juice. Although I could probably do without the plantains or yuca and just drink straight up!
Mojo cubano…bottoms up! 😉
  • Medianoche — You might know it as the Cuban sandwich, but the one that you’re probably used to is a bit different than what you’ll find in Cuba. Its name means “midnight” in Spanish and is called this because it is a popular snack to have after a night out on the town. It will typically have ham, roast pork, mustard, swiss cheese, and dill pickles. The main difference is the bread on which it is served. Cubans usually make a medianoche with a sweeter egg bread.
Medianoche… *drool*
  • Arroz con leche — In English it is called “rice pudding”. It is a simple dessert that is eaten all over Latin America as well as Cuba. Cuban-style rice pudding is made with rice, sugar, cinnamon, lemon, evaporated & condensed milk. It can be eaten warm, but also can be served chilled and is quite refreshing after a meal on a hot day.
Arroz con leche is a perfect way to top off a meal.
  • Flan — It’s not specifically Cuban, but a lot of people eat it in Cuba. You’ll usually see it two different ways. First, it might be plain, but even without any topping or garnish, it’s pretty dang tasty! The second way you’ll often see it is with a caramel sauce poured on top, which is also really delicious, especially when paired with a nice cup of café cubano!
Flan with caramel is a must.

Additionally, fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season are to be found and include : mango, pineapple, papaya, guava, coconut, orange, grapefruit, breadfruit, corn, an assortment of sweet potatoes, bananas and enormous avocados, as well as many other tropical fruits.

Breakfast is included everyday on all of our trips in Cuba. It is an especially wholesome and filling experience at the homestays (casa particulares). The breakfast varies from house to house and typically includes coffee, milk, fruit juice, bread, eggs (or omelette), and fresh fruit.

Cubans are gradually becoming more aware of vegetarianism. Many of them are aware of its existence, but do not quite understand the reasoning behind it. The belief that to eat well means eating meat is still firmly embedded in the nation’s consciousness. However, through the influence of tourism, more and more vegetarian options are to be found on restaurant menus in Cuba and the cooks in the homestays are now quite accustomed to providing vegetarian meals. Therefore, it is not too difficult to get a vegetarian meal in Cuba, although you generally won’t find much variety and you may get tired of being offered the same (i.e. rice, beans, omelet and salad) everyday.

A vegetarian dinner in the homestays in Cuba will cost between 5 and 8 CUC. This isn’t much cheaper than a dinner containing meat and the reason is that vegetables on the free market in Cuba are of similar prices to those of meat.

There is little problem maintaining a strict gluten-free diet in Cuba. This is mainly because the food in Cuba is very natural (there isn’t much processed food available in Cuba). This is especially true in the homestays where there is also the additional advantage of being able to order specific meals and give the cook instructions about what you can and cannot eat. The guides are informed about gluten intolerance and to know which ingredients to instruct the cooks to avoid.

Most of the food you will have at paladares is limited to what is produced locally and what is in season. The US relies on mass imports and industrial farming to provide us variation in food year round. In Cuba, you will be offered what is in season. If it is avocado season, you will eat many avocados. If it is guava season, you will eat a lot of guavas, and so on. It is quite a treat to eat local and organic food. Monsanto and other US pesticide and GMO corporations are not allowed into Cuba due to the embargo, so think of how fresh the fruits and veggies will taste! Also, the meat is all grass-fed and free range. In Cuba, there is no industrial farming in which the livestock are pumped full of antibiotics or mistreated. Cuban pigs can lay on their backs and play in the mud! ¡Buen provecho!

Jet Lag is for Amateurs

Jet Lag is for Amateurs

Plane landing by sunrise

These days it seems like more and more people are traveling further and further. Different corners of the globe are now open to exploration. The wonders to be seen are countless and the high you get from seeing, eating, and experiencing new things is second to none. However, there is one aspect of traveling that may put a damper on the excitement and adventure : jet lag. It is real and it can lay the smack down.

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How you Know you Have Been Traveling For a Long Time

Have you traveled or lived overseas for an extended period of time and then returned to your home country?  If so, then you can probably relate to these habits.

1) Your mom/roommate/friends keeps wondering why the trash bin in the bathroom is always filled with toilet paper.

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Why You Should Not Volunteer While Traveling

The problem with volunteering overseas is that most do not have a skill set that is really needed for the volunteering position and most organizations want a minimum commitment of 6 months to really “make a difference,” not three days.

Continue reading “Why You Should Not Volunteer While Traveling”

A Love/Hate Relationship- Welcome to India

Oh India…. you make me feel uncomfortable, give me severe diarrhea, make me take 30 hour train rides but in the end you utterly amaze me. You are that really bad relationship that I keep wanting to go back to. Continue reading “A Love/Hate Relationship- Welcome to India”

Broke in Burma

Myanmar is a country that has recently opened its borders to the outside world and travelers are now flocking there in droves. Since the global economy has not largely influenced this country, it has some unique rules to follow, especially when it comes to money.  Continue reading “Broke in Burma”

Asia – The Land of Festivals

After living and traveling in Asia for many years I quickly learned that Asia has quite a fondness for festivals. There is the full moon festival, harvest festival, hottest day of the year festival, washing hair festival, camel festival, weaving festival and the list goes on. Many of these festivals are enjoyable but what festivals are worth planning your trip around? Continue reading “Asia – The Land of Festivals”

People Ruin Everything

Seven years ago I visited the island of Koh Phi Phi, which is probably the most popular and well-known island in Thailand. I went during peak season so there were hoards of tourists on the beach and it pretty much ruined the mood. I remember going into the water and thinking, “Is the water really warm because it’s hot out or is everyone around me taking a piss?”

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