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Is Cambodia Safe for Tourists to Travel?

Cambodia is a paradise destination for travelers all over the world with its unique Angkor Wat, stunning beaches, tropical islands, and the pink dolphins of the Mekong. It’s also popular because most visits are trouble-free.

But there’s sometimes trouble in paradise. We hear about scams as the country gets more popular with regular tourists and even instances of violence. You may be wondering, “Ok, so is Cambodia safe?”

We dive into all of the need-to-know details to keep you safe while in Cambodia and discuss all the popular safety topics, and some tips to avoid any trouble that may arise.

In this article, we’ll be covering a whole host of topics from whether or not it’s “safe to eat the food in Cambodia” to “safety tips to travel alone in Cambodia (even for a solo female)?” and much, much more. 

We’re also going to answer questions like “should I take my family to Cambodia?” and “should I rent a motorbike in Cambodia?” in addition to whatever else has been plaguing your mind.

So, if you’re concerned about staying safe on your Cambodia holiday, don’t worry – we’ve got your back. Whatever it is, our insider guide will have you covered.

Always arm yourselves with good behaviors and sense of keeping things right as you do at your home countries, then you are good to go.

Let’s check it out more detail below

Is Cambodia safe to visit?

Generally, the kingdom of Cambodia is safe to visit and travel around. The only exception to this rule is remote areas at night. Violent crime in the country is rare. Petty crimes like a bag, purse snatching, pick pocketing and other types of petty crimes prevail. 

  • Remember the golden rule: stick to marked paths in remote areas (due to the possible presence of landmines).
  • Phnom Penh Post (www.phnompenhpost.com) is a good source for breaking news, so check its website before you hit the road to check the political pulse and catch up with any recent events on the ground such as demonstrations.
  • Take care with some of the electrical wiring in guesthouses around the country, as it can be pretty amateurish.

Is it safe to visit Cambodia right now?

Politically, Cambodia is for better or worse stable.

This is down to a tough government stance on opposition parties and “illegal” protests. The most recent election passed without too much trouble and currently, there’s nothing to worry about. 
BUT keeping an eye on local news will help you discern if there’s any danger lurking on the horizon.

You should take extra care when travelling the Cambodia-Thailand border. There IS a dispute over sovereignty, and it can be tense.

WHEN you visit Cambodia plays also into how safe it’s going to be for you, too. The Mekong River can flood in the rainy season (June-October). Landslides aren’t uncommon and poor drainage even in Phnom Penh leads to pretty severe flooding during a storm.

Landmines and unexploded ordnance are always an imminent threat. Many haven’t been cleared even to this day. You’re likely to see locals who have lost limbs due to these. Wandering off the beaten track, picking up anything metallic in rural areas… Just don’t.

Cambodia dangers and annoyances

Though a safe country to visit, Cambodia has a certain of dangers and annoyances that you should aware of. 

Festival Warning

In the run-up to major festivals such as P’chum Ben or Chaul Chnam Khmer, there is a palpable increase in the number of robberies, particularly in Phnom Penh. Cambodians need money to buy gifts for relatives or to pay off debts, and for some individuals theft is the quickest way to get this money. Be more vigilant at night at these times. Guard your smartphone vigilantly and don’t take valuables out with you unnecessarily.

Crime & Violence

Given the number of guns in Cambodia, there is less armed theft than one might expect. Still, hold-ups and drive-by theft by motorcycle-riding tandems are a potential danger in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. There is no need to be paranoid, just cautious. Walking or riding alone late at night is not ideal, certainly not in rural areas.

There have been incidents of bag snatching in Phnom Penh in the last few years and the motorbike thieves don’t let go, dragging passengers off motos (motorcycle taxis) and endangering lives. Smartphones are a particular target, so avoid using your smartphone in public, especially at night, as you'll be susceptible to drive-by thieves.

Should anyone be unlucky enough to be robbed, it is important to note that the Cambodian police are the best that money can buy! Any help, such as a police report, is going to cost you. The going rate depends on the size of the claim, but anywhere from US$5 to US$50 is possible.

Violence against foreigners is extremely rare, but it pays to take care in crowded bars or nightclubs in Phnom Penh. If you get into a stand-off with rich young Khmers in a bar or club, swallow your pride and back down. Many carry guns and have an entourage of bodyguards.

Mines, Mortars & Bombs

Never touch any rockets, artillery shells, mortars, mines, bombs or other war material you may come across. The most heavily mined part of the country is along the Thai border area, but mines are a problem in much of Cambodia. In short: do not stray from well-marked paths under any circumstances. If you are planning any walks, even in safer areas such as the remote northeast, it is imperative you take a guide as there may still be unexploded ordnance (UXO) from the American bombing campaign of the early 1970s.

Scams

Most scams are fairly harmless, involving a bit of commission here and there for taxi, remork-moto (tuk-tuk) or moto (unmarked motorcycle taxi) drivers, particularly in Siem Reap.
There have been one or two reports of police set-ups in Phnom Penh, involving planted drugs. This seems to be very rare, but if you fall victim to the ploy, it may be best to pay them off before more police get involved at the local station, as the price will only rise when there are more mouths to feed.

There is quite a lot of fake medication floating about the region. Safeguard yourself by only buying prescription drugs from reliable pharmacies or clinics.

Beware the Filipino blackjack scam: don't get involved in any gambling with seemingly friendly Filipinos unless you want to part with plenty of cash.

Beggars in places such as Phnom Penh and Siem Reap may ask for milk powder for an infant in arms. Some foreigners succumb to the urge to help, but the beggars usually request the most expensive milk formula available and return it to the shop to split the proceeds after the handover.

Dangerous Drugs

Watch out for yaba, the ‘crazy’ drug from Cambodia, known rather ominously in Cambodia as yama (the Hindu god of death). Known as ice or crystal meth elsewhere, it’s not just any old diet pill from the pharmacist but homemade meth-amphetamines produced in labs in Cambodia and the region beyond. The pills are often laced with toxic substances, such as mercury, lithium or whatever else the maker can find. Yama is a dirty drug and more addictive than users would like to admit, provoking powerful hallucinations, sleep deprivation and psychosis. Steer clear of the stuff unless you plan on an indefinite extension to your trip.

19 top safety tips for traveling to Cambodia?

Cambodia isn’t super dangerous, but it’s also not the safest place in the world. Tourists can be seen as easy targets because they’re (always) comparatively rich. Even backpackers can seem like kings.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t travel around Cambodia safely – not at all. To make sure you stay safe, we’ve got a few travel tips for Cambodia to help you on your way.

  1. Keep belongings close to you in tourist areas – this is where petty theft is likely to occur. Motorbike thieves exist also, so be aware.
  2. Don’t walk around looking like a tourist – designer clothes, SLRs, wearing expensive jewellery all screams “I’M RICH”. An advert for thieves.
  3. Be careful of pickpockets – especially walking around crowded streets and tourist areas. Consider investing in a money belt if you need ultimate protection.
  4. Dress appropriately – it’s not ultra-conservative at all, but in temples, you need to be covering your shoulders and knees.
  5. Be vigilant in the run-up to festivals – robberies increase as people get desperate for money. Take care.

  1. Walking around with a smartphone isn’t advised – you’ll probably be ok, but still… Smartphones are expensive.
  2. Watch out for overfriendly strangers – Cambodians are friendly. But if something seems weird and the friendliness is TOO much they may not have the best intentions. Scams DO happen.
  3. Be careful of drugs – cannabis may be easy to get hold of, but yaba is a different story. A HORRIBLE drug to get involved with. Research if you’ve never heard of it.
  4. On the subject… – drugs mean you’ll have to deal with sketchy individuals and the police WILL ask for bribes if they catch you. You may even get set up.
  5. Kids of the Cambodian elite carry a lot of sway – and some carry guns. If you’re out at night, DON’T get into any scuffles.
  6. Be wary of other travellers and expats – the lawless reputation of Cambodia attracts some shady characters. Be careful who you get involved with.
  7. Keep all important things WITH you on a bus – this is the best way to prevent ANYONE getting to ’em.
  8. Children will come up to you – it’s your choice if you give them money, but there are loads of NGOs that you could help out instead. Good idea to read up about the effects of appeasing panhandlers. 
  9. Don’t lose your temper – causing a scene in Cambodia is likely to CAUSE A SCENE. Don’t let a situation get heated.
  10. Careful where you take photos – military installations, airports=not ok. It’s also important to ask before you take pictures of ANYBODY.
  11. Walking alone at night in rural areas isn’t advised – increased risk of robbery.
  12. Fake monks – they’ll get you to pay money if you wander into a temple on the outskirts of Angkor Wat. Don’t bother.
  13. Protect against mosquitoes – cover up, use repellent, burn coils. Not nice to get bitten.
  14. Watch out for dangerous wildlife – snakes are definitely present. When walking around rural areas keep your eyes peeled.

Cambodia can definitely be sketchy, but that doesn’t mean it’s ALWAYS unsafe. Millions of tourists visit the country every year and getting around the country is relatively easy.

Cambodia is an awesome place. That said, you should be travelling smart anyway. Watching out what’s going on with your surroundings and not getting yourself into silly situations is going to help you travel Cambodia safely.

Top safety topics for Cambodia

Is Cambodia safe to travel alone?

If you’re thinking about solo travel in Cambodia and you’ve never done it before, well all we can say is you’re in for a treat. There are plenty of reasons why solo travel is pretty much amazing. Mainly: It’s YOUR trip and YOUR trip only!
BUT it is a challenge, of course, and there are always things to keep in mind when you’re solo travelling anywhere in the world. So even though travelling alone to Cambodia is relatively safe, here are a couple of notes to keep in mind when you’re out there.

  • We’d recommend staying in hostels where you can meet other travellers. It’s not only cool to meet people who are doing the same thing as you, but it’s also a good way to beat the solo travelling blues (it CAN get lonely sometimes). You may even get to make some proper travel buddies and move onwards with them, or plan to meet them in another destination.
  • When you’re looking for a social hostel, make sure you find one with good reviews. You’ll be amazed at the prices in Cambodia, but don’t automatically go looking for the cheapest accommodation possible. You’ll want somewhere you’ll feel secure AND that’s good for meeting people.
  • Knowing a few new people is always great for sharing tours. This is handy, for example, when you want to see Angkor Wat or do a day tour of Phnom Penh or something.
  • Don’t go getting crazy drunk, even on Pub Street. We know, it sounds lame – there are so many places to party in Cambodia’s most popular towns – but you’re MUCH less likely to be aware of you’re surroundings if you’re blind drunk. There’s a reason it’s called ‘blind drunk’, you know. Things can be more sketchy at night too, which is when you’ll be walking home.
  • Be careful at the beach after dark. Beaches are secluded areas and robberies, especially in Sihanoukville, have been reported.
  • And whilst we’re on the subject, don’t drink and swim. It’s stupid.
  • We’d recommend leaving your stuff in your guesthouse. Don’t take your valuables with you when you go out for the day. Leave it locked up in the safe if there is one.
  • Get yourself a data sim. This is a good way to keep in touch with people you meet on your trip. It’s also a good way to let your parents and your friends back home know you’re still safe. Checking in every few days will stop people worrying about you, but it’s also better to NOT go off-grid entirely.
  • Pick up your hotel’s business card before you head out. You can just show it to a taxi or tuk-tuk driver to help you get back. Alternatively, sticking the address into a maps app should work if you’re walking.
  • Speaking of which, get yourself Maps.me. Google Maps may work offline, but not always. Maps.me is a reliable, offline maps app that’ll help you pinpoint where you are in case you find yourself lost in the city. We also find that it has some pretty cool hidden gems highlighted, which is great if you feel like getting off the backpacker trail.

  • Learn some Khmer. It’s not the easiest language, but it’s not tonal. Simple phrases will go a long way in impressing locals and building up relationships. Also knowing a BIT of the script is helpful – numbers and placenames especially for money and buses.
  • Don’t get temple burnout! Also known as “temple blindness” or “temple boredom”. There is a whole load of temples to see in Cambodia, so we’d recommend doing research on the best, most fascinating, historically relevant temples or the ones that will interest you the most. Seeing every single one is just impossible and likely to get you feeling jaded unless you’re nuts about temples.

Travelling around Cambodia by yourself is going to be great! That’s for sure. A lot of the time, especially if you stay in social hostels, you’ll get the benefits of solo travel whilst hanging out with cool people.

At the end of the day, YOU are the only one looking out for yourself. So being responsible and keeping your wits about you is going to go a long way.

Is Cambodia safe for solo female travelers?

There’s solo travel, then there’s solo FEMALE travel. And unfortunately, being a woman makes the world a whole lot more unsafe. However, Cambodia is a relatively safe country for women travelling alone. 

Although there have been a few reports of harassment, foreign women are generally respected by Cambodians. If you solo travel in Cambodia keep your bag close to you in the city and on motorbikes. Aside from Siem Reap there are not as many tourists as you would find in Cambodia and the children you encounter may overwhelm you with their curiosity for your attention and desire to touch your skin.

The sad thing is, women are often at more risk. So travelling smart around Cambodia is going to make it a lot less stressful. Just to be sure, here are a few ways you can maximise your experiences as a solo female traveller in Cambodia.

  • Make friends with other female travellers, especially if it’s your first-time solo travelling. Not only do you get to meet some nice, like-minded people, but you’ll also get some extra backpacking tips. Maybe for more countries than just Cambodia. You may even get yourself a travel buddy!
  • And the best way to get chatting to fellow travellers is by staying in a well-reviewed hostel. With a female-only dorm, if you want. For safety and security, you’ll want those reviews to be very good and for the hostel to have a lot of them as well. For peace of mind, if nothing else.
  • Cambodia’s pretty conservative country so covering up is respectful.  This is important mainly at temples, but wearing clothes that consistently cover your knees and shoulders just feels a lot more fitting. Look at what the local women are wearing – especially in more remote areas.
  • Don’t touch monks! No, seriously. They’re not allowed contact with women and they’ll have to go through all sorts of rituals if you touch them.
  • If you’re wandering around at night it’s relatively safe BUT stick to busy, well-lit areas. Would you wander down quiet, dark backstreets at home?
  • Be extra vigilant if you’re travelling alone at night by motorbike or bicycle.
  • Drink spiking has been on the rise lately so be careful. Only drink the drinks you buy for yourself.
  • At the same time, getting crazy drunk means losing your senses. As a female in a club or bar environment, or simply trying to get home, being wasted is not always safe.
  • BE CAUTIOUS in beach areas of Sihanoukville. This town has become a lot shadier in recent years and beaches at night time here are not the place to be by yourself.
  • Use your common sense. If a situation is getting weird, if someone seems sketchy, remove yourself or don’t get involved at all. Find somewhere busy.

  • You may be seen as an easy target for bag snatchers, so keep things like that close to you. This has been reported as happening as women are riding in a tuk-tuk, so be extra careful in that sort of situation.

Regardless if you’re a solo man or woman travelling in Cambodia, there are always risks. As a woman, you might have to be more cautious, even of other travellers.

Don’t let this put you off – you just have to be VIGILANT. Keeping an eye on your surroundings, being sensible at night time, and making some good friends will definitely help.

Luckily, the lack of macho culture in Cambodia is a positive note for lone female travellers. This in addition to several other factors, makes Cambodia safe for solo female travellers on the whole.

Is Cambodia safe to travel for families?

Cambodia is a great place to take your children!

There are ancient temples here that your kids will freak out about. They’re like something straight out of a film or a videogame. Sometimes they actually are from fiction!

And sights aside, Khmer people are very friendly, especially to children. This will make a big difference and will make it pretty easy for your kids to find local playmates.

There are a bunch of good homestays where you can get to know a local family for a different sort of travel experience.

In summary, Cambodia is safe to travel for families.

But obviously, there are some things you need to bear in mind:

  • One of these is long journeys on unreliable buses. You may want to pay a little more for a VIP bus or even a private driver. Safety often isn’t the priority on a bus; driving fast and not putting on the air-con is the norm. Plus, you never know how long a journey is really going to take.
  • Cambodia can get HOT. Make sure everyone stays hydrated and keeps out of the sun. Bring plenty of water bottles.
  • Animal hazards include sandflies on the beaches (these can be BRUTAL) as well as snakes. Very dangerous.
  • It’s also not always the cleanest of places, the infrastructure is sometimes lacking, and the healthcare isn’t amazing…

So, whilst Cambodia is safe to travel for children, it’s better if you’re an adventurous family. It’s better too if your children are older than toddler age – the older they are, the more they’ll get out of their time in Cambodia.

Is it safe to drive in Cambodia?

No – we wouldn’t call driving “safe” in Cambodia.

Why?

Road accidents are the leading cause of death in Cambodia.

You may be tempted to hire your own car to avoid those sometimes very pirate-like minibuses, but it’s really not worth it.

Distances are, however, fairly short. Relative to LONGER countries nearby like Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam.

Let’s go through a few of the hazards though.

  • The roads themselves are pretty atrocious. They’re often not sealed and there are a ton of things to watch out for: cows crossing, dogs and children running out into the road – that sort of thing.
  • Cambodian drivers are pretty crazy. You can never be sure what they’re going to do next…
  • If you DO want to hire your own motorcycle, just be sure you stick to a well-known part of the country and limit your drive times. Hiring one for a day or two of exploration, such as the area between the relatively chilled Kampot and Kep., is a reasonable idea.
  • Motorbike theft does occur. Sihanoukville is a hotspot for this (amongst other crimes). Be aware of this as it can be a very expensive day out if you have to recompense the motorbike rental place for a lost bike.

But when it boils down to it, we wouldn’t recommend driving in Cambodia. And driving at night? No way.

If you’re looking for more autonomy and to get off the backpacker trail, a private driver is a good option. It’s a good way to meet a local as well.

Check out how to get around in Cambodia HERE

Is UBER safe in Cambodia?

As of Spring 2018, Uber is DONE in Cambodia.

Southeast Asian rival Grab has moved in. Hail a taxi via the app, pay in-app (or cash – your choice), know the car you’re getting into, the driver’s name, rides are tracked. Follow the usual conducts of rideshares and you’ll be safe.

They’re not exactly the cheapest mode of transport though.

Are Taxis safe in Cambodia?

To be honest, taxis aren’t very popular in Cambodia. There just aren’t many around, at all!

You may find them around the airport, and there are a handful of metered operators in Phnom Penh. The cars are all red, all blue, white-red-and-blue, white with a blue stripe, any color combination really that resembles the flag. If you’re worried, arrange transport with your hotel. 

You can get a shared taxi, though this basically entails you and some travel buddies splitting the price of a private driver.

Honestly, taxis are barely a thing in Cambodia. Really, in Cambodia, it’s all about tuk-tuks. They are used all across the country and are safe.

First things first, they’re slow. Not being able to speed helps them not feel like an overly reckless way to get around, which is good because they’re open-air with a top cover.

You’ll be hassled in pretty much every town with “tuk-tuk?” as you pass an idling driver. They’re usually friendly enough and will leave you alone the instant you decline.

But if you DO get a tuk-tuk off the street negotiate the price before you get in.

Watch out for theft. Bag snatching isn’t completely uncommon and happens from the back of tuk-tuks, so keep your belongings close to you. Similarly, we wouldn’t recommend sitting in the back playing on your phone.

The best way to get a tuk-tuk driver is through your hotel/guesthouse. These will be reliable drivers trusted by your accommodation and are often really friendly.

And a tuk-tuk is the best way to see Angkor Wat. Hands down.

Is public transportation in Cambodia safe?

Honestly, there isn’t much public transport in Cambodia. The stuff that does exist is mainly safe though.

Booking transport through wherever you’re staying is the usual way to get around. More often than not this comes in the form of a minibus. You’ll sit on a minibus packed full of other travellers (mostly) and get ferried between towns.

The minibuses drive fast and recklessly and aren’t always in the best condition either. They also tend to take AGES and can be run by some dodgy companies. So ask beforehand and do some research.

That said, large air-conned buses DO exist and these travel between large cities – the route between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap for instance. This is about as public as it gets. 

These buses are used by locals and stop randomly to let people on. Sometimes food vendors. But they’re generally comfier than minibuses and they’re safe.

There’s also a train called Royal Railways, which reopened in 2016. It’s mainly for tourists and seldom runs. It’s fun if you like trains, and they’re planning to expand the lines, and it’s DEFINITELY safe, but again – not what we’d call public.

Is the food in Cambodia safe?

We’re not going to lie: Cambodia isn’t exactly famed for its food. Most people probably wouldn’t be able to even name a Khmer dish. Let us be the first tell you – it’s pretty tasty. There are curries to enjoy here, milder and richer than their Thai counterparts, amongst other things. 
Vegetarians will love Cambodia as there’s a lot of veggie food on offer. Find yourself a local market to walk around and you’ll see the quality of ingredients on offer.
Food sanitation isn’t as common here as in the Western World though. Refer to the following tips to help you avoid illness while on a gourmet tour of Cambodia.

  • If you’re going to try a happy pizza, don’t underestimate it. We can confirm that these definitely work. They can take a while to kick in, but when they do… Boy. Be careful.
  • Salads that are unwashed, vegetables and fruit you can’t peel; avoid this stuff. This could make you ill.
  • If you’re worried, go somewhere that looks busy. Usually, this means that it’s going to a) be pretty tasty and b) not make you feel sick straight after you’ve eaten.
  • That said, don’t just find somewhere and stick to it. Spread your attention around, do a bit of research, get on Google, TripAdvisor read some blogs – this is 2019, people! Good reviews are usually there for a reason. Even if it’s ‘just’ Western food, if the reviews are good, go check it out.
  • Similarly, if you’re a vegetarian – go online. There are plenty of vegetarian restaurants, mainly in the cities, who offer dishes ranging from traditional Khmer vegetarian food to more Westernized bean burgers.
  • Take snacks for long bus journeys. We assure you, the journeys are LONG and the snackage on offer when the vendors come on is… questionable. Go to a convenience store and stock up on some goodies.
  • However, make sure you check the sell-by date on said goodies. Even the imitation Oreos might have sat on the shelves for quite some time.
  • Feeling like some street food? Awesome! Kralan (sticky rice with red beans steamed in bamboo) is pretty safe and delicious. But anything that looks like it’s been lying around all day UNCOVERED, you should probably pass.
  • You might want to consider NOT eating a load of meat in Cambodia. You’re never quite sure where it’s come from. Unless it’s chicken, other meats could be something you don’t necessarily want to be eating. Not exaggerating.
  • Wash your hands! It’s very dusty and dirty. The last thing you want is for your own hygiene to be ruining your trip.
  • Seafood can often be dodgy. If you’re going to try some out, make sure it’s super fresh. Trying out crab in Kep, which is famous for these critters, would be the place to do it rather than somewhere further inland.

So all in all, you’re in for a treat in Cambodia. Just follow our tips and trust your own instincts when it comes to food. Funny smells, old-looking food, places with bad reviews; all of that stuff is best avoided. Most dishes in Cambodia are freshly cooked and, for that matter, DELICIOUS.

Can you drink the tap water in Cambodia?

Whilst SOME of the water MAY be ok to drink in Cambodia (and mainly in Phnom Penh), we wouldn’t advise it.

Boiling tap water for 1 minute should make it safe to drink, however. For these purposes, you can also bring along your own refillable water bottle. If you really want to, bring a Grayl Geopress or some water purification tablets too.

To be totally safe, we’d recommend bottled water. It’s not exactly good for the environment but it’s widely available and reliable.

Make sure you drink a lot of it because it really does get hot.

If you want to explore the country side, we’d suggest boiling and filtering your water or using The GRAYL GEOPRESS.

Is Cambodia safe to live?

It’s very safe to live in Cambodia but all of what we’ve said before still applies. Living in Cambodia doesn’t automatically make the roads or beaches safe after dark.

Remember: Cambodia is still a developing country. You’ll have to put up with crazy streets, power outages, and cockroaches in your apartment.

Having a secure place to live is really going to be something you’ll want. Making sure you have locks that work and windows that can be secured (have locks of their own and/or bars).

The main thing that you’ll need to be concerned about is government corruption. Bribery isn’t uncommon and putting up with this can not only be a pain but downright depressing when you think about it.

The cost of living in Cambodia is low but living like a Westerner in a non-Western country is always going to be more expensive. If you want to cut costs while shopping, you need to shop at local markets and buy local markets instead of Western ones.

When it comes to work, Phnom Penh has more in terms of jobs. If you’re entrepreneurial and want to open up your own shop or restaurant, Kampot has a healthy bunch of Western immigrants doing just that. Surrounding yourself with like-minded people is bound to make your experience not only safer but saner. 

Be aware that prostitution is legal in Cambodia and that HIV is widespread. Be mindful of this if you intend on taking a local home or having unprotected sex.

How is health care in Cambodia?

Cambodian health care is not great. It’s pretty basic at best, shoddy at worst.

Public facilities are actually very bad. It’s best to use private clinics and hospitals that you’ll find in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. 

Even then, these don’t have ALL the facilities required for ALL procedures. So if you have something that’s even mildly serious, like appendicitis, you will have to be flown to neighbouring Thailand, specifically Bangkok, for emergency treatment.

In these cases, health insurance is obviously very helpful – so get it.

If you’re feeling bad, see a doctor rather than go to the hospital. Pharmacies in bigger towns have a wide range of medication you can get your hands on. You can even get antibiotics without a prescription.

But to reiterate, healthcare in Cambodia isn’t great. Staying out of any situation that could end up in injury or illness is the best cure.

Cambodia tourist scams

Scams are prevalent across the globe, and in Cambodia it’s no different. It pays to be alerted to avoid tainted travel experiences. Here are 11 common scams to look out for.

11 common tourist scams in Cambodia

The gambling scam

You’re sat at a café or visiting a tourist attraction when you’re approached by a friendly local who asks where you’re from. When you tell them, they claim to have a relative who is gearing up to move to that country and would love to find out more. This is where the invite for dinner comes in. A gambling game will usually be going on as you arrive, which you will be invited to play – and, of course, lose. A harsher version of this sees visitors held at knife point if they refuse to play the game.

The visa scam

While efforts are being made to stamp out corruption across Cambodia, unfortunately there are some officials who have yet to clean up their act and often expect bribes at the borders before they will issue a visa (a one-month tourist visa on arrival is $30). However, another scam sees tourists approached by ‘officials’ as they head to the visa desk. They will be told additional paperwork, such as medical checks, are needed, which you will need to pay hefty fees for. These guys aren’t officials and additional paperwork is not needed.

The motorbike theft scam

Many travellers hire motorbikes in Cambodia, because it’s a cheap and easy way to get around. However, another common scam will see someone follow you for a few days before nicking the bike. This is done without raising suspicion since they will have a key to the bike lock provided by the rental place. You only have a few days left in the country – the rental place will have asked you when you leave – the police won’t find the bike, and you’ll be left forking out more than $1,000 to get your passport back. It pays well to go to a reliable bike rental shop or invest in your own padlock.

The take me home scam

This is aimed at men, and it doesn’t always have to involve prostitutes. It goes a little something like this: Guy meets nice local girl in a bar who takes an interest in him. He takes her home expecting a night of fun but instead is drugged and robbed of everything in his room. The easy way to avoid this is to not take girls back to your hotel room.

The fake police officer scam

Another common con is locals pretending to be police officers, stopping tourists and demanding they hand over their passports. As soon as they’ve got them, they will demand a ‘fine’ to return it. It’s probably not a good idea to walk around with your passport anyway, thanks to the bag snatching that is rife across the capital and other tourist hubs. Carry a photocopy instead. If you are stopped, ask to see their I.D. and be taken to the police station before handing anything over.

The missing bag scam

So, you’re staying in a guesthouse with a load of other backpackers, spending your days exploring the country and evenings kicking back for a few beers with your newly found fellow travelling friends. The con artists here is one of your new ‘friends’, who, after forging a pretty firm friendship with you will one day claim their bag containing all their valuables – passport, visa cards, cash – has been stolen. Then you’ll be asked to hand over a hefty sum of money, which they will pay back once they have contacted their embassy. Of course, you’ll never see the money again so it’s best to pretend you’ve run out of cash or offer to accompany them to the embassy.

The milk scam

Seasoned travellers should know not to give to begging children, but buying a bit of food might be ok, right? Wrong. Here, you’ll be approached by a poor mother or child who asks if you can buy some milk. They’ll take you to a store – where the owner is in on the scam – and you’ll end up paying ten times the price. As soon as you’ve disappeared, the milk will be returned to the store and the profits shared.

The crooked traffic cop scam

Tourists are commonly targeted by traffic police looking to boost their meagre wages. While this isn’t a scam as such it’s corruption that can be avoided. The simplest way is to not break the law: Wear a helmet, make sure your lights are working and stick to the rules of the road – yes, they do exist. Tourists are often pulled over by these police who will come up with a multitude of reasons to fine you. The actual fine is a couple of dollars, but they will demand much more. Ask to be taken to a police station if this happens, and, more often than not, they’ll let you off.

The drugs scam

Tourists will often be approached by tuk tuk drivers and other touts trying to sell weed and other drugs. While many will do just that, ripping you off in the process, a few will make your lives hell. They’ll ask you to come around the corner or to a secluded spot where a policeman will be hiding. As soon as the deal is done, he will appear and attempt to arrest you. Of course, you can pay your way out of being sent to the cells, but it will cost you.

The rape scam

This is a particularly nasty scam and again is aimed at men. Similar to the ‘take me home scam’, this involves a seemingly sweet and attractive girl paying interest in a tourist. She’ll spend a few days with him, pandering to his every need. Then she’ll turn up with a mob of angry males, crying and claiming she has been raped. Of course, the crime will soon be forgotten if the tourist pays the price.

The monk scam

This is another common scam carried out at the riverside in Phnom Penh and Pub Street in Siem Reap. Con artists dressed as monks will approach you and try and sell you bracelets and other goods. They are not monks, and your hard-earned cash is going straight into the pockets of criminal gangs. This is easy to avoid since you won’t find a genuine monk selling wares to tourists or anyone else.

General tips to avoid scams in Cambodia

Be wary of anyone who approaches you to offer a service or goods. If you need something, like a taxi, it’s best to approach them. Be extra cautious when traveling solo and trust your instincts. If something seems fishy, it probably is! Having internet access on your phone is also helpful. If something doesn’t feel right, take Honig’s advice and Google it: If it’s a scam, it’s likely happened to others and been widely reported.

And this goes without saying but watch your personal belongings and always lock your passport in the hotel safe. Theft may not always be accompanied by a complicated hustle, but it can still ruin your trip.

What to do if you’re a victim

If you’ve been a victim of a serious scam, contact the tourist police immediately. Staff at your hotel may also be able to help.

Keep the following emergency numbers handy when traveling to Cambodia:

Emergency contact numbers

1- Tourist Police - Phnom Penh

  • Phone: 012 942 484
  • Address: St. 598, 12107, Phnom Penh

2- Tourist Police - Siem Reap

  • Phone: 012 402 424
  • Address: Mondul 3 Village, Sangkat Slor Kram, Siem Reap City, Siem Reap

3- Police - Phnom Penh

  • Phone: 117

4- Fire Police Phnom Penh

  • Phone: 118 or 011 997 296
  • Address: No. 58, St. 360, 12304, Phnom Penh

5- Calmette Ambulance - Phnom Penh

  • Phone: 119 or 023 724 891 or 023 426 948
  • Calmette Ambulance (S.A.M.U.): 012 912 947 / 016 585 108 / 092 858 434
  • Address: No. 3, Preah Monivong (St. 93), 12201, Phnom Penh

6- Khmer - Soviet Friendship Ambulance - Phnom Penh

  • Phone: 023 217 764
  • Address: Yothapol Khemarak Phoumin (St. 271), 12306, Phnom Penh

7- Preah Kossamak Ambulance - Phnom Penh

  • Phone: 016 909 774
  • Address: No. 28CEo, Yothapol Khemarak Phoumin (St. 271), 12157, Phnom Penh

Here is more emergency numbers in Cambodia in case you need it.

Embassy or Consular Assistance

In case you need the embassy or consular services, you may find the contact in our list of diplomatic mission in Cambodia.

List of hospitals in some tourist sites

If you need to consult the doctors, here is the list of good hospitals for tourists/foreigners in some tourist sites in Cambodia

Helpful Cambodia travel phrases

Here are some Khmer travel phrases for travelling around Cambodia. The locals will appreciate your attempt to speak their language with a huge smile on their faces.

  • Hello – Jum-reap soo-a
  • How are you? – Tau neak sok sapbaiy jea teh?
  • Goodbye! – Joom-reap leah
  • Yes – Baat (men)/ Chaas (Women)
  • No – Dteh
  • Please – Suom mehta
  • Thank you – Or-koon
  • Sorry/excuse me – Sohm dtoh
  • No plastic bag – kmean thng bla ste ch
  • No straw please – kmean chambaeng saum
  • I need a doctor – K`nyom trouv krouh peit
  • No plastic cutlery please – kmean bla ste ch kabet phka
  • I’m lost – K’nyom vung vehng plouv
  • I would like – Khnyom sohm___
  • How much does this cost? – T’lay pohnmaan?

Government Travel Advice

The following government websites offer travel advisories and information on current hot spots.

Frequently asked questions

Q. When is the best time to visit Cambodia?

Cambodia is a year-round destination, so the best time to visit the country depending on what you’re looking for. 

Most travelers visit Cambodia from November to March. If you prefer to dodge the crowds and go when prices are lower, the best time to visit Cambodia is from May to early October.

Here is the detailed Cambodia’s weather guide & best time to visit

Q. When is the cheapest time to visit Cambodia?

Logically, the cheapest time to fly to Cambodia is during the off-season from June until September. As there are not many tourists visiting the country, the airlines and hotels seem to offer promotion to attract more tourist and try to fill-up the plane. If you are ok with the heat and some sudden rain, this is the time for you.

According to cheapflights.com.au, the cheapest flights to Cambodia are usually found when departing on a Monday. The departure day with the highest cost is usually on a Friday.
Moreover, Cambodia flights can be made cheaper if you choose a flight at noon. Booking a flight in the morning will likely mean higher prices.

Simply follow this, sometimes you can have the promotion of 40-50% discount.

Q. Do you need a visa to visit Cambodia?

Well, to visit Cambodia you must obtain a visa unless you come from one of the visa exempt countries. You must hold a passport valid for six months and one empty page.

Nevertheless, there is nothing to worry as it is very easy to apply for Cambodia visa as for most of the visitors. You can apply for either visa online (e-visa) or visa on arrival.

Here is our guide about Cambodia Visa Policy

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We believe you have the right to arm yourselves with as much information as possible before making any decision.

Check below our detailed tips & guide for every places to visit in Cambodia, recommendation regarding the inclusion in each theme you prefer, and what you can do based on the time frame you have.

PLACES TO VISIT IN Cambodia
Siem Reap
bee-white Siem Reap

Tonle Sap Lake
bee-white Tonle Sap Lake

One of the most fish abundant lakes in the world and supports 360 floating villages and thousands of waterbirds.

Phnom Penh
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Battambang
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Sihanoukville
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Koh Rong Island
bee-white Koh Rong Island

Cambodia PLANS BY TRAVEL THEME
Must-see
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Check out all the must-see places and things to do & see

Luxury
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Unique experience combined with top-notch services

Wellness & Leisure
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Easy excursion combined with week-long beach break

Cruise
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The combination of some must-see experience and the cruise tour along the mighty rivers

Cycling
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Explore every corners of the destination on two wheels

Honeymoon
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Easy excursions combined with unique experience making the long-lasting romantic memories

Unseen
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Reveal off-the-beatentrack routes, least explored destinations, and unknown tribe groups

Trek & Hike
bee-white Trek & Hike

Explore the least visited destinations and unknown experience on foot

Family
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The combination of fun and educational activities

Cambodia PLANS BY TIME FRAME
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SPECIAL Cambodia TIPS & TOURS

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Cambodia BLOG ARTICLES

A playground for locals, Phnom Kulen (literally Mountain of the Lychees) is a gorgeous day out. The main attraction is the waterfalls at the top of Kulen Mountain and it’s also a great picnic spot; well set up in Cambodian style with hammocks and shelters to keep you shaded from the sun. It’s around 1.5-2 hours drive from Siem Reap and if you go all the way to the top by van or car, you need to get there early, as the road is one-way traffic only.

The birthplace of the ancient Khmer empire, it is said that it was at Phnom Kulen that King Jayavarman II proclaimed Cambodia’s independence from Java.

Additionally, it is a very sacred site with multiple temples easily accessible. Two sites most noted are the Thousand Lingas at Kbal Spean, within the Kulen National Park site and Preah Ang Thom pagoda with its giant reclining Buddha. The area is a magnet to “kru khmer” (natural medicine doctors), and attracts people seeking blessings from its holy waters, particularly the potent life-giving waters at Kbal Spean, that are said to help couples conceive.

You may be interested in Khmer Empire & Jayavarman II

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Preah Vihear Temple (Prasat Preah Vihear) is an ancient Hindu temple built during the period of the Khmer Empire, that is situated atop a 525-metre (1,722 ft) cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains, in the Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. In 1962, following a lengthy dispute between Cambodia and Thailand over ownership, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled that the temple is in Cambodia.

Affording a view for many kilometers across a plain, Prasat Preah Vihear has the most spectacular setting of all the temples built during the six-century-long Khmer Empire. As a key edifice of the empire's spiritual life, it was supported and modified by successive kings and so bears elements of several architectural styles.

Preah Vihear is unusual among Khmer temples in being constructed along a long north–south axis, rather than having the conventional rectangular plan with orientation toward the east. The temple gives its name to Cambodia's Preah Vihear province, in which it is now located, as well as the Khao Phra Wihan National Park which borders it in Thailand's Sisaket province, though it is no longer accessible from Thailand.

On July 7, 2008, Preah Vihear was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Deep in the forests of Cambodia’s Siem Reap province, the elegant spires of an ancient stone city soar skyward above the sprawling complex of Angkor Archaeological Park.

The Khmer Empire’s various capitals thrived here from the 9th to 15th centuries, while their rulers presided over an empire that stretched from Myanmar (Burma) to Vietnam. Including forested areas and newly discovered “suburbs” Angkor covers more than 400 square kilometers.

Though just one of hundreds of surviving temples and structures, the massive Angkor Wat is the most famed of all Cambodia’s temples - it appears on the nation’s flag - and it is revered for good reason. The 12th century “temple-mountain” was built as a spiritual home for the Hindu god Vishnu. The temple is an architectural triumph laden with artistic treasures like the bas-relief galleries that line many walls and tell enduring tales of Cambodian history and legend.

In other parts of Angkor such art depicts scenes of daily life - offering scholars a precious window into the past.

Reading the below epic guide for Angkor Archaeological Park, you will have all the information you need from its history, maps, best time to visit and so on to have the best out of your Angkor tours

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Banteay Kdei Temple (Prasat Banteay Kdei), meaning "A Citadel of Chambers", also known as "Citadel of Monks' cells", is a Buddhist temple in Angkor, Cambodia. It is located southeast of Ta Prohm and east of Angkor Thom. 

Built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries AD during the reign of Jayavarman VII (who was posthumously given the title "Maha paramasangata pada"), it is in the Bayon architectural style, similar in plan to Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, but less complex and smaller. Its structures are contained within two successive enclosure walls and consist of two concentric galleries from which emerge towers, preceded to the east by a cloister.

This Buddhist monastic complex is currently dilapidated due to faulty construction and poor quality of sandstone used in its buildings and is now undergoing renovation. Banteay Kdei had been occupied by monks at various intervals over the centuries till 1960s.

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Just east of Angkor Thom’s Victory Gate is Chau Say Tevoda. It was probably built during the second quarter of the 12th century, under the reign of Suryavarman II, and dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. It has been renovated by the Chinese to bring it up to the condition of its twin temple, Thommanon.

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Thommanon Temple is a Hindu temple site that's covered in intricate carvings and surrounded by forests in Angkor. The temple is in relatively excellent condition, thanks to extensive restoration work in the 1960s.

It was constructed about the same time as Angkor Wat. The style of architecture is quite evident in the towers and carvings, which are in very good condition. During the rainy season, the dampened sandstone offers great photo opportunities.

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the complex dates back between the 11th and 12th centuries. It is about 600 metres east of the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom, just opposite Chau Say Tevoda. Even before restoration, Thommanon was in much a better condition than Chau Say Tevoda. Unlike the latter, which was built using wooden beams enclosed in stone, Thommanon Temple's entire structure was made out of stone. 

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A land of staggering natural beauty and cultural complexities, of dynamic megacities and hill-tribe villages, Vietnam is both exotic and compelling.
Thailand
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Friendly and food-obsessed, hedonistic and historic, cultured and curious, Thailand tempts visitors with a smile as golden as the country's glittering temples and tropical beaches.
Myanmar
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It's a new era for this extraordinary and complex land, where the landscape is scattered with gilded pagodas and the traditional ways of Asia endure.
Laos
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Vivid nature, voluptuous landscapes and a vibrant culture collide with a painful past and optimistic future to make Laos an enigmatic experience for the adventurous.
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