Cambodia is firmly on the backpacking route through Southeast Asia, thanks in part to superlative attractions like Angkor Wat, Ko Rong, and the pink dolphins of the Mekong. It’s also popular because most visits are trouble-free.
But theft is DEFINITELY an issue, and some nasty robberies do happen. So is Cambodia really safe? It’s a genuine worry – we get it – especially if you’re a first-time backpacker.
To help out, we’ve created this insider’s guide full of information and tips on how to stay safe in Cambodia. You’ll find everything you need to travel smart through this country – that’s what we’re about.
And when we say it’s full of information, we really mean it. From the safety of the food on offer in Cambodia, all the way to how good (or not) Cambodia’s healthcare system is – and just about everything in between – there’s not much our epic guide isn’t going into.
You may be going on your first adventure as a solo female and wondering if Cambodia is safe for you, or you may simply be wondering, “can I take my kids to Cambodia?”
Whatever it is, don’t worry. Here at The Broke Backpacker, we’ve got you covered.
Table of Contents
- How Safe is Cambodia? (Our take)
- Is Cambodia Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
- Is it Safe to Visit Cambodia Right Now?
- Cambodia Travel Insurance
- 19 Top Safety Tips for Traveling to Cambodia
- Keeping your money safe in Cambodia
- Is Cambodia safe to travel alone?
- Is Cambodia safe for solo female travelers?
- Is Cambodia safe to travel for families?
- Is it safe to drive in Cambodia?
- Is Uber safe in Cambodia?
- Are taxis safe in Cambodia?
- Is public transportation in Cambodia safe?
- Is the food in Cambodia safe?
- Can you drink the water in Cambodia?
- Is Cambodia safe to live?
- How is healthcare in Cambodia?
- Helpful Cambodia Travel Phrases
- Final thoughts on the safety of Cambodia
How Safe is Cambodia? (Our take)
Cambodia is definitely a firm favourite on the Southeast Asia backpacking route. Ancient temples, tropical islands, a ton of (not always so nice) history to soak up… It’s an interesting destination alright.
But Cambodia doesn’t exactly conjure up images of safety. It’s been called the Wild West of Southeast Asia for many reasons:
Stories abound of assaults and robberies involving backpackers in Sihanoukville.
Phnom Penh can be ropey at times.
Travelling at night on the roads certainly isn’t advised.
And let’s not forget the legacy left by the Khmer Rouge – A LOT of landmines remain…
But there’s a whole wealth of things to see and do in Cambodia. From the laid-back, go with the flow vibes in Kampot to the lively Pub Street in Siem Reap, you’re bound to find something to suit you.
While Cambodia certainly has a hectic reputation, it’s not all carnage. In actuality, most of Cambodia is quite safe and, honestly, we think that places like Angkor Wat make it totally worth visiting still.
Is Cambodia Safe to Visit? (The facts.)
Cambodia is absolutely safe to visit, mostly due to the increased emphasis on tourism. The Cambodian economy is STRONGLY reliant on visiting foreigners, who pour millions into the country.
In 2017, 5.6 million people visited Cambodia and even more are projected to come in the future. That’s a lot of potential investment and Cambodia doesn’t want to give that up.
To give you an idea of just how much foreign money has impacted Cambodia, the poverty rate has almost halved since 2004.
Unfortunately, many people live close to or below the poverty rate, which can be very clear to see as you travel around Cambodia. Corporate and governmental corruption doesn’t help this situation either. A lot of tourist money doesn’t seem to seep back into local infrastructure and is apparently funneled elsewhere.
Instances of petty crime do exist as well. Pickpocketing and snatching bags DOES happen.
More serious violent crime tends to grab headlines but doesn’t at all make up the common experience of travellers in Cambodia. In fact, a lot of victims of violent crime are Cambodians themselves.
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.
It’s also important to know what areas to visit in Cambodia, as well as which ones to avoid. 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 the capital 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.
Do you need Travel Insurance for your trip? Even if you’re only going for a few days, that’s more than enough time to get buggered by wicked men or smote by wrathful angels. Have fun in Cambodia, but take it from us, overseas medical care and canceled flights can be seriously expensive – insurance can, therefore, be a life-saver.
Travel mishaps can and do happen and it is well worth thinking about insurance before you leave home.
We have used World Nomads for years now and I have personally made several claims. Why not get a quote from them yourself?
Do be sure to read the terms and conditions to make sure that the policy covers your needs.
Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!
If you want to do some research first, then read our in-depth review of SafetyWing’s insurance coverage, and find out just why we recommend them!
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.
- Keep belongings close to you in tourist areas – this is where petty theft is likely to occur. Motorbike thieves exist also, so be aware.
- Don’t walk around looking like a tourist – designer clothes, SLRs, wearing expensive jewellery all screams “I’M RICH”. An advert for thieves.
- Be careful of pickpockets – especially walking around crowded streets and tourist areas. Consider investing in at ravel money belt for the ultimate protection.
- Dress appropriately – it’s not ultra-conservative at all, but in temples, you need to be covering your shoulders and knees.
- Be vigilant in the run-up to festivals – robberies increase as people get desperate for money. Take care.
- Walking around with a smartphone isn’t advised – you’ll probably be ok, but still… Smartphones are expensive.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Be wary of other travellers and expats – the lawless reputation of Cambodia attracts some shady characters. Be careful who you get involved with.
- Keep all important things WITH you on a bus – this is the best way to prevent ANYONE getting to ’em.
- 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. It’s a good idea to read up on the impacts of tourists enabling beggars.
- Don’t lose your temper – causing a scene in Cambodia is likely to CAUSE A SCENE. Don’t let a situation get heated.
- Careful where you take photos – military installations, airports=not ok. It’s also important to ask before you take pictures of ANYBODY.
- Walking alone at night in rural areas isn’t advised – increased risk of robbery.
- Fake monks – they’ll get you to pay money if you wander into a temple on the outskirts of Angkor Wat. Don’t bother.
- Protect against mosquitoes – cover up, use repellent, burn coils. Not nice to get bitten.
- 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. It’s well-trodden by backpackers and getting around the country is relatively easy.
Cambodia is an awesome place. That said, you should be travelling safe and 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.
Keeping your money safe in Cambodia
There are some things that apply to pretty much every country in the world and that’s petty theft. Getting your money stolen is not only super annoying, but it can also cut a trip short or put you into some pretty big trouble.
This certainly goes for Cambodia, too. It’s not exactly the pickpocket capital of the world, but you still have to be cognizant of your surroundings. One of the simplest things you can do to keep your money safe in Cambodia is buying a security money belt.
There is a whole load of different money belts to choose from. A quick search online and you’ll be overwhelmed with options.
Don’t worry though – we highly recommend the Active Roots Security Belt. It’s pretty durable, it LOOKS just like a belt, plus it’s affordable as well. Win-win-win.
All you have to do is put a little stash of cash in here and then you’ll be set to explore Cambodia. If you happen to let your guard down and a would-be pickpocket tries to steal something, there’ll be nothing to steal. It’s all safely tucked away in your money belt. Even if you leave something behind, or get something stolen from your room, you’ll have this stash to fall back on.
Money belt: can’t beat it.
If you need a little more room for your passport and other travel valuables, have a look at a full-size money pouch that tucks under your clothes instead.
If neither of those options appeals to your refined fashion sense, don’t compromise! Opt for an infinity scarf with a hidden zipper pocket.
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 awesome hostels in Cambodia where you can meet other backpackers. 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 Siem Reap and Cambodia’s other popular destinations – 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 to travel with.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.
Looking for some trip-planning advice? Check out this excellent Cambodia travel itinerary.
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, we’re happy to say that Cambodia is a GREAT place for a solo female traveller. Honestly.
Catcalling and street harassment are pretty low, if existent at all, in Cambodia. With its laid back, easygoing atmosphere, we’d even go as far to say it’s a good destination for a first timer. There’s a whole lot of likeminded travellers and well-trodden routes, making it easy to find lots of companions.
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 summation, 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 reusable 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.
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.
Riding a motorbike in Cambodia
Is riding a bike in Cambodia safe? The simple answer is no.
Cambodia’s roads are more than chaotic. There is a flow to the traffic, however, the general rule is if you got the bigger vehicle, you can go first.
Traffic lights can be found, but to locals, they’re pretty much just a suggestion of “you could stop… but you can also drive if you want to”. The streets get even more hectic the closer you get to the city center.
If you’ve never been on a motorbike before, Cambodia is definitely not the right place to start.
In case you’re an experienced driver, and you’re willing to take the risk of crashing, there are a couple of places you cant rent a bike from. Dirt bikes are especially popular since there are great tracks distributed throughout the country.
If you’re looking for a normal scooter, you can rent them in Phnom Penh and other provincial capitals. Don’t try to get your hands on a bike in Siem Reap, since it’s technically still illegal to rent there.
If you want to know more information about road rules, insurance, how and where to rent a bike, you can check this info-dump on car and motorbike travel in Cambodia.
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 haggle 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 eat a Cambodian 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 2020, 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 world-class 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 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 filtered water bottle 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 countryside, we’d suggest bringing a top-quality filtered water bottle: ideally, 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 healthcare 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.
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.
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.
Final thoughts on the safety of Cambodia
It’s easy to get a false sense of security when you’re visiting Cambodia. Just because it’s well-trodden and all the backpackers are having a great time getting wild, Cambodia is still poor and people can be desperate. You’re most likely a lot, LOT richer than many people here and if someone thinks they can make their life better by swiping your phone, can you blame them?
To avoid that, however, it’s all about being inconspicuous. This means having your phone out, dangling your bag around, and generally wandering about the place as if its a backpacker’s theme park. Being oblivious to the local culture, taboos, and the situation just isn’t smart.
That said, having fun IS par for the course in Cambodia! There are plenty of places to do it – trust us.
Just remember that you aren’t immune to everything because you’re a backpacker and ‘not a tourist.’ Ultimately, staying aware of your surroundings will help you ensure a safe and enjoyable voyage through Cambodia.
And please… Don’t forget travel insurance.
Disclaimer: Safety conditions change all over the world on a daily basis. We do our best to advise but this info may already be out of date. Do your own research. Enjoy your travels! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links which means we earn a small commission if you purchase your insurance through this page. This costs you nothing extra and helps us keep the site going.
Need More Inspiration?
- Best Backpacker Hostels in Siem Reap
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Global renegade and experienced explorer, Clair has been on the road ever since she could walk. She splits her time between Europe, Australia and Asia and is a world-class PA to the horrifically organised Broke Backpacker. In her spare time, Clair enjoys misplacing her purse, red wine and yoga.