Cambodia is a beautiful country with plenty of nature, history, culture and cuisine to immerse yourself in – but many visitors have questions about the country’s safety situation. Overall, Cambodia is a very safe country for tourists to visit. However, like anywhere in the world, it helps to be aware of the risks around you and act accordingly to minimize potential problems. Here are the key travel safety tips that will help you enjoy a safe, wonderful holiday in Cambodia…
Cambodian tap water is generally not safe to drink. Hydrate yourself solely with water from sealed bottles, and preferably only from trusted brands. Be wary of ice cubes or glasses of water in restaurants. Consider travelling with a portable water filter if you plan to leave resort areas.
All fruits and vegetables should be either peeled, or washed with water from sealed bottles, before being eaten. Ensure that all meat has been properly and thoroughly cooked before consuming it.
Most high-end resorts and hotels are well-maintained and safe. However, when you first arrive, give your room a quick inspection to make sure that everything has been cleaned. Test both your door lock, and your room safe, to ensure that they work properly. Report any problems to management.
Private helicopter and airplane charters can get you from one part of Cambodia to another quickly and securely – but that level of luxurious convenience will cost you. For shorter trips, taxis or buses can be cheap and reliable modes of transportation, although traffic accidents are quite common in this country. Avoid motorcycle taxis entirely, as these have a particularly high fatality rate in collisions.
Since Cambodia is a poor country, it is generally seen as being in poor taste to wear expensive jewelry in public. Either leave your higher-end jewelry pieces at home, or else lock them in your room safe when you go out and about. Flaunting expensive jewelry may attract attention from thieves.
Consider registering with your country’s embassy before you begin your trip. This way, the embassy will already know that you’re in the country and what the duration of your trip will be, so if something goes wrong they’ll be able to help you faster. They can also contact your next of kin should the need arise.
You will need a passport to enter Cambodia, along with $30 USD for a Visa, and $2 USD for a passport photo fee if you don’t have a spare passport photo with you. You should have either your passport, or a photocopy of your passport, on your person at all times. This can help expedite the process if you are ever questioned by local authorities.
Cambodia is a tropical country with all of the unique health risks that implies. Recommended vaccines include Hepatitis A and B, Japanese Encephalitis, Yellow Fever, Typhoid, Rabies, and more. Consult with your physician during the early planning stages of your holiday to see what vaccines they recommend, and to ensure that you have enough time to get them all before you leave.
Petty theft is rare in Cambodia, but it is becoming more common as the number of tourists visiting the country increases each year. Be on guard for pick-pockets, especially in crowded urban areas, and never carry more cash than you need to. Consider hiding extra cash in a hidden compartment somewhere outside of your purse or wallet.
Like petty theft, scams are becoming more common as the number of tourists in Cambodia rises. Most scams are fairly simple and involve drivers trying to extort extra money out of you; for this reason, always negotiate the approximate price of a trip beforehand. Sometimes, border officials will try to hit you with an extra “fine” or “fee” when you first arrive or depart – exercise discretion in these instances.
Do not possess or consume illegal drugs at any time on your holiday in Cambodia. The legal penalties for drug possession can be severe. Also, do not leave your drink unattended at any time, and do not accept drinks from strangers, to avoid the risk of being drugged.
The Political Situation
Millions of land mines serve as the most enduring legacy of Cambodia’s bygone war years. While most tourist areas have been totally de-mined, mines remain a serious threat in rural areas. Do not proceed past red rope, red paint, or any signs indicating that land mines are near. Do not stray from well-travelled roads or paths in rural areas. If you spend the duration of your holiday in large cities or popular tourist hubs, the land mine issue will be essentially non-existent for you.
Cambodia is a relatively poor country. While the economy is growing at a steady pace, many Cambodians still live in poverty, and this situation leads to occasional protests or labour unrest. In rare instances, there may be clashes between protesters and police. Avoid demonstrations if possible.
Cambodia has a long-standing border dispute with Thailand near the Preah Vihear temple area, and brief military clashes have erupted along the border several times before. While the area is calm at the moment, the possibility of a resumption of hostilities remains. Avoid this region if possible.
While there’s a fair amount to digest here, the fact of the matter remains that the overwhelming majority of tourists who visit Cambodia never run into any trouble at all. By heeding the above advice, you can help avoid problems entirely and ensure that your holiday in Cambodia is a pleasant, invigorating experience!