and Security Information Sheets
Australia Department of Foreign Affairs:
Canada Department of Foreign Affairs: Travel
US - CDC: Travelers Heath, Southeast Asia
US State Department Consular Information
Safety, Security and Scams
comparison to other major tourist destinations around the world, Cambodia
is a fairly safe travel destination. Provincial destinations
in Cambodia such as Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor are exceptionally
safe. The only notable
security concerns include: 1) traffic/transportation safety; 2) petty and
sometime violent street crime in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.
disease concerns see the
Visas and Vaccinations
page. Remember that AIDS/HIV and Hepatitis B are very prevalent amongst
Cambodia's sex workers.
accidents are not uncommon in the chaotic traffic of Cambodia,
particularly Phnom Penh and on the National Routes between major cities. The most common and convenient forms of public
transportation are the tuk-tuk and the moto-taxi (motodup), though car taxi is the safest way to move around the city. For taxi
contact details see:
those who choose to rent a motorcycle and drive themselves, be forewarned
that traffic in Phnom Penh is chaotic in the extreme. Chaotic traffic
makes motorcycling challenging in the extreme. Roads outside the city
vary in condition. If you do decide to ride, drive slowly, stay right,
wear a helmet and remember that medical services are limited, especially
in the countryside where it is almost non-existent. Only experienced riders should attempt driving
to Siem Reap The safety of the popular ferries that ply the
Tonle Sap between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap may be of some concern. Though
by third world standards the public ferries are relatively fast and modern, they
in no way meet international safety standards. Little or no safety
equipment is available. If you are looking for international standards of
safety, do not take the local ferry. If you are accustomed to traveling on
ferries in southern Asia, you will probably find the Siem Reap ferry to be
a rather tame adventure.)
most countries around the world, criminal activity is probably the
greatest threat to the tourist after traffic accidents.
of Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, violent criminal activity directed against foreign tourists
is quite rare. There have been some bag snatchings in
Siem Reap. And over the last several years there have also been a few
violent assaults of foreigners traveling alone in the countryside. But
at least at this point in time, these crimes are exceptions rather than
the rule Generally speaking, provincial capitals such as Siem
Reap, Battambang and others are exceptionally safe.
Penh Street robberies of tourists in Phnom Penh, though not
common, are reported with some regularity.
Most occur at night,
near popular tourist destinations and almost always to tourists on
the back of a motorcycle taxi or on foot. The robbers are sometimes armed
with a handgun and usually only want money. Though the robbers generally avoid applying violence, they will
become violent if challenged. The
surest way to avoid robbery is to take a car taxi when traveling after dark. If you
choose to take a motorcycle taxi, it is best to stay on main roads rather
than dark side streets. It is best not to travel long distances by foot after dark.
If you are confronted by robbers, do not resist. Give up your
money quickly and they will probably leave as quickly as they showed up.
Snatch and grab
robberies are also regularly reported, targeting both locals and
tourists - bag, camera, iPhone/iPad or necklace is grabbed by a
passing motorcyclist. Be particularly aware when you first arrive by
bus/plane and are taking a tuk-tuk to your hotel. When walking down the street, keep your camera/bag
on your inside shoulder away from the traffic side. Most tuk-tuk drivers will advise you to keep
your camera and bags in front of you in the middle of the tuk-tuk, not
near outside where it can be grabbed. Also
note that when riding on the back of a motorcycle taxi, keep your bag or backpack
directly between you and the driver, or let the driver place it in front
of him. There have been several reports of people pulled
off of the back of motorcycle taxis when thieves grabbed the bag or backpack they were
Some posh Cambodian night clubs draw
a dangerous crowd of the rich, connected and armed. The mixture of alcohol and guns can and too often does lead to violent
confrontations and gun-play, inside and immediately outside the clubs. As
a general rule, this is not the case at foreigner and tourist oriented
clubs and bars.
non-violent, non-confrontational crime does occur, but should almost
go without mentioning. Do not leave money or valuables in your hotel room
unattended. Do not leave money or valuables unattended on the beaches in
Sihanoukville. Do not leave your bags in a taxi or on a motorcycle or
cyclo while you go into a hotel to check in. Be very careful of your
belongings if you take a prostitute to your hotel room. Be careful of
pickpockets in tourist areas, in crowded discos and clubs, particularly clubs filled with
prostitutes, and at the traditional markets such as Phsar Toul Thom Pong
and Phsar Kandal in Phnom Penh where the pickpockets are often
seemingly friendly children.
Tourists and travelers report a few
different minor scams in Siem Reap including the milk scam (i.e.
bedraggled woman with infant in arms tells you she doesn't want
money, just milk for her baby. You buy milk for her at the
mini-mart. After you leave she returns the milk and splits money
with the mini-mart) and the rice scam (i.e. tout tells you
orphanage/school needs rice for kids. Takes you to market where you
buy wildly overpriced rice to donate. Tout/vendor split profit. Not
as common these days.) But currently the most costly and
frightening scam in Cambodia is what has come to be known as the 'Blackjack Scam,' or
the "Philippine Blackjack Scam" - passing on the street or in the
market a friendly stranger, often a couple, tells you he likes your
glasses, shirt, bag, etc. Casual conversation ensues. They invite
you to their house to meet family/have dinner/have cultural
experience. Friendly card game begins. Before you know it you owe
hundreds or even thousands of dollars and are being escorted to the
ATM by a group of thugs. See
The official price for Cambodian visas
are: Tourist (Type ‘T’): US$20. Business (Type ‘E’): US$25, though
there can be extra charges at some overland crossing points.
Travelers continue to report that immigration at the Cham Yeam (Koh
Kong) crossing often will not accept payment in US dollars and is
currently charging 1200 Thai baht for a tourist visa and 1600 baht
for a business visa. There are fewer reports of this from the Poipet
crossing. Touts at the border will insist you need their help to
obtain a visa. Do not accept their ‘assistance’ as it will only add
to the cost. At the Poipet crossing, travelers coming from Thailand
to Cambodia are often confronted by a couple of annoyances at the
border. Touts and drivers on the Thai side of the border will tell
you that you should or even must get a Cambodian visa from a ‘local
consulate’ on your way to the border crossing. DO NOT USE THEIR
SERVICES. DO NOT GET YOUR VISA AT THE ‘LOCAL CONSULATE’ ON THE THAI
SIDE. IT IS A SCAM. Do not get your Cambodian visa until you have
stamped out of Thailand, crossed the border into Cambodia and
arrived at Cambodian immigration. Also, the touts will tell you that
you need to exchange foreign currency for Cambodian riel. THERE IS
NO REQUIREMENT TO CHANGE MONEY AT THE BORDER. It is a scam to get
you to change money at a rip-off exchange rate. DO NOT change money
at the border.
the topic is landmines, Cambodia is usually one of the first countries to
but fortunately, mines are not a concern for the average tourist.
The remaining mines are concentrated in border areas (particularly the Thai border),
some mountain areas and other old war zones. There are no
mines in major cities and towns. The areas
around the temple ruins in Siem Reap were demined long ago
and is considered quite safe. Adventure travelers to remote sections of
Cambodia need to take extra mine safety precautions.
vast majority of tourists that visit Cambodia will never face any of the
problems mentioned above.
not do in Cambodia, what you would not do in your home country.
aware of your surroundings.
city-smart in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.
use common sense.