Is Cambodia safe?

Within Siem Reap and beyond, Cambodia is completely safe to travel to with the right precautions.

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Whether you're travelling on your own or as a group, this developing nation is relatively safe to explore, even beyond the tourist-heavy towns like Siem Reap.

So that you have a hassle-free trip, we've done the research to answer all the important questions - from how to get around and food and water concerns to vaccinations and solo travel. Read on to find out what you can do to ensure you stay safe and how travel insurance can provide you with peace of mind for just a small fee.

Safety considerations for Cambodia

It's easy to forget about not drinking tap water when you travel to Cambodia. Food hygiene isn't what most of us are used to either which is why it's worth getting travel insurance with emergency medical expenses before you hit the road.

If you plan on scooting around Cambodia, make sure you have a motorcycle that's under 125cc - you need a Cambodian licence otherwise. Accidents are common and they drive on the right-hand side of the road so get Cambodia travel insurance with scooter cover to make sure you're protected.

Cambodia

Exercise normal safety precautions
13 June 2019 | Read more

Is Cambodia safe in 2019?

Historically, Cambodia is a relatively safe country for travellers so long as you use your common sense.

Smartraveller.gov.au has no warnings for Cambodia at the time of writing, and no major natural disasters or terrorist threats have happened in the past. However petty theft, sexual assault, scams and gun violence are all a concern for travellers.

To stay safe travellers should be aware of their belongings, use ATMs in covered places, not go inside strangers' homes, avoid any drug use and avoid travel at night if possible.

Travel insurance should cover you in the event of many of the aforementioned scenarios happening. If medical treatment is needed in the case of assault or gun violence then travel insurance should cover you so long as you opted for a plan with medical coverage. While in Cambodia, many travellers like to visit other countries such as Vietnam and Thailand, make sure all countries are declared on your policy.

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Is Cambodia safe to travel alone?

Travelling solo in Cambodia, even as a female traveller is common and many backpackers hit the beaten track through Cambodia every year.

It's important to follow a few tips to ensure your safety for travellers anywhere in the world:

  • Avoid travelling at night, if possible.
  • Arrange accommodation before you arrive.
  • Be aware of your belongings, surroundings and drinks to avoid them being spiked.
  • Dress appropriately to avoid unwanted attention.

Is the food and drink safe in Cambodia?

Sandwich

Is it safe to eat in Cambodia?

Cambodia is not known for having high standards for food safety as compared to neighbouring countries such as Thailand and Vietnam.
Take these precautions when eating at both street food stalls and established restaurants:

  • Choose restaurants where there are a lot of people, especially locals, as they wouldn't return to a restaurant that made them sick.
  • Avoid eating any raw food.
  • Only eat foods that can be cooked, avoid salads that use lettuce or fruits like apples that aren't peeled as they're usually washed with tap water.
  • Ask for meat to be cooked well done.
  • Do your best to avoid buying food that is cut or prepared by the same person who touches cash, especially if the food is not cooked, such as sliced pineapple.

Glass

Is the water safe to drink?

Water in Cambodia is not safe to drink as there are multiple water-borne illnesses that are a threat to your health. Bottled water is very accessible so water purification tablets are not needed.
Follow these water safety tips to help keep you safe:

  • Only drink bottled water and make sure the cap is sealed before drinking.
  • Avoid brushing your teeth with tap water in case you swallow any.
  • It is recommended to avoid ice altogether.

Do not drink any alcohol that is homemade or not labelled. Methanol poisoning is common in Cambodia and can have serious side effects which could result in death.

Is it safe to travel to Cambodia when pregnant?

Pregnant woman

It is not recommended for pregnant women to travel to Cambodia as Zika is an ongoing risk in the country. As a general rule, women are encouraged not to travel after they are 28 weeks pregnant.

There are also more general risks when travelling to developing countries like Cambodia when you're pregnant. For instance, medications to treat food poisoning are a risk for pregnant women and there is a higher chance of getting food poisoning while you're in Cambodia.

Always consult a doctor before travelling while pregnant.

Do you need a vaccination before going to Cambodia?

There are a number of vaccinations that are typically recommended for those travelling to Cambodia along with keeping your regular vaccinations up to date before leaving.

Smartraveller.gov.au and a doctor or nurse can best advise you on which vaccines to get and their risks which can include:

  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Rabies
  • Tetanus
  • Influenza
  • Typhoid
  • Cholera
  • Japanese encephalitis
  • Dengue fever
  • Malaria
  • Hand, foot and mouth disease
  • HIV/AIDS

There is ongoing transmission of Zika in Cambodia as well as malaria. Consider taking prophylaxis for malaria, use mosquito repellent, wear loose, long and light-coloured clothing and stay in accommodation that is mosquito-proof.

If you don’t get the recommended vaccines then travel insurance may not cover you if you fall ill while abroad.

Is it safe to drive in Cambodia?

Pregnant woman

Accidents are common in Cambodia for all types of vehicles, especially if driving at night.

Drivers in Cambodia drive on the right-hand side of the road. If you choose to drive then it’s necessary to drive defensively. If you’re a renting a motorcycle that is under 125cc you aren’t required by Cambodian law to have a licence though travel insurance may not cover you should you become involved in an accident.

If you’re in an accident while in Cambodia seek medical attention if required. Gather as much evidence as possible from the scene to document for travel insurance. The Smartraveller.gov.au website has information on contacts in case of an emergency.

Is transport safe in Cambodia?

Official metered taxis are safe to take but there is always the possibility of a scam. Tuk tuks and sometimes cyclos (three-wheeled motorcycles) are common as well. Always negotiate a price before getting into the vehicle.

Grab (a ridesharing service) is available in Phnom Penh, with some services available in Siem Reap and Sihanoukville, as a cheaper alternative to taxis.

Boats and ferry services in Cambodia are not always up to Western safety standards so always check that the boat has the required safety equipment before boarding.

Smartraveller.gov.au doesn’t give information regarding the safety of Cambodian airlines but does warn that local flights are often rescheduled or cancelled at short notice. The Aviation Safety Network has more information on the safety of individual airlines.

There is no official airline safety ranking to provide information on Cambodia Airlines and Cambodia Angkor Air but there have only been 6 fatal accidents in Cambodia since 1919 with the most-recent happening in 2007.

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Picture: Unsplash, Getty Images

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