Whether your trekking to Angkor Wat or Tuk-Tukking in Phnom Penh, make sure you have the right travel insurance in place
Cambodia is a renowned tourist destination, attracting over a million visitors each year. The country boasts stunning landmarks like Angkor Wat and the Silver Pagoda, wildlife like elephants and leopards, and living history in museums that recall the Khmer Rouge and darker sides of Cambodia’s past.
This guide will off travel tips for your trip and also help you find suitable travel insurance that covers you against the hazards you may encounter in Cambodia.
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- Top 5 travel concerns in Cambodia
- How much does travel insurance for Cambodia cost?
- What to get covered for in Cambodia
- 5 activities you should consider getting as extras
- If I have a medical emergency, am I covered in Cambodia?
- Who do I contact in an emergency?
- Entry requirements for Cambodia
- Money in Cambodia
- Travel insurance exclusions to watch out for in Cambodia
- Motorcycle accidents. Motorcycle is one of the best ways for tourists to get around Cambodia: cars require a Cambodian driver’s licence but motorcycles with engine capacities of up to 125cc do not. Keep in mind some travel insurers may require you to hold an active Australian motorcycle licence to be covered against injuries or losses resulting from motorcycle accidents.
- Tourist scams. Like many developing nations, Cambodia is not without local scam artists looking to con unsuspecting travellers with accommodation scams and petty theft.
- Gun violence and armed robbery. Cambodia has a high rate of gun ownership, and it is not unheard of for bystanders to be hit by stray bullets if a fight breaks out. Businesses have been targeted in drive-bys, and there have also been reports of traffic disputes escalating to involve firearms.
- Landmines. There is a risk of unexploded landmines and other military ordnance, particularly along the border with Thailand. Large areas of rural Cambodia are still filled with unexploded mines, and visitors to the north and northwest should not stray from clearly marked paths.
- Disease. Travellers to Cambodia are at risk of mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever and malaria, particularly in rural areas, as well as infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, typhoid, rabies, hepatitis and tuberculosis. Make sure you have all applicable immunisations, take steps to protect yourself from mosquito bites, avoid swimming in fresh water and seek medical advice if you’re suffering from a fever, diarrhoea or animal bite.
Here’s what prices look like for one traveller getting single trip travel insurance for a month in Cambodia. Note that prices will vary between insurers, and a higher or lower price usually means more or less cover, or a higher or lower excess. The prices listed here are rounded averages of the most and least expensive policies.
- Visiting Angkor Wat. About 50% of all visitors to Cambodia visit Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. Travel insurance with medical cover is recommended, as it can be a hazardous environment. You’ll often need to use your hands as well as feet when climbing the incredibly steep steps, and tourists have occasionally been injured due to the gradually deteriorating temple.
- Meeting the elephants. Citing humanitarian and safety reasons, some visitors to Cambodia are forgoing the popular elephant rides while others consider it the highlight of their trip. If you’re thinking about taking a ride on an elephant or otherwise want to get up close and personal with them, remember that they’re very unpredictable animals. Exercise caution, and make sure your policy covers you for unexpected medical emergencies.
- Motorcycle tours or riding a tuk-tuk. Tuk-tuks are the three-wheeled motorcycle or bicycle rickshaw taxis ubiquitous in Cambodia and elsewhere. Be aware, however, that your travel insurance may not necessarily cover you for riding in these the way it would a normal taxi or fully enclosed car. Conditions for travel insurance for overseas motorcycle use varies between providers.
If you want more freedom while exploring Cambodia, look out for these inclusions in travel insurance policies.
- Motorbike riding. Not all travel insurance policies have the same conditions for motorcycle riding overseas. Some key factors to consider include:
- Engine capacity restrictions. Certain policies won’t cover you for more powerful motorcycles, and costs will generally trend upwards with bigger engine capacities. You can easily rent motorbikes with engine capacities of 125cc and under while in Cambodia and these will generally be perfectly suitable, cost-effective and relatively easy to cover with insurance.
- Riding or driving? Some insurers will only cover you as a passenger, others may only cover you as a driver and some will do both. Different policies may also have different requirements in the form of licensing and safety equipment required.
- Mountain biking. An increasingly popular way to see the more isolated parts of Cambodia, mountain biking not only gets you around but also offers an opportunity to get the adrenaline pumping. Consider how your travel insurance policy covers you for mountain biking, and make sure you get it included if you plan on doing this.
- Boating. Whether sailing, cruising, river kayaking, rafting or hitching a ride with locals as they head onto the water, you are not necessarily covered for all water sports.Even travelling on larger boats is not without its risks, as these can be overcrowded and safety standards might not be up to scratch. Ferries carrying passengers have sunk off Cambodia as recently as 2016. Adventure travel insurance policies often provide more cover of these than standard single travel insurance policies, but both can be effective options depending on their inclusions and restrictions.
- Jungle trekking. Travelling on foot lets you take in more scenery and go places where vehicles can’t. Jungle trekking is popular in Cambodia, but you need to make sure you’re protected in isolated parts of the country and that the hiking itself is a covered activity.
- Quad biking. Hitting the Cambodian roads as a motorcycle commuter is one thing, but quad biking is something else entirely. Quad bikes combine the power of a motorbike and the safety features of a skateboard to create an exhilarating experience that most insurers refuse to cover.
- If it’s medically advisable to send you back home under care, medical repatriation cover is generally required to pay these costs.
- If you are not fit to fly, or doctors recommend that you get medical care in Cambodia rather than flying home, your overseas health cover will typically apply up to certain limits.
- Accommodation and travel expenses cover can help you pay reasonable accommodation and travel costs resulting from you needing to change travel plans due to injury or illness.
Do not expect to find adequate healthcare facilities, medical supplies or doctors in rural areas. Medical evacuation cover is recommended for the majority of visitors that plan to travel outside urban areas.
- The lack of resources in isolated parts of Cambodia means patients will sometimes buy medical supplies for their own treatment and bring these when they go to hospital or to see a doctor.
- Travel insurance that pays up-front for medical emergencies can help you get quicker and more effective emergency treatment.
- Some policies may not cover treatment of some diseases if a vaccination could have prevented you from contracting it.
- Seek necessary medical attention as soon as possible in the event of an accident or emergency and take all steps to ensure your own safety.
- Consult a doctor if you experience fever, diarrhoea, vomiting or similar symptoms. They may be indications of a more serious illness, and failure to seek prompt medical assistance may lead to denial of a claim later.
- The Australian embassy. If you’re an Australian citizen they can help you with lost passports, visa issues or legal difficulties you may encounter. The embassy is located at 16B National Assembly Street, Sangkat Tonle Bassac, Khan Chamkarmon, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Reach the embassy online, or in person, or call on +855 (0)23 213 470. You can even follow the Australian ambassador to Cambodia on Twitter if you want to stay in the loop while in Cambodia.
- Your insurer. If you have to make a claim, whether it’s for medical expenses, stolen property or anything else, contact your insurer as soon as you are able. Remember to provide detailed information and evidence of costs, such as hospital bills or a police report. Keep your travel insurance details on you so if you’re brought into hospital unconscious, for example, staff can confirm that you have health cover.
- Friends and family at home. Share your itinerary and stay in touch. Acquaintances at home are often the first to notify authorities if someone goes missing overseas or fails to check in.
Cambodia uses an e-visa system. Just complete an online application form, pay with a credit card and have a visa sent to your email. Print this out and bring it along when you enter the country.
- You must have a passport that remains valid for six months from your time of entry
- Tourist visas are valid for up to three months
- Expect three business days for visa application processing
- You will need to have a recent passport photo in digital form in order to apply
- The official currency in Cambodia is the riel, but US dollars are also widely used. You will often pay for a single transaction with a combination of US dollars and riels.
- The active unofficial exchange rate is about 4000–4200 riels to the dollar.
- Generally, US dollars are used for the bulk of a transaction while riels are used as small change to round it out.
- Currency exchanges at airports and hotels typically have worse rates than ones on the street. The latter often prominently display competitive rates.
- Traveller’s cheques remain useful in Cambodia, and you can cash them at most banks at about a 2% charge.
- ATMs are numerous and easy to find, but often carry significant fees for foreign transactions.
- Credit cards are typically only widely accepted at larger, more international or higher-end spots like fine-dining restaurants, malls and grocery stores. Don’t count on being able to use it for smaller purchases or in less-travelled areas.
- Ensure your US dollars are in relatively good condition. Vendors may be hesitant to accept marked, damaged or torn cash. Luckily, ATMs in Cambodia often dispense clean US bills.
- Tipping is neither mandatory nor traditional in Cambodia (except in temples where it takes the form of a small donation) but it is appreciated. Earnings can be low for locals and many tourist operators rely on tipping. If you’ve enjoyed outstanding service, and you often will, leaving a small tip is appropriate and appreciated.
- Motorbike restrictions. As a driver and passenger, motorbikes are one of the main ways to get around Cambodia. Check to see whether your policy has exclusions for driving a motorcycle as opposed to being a passenger, not wearing all the appropriate safety equipment, and whether you need an Australian motorcycle licence. And of course, first confirm if your travel insurance policy covers motorcycling at all.
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Insurers typically do not pay benefits for injuries or loss resulting from bad decisions made under the influence of alcohol or for reckless behaviour.
- Failure to follow signs and warnings. If you walk off the track in an area with clearly posted landmine warnings, for instance, you may not be covered.
- Adventure activities. Cambodia is an excellent place to enjoy a wide variety of adventure activities, like bungee jumping or quad biking, on a budget. If you plan on doing any of these while in the country, you must be aware that standard travel insurance policies will not necessarily cover them. Look for adventure holiday or activity-focused travel insurance.
*Price based on quote for basic policy for a 5 day trip for 25 year old traveller. Please note that prices are subject to change. Price last checked as correct on October 2016.