Is Cambodia safe for travellers?

is cambodia safe for travellers?

Is Cambodia safe for travellers?

  |   119 Comments

Safety in Cambodia

Roadside robberies, druggings, extortion and blackmail. They’re the kind of things to put any wary traveller off a destination but they’re also the things you’re more likely to expect from South or Central America than Asia. But recently I’ve been hearing reports of an increase in crime in one of my favourite countries – Cambodia – and it’s got me worried.

I’m not worried for travellers, though. To be frank, I take these reports with a grain of salt. But I do worry about the reputation of such a friendly and open country which is finally getting a huge economic boost from a much-needed surge in tourism.

is cambodia safe for travellers?

In just the past week, I’ve heard frightening stories from two fellow travel bloggers on the road together, Kate McCulley of Adventurous Kate and Mario Cacciottolo of Someone Once Told Me.

“Within a few days of being here, we’ve been warned repeatedly in Phnom Penh about thieves on bikes snatching bags from tuk tuks,” Mario wrote on his Facebook page. “Shortly afterwards my friend was attacked by five guys on bikes while in a tuk tuk, but he fought them off.”

I wrote to Kate to ask her about what she’s experiencing there at the moment. She’s told me that she’s been to Cambodia before and loved it but feels like it’s changed. The constant warnings about the bag snatchings, being a perfect example.

“Before this trip, I had Cambodia in my top 5 favourite countries, indisputably. And while the people are still some of the warmest, friendliest and kindest people you’ll meet anywhere, it’s not the same place it was a few years ago.”

is cambodia safe for travellers?

Kate was extorted by a man who demanded money to return her phone which fell out of a tuk tuk. Mario’s friend was robbed by a gang of small children who threw bottles at him. And then there are plenty of tales of danger.

“In PP (Phnom Penh) I heard a story of a Westerner who did drugs with guys in a rough part of town, then unsurprisingly they robbed him,” Mario wrote. “When he finally got a tuk tuk back to his hotel, the driver blackmailed him, saying he knew the guy was in a part of town where drugs were found and that he’d tell the police if he didn’t pay the driver off. Obviously this chap’s behaviour was pretty stupid all round, but the driver saw an opportunity to take advantage of him, and used it.”

is cambodia safe for travellers?

That last story probably captures my view on Cambodia. If you follow my blog regularly you’ll know that I spent about a month in the country earlier in the year. I found the people to be hospitable and friendly, although many will try and make an extra buck or two from a foreigner. I found it easy enough to get between the towns and cities, assuming you don’t need too much legroom. And I found vibrancy in the chaos, rather than vulnerability. I never even came close to any danger.

is cambodia safe for travellers?

But there is a dark side just beneath the surface and it’s up to you, as a traveller, whether you dig down and find it. More than twenty per cent of the population lives below the poverty line (US$0.93 a day) and with deprivation comes desperation and with desperation comes deviance.

is cambodia safe for travellers?

When I first went to Cambodia six or seven years ago, there were very few tourists. These days, the country has been invaded by the rich inexperienced travellers and the young party-seeking backpackers. Both are easy targets for criminals because these foreigners don’t pay attention to their surroundings and they put themselves in compromising situations. I believe these easy opportunities are fuelling any increase in crime that exists.

is cambodia safe for travellers?

The majority of Cambodians is not going to try to take advantage of you. The majority will want to help you enjoy your time in the country, of which the locals are so proud. The key to safety is to be sensible and not treat the streets of Phnom Penh or the beaches of Sihanoukville like they’re your local neighbourhoods.

is cambodia safe for travellers?

Don’t walk late at night through the streets of the capital. Don’t catch the tuk tuk with the driver who has been sitting outside the bar watching how much you drink all night. Don’t go to the beach parties alone and accept drinks from strangers. It’s sad that there are reports of women being drugged at bars in Sihanoukville but this can only happen if you let your guard down.

is cambodia safe for travellers?

I decided to write this story after a few people contacted me to ask whether it was safe to go to Cambodia. I wanted the point of this story to be that I found the country to be extremely safe and never encountered anything untoward. But I also can’t ignore the firsthand (and secondhand) stories of other travellers who I respect. I would never tell anyone not to go but I would also warn everyone to be more wary than in, perhaps, Thailand or Malaysia. Cambodia is a beautiful country and it does not deserve to have a reputation as a dangerous destination.

Check out my picks for some of the safest hotels across Cambodia

 

119 Comments
  • Jennifer Hicks | Nov 13, 2013 at 7:40 am

    HI we were in cambodia in February this year and travelled as 2 couples.
    We caught the train from thailand and then caught private taxi from Siem reap to phnom phen and then from phnom pen to kep. the scary part was the driving flat out, with no regards to us or their fellow people. But we did not feel threatened in any way, being over 50s, we don’t wear jewellery, or anything that would bring attention to us and try to be good tourist and respectful. we loved our time there.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 22, 2013 at 10:29 am

      Yes, the roads can be a bit hairy sometimes! I usually feel quite safe if a local is driving, though. It may seem crazy to us but I normally trust they know what they’re doing!

  • Lauren Meshkin | Nov 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Thank you for writing this. Cambodia is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. I have to remind myself that there are bad people WHEREVER you go and it’s important to have common sense while traveling, especially when it comes to safety. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Happy travels!
    Lauren Meshkin recently posted..The Fulton Lane Inn: A great place to stay in Charleston!My Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 22, 2013 at 10:30 am

      That’s a very good point. Of course there is crime in every country and you always need to be careful. I certainly believe there is no more in Cambodia than other similar places.

      • Marie | Jan 26, 2015 at 5:14 am

        I must admit that I consider myself as having some common sense not wearing any jewels on me. 2 days ago, 2 guys with a motorcycle pulled my bag away ( cotton) with all my belongings. Then my husband and I spent hours at the police station, finally had to give them some money in order to get a robbery declaration. I was here 10 years ago and I had great memories. I will definitely not come back !

        • Michael Turtle | Jan 30, 2015 at 2:13 am

          Oh no, I’m really sorry to hear that. It must have been an awful experience. I guess that’s the sad reality – for most sensible people Cambodia is a safe country but things can still happen. What a shame you were one of the unlucky ones and you had a bad experience. Maybe some day you will go back and you’ll see the other side of Cambodia.

    • Sanjay | Sep 14, 2016 at 1:28 pm

      infact we are also planning to visit this December as family and was little worried if this would be the wise decision to visit as family there and/or safety concerns, would appreciate comments

  • Sandy @ Book Italy Farmhouse | Nov 13, 2013 at 5:43 pm

    Cambodia is an awesome place. I had visited it many times and my experience was awesome. From safety point of view I want to say that as a traveler we always have to be careful and active. No place is safe today.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 22, 2013 at 10:32 am

      I’ve visited a few times as well and love the place. I’m so pleased to hear you feel the same way. Of course you need to be careful, though… I hope that goes without saying for most places!

  • Jill | Nov 13, 2013 at 6:57 pm

    I spent three months living in Phnom Penh earlier this year and from what I can tell since that time, a lot is changing in the country stemming from people there finally feeling like they can exercise some of the rights that have been denied to them. While most Cambodians are doing it in the right way, there are some who will take advantage of the somewhat unstable nature of things at the moment and that’s really sad. It is an exciting time for the country and hopefully good will come of things over time, but I assume there is tension underlying most of the main parts of the country. Thank you for writing this – Cambodia needs to continue being on the radar. It’s a country with beautiful people who have a lot to offer, they just haven’t been given the environment or the resources to really show it yet.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 22, 2013 at 10:33 am

      That’s interesting to hear that you spent so much time there and you think there are changes. It doesn’t surprise me. But it is still a beautiful country and you can’t judge a whole nation on what a few people might be doing. I only found generosity and friendliness but, yes, there are underlying issues going on moreso than other places because of their complicated recent history.

    • Hank | Nov 22, 2013 at 11:59 am

      Sorry to disappoint some of you, but you don’t “live” anywhere for 2-3 months, you stay there. I’ve lived in Cambodia for nearly a decade and never had any problems, if “Adventurous” Kate and her friends want to get into street fights and beat up street urchins while lurching between bars they can expect some trouble.

      • Michael Turtle | Nov 29, 2013 at 12:20 am

        I suppose everyone’s idea of “living” is different. Certainly you’ll have a different experience if you spend ten years somewhere, compared to three months. But stopping and getting to know somewhere beyond a cursory holiday is probably closer to “living” than the average traveller every does.

      • Pierre | Apr 5, 2014 at 9:54 pm

        Hank, I put a response below yours on “Adventurous” Kate’s blog, providing a little context for her statements.

        In my late 40s and living in Asia 17 years out of the last 27, what’s changed a lot is the attitudes of visitors, the bad behavior is 100 times what it was back in the day.

        Easy to blame the Cambodians. I’m pretty sure that the equivalent–multi-millionaires walking around a big US or European city dripping with jewelry and cash–would lead to all kinds of mayhem!

        Michael, I posted a link to this article in that comment since yours is so much more informative and balanced. Thanks for your input!

        • Michael Turtle | Apr 23, 2014 at 10:55 pm

          Thanks Pierre for joining the discussion. I can see there are some mixed views on it all. I’ve actually found all the comments to be really useful because the truth lies in them all… that everyone will have a different experience! 🙂

  • Ali | Nov 14, 2013 at 7:01 am

    Thanks for writing this, and thanks for chatting with me about it yesterday. I know bad things can happen anywhere, and I shouldn’t let a few isolated situations scare me off from a country I really enjoyed just 2 years ago. Another blogger I know, Val, spent a lot of time in Colombia recently and had a great time, and then her laptop was just stolen from her hostel in Ireland. So it doesn’t matter where you are. Your post was a nice reminder, and I’m looking forward to the trip!
    Ali recently posted..How Much We Spent Traveling in RomeMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 22, 2013 at 10:35 am

      Any stories that you’re hearing – some of which I’ve quoted here – should certainly not put you off travelling to Cambodia. I don’t think they represent the majority of the people or the experience you’ll have in the country. Sure, it’s a bit rougher around the edges than somewhere like Thailand but that’s part of its charm.

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel | Nov 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to write this post and for sharing both your own perspective and those of others who have had more challenging experiences. So much of it comes down to awareness – of the importance of our own behaviour, and of course, of the reality of Cambodians themselves. You made a very important point in stating, “More than twenty per cent of the population lives below the poverty line (US$0.93 a day) and with deprivation comes desperation and with desperation comes deviance.” Tourism can create powerful, positive social, economic and environmental change, but it can also be radically detrimental for the region traveled to as well as the traveller. It’s up to each of us to choose to act responsibly, to be aware of the impact we have and to make the most of our experiences while abroad.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 22, 2013 at 10:39 am

      You’re right. I pointed out a potential reason for why there might be crime in Cambodia but I think tourists have to take responsibility for the role they play in encouraging it as well. I don’t mean one specific person, but visitors as a whole. If they treat a country like a cheap party destination, for instance, they shouldn’t be surprised when some impoverished locals see them as an easy target. For someone who lives on less than a dollar a day, it might seem justified in some way to rob a foreigner who clearly has more money than sense. I’m not saying it should be that way… but that could be the reality and the way that some people might see it.

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  • Becki | Backpacker Becki | Nov 15, 2013 at 9:20 am

    I lived and worked in Cambodia for 3.5 months, travelled for a month after (including the jungles of the far north and far east) and have returned three times since. I first visited three years prior to that. I have never once had any problems.

    As you say, the vulnerability of the traveller is everything. Muggings, bag-snatching, etc can happen ANYWHERE. In fact, there are more reported cases of bag snatches in neighbouring Vietnam and I’ve heard of the same things happen in South America and Africa. Even London. Confidence and caution are key. As is learning a few words of the language and making them believe you either live there, or can speak the language and therefore know the lay of the land.

    Also, entering a country with understanding of it’s culture is essential. Cambodia has corruption issues dating back to way before the Khmer Rouge. It’s not a recent occurance. It is a nation where welfare does not exist in any form, where healthcare and education are corrupt and flawed to the very core. So of course there will be people who take advantage. What would you do if you had nothing? Some of us might go to extreme measures.

    Look vulnerable and you will be picked out.
    Be ignorant and it will show.
    Try and ‘blend’ in and you will be accepted more (effort, but it helps).

    I don’t condone violence or theft in anyway, but bad press of Cambodia and over slander are not necessary. Our own bad experience will of course shape our views of a particular place, but context is key. Especially when it’s crime rates are no worse then neighbouring countries and countries across other continents. The country needs help, not hindrance.

    • Nate | Nov 19, 2013 at 7:12 am

      I agree with Becki 100%. Visited several times, never had a problem.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 22, 2013 at 10:41 am

      I’m so pleased you commented, Becki, because I know you have spent a lot of time there and got to know a lot of local people. I hope it’s encouraging for potential visitors to read your words and know that it’s not a dangerous country. but there’s also good advice there on how to try to avoid the crime that is present, because there’s no way anywhere can be 100% safe.

  • Judit | Nov 16, 2013 at 8:47 pm

    Thanks for writing this. I’m going to Cambodia in December and it had turned out, I’ll be on my own. Being a woman,I should be worried but I guess,a healthy amount of common sense can help to avoid dangerous situations. Rules like, not going out alone in the dark, not accepting drinks from strangers apply to most European countries, don’t they?

    • Steph | Nov 21, 2013 at 2:18 am

      I visited Cambodia as a solo female traveler in 2010 and didn’t really run into any problems at all. In fact, I really liked being there a lone because it meant that Cambodians were more likely to wander over to me and start a conversation. I met a ton of interesting people there and it still holds a special place in my heart.

      • Michael Turtle | Nov 22, 2013 at 10:43 am

        I’ve always travelled in Cambodia alone. While I’m not a young female (which is potentially seen as an easier target) I also enjoyed meeting people and feeling more in a position to have a conversation or get to know the culture because local people were interested to talk to me. I think, as long as you’re sensible, there is nothing wrong with travelling alone in Cambodia and it can open up many more doors.

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  • Tamara (@Turtlestravel) | Nov 19, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    Thank you for this balanced and well-thought-out post. As usual, we admire your perceptiveness, and can relate to your point of view. We spent a month or so in Cambodia in 2011, and fell in love with the place and the people. We spent time At Angkor Wat and the surrounding area, of course, but not much in Phnom Penh, and we skipped Sihanoukville entirely. We really enjoyed our time in smaller towns like Kampong Cham, Kratie and Battambang where things seemed more calm. Aside from the normal scams and overcharging the tourist games, we felt very comfortable and safe during our time there.

    I agree that most people in Cambodia are not out to harm you, or even take advantage, but also agree with your comment that “with deprivation comes desperation and with desperation comes deviance.” If crime is on the rise, it’s truly sad. Tourists should certainly not avoid a country out of fear, but they should remain vigilant and do their research on areas in which to be extra cautious. Most importantly, people should avoid putting themselves into positions of vulnerability. You’re already at a disadvantage from a perspective of language, cultural knowledge and simply having more than everyone else around.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 22, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Thank you for your comment. For the record, I don’t think you missed much but not going to Sihanoukville. Any crime that happens there is a product of the behaviour of the type of people who go there, I think (not that it’s an excuse). But the smaller places and around Siem Reap I felt were particularly safe.

      I’m pleased to hear you had no problems and enjoyed your time there too!

  • TammyOnTheMove | Nov 19, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    Thanks for showing a different side of the story. I totally agree with you! I have been living in Cambodia for two years now and it really is not as bad some people are making it out. Sure there is petty crime, but there is petty crime in EVERY developing country and for that matter in developed countries too. The problem with a lot of these stories are that they are stories. They are rumours of someone who heard of a guy whose friend got drugged in Sihanoukville. These are not official crime stats or stories from someone who actually experienced the crime. There are more bag snatchings in Barcelona or even Paris than in Cambodia. I have many friends who have been living here in Cambodia for many years, none of whom ever experienced anything bad, and they agree that it is always the inexperienced backpackers who get targeted. When I first moved here I was walking home in the dark and someone on a moto tried to snatch my handbag. He didn’t get it and drove off, but it taught me a valuable lesson and I haven’t had any bad encounters since. If you flash your expensive belongings, walk down dark streets, are ignorant towards local cultures or are rude to a tuk tuk driver, then yes bad things could happen. If you have got your guard up, try and mingle with the locals and are open minded then you will find that Cambodia is one of the most beautiful countries you could ever visit!

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 22, 2013 at 10:53 am

      I’m so pleased to hear from someone who has been living there for so long that you don’t feel like there’s been a big increase in crime. Having said that, I guess the longer you stay, the more you become used to way of life. That probably makes you more aware of your surroundings and your behaviour than a tourist who pops in for a week.

      I also hear rumours last time I was in Cambodia but didn’t meet anyone who was able to tell me a firsthand story of anything serious happening to them. I do wonder whether any of those rumours are true or if it’s just the same ones that get circulated amongst travellers (and probably exaggerated slightly each time too)!

  • Stuart McDonald | Nov 20, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    I don’t know about this Michael — we lived in Cambodia (in Phnom Penh) for two years in the mid 2000s and the type of trouble McCulley refers too as being some kind of “new development” was commonplace then.

    Rape, drink spikings, robbery and the occasional backpacker getting murdered in a botched robbery were all occurring in Sihanoukville then — these are not the new development suggested.

    Snatch and grab on motorbikes migrated over from Saigon around 2000 and by the time we were living there were very common. Just about everyone we knew was robbed at least once that way (we were ourselves once) as was other petty theft.

    Friends who were in a car accident on the road to SHV were actually robbed while they lay in their car unconscious. Again in the mid 2000s.

    I agree these are bad news, but writing about these happenings as if Cambodia has suddenly turned a leaf and got ugly is simply not an accurate representation of what goes on there and, while I realise Cambodia is the focus of this, it’s worth noting snatch and grab remains a massive issue in neighbouring Vietnam, as are drug setups and theft in Thailand and so on.

    With a reasonable amount of common sense the vast majority of travellers will have no problems whatsoever in Cambodia — and its neighbours for that matter and Southeast Asia remains one of the safest regions of the world to travel in (IMO).

    Also, re your suggestion an increase in crime is linked to an “invasion of rich inexperienced travellers”, if you take a look at the actual tourism stats you’ll see that for the period 2008 – 2012 total cumulative increases were (rounded):

    Australians +38% (+32,000 people)
    Western Europeans +33% (+154,000 people)
    US +20% (+28,000 people)
    Canadians +27% (+10,000 people)

    For context, Cambodia received around 3,200,000 tourists in 2012.

    So a 20-30% rise — over five years. These are not “invasion” like increases. Cambodia’s tourism surge is being driven by ASEAN and East Asia (which have increased by around 175% and 60% respectively over the same period) — not foreign backpackers hanging out on SHV beaches getting wasted (and robbed in the process).

    Sorry for the essay — Cambodia is a country I really love and deeply miss, and I do think that both this and McCulley’s post miss the mark.

    Cheers from Mandalay!

    Stuart

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 22, 2013 at 11:02 am

      Hi Stuart. Firstly, I’m very jealous you’re in Mandalay – I loved it there.

      In regards to the points you’ve made, I’ve got a lot of respect for what you say because I know you have spent so much time exploring and living in this part of the world. But I’m going to have to (respectfully) disagree on a couple of things.

      Of course there has been crime in Cambodia for a long time. I would argue very little ten years ago and still a relatively small amount now. But that doesn’t mean it might not be increasing. That has not been my personal experience but I wanted to examine the issue because of these reports (not just from Kate and Mario but other travellers too).

      I do think that an increase in tourists is a good explanation for why crime against tourists may have increased. You say that a 30% increase in five years is not a large amount, but it is significant – especially in a country which doesn’t have as developed infrastructure as Cambodia. Ok, ‘invasion’ may not be the right word, but I do feel from my own observations that the crowd which is leading the increase are the rich fly-in temple tourists and the backpacker party crowd which is looking for the new Thailand. When these sorts of people who flash their expensive belongings and don’t respect the culture grow in number, it’s not surprising that some (very few, but some) locals see an opportunity and make the most of it.

  • Theodora | Nov 20, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    I first visited Cambodia in 2010, with my son. Although I don’t have Stuart’s expertise, the violence was always there not far below the surface — it’s the nature of a beast when you have a country with Cambodia’s poverty line and Cambodia’s bloody history, and the disparity of wealth produced by the Hun Sen regime.

    There were bag snatchers on scooters in PP (as always, walk with one’s bag on the pavement side of the body, not the street side); Sihanoukville was a place where you’d cab deserted streets rather than walk solo; and, at the same time, every Cambodian I had the privilege of interacting with was lovely (well, apart from some rather persistent weed dealers, but that’s the banana pancake trail for you).

    BUT…. I never felt unsafe, and I don’t think that any of what’s being reported now is new. My son and I were made extremely welcome, and loved the country. I think this is just a different perspective on the same place, something that has always been there, and something that likely always will be until there is regime change and economic development.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 22, 2013 at 11:04 am

      Maybe you’ve hit the nail on the head when you talk about perspective. Two people can go to the same country at exactly the same time and feel like they’ve had very different experiences. The same person can go two times and feel like it’s different. I guess you form your perceptions based on the immediate things you experience. I have always found Cambodia to be safe and would never have even thought to pose this question… except it seems some people have had an opposite reaction.

  • Adam @ SitDownDisco | Nov 21, 2013 at 6:50 am

    I didn’t even know this was a question people were asking!

    Whenever these sort of fear of travelling topics come up, I just think about some of the major Western cities in the world like LA, London, Paris, Barcelona, Sydney… Would I rather be walking around at night in some dark corner of LA or Phnom Penh? There just needs to be context. Sure you can get robbed in SEA… But I feel safer there than in Sydney.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 22, 2013 at 11:06 am

      Well, this I’ve got to disagree with. I am still trying to make the case that Cambodia is quite safe… but having grown up in Sydney, I would clearly say that Sydney is a lot safer. Yes, you can have something happen to you in any city in the world. But I do think that developed western countries like Sydney don’t have the poverty edge that can be a big driver of petty crime like bag-snatchings.

  • John Drake | Nov 22, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I have lived here for 8 years. There have been BIG changes and it’s one of the safest countries to live in. Really. I always say to people the only way your going to get in real trouble here is if you don’t use common sense or try and provoke people/situations. Admittedly the driving here is dangerous. I am from the UK and have lived abroad in other countries also, but I really believe Cambodia is one of the safest countries to live in. Phnom Penh is safer than some western cities.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 29, 2013 at 12:24 am

      I’m not sure if I would agree that Phnom Penh is safer than western cities from my experience but I do agree that as a country it is not a dangerous place at all to travel in. Living there for eight years makes it even easier, I assume, because you get to know the right and the wrong spots in a city. It must have been fascinating to see Cambodia change over the period you’ve been there!

  • Lord Playboy | Nov 22, 2013 at 1:43 pm

    I have been living in Cambodia for almost 11 years now, I had a pair of shoes stolen off my balcony in 2005 and a motorbike stolen from outside the house overnight in 2006, other than those two incidents, I have never had any problems here.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 29, 2013 at 12:25 am

      That’s so good to hear you haven’t had any problems. I hope they weren’t nice shoes 🙂

      • Hank | Dec 2, 2013 at 1:37 pm

        I think they were Church’s actually!

  • Takeoman | Nov 22, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    I lived in Phnom Penh for eighteen months, and since 2009 have lived in a village in Takeo province. I have never felt threatened in either location. I did have a phone stolen from a room in Phnom Penh but that was mainly my own fault as I had failed to lock the door on my way out.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 29, 2013 at 12:29 am

      Fantastic to hear you’ve found it safe as well. I maintain hat a lot of the problems you hear about are from reckless tourists who do silly things.

  • Cam | Nov 25, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Interesting discussion. Though nothing bad happened to us during our time in Cambodia, we certainly felt the opportunistic atmosphere. While I don’t think any country is completely safe, Cambodia is still a third world country with lots of poverty and pain. Add tourists with money and you’re bound to run into trouble. It’s been a few years since we visited, so I can’t speak for the current climate, but we never felt unsafe. We did, however, always keep our guard up, which may have contributed to nothing bad happening to us.

    For the record, I’ve heard plenty of stories about people getting robbed, mugged and beaten in virtually every major city in Canada, so I guess on some level it’s just a part of life. Sadly.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 29, 2013 at 12:53 am

      I think that’s exactly it – you’ve got a mix of poverty and rich tourists, so something is bound to happen. Then again, you have that same mix in Myanmar but I felt it was one of the safest countries I’ve ever been in! I guess it’s a bit of a lottery but you can’t declare a whole country to be dangerous just because of a few incidents.

  • Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? | Nov 26, 2013 at 7:45 pm

    Thank you for this article, spot on. There’s crime everywhere, indeed. It’s easy to equate actions of individuals with the overall character of a place, but it’s people, and a minority at that, who snatch bags or rob travelers not countries.

    I’m going to stand out no matter what, particularly in developing countries, and in many cases appear to people as a walking dollar sign. I believe it’s my responsibility as a traveler touse common sense regarding safety and take basic precautions, some of which you and other commenters mention.

    • Michael Turtle | Nov 29, 2013 at 1:06 am

      You’re right – with some basic precautions and common sense you should be able to avoid 99% of the crime that does happen. Cambodia is a pretty safe place and it’s generally opportunistic petty thefts that occur.

  • The Queer Nomad | Dec 3, 2013 at 7:23 am

    I am one of those people who had a bad experience in Cambodia – actually, several bad ones within a short time span, about 2 years ago. I am an experienced traveller, have been to many developing countries and was with a friend who has lived in SE Asia for a long time.

    We mainly felt that Phnom Penh had an incredibly criminal atmosphere about it – I’ve not experienced so many street kids, begging etc, anywhere else, not in Africa, not anywhere in India. I was shocked by the corrupt police, but also by the many “expats” which also seemed to be mainly “ex-cons” with underage Cambodian girls on their laps. Pretty much every tuk tuk driver seemed to be out for us. My friend was robbed at knifepoint, my card was eaten by an ATM without any hope of retrieving it, every tuktuk driver tried to rip us off – all within 3 days in the city. A bunch of boys even followed our every step for a whole day, trying to catch us off guard. We didn’t go anywhere at night, didn’t even drink or in any other way let our guard down.

    I realize everybody has a different experience, and also, if you travel for a long time, eventually something bad will happen to you. Yet, the criminal energy I felt there was stronger than what I felt anywhere else in the world (I live in London – I don’t think this can be compared in ANY way).

    Personally, this has soured my experience of Cambodia, which is agree is a beautiful country! Even on my way out of the country, staff at the airport sliced open my backpack to steal stuff. Maybe I was unlucky, but all this doesn’t make me want to return.

    • Michael Turtle | Dec 4, 2013 at 4:26 am

      Wow, that does sound like a pretty bad experience. I agree that there are elements of Phnom Penh that have that criminal vibe to them. From my experience it can be quite easy to avoid. It sounds like you were very unlucky!

    • Hank | Dec 11, 2013 at 3:46 pm

      What the Queer Nomad posted sounds like a complete bunch of lies. How come I’ve been here nearly a decade and never seen an expatriate sitting with an underage girl on his lap, unless it was his daughter? If your ATM card gets eaten up you visit the bank with ID and get it back, just like anywhere else. Every tuk-tuk was out for you? You mean every tuk-tuk wanted you to use their services? Slightly annoying but hardly something to cry about.

  • Dalene | Dec 3, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    I actually don’t think that your post is much different than Kate’s. She’s not telling anyone not to go there, she is still extolling the virtues, but she was just trying to warn people of what she encountered. If I experienced all that she did, damn straight I would be doing the same thing. Like most of us, her’s is an experiential blog, so I wouldn’t have expected anything different.

    I just spent a month in Phnom Penh, and it was my first exposure to southeast Asia. We got in a tuktuk accident, witnessed violent protests on our street, were warned relentlessly about hanging onto our bags while in the tuktuks, and our friend had his iPhone and cash stolen. Is it indisputably safe for travelers? No, but most places aren’t, and I would never tell anyone NOT to go there…I would just advise of increased wariness, just like I would tell people who want to travel through most of South and/or Central America where we have spent considerable time.

    • Michael Turtle | Dec 4, 2013 at 4:33 am

      I completely understand that it’s important to share your personal experiences. It’s hard to give an overall and impartial view based just on what you’ve seen. I suppose the point I was trying to make is that I didn’t have any problems, see any crime or feel threatened at any point. That’s a very different personal viewpoint and experience to Kate’s. I think potential visitors should not assume they will have same time as anyone else.

  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels | Dec 6, 2013 at 3:39 am

    I’m glad you had put up a different viewpoint. Each country that is said to be “dangerous” usually can have 2 different people have 2 very different experiences. I was told by everyone, including the US state departments website that traveling india alone as a girl was a no-go, but I’ve been here a year with no problem. you have to stay turned-on and be aware but I hate to see so many negative posts about india, even though what they were saying was true and their experience , it put a salty taste in tourists mouths

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 19, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      That’s exactly it isn’t it – nobody reports an untrue story, as such, but it’s all about how you interpret it. Does one incident mean that the country is dangerous? Probably not. But does one traveller saying they never experienced anything unsafe mean that everybody will be the same? Probably not.

  • Sebastian | Dec 9, 2013 at 8:13 am

    I think Cambodia is comparable with Thailand. People are generally friendly but there are a few people who want to take advantage of you. That’s the same in every part of the world.

    But as you said, a few years ago tourism wasn’t so widespread in Cambodia and therefore the people who have always been willing to take advantage of other people couldn’t do it with tourists because there simply weren’t no tourists. Now that they are there those people can take advantage of them.

    • Hank | Dec 12, 2013 at 4:21 am

      Tourism has been widespread in Cambodia for a long time, especially since the civil war ended in the late 1990s. If you look into it, far more tourists are robbed and murdered in Thailand. I realize Thailand gets far more visitors, but somehow it never gets the adverse publicity Cambodia gets.
      The vast majority of tourists here are from China and Korea, and they spend far more here than western back-packers. Nothing special has changed in the past few years.

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 19, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      Obviously some people don’t agree with me on that point, but I think increasing tourism numbers make a difference. The more opportunities that there are for criminals (professional or amateur), the more people who will be willing to take them. Especially when they are often successful because a lot of those tourists are naive. In a country full of poverty, there are always going to be people who will do what it takes to survive.

  • sikiş izle | Dec 12, 2013 at 6:45 am

    Living there for eight years makes it even easier, I assume, because you get to know the right and the wrong spots in a city.

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 19, 2014 at 3:45 pm

      It’s probably like any city that has a level of criminality – the better you know it, the safer you’ll be. I also think that thieves and scammers often target the tourist areas, where they know people will be less streetsmart. People who have lived in a city for years often don’t hang out in tourist areas, so they’re not exposed to the crime.

  • Abigail | Dec 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    As a Phnom Penh resident of 4 years, and a regular traveller of the country, I agree that opportunistic crime has always been there and that the massive and many positives of Cambodia outweigh the need to be a bit careful.

    Tuk tuk drivers warn of bag snatches because they want you to be safe during your trip with them. My Cambodian friends are always warning me to be careful of my bag, my wallet etc for the same reason – because they don’t want something bad to happen. It’s easy to get paranoid with repeated warnings, but it’s because people want you to have a good time.

    I’ve had two bag snatches in my time here, and it taught me to be careful with my bag and not to carry things I value. $20 and a rubbish phone? Good luck to you, Mr Thief! It’s certainly not worth violence in order to get your stuff back.

    I also aways sniff moto-drivers and tuk tuk drivers to check they haven’t been drinking before I hop on. I have phone numbers for reliable tuktuks and motodops whom I trust – ask at your guesthouse for a recommendation, and ask a driver for his number.

    For balance, I’ve people run down the street after me because I left my change/helmet/jacket at their shop. I’ve had people stop and help me with my motobike when it’s not working. I’ve had a shopkeeper give me a stool and call a tuk tuk for me when none are passing. These little gestures are not done for cash, but from the genuine hearts of ordinary Cambodians.

    Unfortunately, bad news stories travel much more quickly than reports of acts of kindness.

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 19, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      You’re right that the bad news stories travel faster – I guess that’s also because it’s more important to warn others about potential dangers. But it’s so nice to hear your stories of kindness and warmth from Cambodians. I hope everyone who visits has those kinds of experiences and shares them with other travellers. While it’s good to be honest and critical of a country, you should also be fair and give both sides of the story!

  • Jennifer | Dec 20, 2013 at 1:57 pm

    I take these types of warnings with a grain of salt. They are the experiences of one or two people and hear say that can be over dramatized. I think the opportunity exists anywhere and there are things you can do to increase your awareness to avoid putting yourself in a bad situation.

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 19, 2014 at 3:50 pm

      Hearsay can definitely be exaggerated and that’s a real problem with these stories you hear on the road. I’ve definitely been told the same tale by multiple people who all claim it was their friend who it happened to. You wonder how much these tales change each time they are retold over the months or the years that they circulate…

  • Johan | Dec 31, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    I am leaving for Cambodia in approximately 2 weeks time, and just love the different posts of safety in Cambodia. Different travellers will experience different things, and attitude has a lot to do with it. I am from South Africa, and to be more specific Johannesburg. The so called crime city of the World! I am safe here, but aware of my surroundings at all times, and so it has to be whenever, wherever you travel to. Time has changed, and so has the face of crime. I honestly think it is just common sense not to flash your wallet / backpack/ cell phones etc in such a poor country, of for this matter – IN ANY COUNTRY! Remember that you are a guest in a foreign Country, and to get respect you have to earn it. I have read so many great things about Cambodia, and that is why I want to go and visit this Country. Thank you for all the advise given in the posts and positives’ about Cambodia!

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 19, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Johan! Please drop back and let us all know how you find Cambodia. I’ve heard horror stories about J’burg but have never been myself. It’s one of those places that might not live up to the reputation (in terms of the crime). But, like Cambodia, perhaps the whole thing has been exaggerated?

    • WA | Feb 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm

      If they don’t know how to treat their guests and environment with respect, that is their loss.

  • WA | Feb 10, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    A place to avoid. If you have to go, go in groups. One don’t feel safe in the streets. All the guesthouses I had stayed in have been shabby, inhospitable and horrible in most ways. The fact is those Asians don’t know even how to run a proper guesthouse/hostel. The way they run their hostels are disgusting. I had mostly unpleasant experiences and naturally would avoid going to such a snobbish, expensive, filthy and dangerous place again.

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 17, 2014 at 11:56 am

      I’m sure a lot of the people who have commented here would disagree with you – but that just goes to the point of the story, I guess. Everyone has different experiences and everyone has different expectations. Personally I never found Cambodians to be snobbish or dangerous but some people will.

      • WA | Mar 3, 2014 at 4:27 pm

        I do find that they not interested in helping out anyone that they considered as poor.
        They are only interested in ripping off tourists.
        I think it is another unsafe Asian destinations where one just hope nothing untoward would happen.
        I guess if one is tolerant of the constant dreadful inconveniences, filthy environment, their obsession with money combined wit poor quality services/goods, their dangerous roads/traffic/environment, ugly environment, snobbishness and their frequent rip off; nothing really bad would happen.

  • Johan | Feb 10, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    I just came back from an amazing two weeks in Cambodia – visiting Siem Reap, Phnom Penh en Kep. I have stayed mostly in 3stars Hotels, and never felt unsafe at all. I was aware what was going on around me, until I have noticed how many solo women travellers are in Cambodia. I have not seen any unruly behaviours, drunk people etc. like you will see in Bangkok.

    I have spoken to many people who travelled through Cambodia, and none felt unsafe at any time.

    Will definitely return to Cambodia, as a piece of me is till there!

    • Michael Turtle | Feb 17, 2014 at 11:57 am

      Great to hear you had a safe and happy time. It’s one of my favourite countries too – I think I’ve been there about 3 times now for quite long trips. Personally I have felt that it is safe for solo travellers (male or female) as long as they keep their wits about them. Seems like you have the same sentiment.

  • MO/ Dammam, Saudi Arabia | May 13, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Well well, i have been reading a lot about Cambodia for the last two months. I am in my way there in two weeks for two weeks. getting info is very important prior to go any where in the world. I like travel. I agree with most of the posts that being careful is very important to be saved during your travel. Yes I traveled to many different South Asia countries and so is other places. There is always thing go wrong no matter what you do right but this happen every where you go. Its going to be my first time with my cousin(male), My brother been in Cambodia for seven times with alone some times and with friends other times, as a matter of fact he just return from there. He advised me to go there and said that that i would love it as well. So If by brother said it me, that shows how save it is. Just thought to share this with you. Finally sorry for my English. (Arabic is my home language).
    to all enjoy your trip where ever you go

  • Marissa | May 21, 2014 at 11:01 pm

    Hi Michael. I’m in the midst of planning my first solo trip abroad and Cambodia is on my radar. I’ve received countless warnings from concerned relatives and friends which led me to research the safety of this country. I plan to fly into Siem Reap and to do the Angkwor Temple Tours. In addition to that I’d like to stay in a hostel, but I’m not sure yet.

    Do you have any pointers for a first-time traveler to Cambodia? Also, of the three neighboring countries, which would you recommend visiting ( Vietnam, Laos Thailand)

  • Leo Cheong | Jul 7, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    Me and a friend is visiting Cambodia for 9 days 8 nites. The first 6 days was in Siem Reap and the places visited is nice and the people also down to earth. i can feel their passion of serving us and try giving us what we want. It has been a wonderful experience in Siem Reap. Now we are in Phom Penh. the local ask us not to walk around during the nite especially after 8. They said alot of drug user wanking around and snatch thieves. so for the sake of safety we back to our guest house before 8pm. Even local hawker runner also said the same thing to us.

    • Michael Turtle | Jul 12, 2014 at 6:57 am

      I wonder why locals are warning you like this. Perhaps PP is getting more dangerous – or perhaps they are just being cautious because bad things can happen to tourists there sometimes. I agree, though, that it is the most dangerous part of the country and it’s where you should exercise the most caution.

  • Latesh Lilwa | Aug 11, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I had been to Cambodia for photography and came back with amazing memories. I did not find any issues at all and people were very friendly
    As far as safety goes wherever you travel you have to be cautious of your surroundings. This place is magical and it is a must visit for anyone who loves to travel
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  • Nuria garrido portellano | Nov 25, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    I live in Phnom Penh and I had being stolen on the streets a necklace today, I can not say PP is a safe city .

  • tom biber | Dec 1, 2014 at 4:53 am

    my girlfriend and i just arrieved the first time in pp and general in cambodia. i think it does not really matter where u are, if you have kind of sense of normal thinking about humen beings and treat everyone with respect you should usualy get along pretty good with the locals and all the other people who cross your way….(without beeing to easy about some important things for example walk drunk around in some alleyways or not listening to the warnings from the locals or people who life in this part of the world who you travelling around) fact is that you have idiots everywhere around the world which makes it inpossible to blaim a bunch of people or even a whole nation for the stupid things they do…second fact is that you also have also lot’s of nice people in this world and it’s everyones own decision who u trust or not….anyway we will looking forward to discover everything and might leave our experience either if its a good or bad one……safe travells to everyone

  • Samantha | Jan 14, 2015 at 6:06 pm

    I am planning to visit cambodia for the first time ever. My friend from South Korea will me there. Hope we will have an aswome experience.
    Message to everyone, no where is safe, guards up. I lived here in sacramento elk Grove area for over 30 years just now have to install an alarm system due to my sister in San Leandro gun point experience. My sister and her husband been beaten to death infront of her house demand money. Her husband was hospitalized. He went unconscious. They been traumatized since then and now paranoid about everything regards to safety.
    Just realize all of my neighbor already have an alarm system way before I did, due to a couple of break in around the neighborhood.
    Bag snatcher are in every country if you happened to be in the wrong place, wrong time without being cautious. Enjoy your trip everyone!!

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 30, 2015 at 4:31 am

      I hope you have a great time in Cambodia, Samantha!
      It’s true that crime can happen anywhere. I’m really sorry to hear about your sister and her husband. Hopefully you will have a wonderful experience on your trip and be able to share many stories of the lovely people and beautiful countryside.

  • Dom Dom | Mar 10, 2015 at 8:49 am

    Hi All & thanks for each & everyone for their posts here. After reading almost all the posts here I agree with few & disagree with few.
    thats the nature of human

  • Andres | Mar 15, 2015 at 5:15 am

    Thanks for this information. I never though to go to Cambodia, but my son is going in August with more than 10 friends. They all are 19 years plus, so still crazy enough. Your blog helps me to find some corridor of view about his country, people.
    Actually we all want from tourists in our domicile country to threat us respectful. So this will be my advice for my son and boys.
    Andres recently posted..South coast with world miracleMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | Mar 19, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      I am sure your son and his friends will have a great time. It is generally a very safe country. I’m sure they will meet lots of lovely local people who will look after them.

  • Sunny Fournier | Mar 23, 2015 at 2:56 am

    Been to Cambodia a few times and never a problem. Now I live here in Sihanoukville. It’s been 9 months.
    Never had any problems. I’ve seem more problems with tourists then locals.
    Beautiful people,
    Driving, well lets just say I don’t and won’t drive here.
    Just use commend sense like you would anywhere in the world and you’ll be fine.
    Enjoy what Cambodia has to offer and treat the people and culture with respect and enjoy your holiday.
    My 2 cents.

    • Michael Turtle | Apr 12, 2015 at 12:57 pm

      I certainly wouldn’t drive in Cambodia either. Far too scary! But I agree that you often have more problems with the toursits than the locals if you’re in the backpacker parts of the country (like Sihanoukville). Thanks for your comment!

  • Andy | Apr 6, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Spent a month riding a motorcycle all over Cambodia last year. Visited most cities, walked around at all hours, never once had an issue. The people are great. Food is fantastic. Just be respectful to the locals and aware of your surroundings like in any part of the world. Those US travel warnings are ridiculous! High crime — what are they smoking? Felt far safer in Cambo than 90% of US cities I’ve been to. Life is short folks. Ignore the silly travel warnings and go explore!

    • Michael Turtle | Apr 12, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      Good point! I have felt really scared in some US cities before (probably with good reason) – and I’ve never had anything like that in SE Asia.

      • Jonatan Wentzel | Apr 21, 2015 at 10:58 pm

        I was just going to say! I didn’t read all the comments here, but all of the ones I did could just be about any city, anywhere in the world. Where should you not be careful of pick-pockets and bag-snatchers? I’ve been to New Orleans in the USA, so I guess I can also go to Cambodia 🙂

        But thanks for a very good post and comment thread! It is always very good with recent examples of what has happened to people, as I believe there’s some kind of “fashion” in the methods of “the bad guys”.

  • Rachel Davey | Apr 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    I travelled in Cambodia a few years back, and at no point did I ever feel in danger or unsafe. The people are some of the most beautiful and giving I have ever met.

    Michael, it’s funny that you mention that you have felt more unsafe in US cities, rather than anywhere you have travelled in SE Asia, and I totally agree with you here.

    I recently travelled through Central Asia and Iran with another female traveller, and we felt incredibly safe the entire time.
    Rachel Davey recently posted..Why travel to Iran | 8 Things I loved the mostMy Profile

    • Michael Turtle | May 17, 2015 at 4:36 pm

      The places that people expect to be unsafe (Iran, etc) are often the safest. I think the most crime for travellers comes about when there’s a high concentration of tourists. That’s whay I’m sure there are incidents in PP and Siem Reap of criminal behaviour. But the country as a whole is a really easy place to travel around.

  • Theo | May 8, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    I was in Phnom Phen last week for 5 days, walking early morning ( 6 am) or late at night ( 10 pm ) was OK.
    I rent a room at a simple nice hotel “Tan Tower” at 464 X 155 str, for $ 15 per night, ( hot water, AC ,
    no breakfast) very close to the market (Tuol Tom Poung) where you can get many tropical fruits and
    bargaining clothes, wallets, belts atc.

    • Michael Turtle | May 17, 2015 at 5:25 pm

      Good to hear you had a nice time in Phnom Penh. The markets are a great way to get a sense of the city!

  • Jason | Aug 10, 2015 at 2:28 am

    Unfortunately we had our bag snatched last night in Siem reap, after being overseas for eight months; Nepal, india and Thailand, four days after arriving here. We heard the stories about this country, I had checked ‘scams in Cambodia’ before arriving.

    Our back pack was in the front basket of my wife’s bicycle but was clipped to the head stem of the bicycle. The solo motorcyclist had to try twice to pull it out and break the clip. We thought the bag was safe, but he was amazingly quick and dextrous.

    Alao, friends of ours had a bag stolen in a tuk tuk in Phnom Penh two weeks ago.

    I also have an infection so attended Angkor international hospital. $120 fee became $170 with additionally two courses of antibiotics $60 each. We decided not to purchase and went to a local chemist and the antibiotics were $3 each.

    We felt safe in the last eight months and even knowing and discussing together we had to be more on our guard in Cambodia we were targeted.

    Also, we tend not to trust hotel staff and Te hotel had no safe, so kept our valuables with us, so we did lose important belongings.

    • Michael Turtle | Aug 26, 2015 at 8:13 pm

      I’m sorry to hear all of that and thanks for sharing your story here for everyone. I really hope losing your valuables hasn’t put too much of a dampener on what sounds like an amazing trip.

  • dario | Sep 30, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Why would anyone carry a backpack? Except when you arrive from the bus station, all you usually need as a tourist is the guide book ,wallet and maybe the passport. It’s not a trekking on the mountains.. That would cut down the chances of bag snatching while walking or on tuktuk.

    I realize it doesn’t apply to residents, but after all the article topic is about violence agains turists/travellers.

  • Stephen | Nov 19, 2015 at 11:05 am

    Hi all, me and my gf unfortunately have a negative experience to add into the thread. Six days ago my gf’s necklace was snatched off her neck by a thief on the back of a 2 person moped while we were walking in broad daylight to the s-21 prison in Phnom Penh.

    Were now in siem reap and do feel a lot safer and these issues may be worse in PP BUT I would warn any traveller to take a lot of care in Cambodia and especially PP as we could certainly got a negative vibe while we were there. It was also quite unnerving to see a fair amount of poverty/desperation while some of the residents drove round in luxury Lexus or Range Rover cars.

    Perhaps we were too relaxed having travelled in other SE Asian countries for the past two months and we merely had something that was accessible and on offer in an inner city but unfortunately we are not an isolated case as the internet Is littered with many similar stories.

    I know this is a personal experience and we have met travellers who love the islands in the south, kampot and the western provinces and I’m sure many will travel without problems. I would just advise to be careful in PP and we heard very negative reports about Sihnokvulle and the night buses (Athough we travelled with giant ibis who were one of the best bus companies I’ve ever used!).

    • Michael Turtle | Dec 14, 2015 at 7:54 am

      Thanks for sharing your story, really appreciate it. Yeah, it certainly seems there are quite a few tales about this kind of petty theft in PP. I would normally warn people to me careful with their possessions – but what can you do about a necklace, eh? You can hardly make it more secure!

      I’m pleased to hear that the rest of your trip has been incident-free. Hopefully this was just an unfortunate but isolated event for you and you don’t let it ruin the trip.

  • Paul C | Dec 28, 2015 at 5:09 pm

    I live in Asia for nearly a decade, currently in Vietnam since 2012. Saigon has bag snatching issues and petty crime can turn out violent but I’ve never felt threatened once. During my short stay in Cambodia I never ran into any problem either but wandering around at night in Phnom Penh felt quite unnerving with many junkies around and deep poverty smacked in my face pretty plainly. It’s maybe paranoia but alarm bells were kinda ringing. This prompted me to act safe. So I would not recommand mucking around at night unless you know what you are doing and where you are going.

    Aside from that I highly recommand Cambodia.

    • Michael Turtle | Jan 17, 2016 at 3:38 am

      I think that’s good advice – you definitely shouldn’t be mucking around at night in Phnom Penh. But I’m pleased to hear that you’re of a fairly similar view to me – that there is petty crime happening in certain spots but generally there’s not much dangerous crime going on.

  • Robbie T | Feb 8, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    I enjoyed reading the OP and the replies, but wish I had seen them earlier so I could avoid what happened to me and my Chinese gf. She was tossed to ground in an attempted purse snatching today in broad daylight (3:30 PM) on a busy street filled with people (136 near the river). The scores of motorbike taxis, tuk tuk drivers and everyone else watched as he rode away, and a few even were laughing. Search “bag theft” on Google and see a decade’s worth of stories pop up – ours was not an isolated incident but instead part of an epidemic that no one cares enough about to fix. We will be out on the first flight tomorrow and never come back. Why tolerate such an injustice?

    • Hank | Mar 20, 2016 at 11:47 am

      That’s unfortunate. A French woman was killed in Phnom Penh a few years ago when a thief grabbed her bag and she was pulled off her bike.

    • Hank | Mar 20, 2016 at 11:47 am

      That’s unfortunate. A French woman was killed in Phnom Penh a few years ago when a thief grabbed her bag and she was pulled off her bike.

  • The best way to prepare for a trip: 3 great blogs for safe travel tips - Travel Wallet Expert | Mar 14, 2016 at 7:27 am

    […] been one of my favorite places for a not-too-far-away adventure. In the Turtle’s article on Cambodia, Michael manages to weave a story of the countries history with loads of rich photography while […]

  • officialtravelnews | May 5, 2016 at 9:43 am

    I cannot stand these beggars and thieves anymore ! Thailand is so safe compared to shitttthole Cambodia ! Why the police does not keep them in jail ? Can they pay their way out ?

  • Kerri | May 17, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    Hi, I just read your post. Thanks so much. I am a woman and I’ll be going alone. A friend who went recommended me hiring a trou company to take me to the important places which I thought is ridiculous, but after reading your post I am starting to think maybe I should get a tour guide so I am not completely alone.

    Would appreciate if you let me know what you think ?

  • Kerri | May 17, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    Hi, I just read your post. Thanks so much. I am a woman and I’ll be going alone. A friend who went recommended me hiring a tour company to take me to the important places which I thought is ridiculous, but after reading your post I am starting to think maybe I should get a tour guide so I am not completely alone.

    Would appreciate if you let me know what you think ?

    • Jon | Jul 14, 2016 at 8:36 pm

      Personally I wouldn’t bother with a tour company; very expensive. Use reputable bus companies such as ‘Capitol’ or ‘Sorya’, no frills but well priced. When you get to your destination ask your guesthouse to get a tuk-tuk for you, make sure that the guesthouse phones the driver, not just gets some driver off the street. Just don’t take the night buses, I’ve heard some bad stories about them, drivers taking drugs to keep them awake, a bit anecdotal, but best be safe.

  • Morten Andreassen | Jul 17, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    The best advice that I can give if you think that you are going to be robbed is to start singing in a growling death-metal voice, and if the situation looks serious, then punch yourself if the head a few times. The robbers might even buy you a few drinks, and hell, even if it doesnt avert the robbery, you still have an interesting travel story to tell.

    • Michael Turtle | Aug 6, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      That’s unusual advice… does it actually work? I agree that at least you’ll have an interesting story… if you survive!

  • John Palmer | Aug 31, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    Some of you might not know but Cambodia has a lot of deported gang members from Los Angeles that have did time in some of America’s most dangerous prisons for murder, rape, robbery and gang killings. With no jobs or opportunities to make money of course they’re going to apply there notorious trades they learned in the America on the tourist! I know this because I’m an ex-gang member from Los Angeles and a resident.

  • Travel To Cambodia Safety Travel From Cambodia To Malaysia – Travel Cambodia | Nov 7, 2016 at 2:30 pm

    […] Is Cambodia safe for travellers? – Time Travel Turtle – Is Cambodia safe for … Thailand or Malaysia. Cambodia is a beautiful country and it does not deserve to … Is Cambodia safe for travellers? – Time Travel … […]

  • April Yap | Nov 9, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Nice photos I want to visit here on vacation time.

  • Hengly | Nov 26, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Actually Cambodia is one of the really safe country to take a tour. With many natural tours place.
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  • Joe | Dec 4, 2016 at 11:04 am

    I have travelled Cambodia a few times (1 month each) and also lived here for the past 6 months. I have always felt that if you have some common sense. i.e. not getting blind drunk and walking the streets at night with all of your belongings, then 95% of the time you will be fine.

    There is always the odd occasion when you haven’t done anything thing wrong and something bad will happen, but isn’t that the same in any country?

    For anybody worried about the safety of Cambodia, I would say it is no worse than Thailand or Vietnam. Be sensible, no your limits and be switched on to what is happening around you.

    But most of all, have fun. The country is full of wonderful people that just want to engage with foreigners.

  • Indochina travel | Jan 5, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    I would worry more about your wallet getting harvested, to be honest.
    Indochina travel recently posted..Classic Cambodia & LaosMy Profile

  • Danny | Feb 14, 2017 at 8:28 pm

    I’ve been going to Cambodia every year now. I travel all around the country and have never had any problems. The people are genuine.
    However like any big city Phnom Penh does attract some bad elements and incidents do happen.
    I haven’t had any problems there but common sense safety should be practiced.
    Cambodia is a great place to visit, highly recommend.

  • jonh marsh | Feb 17, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    I think cambodia is not safe it all, my wife handbag got riped of her shoulder while walking on the street, while my wife and i are sleeping the police kicked in the hotel door because we had sex movies on our tablet so they arrested us we end up in prison for a month, ,because sex movie in Cambodia is against they way of living is sort of illegal but everybody watch sex movies including all the police, after paying the police and corrupt lawyer’s about 50000 us dollars they released us from prison they said you free to go, been in prison in Cambodia seen so many white people in prison but they have no spare money to pay to the police so they have to stay in prison, its so corrupt and prison is worse than hell, 30 people in a 10 sq mtr room, filthy and full of deseases. Jom

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