Is Cambodia safe to travel to?
Tour the Golden Lands with a spark of common sense for safety.
Important Read: Travel Advisory Level 1
The US Department of State currently advises travelers to use normal safety precautions for Cambodia, except in Phnom Penh and remote areas. Cambodia doesn’t pose a high risk for the coronavirus at this time with few cases to speak of. But keep these points in mind in case it starts dotting the country:
- If you’re buying travel insurance today, you’re unlikely to get coverage for most coronavirus-related claims.
- If you purchased your policy before the coronavirus turned into a known event, you may get covered. You’ll need to contact your insurance company to be sure.
Last update: March 9, 2020
This developing nation is considered safe to explore in touristy towns like Siem Reap and beyond. But you could find yourself the target of petty crimes like purse-snatching or tourist scams, especially in Phnom Penh. For safety’s sake, plan how to get around, what vaccinations to take and for food and water concerns ahead of time.
What's in this guide?
- Is Cambodia safe to visit in 2020?
- Is the food and drink safe in Cambodia?
- Compare travel insurance for Cambodia
- Do I need vaccinations before going to Cambodia?
- Is it safe to drive in Cambodia?
- Is transportation safe in Cambodia?
- Is it safe to travel to Cambodia when pregnant?
- Is Cambodia safe to travel alone?
- What travel insurance should I consider for Cambodia?
- Bottom line
- Common questions about traveling in Cambodia
Is Cambodia safe to visit in 2020?
Most parts of Cambodia welcome travelers with relative safety so long as you use your common sense during your trip. No major natural disasters or terrorist threats have happened in the country’s recent history. However, travelers do experience petty crime, sexual assault and scams throughout Cambodia.
To stay safe you can:
- Travel light and stay aware of your belongings.
- Use ATMs in covered, lighted places.
- Avoid traveling at night, especially alone.
- If a robbery happens, allow it and file police and insurance reports afterward.
- Avoid locals who invite you inside their homes, especially for card games. Card games often turn into money scams.
- Use a local guide if navigating remote towns.
- Report unknown metal objects to the Cambodia Mine Action Center. These are commonly found in remote areas, especially Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, Kampong Thom, Pailin, Pursat and Siem Reap provinces.
- Bring your own prescription or over-the-counter medication, only buying in Cambodia if it’s urgent. Local medicine in Cambodia may be counterfeit.
Travel insurance should cover you during most of these scenarios. If you need medical treatment for serious injuries or illness, a policy with medical coverage should offer financial help and emergency support.
Is the food and drink safe in Cambodia?
Is it safe to eat in Cambodia?
Cambodia is not known for having high food safety standards compared to restaurants in developed countries. New reports and reviewers suggest many people suffer from food poisoning in Cambodia. Take these precautions when eating at street food stalls or established restaurants:
- Choose restaurants with a lot of people since that shows general safety and food freshness.
- Avoid eating any raw food, including fruits or vegetables. If you do venture for some raw fruit, consider peeling and washing it yourself.
- Ask for meat cooked well done and double-check before you take a bite.
- Avoid food cut or prepared by the same person who touches cash.
Is the water safe to drink?
No, water in Cambodia may harbor water-borne illnesses that could threaten your health. You can buy bottled water in most areas, but you might use water purification tablets if you’re unsure about the water’s safety. Follow these water safety tips to help keep you safe:
- Drink bottled water with a sealed cap.
- Avoid brushing your teeth with tap water in case you swallow any.
- Avoid ice in drinks altogether.
- In addition to avoiding tap water, don’t drink unlabeled or street alcohol. Methanol poisoning is common in Cambodia and can have serious side effects.
- Don’t leave your alcoholic drink unattended or accept any from strangers. Criminals may pollute your drink for sexual assault or theft.
Compare travel insurance for Cambodia
Do I need vaccinations before going to Cambodia?
You should ask your doctor about a number of vaccinations typically recommended for those traveling to Cambodia. First off, update your regular vaccinations before leaving. The CDC’s recommendations and your doctor can best advise you on which vaccines to get and their risks. Those may include:
- Measles — Travelers under age one may need one dose of MMR, while those over one may need two doses.
- Hepatitis A — This disease is easily picked up in contaminated food or water.
- Typhoid — A bacterial infection that can cause stomach troubles or worse. You’re especially at risk in rural areas or when eating local food.
- Hepatitis B — This illness is spread through contaminated needles, blood or through sexual contact.
- Japanese encephalitis — You may need this vaccine if you’re traveling outdoors or staying in Cambodia for more than a month.
- Malaria — Bring medication and supplies to keep mosquitoes away. You can use mosquito repellent or wear loose, long and light-colored clothing as extra precautions.
- Rabies — Consider if you’ll be staying outdoors, exploring caves, going to rural areas or working around animals.
- Yellow fever — Only required if you’re traveling from a country at risk for yellow fever, including transfers on your way to Cambodia.
Is it safe to drive in Cambodia?
Accidents are common in Cambodia for all types of vehicles, especially if driving at night. You may face drunk drivers on the road regularly, and road conditions are poor in rural areas or dirt roads after heavy rain.
If you plan on scooting around Cambodia on your own, you’ll need a Cambodian driver’s license. Your US or international driver’s license won’t be recognized in the country. You don’t need a license if you’re driving a motorcycle under 125cc.
Is transportation safe in Cambodia?
You should stay vigilant on public transportation since traveling in any method can get dangerous with mixed traffic and unenforced laws. Common options you might see:
- Motorcycles. Moto-taxis, tuk-tuks and cyclos are common two- or three-wheeled motorcycles the US State Department doesn’t recommend taking. If you use any taxi, negotiate a price before getting in the vehicle.
- Buses. Buses see frequent and sometimes serious accidents, even those transporting tourists between major cities. Take extra care if you’re using these intercity buses.
- Ridesharing. The ridesharing service Grab is available in a few major areas like Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Grab provides a cheaper alternative to taxis.
- Boats. Boats and ferry services in Cambodia don’t always align with Western safety standards. You might check on the boat’s safety equipment before boarding.
- Airlines. The Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t give information about the safety of local Cambodian airlines. Be prepared for rescheduled or canceled flights at short notice in some instances.
Is it safe to travel to Cambodia when pregnant?
Traveling to Cambodia involves multiple health risks for pregnant women. You should talk over the current risks and the health of your pregnancy if you’re expecting but want to travel. As a general rule, pregnant women are encouraged not to travel in their third trimester.
Cambodia has a history of spreading the Zika virus, but it may not be spreading right now. You can look up Zika outbreaks in different countries on the CDC’s Zika travel information webpage. Also, you might face more general risks like food poisoning or illnesses you can’t receive vaccinations for while pregnant.
If you experience pregnancy complications, Cambodia doesn’t offer strong medical services. You can find basic care in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap — and not much else. Plus, you should avoid buying over-the-counter or prescription drugs in this country since some medications may be fake and toxic.
Is Cambodia safe to travel alone?
Many solo backpackers and other travelers hit the beaten track through Cambodia every year. You can stay safe as long as you follow standard safety precautions like avoiding traveling at night. Follow a few tips to ensure your safety:
- Avoid traveling at night, if possible.
- Arrange accommodations before you arrive.
- Be aware of your belongings, surroundings and alcoholic drinks.
- Cover up your legs, chest and arms to avoid unwanted attention.
- Female travelers should stay cautious around bars or restaurants focused on serving alcohol. Turn down free drinks from friendly strangers.
What travel insurance should I consider for Cambodia?
You might benefit from standard or wide coverage if you’re traveling to Cambodia. Coverage to consider:
- Lost or stolen baggage. This coverage can help you recover costs if your airline loses your luggage or if your bags get stolen during your trip.
- Medical care and transportation. Cambodia’s medical care doesn’t measure up to services in most countries. If you need urgent medical care, you’re likely to need evacuation, which can lead to expensive medical bills later.
- Trip cancellation or interruption. If you travel on Cambodia’s airlines or experience an urgent need to cancel your trip, this coverage pays back any nonrefundable expenses.
Cambodia offers striking landscapes, ancient ruins and interesting culture — but traveling and eating like a local can bring danger you’re not used to thinking about. Protect yourself from the unexpected with wide travel coverage before you sojourn here.