- Despite the efforts of Cambodian authorities and other agencies in reducing the overall rate of HIV/AIDS, there remains a significant risk of contracting HIV/AIDS in certain high risk activities such as unprotected sex and injecting drugs.
- Remember that AIDS/HIV and Hepatitis B are very prevalent amongst Cambodia's sex workers.
- Mosquito-borne diseases (including malaria, dengue fever and Japanese encephalitis) are prevalent in Cambodia. We encourage you to consider taking prophylaxis against malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases where necessary; and to take measures to avoid insect bites, including using an insect repellent at all times, wearing long, loose fitting, light colored clothing and ensuring your accommodation is mosquito proof.
- Water-borne, food-borne, parasitic and other infectious diseases (including cholera, hepatitis, tuberculosis, typhoid and rabies) are common with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food.
- Avian influenza: The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed human cases of avian influenza in Cambodia.
- When you are in Cambodia, be aware that local laws and penalties do apply to you.
- Penalties for drug offences, including those involving "soft drugs", are severe and include lengthy jail sentences.
- Cambodian authorities are committed to protecting their cultural heritage. A permit is required to purchase or possess cultural and archaeological artefacts. The penalty under Cambodian law for an unintentional act concerning cultural heritage property is a minimum of six months and a maximum five years imprisonment and a fine equal to the value of the cultural object. An intentional act attracts a minimum of two to eight years' imprisonment and a fine equal to double the value of the cultural object.
- In 2011, the Cambodia government changed the requirements applying to marriages between foreign men and Cambodian women. Foreign men wishing to marry a Cambodian woman must be under 50 years of age, and have a monthly income of at least US$2,500 at the time their marriage was approved by the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. They do not apply if both people are over 50 years of age.
- Cambodian authorities are committed to combating child sex tourism. There are severe penalties under Cambodian law for those participating in such activity. In Cambodia, penalties for child sex offences are severe.
- Photographing members of the public without prior permission, especially monks and other religious figures, is considered culturally inappropriate. You should avoid taking photographs near sensitive sites such as military zones, assets or personnel, transportation facilities and government buildings.
Safety and securities:
- In comparison to other major tourist destinations around the world, Cambodia is a fairly safe travel destination. Provincial destinations in Cambodia such as Siem Reap and the temples of Angkor are exceptionally safe. The only notable security concerns include: 1) traffic/transportation safety; 2) petty and sometimes violent street crime in Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville.
Traffic and Transportation
- Traffic accidents are not uncommon in the chaotic traffic of Cambodia, particularly Phnom Penh and on the National Routes between major cities. The most common and convenient forms of public transportation are the tuk-tuk and the moto-taxi (motodup), though car taxi is the safest way to move around the city.
- For those who choose to rent a motorcycle and drive themselves, be forewarned that traffic in Phnom Penh is chaotic in the extreme. Chaotic traffic makes motorcycling challenging in the extreme. Roads outside the city vary in condition. If you do decide to ride, drive slowly, stay right, wear a helmet and remember that medical services are limited, especially in the countryside where it is almost non-existent. Only experienced riders should attempt driving in Cambodia.
- Like most countries around the world, criminal activity is probably the greatest threat to the tourist after traffic accidents.
- Outside of Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville, violent criminal activity directed against foreign tourists is quite rare. There have been some bag snatchings in Siem Reap. And over the last several years there have also been a few violent assaults of foreigners traveling alone in the countryside. But at least at this point in time, these crimes are exceptions rather than the rule Generally speaking, provincial capitals such as Siem Reap, Battambang and others are exceptionally safe.
- Phnom Penh Street robberies of tourists in Phnom Penh, though not common, are reported with some regularity. Most occur at night, near popular tourist destinations and almost always to tourists on the back of a motorcycle taxi or on foot. The robbers are sometimes armed with a handgun and usually only want money. Though the robbers generally avoid applying violence, they will become violent if challenged. The surest way to avoid robbery is to take a car taxi when traveling after dark. If you choose to take a motorcycle taxi, it is best to stay on main roads rather than dark side streets. It is best not to travel long distances by foot after dark. If you are confronted by robbers, do not resist. Give up your money quickly and they will probably leave as quickly as they showed up.
- Snatch and grab robberies are also regularly reported, targeting both locals and tourists - bag, camera, iPhone/iPad or necklace is grabbed by a passing motorcyclist. Be particularly aware when you first arrive by bus/plane and are taking a tuk-tuk to your hotel. When walking down the street, keep your camera/bag on your inside shoulder away from the traffic side. Most tuk-tuk drivers will advise you to keep your camera and bags in front of you in the middle of the tuk-tuk, not near outside where it can be grabbed. Also note that when riding on the back of a motorcycle taxi, keep your bag or backpack directly between you and the driver, or let the driver place it in front of him. There have been several reports of people pulled off of the back of motorcycle taxis when thieves grabbed the bag or backpack they were wearing.
- Nightclubs: Some posh Cambodian night clubs draw a dangerous crowd of the rich, connected and armed. The mixture of alcohol and guns can and too often does lead to violent confrontations and gun-play, inside and immediately outside the clubs. As a general rule, this is not the case at foreigner and tourist oriented clubs and bars.
- Other non-violent, non-confrontational crime does occur, but should almost go without mentioning. Do not leave money or valuables in your hotel room unattended. Do not leave money or valuables unattended on the beaches in Sihanoukville. Do not leave your bags in a taxi or on a motorcycle or cyclo while you go into a hotel to check in. Be very careful of your belongings if you take a prostitute to your hotel room. Be careful of pickpockets in tourist areas, in crowded discos and clubs, particularly clubs filled with prostitutes, and at the traditional markets such as Phsar Toul Thom Pong and Phsar Kandal in Phnom Penh where the pickpockets are often seemingly friendly children.
- Tourists and travelers report a few different minor scams in Siem Reap including the milk scam (i.e. bedraggled woman with infant in arms tells you she doesn't want money, just milk for her baby. You buy milk for her at the mini-mart. After you leave she returns the milk and splits money with the mini-mart) and the rice scam (i.e. tout tells you orphanage/school needs rice for kids. Takes you to market where you buy wildly overpriced rice to donate. Tout/vendor split profit. Not as common these days.) But currently the most costly and frightening scam in Cambodia is what has come to be known as the 'Blackjack Scam,' or the "Philippine Blackjack Scam" - passing on the street or in the market a friendly stranger, often a couple, tells you he likes your glasses, shirt, bag, etc. Casual conversation ensues. They invite you to their house to meet family/have dinner/have cultural experience. Friendly card game begins. Before you know it you owe hundreds or even thousands of dollars and are being escorted to the ATM by a group of thugs.
- When the topic is landmines is raised, Cambodia is usually one of the first countries to be mentioned, but fortunately, mines are not a concern for the average tourist. The remaining mines are concentrated in border areas (particularly the Thai border), some mountain areas and other old war zones. There are no mines in major cities and towns. The areas around the temple ruins in Siem Reap were demined long ago and is considered quite safe. Adventure travelers to remote sections of Cambodia need to take extra mine safety precautions.
The vast majority of tourists that visit Cambodia will never face any of the problems mentioned above.
Do not do in Cambodia, what you would not do in your home country.
Be aware of your surroundings.
Always use common sense.