How to Travel Safely in Cambodia

Don’t use your phone/iPad/electronics in a tuk-tuk – Thieves will ride close to your tuk-tuk, then the person on the back will reach in and snatch your prized possession from you. Before you can even blink, they will be out of sight and you are never seeing that item again. Although electronics can be replaced, and many photos are on the cloud nowadays, the item that is much more difficult to replace is a passport. I know numerous people who have had their passports stolen, all in Phnom Penh. If you are carrying it around with you, it is best to have it tucked into a sleeve in your body, never keeping it in a bag.

Always wear mosquito repellent – Sound advice from a girl who contracted dengue fever just 7km from a city. Don’t feel as though you can only get sick in rural areas. ALWAYS wear mosquito repellent, and make sure it is powerful.

Be careful travelling by yourself in the evenings – I have friends who have been seriously injured when travelling by themselves at night. One was pulled off her bicycle and received serious head injuries. Another was accosted by a gang of men near the river and fortunately got away from them in the nick of time. Thieves target Khmers and foreigners; no one is exempt. If you are travelling around Cambodia solo, it pays to be extra alert and find a regular, trustworthy tuk-tuk driver to cart you around. It is best not to carry bags with you in the evenings.

Avoid political gatherings – If you see what you assume is a political gathering, run away. Things can easily get out of control, and you don’t want to be a bystander when the guns are brought out.

Wear face masks when in dusty areas – Many roads in Cambodia are not paved, and you will literally inhale dust every time you travel down them. Buy a mask to cover your nose and mouth and use it. Many people in Cambodia do the same, so you won’t stick out like a sore thumb.

Only drink filtered, boiled and sealed water – The tap water in Cambodia is not safe to drink. Ensure that you only drink filtered water, boiled water or sealed water bottles. It is estimated that 4.6 million water bottles are generated by the tourism industry alone in Siem Reap, so consider purchasing a refillable on arrival in Cambodia and fill up at any of the clean water stations around the country.

Avoid wearing jewellery – I don’t like to give this advice because I believe that you should wear whatever you want without being attacked for it. However, if you wear jewellery, there is a high chance it will be snatched and grabbed, and you will be taken along for the ride. Not only will you potentially lose a valuable or sentimental piece of jewellery, you may also be injured. Snatch and grabs occur with both Cambodians and foreigners, and those who steal from you are so well trained that you won’t even realise what is happening until it is too late. Leave the jewellery at home.

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