Cambodia is a relatively safe country and the political situation is generally quite stable. There are frequent instances of petty crime like pickpocketing and burglary, but expats don’t need to be paranoid, just cautious.
One of the biggest risks to safety in Cambodia outside of the city centres are landmines. Expats should never wander off the main thoroughfares in rural Cambodia, and avoid any rockets, artillery shells, mortars, mines, bombs or other war material they may come across. The most heavily landmined part of the country is along the Thai border area.
Health risks in Cambodia
Malaria is common in Cambodia and anti-malarial precautions should be taken in almost all areas of the country, though Phnom Penh is considered a risk-free area. Dengue fever, also transmitted by mosquitoes, is prevalent in heavily populated areas and the risk increases during the rainy season. Expats living in Cambodia should make use of insect repellent and keep skin covered, even during the day.
Heatstroke, dehydration and sunburn are also risks in Cambodia, especially during the hottest months from March to May. Expats can avoid these risks by drinking plenty of clean water and keeping indoors during the hottest hours.
Food and water safety in Cambodia
Tap water is not suitable for drinking but bottled water is widely available. Expats should also avoid uncooked meat, unpeeled fruit, salads and food sold by street vendors, and beverages with ice.
Crime in Cambodia
Expats and foreign tourists present an attractive target for criminals, but violent crime in Cambodia is rare. Petty crimes, on the other hand, are fairly common, especially in crowded spots like beaches and tourist areas. Bag-snatchings are prevalent and are often committed by people on scooters or motorbikes rushing past unsuspecting victims. Expats can lower their risk of being attacked by being vigilant and keeping valuables out of sight, especially after dark.
Road safety in Cambodia
Cambodia has a high rate of road traffic accidents. Most roads are in poor condition and travelling after dark is particularly risky. Hazards include overloaded vehicles, erratic driving, vehicles without lights and stray cattle.
Landmines in Cambodia
Cambodia remains one of the most heavily landmined countries in the world. Mined areas are often unmarked. When hiking or visiting rural areas or temple complexes, expats should travel with a local guide and never stray off the main paths.
Terrorism in Cambodia
There is some risk of terrorism in Cambodia. Expats should avoid political gatherings and protests. Some governments advise their nationals to avoid the Cambodian-Thai border areas because of ongoing border disputes.
►Doing Business in Cambodia is a useful read for expats working in the country
"Pickpocketing and opportunistic theft (mostly wallets, phones and handbags) are a well-known downside to the bustling tourist market scene here, so we have to remember to only take essentials out with us and not to flaunt any valuables or leave them lying around."
Read more of Clare's expat interview about Cambodia.
Are you an expat living in Cambodia?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Cambodia. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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