Cambodia is a relatively safe country and the political situation is generally quite stable. There are frequent instances of petty crime like pick-pocketing 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 never touch any rockets, artillery shells, mortars, mines, bombs or other war material they may come across. The most heavily mined part of the country is along the Thai border area.
Health risks in Cambodia
Malaria is common in Cambodia and prophylactics are recommended for all areas except Phnom Penh and around Lake Tonle Sap. Dengue fever, also transmitted by mosquitoes, is prevalent in heavily populated areas and the risk increases just after the rainy season. Expats living in Cambodia should take precautions such as using insect repellent and keeping 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 risk 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 common, especially in crowded areas like the riverfront and BKK areas of Phnom Penh, as well as beaches and tourist areas of Sihanoukville and nearby islands. 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 with their belongings and keeping valuables out of sight, especially after dark.
Road safety in Cambodia
Cambodia has a high rates 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.
Due to the large numbers of foreigners involved in road accidents on motorcycles, police occasionally ban hiring outlets from renting motorcycles or scooters to tourists.
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. It is not advisable to travel anywhere at night.
Terrorism in Cambodia
There is some risk of terrorism in Cambodia due to continuing terrorist activity in the wider Southeast Asia region. Expats should avoid political gatherings and protests. Some governments advise their nationals to avoid the Cambodian-Thai border areas because of ongoing border disputes; the Preah Vihear temple area has become particularly dangerous.
►Doing Business in Cambodia is an important read for expats working in the country
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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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