Standing near giant tree roots at Ta Prohm jungle temple Cambodia
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Is Cambodia Safe for Female Travellers?

If you’re asking “Is Cambodia safe for female travellers” the answer is YES, Cambodia is considered a safe country to visit. Solo female travellers in Cambodia can explore the country easily and comfortably taking the usual safety precautions. Cambodia has a low crime rate and foreigners are generally respected.

I’ve enjoyed several solo trips to Cambodia and felt safe throughout the country. In my experience, Cambodian people are welcoming, friendly and helpful to tourists. I travelled by air, bus and riverboat and, in the busy cities and country towns, I enjoyed walking and getting around in a 3-wheeled tuk-tuk.

But nowhere is completely safe and while all travellers face risks overseas, women who are alone are especially vulnerable. There are some things that women travelling to Cambodia should be aware of.

This article looks at the scams and dangers that women often face while travelling in Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries. My advice for female travellers in Cambodia is simply to keep your wits about you. Don’t be unduly concerned but do take precautions to make sure you stay safe while you’re away.

best of Cambodia Bayon Temple Angkor
Bayon Temple, Angkor, Cambodia

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Safety Tips for Women Travelling to Cambodia

The Australian Government’s travel advice for Cambodia is to “exercise normal safety precautions” throughout the country.

I have always felt safe as a woman travelling alone in Cambodia. In my experience, petty theft and scams are the main things to watch for. Cambodian people tend to be gentle and friendly but some people may take advantage of an unwary female traveller.

Petty theft, credit card fraud, and phone and bag snatching are the most common crimes to look out for. Avoid wearing jewellery or expensive clothing, and hide your valuables or lock them in the hotel safe. Avoid leaving your bag or mobile phone on the table in a restaurant or café where it can be snatched and don’t let your credit card out of your sight.

Cambodian women dress modestly and it’s a good idea for female travellers in Cambodia to do the same. Try to blend in and avoid attracting unwanted attention or causing offence by wearing clothes that cover your knees and shoulders.

Be wary of people you have just met in bars, clubs and at beach parties. Sexual assaults happen more often in tourist areas like Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh so don’t drink too much and be wary of drink spiking. Make sure your drinks are never left unattended.

Avoid drugs. Cambodia has severe penalties for drug offences.  

Partying can be risky, especially for solo female travellers in Cambodia. Be especially careful if you’re out alone at night in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh, or Sihanoukville and at organised dance parties on islands such as Koh Rong. Don’t tell people you’ve just met that you’re alone.

Avoid walking alone after dark. Take a taxi home instead or team up with other travellers from your hostel or hotel.

Be careful with holiday romances. Don’t relax your standards for personal safety, health and security.

People eating on colourful mats on the groundsurrounded by market stalls at the Phnom Penh Night Market
Eating street food at the Phnom Penh Night Market

Common Scams in Cambodia

Scammers target unwary tourists and female travellers can be easy targets. Here are a few common scams to watch out for in Cambodia.

  • Children begging and selling trinkets to tourists outside the temples in Siem Reap or Phnom Penh.
  • Women begging for money to buy milk for their babies.
  • Pickpockets operating in gangs in crowded places like Pub Street in Siem Reap. Watch out for people bumping into you. Lock up your valuables and take only what you need with you.
  • Taxi drivers are notorious for taking advantage of tourists. Drivers double or even triple the price, have no change, don’t run the meter or run the meter fast and overcharge.
  • Taxi and tuk-tuk drivers can take you to hotels, restaurants or shops where they get a commission, instead of where you want to go. For example, my tuk-tuk driver stopped at a roadside stall without my permission and tried to sell me ferry tickets on the way to the wharf in Sihanoukville.

These are common scams in Cambodia and I’ve also experienced similar scams throughout Southeast Asia travelling solo in Bali, Thailand, Vietnam and Myanmar.

a young boy climbing the stairs to a temple in Cambodia
Phnom Chhnork Temple near Kampot Cambodia

Getting Around Cambodia Safely

Women are more like to face verbal harassment, groping and even sexual assault while travelling alone in Cambodia so getting around safely is important. Here are some tips:  

  • Avoid overnight travel if you are alone. Travel during the day on longer bus trips or fly instead.
  • Never hitchhike. It’s unsafe in any country.
  • Arrange an airport transfer to your hotel in advance in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap and avoid being hassled by taxi drivers when you leave the airport. This was the most overwhelming experience for me as a female traveller in Cambodia, especially arriving in Phnom Penh by air and bus.

Tuk-tuks & Taxis in Cambodia

  • Use only reputable taxis to stay safe in Cambodia.  I often ask my hotel reception to book a taxi for me and find this much safer than finding a cab on the street.
  • Download the Grab App. I found that tuk-tuk drivers don’t always speak English and may not understand where you want to go. I preferred to book tuk-tuks and taxis on the Grab app because the fare is clear from the outset and the app translates the destination and bypasses most language difficulties.
  • If you find a taxi or tuk-tuk on the street agree on the price before you get into the car.  
  • A tuk-tuk mafia operates in Cambodia at airports, bus stations and ferry ports in Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Sihanoukville. Grab drivers are prevented from entering certain places or stopping directly outside bus stops, airports or ferry wharves. Be prepared to meet your Grab driver in the street away from some locations.

TIP: Book your airport transfer in advance. Avoid being hassled by taxi drivers when you arrive at Phnom Penh Airport or Siem Reap Airport.

Air travel in Cambodia

Local airlines are prone to schedule changes and may have lower safety standards than in Western countries. But overall, I had no trouble with domestic flights in Cambodia. As a woman travelling alone in Cambodia, I felt much safer flying from Sihanoukville to Siem Reap than catching an overnight bus.  

Bus travel in Cambodia

Avoid travelling by minibus, they are cramped, uncomfortable and unsafe. The speeding and overtaking were hair-raising travelling by minibus between Battambang and Phnom Penh and I highly recommend taking a coach or (Airbus) instead. 

For long-distance travel Virak Bunthan and Giant Ibis run coach services on major tourist routes and I’ve found them to be safer and more comfortable than travelling in a minibus.

TIP: Book tickets in advance for air, bus, train and ferry with 12Go Asia. It’s easy and convenient. You pay a small booking fee and receive your e-ticket by email.

woman waving from a boat on the river in Cambodia
Life on the River Cambodia

Boat travel in Cambodia

For travel by ferry to the islands off Sihanoukville, different ferry companies have different drop-off points in various parts of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem. Buy your ferry ticket at the Sihanoukville Wharf to make sure you book with the right ferry company and book your accommodation before you go.

Check your boat has life jackets and other safety equipment.

Travel by riverboat can take twice as long as advertised in the dry season when river levels are low (from November to April). My riverboat journey from Siem Reap to Battambang in January took around 9 hours. Take plenty of water, a hat, sunscreen, a cushion for the hard wooden seats and a lot of patience (or catch the bus).

Train travel in Cambodia

Train Travel routes are limited, slow and unreliable in Cambodia. Buses are faster and more likely to run to schedule.

Driving in Cambodia

To legally drive a car or motorcycle in Cambodia you need your Australian driver’s licence or motorbike licence and an international driver’s licence. If you have an accident driving without a licence your travel insurance probably won’t cover your medical expenses.

Wear a helmet and safety clothing when riding a motorbike and make sure your travel insurance covers you as a passenger or driver.

Expect crazy driving. Road travel can be unsafe in Cambodia due to poor road conditions. Driving standards can be poor in Cambodia and drivers often ignore road rules.

Avoid driving at night when it’s less safe on the roads.

beautiful pool at Sara Resort Koh Rong Sanloem island
Sara Resort Koh Rong Sanloem Island Cambodia

Staying Safe at Your Hotel

  • Book accommodation before you leave home to avoid scams and read the reviews before booking.
  • Check the hotel room locks securely and change rooms if doors and windows are not secure. Lock the door when you’re in your hotel room.
  • Don’t tell someone you’ve just met where you’re staying.
  • Be careful not to give away your location when posting on social media.

Staying Healthy in Cambodia

  • Don’t drink tap water. Buy bottled drinking water instead.
  • Be wary of ice cubes and of eating salads that may have been washed in unsafe water. It’s safe to eat at restaurants and cafes that cater for tourists. I even enjoyed eating street food at market stalls and had no problems with food in Cambodia.
  • Don’t flush toilet paper. The sewerage system can’t handle it. Use the bins instead.
  • Take prescription medications with you for the duration of your trip.
  • Take your favourite feminine hygiene products with you. Product quality and brands differ in Cambodia.
  • On coastal islands, medical or emergency assistance may be limited or non-existent.
  • For peace of mind, take out travel insurance before you leave home. Know that you’re covered if something unexpected happens.
A small boat floating near a white pier in calm turquoise water
Idyllic Koh Rong Sanloem near Sihanoukville Cambodia

Money Tips for Female Travellers in Cambodia

Cambodian Riels are the local currency but US$ are widely accepted throughout Cambodia so carry some cash in US dollars and take some smaller notes. If you take a taxi from Siem Reap airport you’ll have to pay in US dollars (around US$6 or $7)

Make sure your bank notes are new and in excellent condition. I took an older US$50 note and it was rejected several times because people were unsure if it was counterfeit (It wasn’t…I changed it at the bank!)

Fake money is common in Cambodia so check notes carefully.

If you pay for something in US$ you may be given change in Cambodian Riels. I was shortchanged by a waiter in a restaurant in Kep who gave me change in Riels after I paid in US dollars. But when I pointed out the error he apologised and gave me the correct change.

ATM facilities may be limited or unavailable outside major cities and tourist areas. When I visited the small coastal town of Kep there were limited facilities for changing money and on Koh Rong Sanloem there were no ATMs although payment by credit card was accepted at Sara Resort where I was staying.

Stock up on cash at the ATM facilities at the wharf area in Sihanoukville before catching the ferry to the islands.

Watch out for card skimming at ATMs

Tell your bank that you’re travelling to Cambodia. They monitor for unusual transactions and may stop your account if they suspect fraud.  From personal experience, I can say that it’s very stressful to be unable to access your money when you’re travelling, especially if you are alone.

Take a spare credit card and carry cash for emergencies.

More Tips for Female Travellers in Cambodia

Landmines are a problem in some parts of Cambodia. Stick to the roads and marked pathways near the border with Thailand and when you visit temples away from the Angkor Wat complex in Siem Reap.

Use the Grab App for booking taxis and tuk-tuks. It’s much better than flagging down a driver on the street as it avoids language problems and that feeling that the driver hasn’t understood a word you’ve said and doesn’t have a clue where you want to go.

Ask at your hotel reception for onward travel advice. I found them very helpful.

Expect transport delays and changes in schedule so don’t book things too tightly.

2 girls sitting on a swing watching the sunset on Occheuteal Beach in Sihanoukville
Watching the sunset on Occheuteal Beach in Sihanoukville

Best places for solo female travel in Cambodia

Female travellers in Cambodia can expect to stay safe if they take the usual safety precautions throughout the country. Here are the best places for solo female travel in Cambodia:

The ancient temples at Angkor Wat are a highlight of a trip to Cambodia and should not be missed especially if it’s your first visit to Cambodia.

And visiting the capital, Phnom Penh is also an essential addition to a Cambodia itinerary

If you have time, the charming but less-visited regional city of Battambang offers a different perspective.

Relax on the idyllic tropical islands of Koh Rong and Koh Rong Sanloem off the coast of Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s premier beach town.

And the laidback coastal towns of Kampot and Kep are also worth visiting.  

TIP: The best time to visit Cambodia is in the dry season from November to March.

Is Cambodia safe for female travellers
Sunset at the Sailing Club in Kep Cambodia

Final Thoughts: Is Cambodia Safe for Female Travellers?

So, Is Cambodia safe for solo female travellers? In my experience, Cambodia is a safe for women to visit. As a solo traveller, I’ve explored the ancient temples of Angkor Wat, the bustling capital of Phnom Penh, the regional cities of Battambang and Sihanoukville, the coastal towns of Kep and Kampot and the idyllic tropical islands Koh Rong, Koh Rong Sanloem and Koh Ta Tiev.

I met some lovely local people and never felt unsafe although at times I’ve been overcharged or short-changed like most other travellers. Be wary of tuk-tuk and taxi drivers who can be less than honest and very pushy for business.

If you’re a woman considering visiting Cambodia, you should go ahead and book your flights, with or without a travel companion. Female travel to Cambodia is safe and enjoyable throughout the country.

Kep or Kampot

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Solo Travel in Cambodia – What You Need to Know

Is Phnom Penh Worth Visiting?

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