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Stay Safe & Healthy in Cambodia

AsiaCambodiaStay Safe & Healthy in Cambodia

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Stay Safe in Cambodia

Cambodia is a secure and welcoming nation, with the typical exceptions of big cities late at night, especially Phnom Penh, and unattended baggage or wallets. Bag stealing is an issue in Phnom Penh, even from people on bicycles or motorbikes. Be cautious with your belongings, particularly cash and cameras, and take additional precautions in any poorly lit or isolated places.

Crime and corruption

Cambodia’s rule of law is inconsistently implemented. Bribes are generally required to investigate crimes, and if the offenders are rich or connected to the government, they are often untouchable by police and courts. You should also be aware that the courts are corrupt, making it difficult to enforce contracts without some political clout. Having said that, the incidence of violent crime is quite low, the police are usually pleasant and non-threatening, and people with good judgment have nothing to worry.

Land mines

Cambodia suffers from a legacy of millions of land mines left during the war years. However, to tourists, land mines present a minimal to non-existent threat, as most areas near tourist areas have been thoroughly de-mined. Many tourists mistake electric or sewage warning signs along national highways for land mine signs. HALO Trust, a leading mine removal organization in Cambodia, asserts that you would have to drive through the jungle for at least an hour north of Angkor Wat to come across any mines. The threat is to locals in extremely rural areas who rely on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

In remote areas such as Preah Vihear (near the border) and Pailin, a former Khmer Rouge stronghold, exercise caution: ask for local advice and heed warning signs, red paint and red rope, which may indicate mined areas. Do not venture beyond well established roads and paths.


Cambodia has a consent age of 15 years old. Prostitution is illegal yet prevalent, but it is seldom openly targeted towards visitors (there are no go-go bars). However, many pubs and clubs, particularly in Phnom Penh, have working females roaming the grounds. While Asia has witnessed a 20% decrease in new HIV infections since 2001, with Cambodia seeing a 50% drop between 2003 and 2011, safe sex is still required in all instances.

Cambodia has acquired some reputation as a haven for paedophiles, although under Cambodian law, the punishment for sex with children may be up to 30 years in jail, and paedophiles may also face prosecution in their own countries.


In Cambodia, drugs, including cannabis, are prohibited, and the consequences may be severe. Happy Herb pizzerias can be found in both Phnom Penh and Siem Reap; the effects of this illicit food are gradual, and you may wind up biting off more than you can chew, so if you want to indulge, go with care. Many of these “happy pizza” businesses do not offer drug-laced pizza. In Southeast Asia, heroin is of very high quality, and Westerners seeking cocaine are occasionally given heroin instead, which often results in death. Over-the-counter medicines that are believed to be comparable to heroin are widely accessible and legal, and have also resulted in tourist fatalities.

Stay Healthy in Cambodia

Mysterious illness Although this illness, which mostly affects children under the age of three, was extensively reported in the worldwide news in July 2012 as being caused by enterovirus 71, rumors of fatalities persist (Nov 2013). This seems to be a taboo subject in the local news, yet expatriates and locals alike discuss how children continue to die from this mysterious respiratory disease, reportedly dozens each week. Expats often refuse to consume chicken, even from well-known restaurant chains, claiming the circumstances of shipping and caging hens as the cause of the disease’s development.

Cambodia, one of the poorest nations in the world, lacks dependable medical facilities, physicians, clinics, hospitals, and medicines, particularly in rural regions. Any severe issue should be handled in Bangkok or Singapore, both of which provide first-rate assistance (at least to those who can afford them). Repatriation is also simpler from any of those cities. Check to see whether your insurance covers medical evacuation. The private and expensive Royal Rattanak Hospital in Phnom Penh may be relied on for emergency medical treatment and can treat the majority of illnesses and injuries prevalent in the area. Naga Clinic has locations in both Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. It is also clean, harmless, and beneficial for mild ailments.

The quality of local hospitals and clinics ranges from average to terrifying. Expect filth, shoddy equipment, outdated medications, and flour and sugar placebos.

Don’t allow them put anything in your blood at local clinics; treat dehydration orally rather than with a drip, since there is a danger of septicaemia (i.e. bacterial blood poisoning). The same may be said with blood transfusions.

Unless traveling straight from Africa, no health certifications or immunizations are needed for admission into Cambodia. However, for the most up-to-date advise on immunizations, contact a doctor a few weeks before departure. Tetanus, diphtheria, hepatitis B, and meningitis vaccinations are often recommended, as is a polio booster and, in particular, gamma globulin injections (against hepatitis A). Malaria pills should be considered for visits to Cambodia lasting fewer than 30 days, even though the most frequently visited areas provide little danger (see below). A mosquito net may also be useful. Mosquitoes swarm Siem Reap at night; imported (i.e., reliable) DEET-based insect repellent is available in Cambodia.

Panadol, antihistamines, antibiotics, kaolin, oral rehydration solution, calamine lotion, bandages and band-aids, scissors, and DEET insect repellent are all available in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Those who are extremely picky can prepare their kits in Bangkok or Saigon before traveling to Cambodia. There’s no need to do this before traveling to Asia.

Malaria does not exist in Phnom Penh, and most major tourist sites (including Siem Reap) are malaria-free. The most serious illness concern is mosquito-borne dengue fever, which, although unpleasant to say the least (it’s nicknamed “break-bone fever” because of how it feels), isn’t usually fatal to first-time sufferers.

The most frequent illness for travelers is diarrhoea, which may progress to dysentery and cause dehydration. Drink 2-3 litres of water each day to stay hydrated.

Avoid untreated water, untreated ice, and uncooked fruits and vegetables that have been washed in untreated water. Tap water is usually not drinkable, so stay away from it. The water supply in Phnom Penh is said to be drinkable, although few people believe it. Only those with severely weakened immune systems will have difficulty cleaning their teeth with it. Bottled water is inexpensive and readily accessible in every town or hamlet. If you intend to visit more remote regions, bring water purification pills or iodine to disinfect the water. Boiling water sterilizes it without creating heaps of trash plastic bottle waste or tainting the flavor. The water in the jugs at cafes and restaurants will have been boiled, as will the tea. Expats have no trouble drinking from the water supply in Phnom Penh, but not in other cities.

If you suffer from severe diarrhoea and get dehydrated, use an oral rehydration solution and drink lots of purified water. A lot of blood or mucus in the stool, on the other hand, may suggest dysentery, which necessitates a trip to the doctor for medication.

April is the cruelest month: the temperature is at its warmest (> 35°C) in March and April, therefore apply sunscreen and a hat to prevent sunstroke.


Many STDs may be transmitted by both sexes of prostitutes. The official HIV rate among prostitutes is 34%, compared to 0.6 percent for the general population.

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