Once listed as one of the most dangerous places on Earth to visit, Cambodia has stabilised to the point that it is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in south-east Asia. In fact, in the early part of this century it was almost impossible to obtain travel insurance of any kind, but now things have changed dramatically.
Travelling to any destination in Southeast Asia exposes you to some dangers, but no more than you would expect when travelling anywhere else. It is just as dangerous in some American and European cities at night as it is anywhere in Cambodia. The point is, with a little common sense a trip to Cambodia will be a rich and rewarding experience and will provide you with many a tale to tell your friends on your return.
But just to be safe, here are some timely safety tips for you to follow when you visit Cambodia.
Regional violence. There are occasional incidences of border tension with surrounding countries, particularly Thailand. Although violence is rare most countries maintain a strong military presence so you should check local media outlets for reports of danger spots.
Scams. Some tourists report being ripped off when taking long-distance car or coach travel from large cities to border crossings. Although you need to carefully negotiate the fare before you leave there is a lot of room for misunderstanding to arise especially if there are language difficulties. The best advice is to take a cool-headed view and look at the amount of money involved. Travelling is generally very cheap by Western standards and if you feel you have been overcharged by a few dollars it is probably better to ignore it and think of the big picture.
Health concerns. There have been repeated outbreaks of avian influenza, or bird flu, so it is important to ensure that your holiday insurance policy give you adequate cover. As you would expect, consuming local water can be dangerous and it is wise to limit yourself to bottled supplies. Food on the other hand should not present you with any problems and you can feel free to enjoy the local cuisine to your heart’s content. Naturally you should always be on the lookout for normal hygiene standards that you would expect in your own country and stay clear of any food outlet that looks dangerous to you.
Markets. When you purchase anything at a market you should be prepared to bargain strongly. You can easily counter offer with a bid of roughly half of what you are being asked to pay. This may appear rude in the West, but it is an expected procedure in many other cultures including Cambodia. There is no need to get ripped off in a market if you are prepared to bargain properly.
Your Cambodia holiday can be a safe and enjoyable one if you follow these few simple tips. Remember that the Cambodian people are warm and friendly. They will be only too willing to sit down and share a meal with you and help you wherever they can.